Wildman of South America.

Etymology: Maipuran (Arawakan), "big devil."

Variant name: Vasuri.

Physical description: Humanlike. Covered with hair.

Behavior: Said to build huts and carry off women.

Distribution: Upper Río Orinoco, Venezuela.

Significant sighting: Alexander von Humboldt reported that a woman of San Carlos in the Llanos region of Venezuela lived with a Vasitri for several years and gave birth to hairy children by it.

Possible explanations:

(1) Humboldt thought it might be a bear, but the only species in South America is the Spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), known from the Andes.

(2) One of a number of Indian groups of the interior noted for their aggressiveness and who used to abduct women belonging to neighboring tribes.

Sources: Alexander von Humboldt, Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions ofthe New Continent, during the Years 1799-1804 [1825] (London: George Bell, 1900), vol. 2, pp. 270-271; Philip Henry Gosse, The Romance of Natural History (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1861), pp. 280-281; Pino Turolla, Beyond the Andes: My Search for the Origins of Pre-Inca Civilization (New York: Harper and Row, 1980).

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