Tratratratra

The unusually named tratratratra, onomatopoeic for its call, is a lemur or lemur-like animal inhabiting the higher altitude subhumid forests in the Lipomani region in central Madagascar. The tratratratra is roughly 4 to 6.5 feet long, with a round human-like face. Its hands and feet are ape-like, with divergent big toes and fingers. It has frizzy hair and has a short tail. Although it is harmless, the locals are said to run away from it. The first recorded sighting of a tratratratra was in 1650 by French colonists near the Lipomani lagoon.

In 1935, a French logger encountered an animal which he described as a four-foot-long lemur with a gorilla’s head. In 1991, two Betsimisaraka tribesmen were camping in the Tsaratanana mountains. They then smelled a very strong odour from an animal, heard the sound of breaking sticks, tongue clicking and heavy breathing. After a while, the tratratratra showed itself. It was six-feet long, had long arms, broad shoulders, a sagittal crest and a flat face. They couldn’t see its face very clearly, but they assumed the animal was curious. In 1992, a group of girls saw a tratratratra crossing the Masora river. It was leaning against a boulder and tried to grab a branch to anchor itself against the tide. It was making wailing noises, as if frustrated until it managed to grab onto it and swim across.

Some have theorized the tratratratra is a paleopropithecus, a species of lemur that went extinct in the 1620s. Paleopropithecus however, had a much more slim build and inhuman face, so an archaeoindris is much more similar. Archaeoindris, sometimes called gorilla lemurs, died out only 2000 years ago, and their remains have been found only in central Madagascar, in the same area the tratratratra is said to inhabit. Recently in 2015, petroglyphs depicting either a paleopropithecus, or possibly an archaeoindris, were found in a cave in the Beanka Nature Reserve in central-western Madagascar.

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Philippe Coudray's illustration of a tratratratra
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An archaeoindris reconstruction
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The distinctly human-like flat face of the archaeoindris
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Philippe Coudray's illustration of a tratratratra
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An archaeoindris reconstruction
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The distinctly human-like flat face of the archaeoindris
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