Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nicaragua's Xipe

Recently, a friend in Central America told me he'd had a new report of a Xipe sighting.  The account was brief and involved a pair of villagers who insist that they spotted the strange creature will they were fishing.  Frightened by the sight of the odd creature, they quickly retreated.

"It's half-way between a gorilla and a white-faced monkey, measuring 75-100 cms (about 2 1/2 to 3 feet) in height.  Its main peculiarity is that its feet face backwards."

So said Professor Juan Mandiola of the Environmental Institute Direna back in 1990 when he was interviewed about a previous Xipe encounter.  Curiously, in that case too, witnesses were out fishing.  In the 1990 incident, the fishermen were at Palacio Lake, north of the town of Matagalpa.  They watched has the small, hairy humanoid emerged from the waters of the lake.

Many people put the sightings down to nothing more than folktales or the mistaken identification of known animals.
Folklore from the region says that the Xipe is a supernatural creature which looks after crops and single women.  It's known to play with ashes and reportedly will steal children's clothes if they are left outside. 

An older report from 1968 claims that a group of peasants trapped a Xipe in a cave and killed it by setting fire to scrub brush outside the entrance.  Purportedly, they later recovered the bones of the creature from the cave. 

Professor Mandiola believes that the creature is real and thinks that it lives in caves near the water.  While it's easy to dismiss many of the more superstitious aspects that come up in tales of the Xipe, it may in fact be an undiscovered primate that lives in the jungles of Nicaragua.  Similar creatures have been reported in Colombia and Panama. 

Renowned cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans listed the Xipe in his checklist of unknown animals.

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