These bizarre bovid-like water monsters were said to have visages so horrible that if an expectant mother caught even a single glance of their ghastly features she would experience a terror so profound as to cause actual physical deformations in the unborn baby in her womb.
Also known as the “Huallipen” or “Guallipen,” these ostensibly amphibious mer-animals are said to lurk in the deep, murky lakes and rivers of Chile. Described as having the head of a young calf attached to the bony body of a shorn sheep; with short front legs and a back end that resembles a seal, this beast derives its name from the Mapuche word “Wallipén,” which translates as “sheep-calf.”
The eyewitness accounts of these creatures seem to resemble — at least in a rudimentary biology and behavior — reports of both treacherous British WATER-HORSES and the Australian BUNYIP.
This seems indicate that these animals may, in fact, be an as yet undiscovered species of water dwelling mammals. That having been postulated there are others who would argue that these moist monstrosities are nothing more than an undeniably vicious (and as yet unclassified) species of rogue pinniped.
As if to solidify the correlation between the Huallepen and its European cousins, these ordinarily reclusive beasts — which according to legend are virtually harmless on land — are said to reveal a terrifyingly territorial disposition when confronted by a stranger in its aquatic habitat. Is this due to the fact that Huallepen (like many other mammals) feels compelled by instinct to protect her brood from predators or are they the actual predators patiently laying in wait for for it’s next meal to splash by?
As if the above description of ferocious naked mer-seal-cow-sheep were not already weird enough, eyewitness testimony states that these bovine-headed beasts would slither up onto the land and — against all good taste and Darwinian logic — mate with either sheep or cattle, creating bizarre HYBRID BEASTS. This is a trait which is often attributed to the KELPIE as well as the TARBH-UISGE.
Some researchers have even suggested that there may be some correlation between this animal and HUEKE-HUEKE’ as well as the notorious EL CUERO — the name of which literally translates into “The cow-hide” — although they may simply be different species sharing a similar habitat.
Not unlike the unfortunate eyewitnesses who looked straight into this monsters grisly maw — thus dooming their unborn children to a hellish existence — legend states that even pregnant women who had managed to avert their gaze from this hideous creature could also fall victim to the “Huallepen’s horrendous curse.” Local lore states that if a mother-to-be was unlucky enough to have dreams of these creatures on three consecutive nights, she would also experience a terror profound enough to cause physical deformations in her unborn child.
While the overtly “supernatural” elements of this legend often eclipse the zoological legitimacy of these river monsters, that fact is that these elements would come as no surprise to anthropologists, folklorists or anyone familiar with the mythologies of indigenous people all over the world; wherein they often seamlessly integrate mysticism and physiological facts to create a sort of mythological hybrid that is based — at least in part — on a living, breathing (and in this case dangerous) animal.
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / designer / crypto chronicler / pod host / cult movie lover and co-founder of American Monsters.