Destination TruthEpisodes

Flying Dinosaur and Sloth Monster
Season 2 - Episode 205
Flying Dinosaur and Sloth Monster
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Brazil: The Mapinguary

Given the media attention devoted to Brazil's legendary mapinguary, Josh leads his team south of the border. They speak with Dr. David Orin, who believes the creature exists and might be a descendant of the giant sloth, a species long thought to be extinct.

Further south, in Rio Branco, professor of paleontology Dr. Jonas Souza disputes Orin's hypothesis and dismisses the mapinguary as nothing more than a legend. Josh brings his crew to Porto Velho, a small village, and they begin the hunt by renting a boat and cruising upriver for an additional three hours.

As evening descends, Brad and Araceli remain at base camp. Josh and Casey head into the rainforest and begin their search. Some time later, snapping branches alert the people at base camp that something is moving in the jungle nearby. Josh and Casey patrol the camp's perimeter and also hear the sounds. They find evidence that something snapped and trampled several large palm fronds, something no local animal is thought capable of doing.

Through the night, the team continues searching for the creature that made the noises. No animal is found, but Josh and Casey remain convinced that whatever broke the branches is circling the campsite. Because of the density of the foliage, the team's thermal imager is only able to detect heat signatures within a range of 10 to 15 feet, limiting the team's ability to track the animal. After several hours, the sounds cease; the creature has clearly moved on. The encounter hasn't been a total loss, however: Josh has the audio and video recordings as evidence.

When he returns to the United States, he plays the footage of the encounter for Mike Dee, a former curator of the Los Angeles Zoo. Dee says that the animal most similar to what Josh has described is a tapir, but he doubts that a tapir was what harassed the camp.

Josh thinks it's more likely that the thick rainforest has fueled superstitious fears of a mythical creature than it is that a giant sloth somehow survived the last Ice Age and has evaded detection for all of human history.

Zambia: Kongomato

Josh and the team come to Africa seeking the winged kongomato. They stop in Lusaka to speak with Michael Mumba, the most recent alleged eyewitness. Based on his reports and those of other natives, Josh is directed to Lake Mweru, near the swamps where the creatures are said to live. A local game warden, Clifford Kandonga, suggests that rather than some flying dinosaur, the kongomato might be a shoebill, a rare kind of bird, or perhaps a giant bat.

Renting a banana boat, the team paddles into the swamp to begin their hunt. Seeing nothing on the water, they return to land and begin hiking through the area. When the skies darken and the weather turns nasty, Josh, Brad and Araceli blunder into a stand of trees infested with bats. As the sun begins to set, thousands of bats take to the sky and fly screeching in every direction.

That night, fixed infrared cameras are set up at the base camp while Josh heads out alone. After walking a few miles, he takes a rickety canoe out onto the lake to continue his search. Disappointed that nothing is being detected, Josh returns to land and continues on foot. Finally, something high-pitched and loud is heard, a sort of chirping sound whose source cannot be located. It stops abruptly, and all Josh can find with the thermal imager are smaller birds or bats in the trees. Then something large but unseen flies over his head. He summons the others to bring additional cameras, and the team spends the rest of the night searching in vain.

Back in Los Angeles, Mike Dee notes a shape caught on the thermal camera, and he suggests it might be a giant bat. All Josh knows for certain is that thousands of miles of swamp and jungle around Lake Mweru remain unexplored — a perfect place for something previously unknown to be lurking and awaiting discovery.

 

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