Joshua Foer of Slate.com reports:
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PACAYA SAMIRIA, Peru—Of all the crazy mythical creatures that starry-eyed monster hunters have gone in search of—the Yeti, Sasquatch, Nessie, the chupacabra—South America’s giant anaconda would seem to be the least implausible. None of the Amazon’s early explorers dared emerge from the forest without a harrowing tale of a face-to-face encounter with a humongous snake. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was practically a requirement of the jungle adventure genre. English explorer Percy Fawcett (of Lost City of Z fame) reportedly shot a 62-foot anaconda in 1907 while on a surveying mission in western Brazil. Cândido Rondon, who led Teddy Roosevelt’s famous journey down the River of Doubt, claimed to have measured a 38-footer “in the flesh.” In 1933, a 100-foot serpent was said to have been machine-gunned by officials from the Brazil-Colombia Boundary Commission. According to witnesses, four men together couldn’t lift its head.