Camazotz

Giant Bat of Central and South America.

Etymology: Zapot eco (Ot o-Manguean), "deat h bat" or "snat ch bat."

Variant names: Chonchon (in Peru and Chile), H'ik'al (Tzotzil, "black-man"), Soucou-yant (in Trinidad), Tin tin (in Ecuador), Zotzi-laha chamalcan (Mayan).

PP'hysical description: Bat like head. Large knife-or leaflike protuberance on the nose. Sometimes depict ed solely as a flying head.

Behavior: Nocturnal. Call an "eek eek" or "t ui-t ui-t ui." In Mayan lor e, kills dying men on their way to the center of the earth.

Distribution: Southern Mexico to northern Argentina.

PP'ossible explanations: (1) Much Latin American bat-demon myt ho logy can be t raced to t he Common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), which feeds ent ir ely on t he blood of ver t ebr at es— especially cat t le and horses but somet imes on humans. It silent ly appr o aches an animal, lands on it, makes a tiny cut in t he skin, and laps up the blood flow. It runs and hops on all fours as well as flies.

(2) The False vampire bat (Vampyrum spectrum) has an elongat ed face and a small noseleaf, unlike Desmodus. It is also much larger, wit h a wingspan of 3 feet.

(3) Spear-nosed bats (Subfamily Phyllost ominae) have large noseleaves and are common throughout Central and South America.

(4) Surviving Giant VAmpire Bat (Desmodus draculae), a Pleist ocene bat known from fossils in southeastern Brazil. Sources: Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the

Dawn of Life, trans. Dennis Tedlock (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), pp. 71, 125, 275; Eduard Seler, "The Bat God of the Maya Race," Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology 28 (1904): 231-241; Sarah Blaffer Hr dy, The Black-Man of Zinacantan: A Central American Legend (Aust in: Univer sit y of Texas Press, 1972); Elizabeth P. Benson, "Bats in Sout h Amer ican Folklor e and Ancient Ar t," Andean Past 1 (1987): 165-190; Elizabeth P. Benson, "The Maya and the Bat," Latin American Indian Literatures Journal 4 (1988): 118-120; Andrew D. Gable, "Two Possible Cryptids from Precolumbian Mesoamerica," Cryptozoology Review 2, no. 1 (Summer 1997): 17-25.

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