Photograph of Sucuriju Gigante.
|Other Names||Giant Sucuri; Giant Boa; Anaconda|
|Weight/Lenght/Size||5 t/40 m|
|Location||Amazon River, Brazil|
Sucuriju Gigante (Giant Anaconda), is said to be giant snake that controls the rivers it lives in. There are ancient tales that say it made the Amazon River. Since the discovery of the fossils of Gigantophis garstini, a large snake from the Priabonian age of the Eocene ( about 30 million years ago) that could reach 33 feet (11 metres) in length, and the more recently discovered fossils of Titanoboa cerrejonensis( from about 50-60 million years ago) that reached 43 feet (14 metres), there has been some speculation it could actually exist and be an ancestor of the prehistoric creature. There have been supposed sightings of giant snakes in South America for many years . In 1846, George Gardner wrote about his travels in Brazil. He said he saw a dead giant snake on the lands of a Senor Lagoeira which was thirty-three feet long.
In 1907, Major Percy Fawcett, an explorer, while in the Amazon, told of two encounters with the Sucuriju gigante. The first mention was when the manager at Yorongas told Fawcett he had killed an anaconda fifty-eight feet long in the Lower Amazon. Then, although initially doubtful, he has his own encounter:
"We were drifting along in the sluggish current not far below the confluence of the Rio Negro when ... there appeared a triangular head and several feet of undulating body. It was a giant anaconda. I sprang for my rifle ... and hardly waiting to aim smashed a .44 soft-nosed bullet into its spine ... As far as it was possible to measure, a length of forty-five feet lay out of the water, and seventeen feet in it, making a total length of sixty-two feet ... A penetrating fetid odor emanated from the snake, probably its breath, which is believed to have a stupefying effect ... The Brazilian Boundary Commission told me of one killed in the Rio Paraguay exceeding eighty feet in length!"
In May 1922 Father Victor Heinz saw a monster snake near the town of Obidos, on the shores of the Amazon. He claimed it was nearly eighty feet in length.
In 1923, F.W. Up de Graff reported that an anaconda he had seen lying in the water beneath his canoe measured fifty feet in length.
Father Heinz then had a second encounter in 1929. This however was not quite as dramatic. He was at the mouth of the Rio Piaba, near Alemquer, when he saw two large lights appear near the surface of the water. He was told the giant anaconda lived in the area and presumed it was it’s eyes in the water.
Father Heinz than started collecting stories about the giant snakes. These included the accounts of trader Reymondo Zima who said that in July 1930 he had come across a serpent with glowing eyes in the Rio Jamunda, opposite the town of Faro. In September 1930 Joao Penha claimed to have seen one in the Rio Iguarape. This snake pushed a wall of submerged debris nine hundred feet( 300 metres) and also had glowing eyes. More recently was the account of Paul Tarvalho, from 1948,again near Faro. He said saw a snake emerge from the water that was about 150 feet ( 50 metres) long.
Bernard Heuvelmans wrote the about Sucuriju Gigante and said a skin kept at the Butantan Institute in Brazil was about thirty feet in length. The painter Serge Bonacase told Heuvelmans of an encounter with a Sucuriju that he had in 1947. Bonacase's sighting took place in the swampy area between the Rio Manso and the Rio Cristalino and twenty other men where with him at the time. Bonacase estimated the snake's length at about seventy feet.
The Diario, the newspaper of Pernambuco in Brazil, of January 24, 1948 published a picture with a headline 'Anaconda Weighing 5 Tons.' The picture showed a part of a giant anaconda that was caught by the river. It was said to measure 131 feet ( 43 meters) long. Four months later another e newspaper A Noite Illustrada printed a photograph of a dead anaconda said to be 115 feet( 38 metres) long . From the photographs it was difficult to estimate if that was the actual size.
In 1995 botanist Grace Rebelo dos Santos saw two bluish lights nearly a foot apart, when a net became caught on something large and heavy.. She cautiously suggested that this might be a giant anaconda. Later the same year she saw a "waterspout" about ten inches tall, and a long, dark shape could be seen underneath it, perhaps another sighting.
"So could a snake really be that big? It is possible as snakes have been found 23 feet ( about 7.6 metres) long and who is to say that there are not large versions out there. I would love to see one, but not up close! Snakes are fascinating creatures."