1831 Sailors Hoax?
By Richard Muirhead.



According to the books author, Gavin Menzies, the Chinese took on board several mylodons( giant sloths) in Patagonia and on reaching New Zealand a few of these animals were released or escaped in c.1421. In 1831 a ship from Sydney visited Duskey Sound in Fjordland at the S.W. tip of New Zealand`s South Island. 2 sailors from the crew spotted an animal which fits the description of a giant sloth.
I have verified in my huge file on the waitoreke / unknown mammals from New Zealand.
As far as I know, there is only this report for that year and in that place, mentioned by Robyn Jenkin ("New Zealand mysteries", 1970)

"Even more bizarre was a story, also reported to the collectors of customs in Sydney when the Sydney Packet returned home in 1831. On of the ship's gangs had been stationed at Dusky Sound told of the discovery of an enormous animal of the kangaroo species.

"The men had been boating in a cove in some quiet part of the inlet where the rocks shelved from the water's edge up to the bushline. Looking up they saw a strange animal perching at the edge of the bush nibbling the foliage. It stood on its hind legs, the lower part of its body curving into a thick pointed tail, and when they took note of the height it reached against the trees, allowing five feet for the tail, they estimated it stood nearly thirty feet in height !


"The men were to windward of the animal and were able to watch it feeding for some time before it spotted them. They watched it pull down a heavy branch with comparative ease, turn it over and tilt up to reach the leaves it wanted. When it finally saw them, the animal stood watching the men for a short time, then made one almighty leap from the edge of the bush towards the water's edge. There it landed on all fours but immediately stood erect before making another great leap into the


The men were able to measure the first jump and found it covered twenty yards. They watched the animal plough its way down the Sound at tremendous speed, its wake extending from one side of the Sound to the other."

Well, neither the waitoreke, nor an American ground sloth (!)... only a hoax from Australian sailors.






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