Patagonian Giant

Giant Hominid of South America.

Etymology: The size of these animals caused explorer Ferdinand Magellan to name them Patagones (Portuguese, "big foot") and their country Patagonia.

Variant name: Chaucahue (possibly Huil-liche/Araucanian).

Physical description: Height said to be 7-12 feet.

Behavior: Nomadic, following the wild herds of Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), their primary source of food.

Distribution: Southern Argentina and Chile. Significant sightings: In June 1520, the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan encountered giant Indians at Puerto San Julián, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

In June 1578, Francis Drake's men brawled with the Puerto San Julián Indians, noting they were not as tall as Magellan's chronicler had indicated.

Sebald de Weert in 1598, Joris van Spilber-gen and Wilhelm Schouten in 1615, John Byron in 1764, and other visitors also encountered Indians of large stature.

Probable explanation: The Tehuelche Indians, whose height was exaggerated by clothing and long hair. In 1983, the last thirty or so remaining Tehuelche lived on a small reserve at Ca-mashu Aike, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

Sources: Antonio Pigafetta, First Voyage around the World [1525] (Manila, Philippines: Filipiniana Book Guild, 1969); Wilhelm Schouten, The Relation ofa Wonderfull Voyage Made by William Cornelison Schouten of Horne (London: Nathanaell Newbery, 1619), p. 18; Francis Drake, The World Encompassed [1628] (New York: Cooper Square, 1969); Cornelius Pauw, Recherches philosophiques sur les Américains (Berlin, 1770); John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1773), vol. 1, pp. 27-32, 152-155; Charles Darwin, Voyage ofthe HMS Beagle [1839] (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), chap. 9, pp. 164-165; Rupert T. Gould, Enigmas: Another Book of Unexplained Facts (New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1965), pp. 16-23.

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