As the Worm Turns: The Minhocao

by Rebecca

I like Scooby Doo.  I enjoy all the flavors of Scooby Doo except for ones that involve Scrappy Doo.  That little runt bothers me.  Now that you know that you’ll understand how it came to be that late one evening I was snuggled in bed watching an episode of “What’s New Scooby Doo?” the latest “hip” version of the Scooby Doo animated franchise.  This particular episode was entitled “The Fast and the Wormious”.  It was set in the southwest where Scooby and the gang had entered into a big deal off road desert race.  Of course, an episode of Scooby Doo is not complete without it’s monster and in this case, it was a giant earthworm.  Obviously by the end of the episode it’s revealed that worm is in fact a piece of high end technology that one of the geek racers developed in an elaborate plot to impress Velma.  I told you this was the hip version.  Thus, is the land of cartoons.

Now what would you say if I told you that there may in fact BE a giant earthworm?  Real enough to have been in the “American Journal of Science”!  In “Nature” too!  Of course this was in the mid to late 1800s.  To those of you curious seekers I give to you the Minhocao.

The Minhocao had been sighted in South America from the 1840s up to the late 1800s.  Generally, it is described as, well, a giant earthworm.  A giant earthworm about 80 feet long with two stalks coming from its top end covered in black scales.  Put THAT on your fishing hook and see what you catch!  The name Minhocao comes from the Portuguese word minhocar, which means earthworm.

Now some theorized that it was actually a Glyptodont…a now extinct giant armadillo.  That is what the writer for “Nature” thought!  Others suggest that it is a giant Caecilian, a worm like amphibian native to South America.

Writers tell me that it cannot be a giant earthworm.  Earthworms just do not get that big.  Although they can get up to 12 feet long in Australia!  In addition, earthworms are not traditionally described as an aggressive creature, and the Minhocao had been considered the culprit behind attacks on people and property.

Me, I believe in Minhocao on principle.  Out there, alone in the magical depths of the South American rainforest the Minhocao reigns supreme, another example of the wonders and mysteries that can exist in lands still untouched by the modern Western world.  A proud symbol of that which cannot be tamed.  That’s it…a noble giant earthworm.