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Cuero, literally meaning “hide” in Spanish, is also called the hueke-hueke or Trelquehuecuve. It's a strange animal said to live in unusually deep swamps, creeks, and wetlands in the Chilean provinces of Los Lagos, Los Ríos, Araucanía, Biobío and the adjacent Argentine regions.

Precise descriptions of a Cuero’s appearance is rare, but are sometimes described as similar to an octopus or ray. They resemble a cowhide, with the top being beige, or green, with brown spots and two tiny eyes, but the underside is an array of hooked claws with a large, toothy mouth in the centre. Similar to a leech or snake, anything that goes too close is engulfed and crushed by the cuero, and is then drained of blood.

The first European report of the cuero was in 1810, by Father Juan Ignacio Molina in his book Essay On The Natural History Of Chile, but only mentioned it in passing. Since the cuero is said to be very dangerous, it is taboo to talk about, and recorded sightings are rare. 

One of the few modern sightings of this animal was in the late 1940’s when a woman was washing by the shore when suddenly a cuero appeared out of the water, but she narrowly escaped. Another sighting was in 1976 when a tourist bus fell off a cliff into Lake Moreno in Argentina. A team of divers who went to retrieve the bodies claimed to have encountered large creatures resembling rays at the lake’s bottom. 

At least nine other sightings have been recorded by cryptozoologist Austin Whittall, but in-depth descriptions of the sightings are hard to come by. It is often theorized to be an unknown species of freshwater ray, which do live in South America but only in the Amazon River Basin, not Patagonia. Of course, freshwater rays also don’t suck blood or have fearsome hooked undersides either. The cuero is interesting, as it is almost identical in description to the Chinese cryptid, the xizi.

Cuero illustration by abookofcreatures on tumblr
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