Unknown Sirenian of Central Africa.
Variant name: Guidiara (in Guinea, "water lion").
Physical description: A large fish or octopus. Head is like a gorgon's. Tentacles.
Behavior: Sucks blood and eats the brains of infants. Hides among rocks in the river and attacks passing canoes.
Distribution: Mbomou River, Central African Republic; Uele and Dungu Rivers, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Niger River, Guinea. Possible explanations:
(1) A FreshwaterOctopus, though all known cephalopod species are exclusively marine, and none are sanguinivorous.
(2) Evidence for an extended range of the West African manatee ( Trichechus senegalensis), proposed by Bernard Heuvelmans. Adults are generally 9-10 feet long. This animal is found in rivers, estuaries, swamps, and lagoons from the Senegal River in the north to the Cuanza River, Angola, in the south, and it occurs as far as 1,200 miles from the sea along the Niger River. Its presence in certain tributaries of the Congo has been suspected but never confirmed. Its reputation as a brain-eater is probably fear-based, since all known sirenians are herbivorous.
(3) A giant Catfish (Family Siluridae), suggested by Marc Micha.
Sources: "Congo belge," Le Temps (Paris), August 22, 1900, p. 2; Charles Alexandre d'Ollone, Mission Hostains-d'Ollone, 1898—1900: De la Côte d'Ivoire au Soudan et à la Guinée (Paris: Hachette, 1901), p. 241; Raymond Colrat de Montrozier, Deux ans chez les anthropophages ey les sultans de centre africain (Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1902), p. 147; Bernard Heuvelmans, Les derniers dragons d'Afrique (Paris: Plon, 1978), pp. 272-274, 358-363.
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