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Argentine cryptid, Chilean cryptid, Patagonian cryptid
Grassland-dwelling, Mountain-dwelling, Cave-dwelling
Herbivore, Lazarus taxon, Featured in Native folklore, Presumably extinct
The Ellëngassën, also called Oókempam or Goshg-e was an unknown animal resembling the extinct Glyptodon, a genus of car-sized armadillos that were reported to live in the southern tip of Patagonia around Tierra Del Fuego. The Ellëngassën is described as having an ox-like body, but with massive clawed feet, a head shaped like a human’s, and an enormous stone-like shell similar to an armadillo. Ellëngassëns were thought to be harmless unless provoked, which causes them to growl. Ellëngassëns were most active at dusk. Due to their shell, the only way to hunt them was by attacking their exposed legs or head, as their shells made them invulnerable to arrows.
There are no modern sightings of the Ellëngassën, and they likely went extinct at some point in the early to mid-1800s, possibly from overhunting or introduced diseases. The first written record of an Ellëngassën was in 1866, by the Swiss rancher and naturalist Jorge Claraz when he was exploring the interior of the Rio Negro and Chubut territory. In his diary, he mentioned a cave near Segunda Angostura that the locals believed was formerly inhabited by an Ellëngassën. He knew the animal was unknown to science, so he visited the site to look for bones, but the cave’s entrance had collapsed. The last known species of Glyptodon, the doedicurus, died out in Argentina about 6,600 years ago.