A long, long time ago, Peru and Brazil were, shall we say, not pleased with each other and there were continual difficulties over the border between their countries. It must be noted that the entire length of the disputed area is tropical rainforest, pretty much,, i.e., deep, dark jungle, passable even today only with very high effort and golly, the sitch a hundred years ago? Fuggedaboudit! Some iffiness might be expected. But something had to be done.
OK, maybe a lot or a little of that scenario is a product of igular speculation but hey, it came out the same way…
Lt. Col. Percival Harrison Fawcett
The British ruled the world back then, so they took on the job of sorting out the border for those wacky South Americans. They needed somebody good at mapping in the middle of the jungle and keeping a good head. Not many of those folks around.
Chosen for the job was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army with a DSO, Distinguished Service Order, an Artillery officer by trade. By passion, though, Lt. Col. Percival Harrison Fawcett was an explorer and an archaeologist of some notoriety throughout the world. He got the job done. I personally think that that is the sole reason for all those terribly straight lines at the border there. Amazing work. To me, at least.
An incident that occurred during the couse of this mission in 1907 somewhere in the waters of the Beni swamps is what we are interested in.
It was fleeting and for us, significant af but he took it in stride along with all the ‘regular’ unknowns…bugs and birds and bats and such.
He certainly had passion and drive, not to mention expert skills and was in a serious quest for a long lost City of Gold that was rumored to be in the area after he learned of it while reading an explorer’s report from 1743 that hinted strongly enough at it to convince our man that it was worth spending every minute of free time looking for. He never did find it, sadly, but he passed looking for it, as one should if one is going to, doing what you love, for he never returned from his last excursion to find it.
Wiki on the Colonel
Lieutenant Colonel Percival Harrison Fawcett DSO (18 August 1867 – during or after 1925) was a British geographer, artillery officer, cartographer, archaeologist and explorer of South America. Along with his eldest son, Fawcett disappeared in 1925 during an expedition to find “Z” – his name for an ancient lost city, which he and others believed to exist and to be the remains of El Dorado, in the jungles of Brazil.
Google search overview
Madre de Dios is a region in southeastern Peru’s Amazon Basin, bordering Brazil and Bolivia. In the west, vast Manú National Park encompasses Andean highland, cloud forest and lowland jungle. Celebrated for their biodiversity, the savannahs and old-growth rainforest of Tambopata Reserve lie in the southeast. Just north is regional capital Puerto Maldonado, at the convergence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers.
Area: 32,935 mi²
Founded: December 26, 1912
Dialing code: 82
Here is the scope of the area off of the Google satellite. Google maps page centered on this area.
Needless to say, it is about as “jungle” as you can get on this Earth. As you can see…
note: the pic below is interactive and you can do a 360° turn and zoom in and out : )
I personally am well pleased with the fact that the fabulous Ollantaytambo and famous Cusco are only a stone’s throw away. Save on travel, eh what? Not only that, but on a more serious note the closeness of such places lends a good dollop of credence to the good Colonel’s prize actually existing. And as the mighty Pucabob, Fortean of Maine, reminds us, they’ve found 56 cities under the canopy so far using the spiffy new LIDAR radar instruments, so hey, it’s like this—we know they could do it and make it look easy and I certainly do imagine they could do a heck of a lot more than we could ever give them credit for.
But I don’t want to get too far off track as this is after all only a blog.
What we are concerned with is that in 1907 Colonel Fawcett saw an animal that he took to be a Diplodocus. Yes, the dinosaur. He included it in his reports back. Apparently the folks that live around there were at least aware of it. And the terrain is perfect for the thing, just like it’s ancestors lived in. Well, pretty much. Hot, wet and lots of water.
A good overview is located at a place called Genesis Park, where you may want to avoid any references to a religious agenda that’s present. I do note with some sadness that thesem sorts of sites are the only ones who will carry this sort of thing these days. Not so in the past… So they have a page on this called Diplodocus in the Amazon, where the two snippets below are extracted from…
“In 1907 Lieutenant-Colonel Percy Fawcett of the British Army was sent to mark the boundaries between Brazil and Peru. He was an officer in the Royal Engineers and was well known as a meticulous recorder of facts. In the Beni Swamps of Madre de Dios Colonel P. H. Fawcett saw an animal he believed to be Diplodocus… The Diplodocus story is confirmed by many of the tribes east of the Ucayali, a region covered by Clark.” (Clark, Leonard, E., The Rivers Ran East, 2001, p. xvi.) The drawing to the left is by Colonel Fawcett’s son, Brian. (World Explorer Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 6, p. 62.) The intrepid explorer also picked up reports of huge monsters inhabiting the swamps near the Madidi River in Bolivia. “There are snakes and insects unknown to scientists, and in the forests of the Madidi some mysterious and enormous beast has frequently been disturbed in the swamps–possibly a primeval monster like those reported in other parts of the continent. Certainly tracks have been found belonging to no known animal–huge tracks, far greater than could have been made by any species we know.” (Fawcett, Exploration Fawcett, 1953, pp. 220-221.)
I like this one…
In later years, a few occasional reports concerning the “Madidi monster” would reach the west. Modern-day explorer Leonard Clark picked up stories of Indians seeing long-necked animals that browsed on the vegetation and attacked canoes that approached them. “Speaking of reptiles, old boy, Colonel Fawcett reached the eastern edge of Madre de Dios, out where you are going. It is a country of swamps apparently. One day while running his dugouts through it, he saw a great reptilian head rise out of the jungle, but before he could shoot, the head was lowered. From the noise the beast made getting away, he took it to be some sort of dinosaur. His Indians revolted and it was necessary to return to Mato Grosso. When I smiled, he presently added, ‘Don’t be too sure they don’t exist – we hear a great many stories from the Indians here!’” (Clark, Leonard, The Rivers Ran East, 2001, p. 41.)
There isn’t much on the webz and a lot of sites just post the page the above are taken from but Googling Fawcett will net you some good stuff. Here are some to get you started.
Benedict Allen talks about Colonel Fawcett
Colonel Percy Fawcett is Alive After he disappeared into the jungle and didn’t come back out, Fawcett’s story gained impressive traction world-wide – and for quite a long time.
Mysteries of Ancient South America by Harold T. Wilkins
Last words from the legendary British explorer Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett – includes expedition map
Very Large Maps of Colonel Fawcett’s Amazon Jungle Expeditions
English translation of Manuscript 512 This is the tale written by the ancient explorer that managed to convince Fawcett that there was indeed a grand lost city that he should devote his days to seeking. He named the city simply Z.
Colonel Fawcett’s 1925 Expedition to search for the Lost City of Z
Manhunt in the Jungle by George M. Dyott
The Lost City of Z by David Grann Book Review
Amazon explorers uncover signs of a real El Dorado
If I was in good shape and could see where I was going I would most assuredly go and look for the creature. Absolutely. The creationists from the Genesis Park site went down there in 2005 in answer to my question in the title, which I think is great, but, of course, found nothing. They say that not verymany of the locals knew of the thing but a few did still. Perhaps that means they finally did all go up to heaven in the century since our man saw one. But I think they are still there, a very few probably, hanging on, just farther away from the ever-encroaching people.
We can hope, eh? Mokele Mbembe bin needin’ some play dates, don’tcha know…
I better post this. For some reason I inadvertently hit publish twice before I was done… the first time before I even wrote anything! Sigh.