Giant Fish of South America.

Variant names: Gums, Mysterious beast. Physical description: Sluglike or snakelike. Wide as a horse. Doglike head. No teeth. Stumpy tail that conceals a poisonous, barbed spike.

Behavior: Said to pull dogs and humans underwater.

316 manetuwi msi-pissi

Distribution: Río Paraguay drainage; swamps of the Gran Chaco, Boquerón Department, Paraguay.

Possible explanations:

(1) Toothless, freshwater shark, according to Percy Fawcett. However, the only known shark to stay for extended periods in freshwater, the aggressive Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) of the Amazon and elsewhere, has triangular, serrated teeth.

(2) Giant Catfish (Suborder Siluroidea), said to grow to 18 feet in length and weigh half a ton. Older specimens of catfish sometimes are toothless.

(3) A large sturgeon, according to Mike Grayson, though none occur anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sources: Charles William Thurlow Craig, Spinner's Delight (London: Hutchinson, 1951); Percy Fawcett, Exploration Fawcett (London: Hutchinson, 1953); Charles William Thurlow Craig, Black Jack's Spurs (London: Hutchinson, 1954), pp. 159-168; Karl Shuker, "Close Encounters of the Cryptozoological Kind," Fate 53 (May 2000): 26-29.

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