“Most surprising are the Tritons, by the Natives called Ypupiapra, since they show an almost human face and the female creatures show long hanging hair with a more attractive appearance. They are also observed at 7 or 8 miles from Baia de Todos los Santos and also near the province of Porto Seguro. One believes that they kill people in a slow embrace, not by malignancy but by extreme love”
Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (1684)
This terse account is rather interesting and problematic at the moment. It is a late 20th century English translation of an early 20th century dutch translation of a late 17th century Latin text.
I can’t treat it yet as original going to have to get the Latin dictionary out and translate myself.
It is a sea creature, observed at sea close to the coast, rather than a land animal.
Couple of things that seem rather striking, attractive appearance coupled with love being the factor in a killing embrace, strongly suggests an aquatic ape. An attractive, almost sexually alluring creature is a feature of early 17th century descriptions of the orangutan (a generic rather than species specific term).
Method of killing is also a very old motif attached to apes in classical sources and later in a different form in Spanish speaking culture to the wild man, ape and Native Americans.
Long hanging hair is another detail often obsessively noted. Sometimes described as long hanging pubic hair which was carefully groomed and combed.
To a European familiar with these tales, the last sentence would be indicative of a native phenomena. Wealth of tales placing related themes in such a context.
A Relentless desire to do so is a feature of the story telling feature of this region in this period and beyond.
Highly interesting composite creature composed of a number of parts. Ape, wild man, mermaid and South American native.
With the emphasis placed on native to these parts. As observed by a reputed authority of course.