Conservation Status: (Caligo) Near Threatened | (Dolos) Extinct | (Nevermore) Extinct
The Inashi or Great Mountain Sloth is a robust, broadly muscular ground sloth with a powerful tail. Its large size enables it to feed at heights not normally accessible by other herbivores. They do so by pulling down thick branches brimming with leaves and fruit, and devouring tons. The vegetation they eat continues for six months at a time until their six month hibernation.
The Inashi once existed in Dolos, near the north and eastern regions of South America, and they had earned a unique title, the Mapinguari. The mythology stems from stories stretching from Bolivia to Brazil. The creature is often said to have a gaping mouth on its abdomen, but this is an allegory. The mouth is a symbolism to the glutenous hunger the Inashi displays when awake. It feeds on tons of vegetation, often devouring entire farmlands in order to store enough fat to survive their hibernation. The one eye in many of the legends refers to the focus the Inashi displays when eating, it disregards nearly everything, except the food it has set its eyes on.
These creatures have even been known to ignore predators as they gnaw on portions of their body while the Inashi eats. They are slow at registering pain due to their thick layers of hide and fat, but once they register the pain, they are vicious creatures. Just one swipe from their claws can decapitate a bull sized creature.
These massive creatures are descendants of the Megatherium, and though they bear great similarities, the Inashi have evolved differently. Due to how slow they move and how long they tend to stay in hibernation, the Inashi tend to be a host of many creatures and plant life. On their backs, moss and vegetation grows alongside fungi and all sorts of bugs such as the Anami Butterfly. Some are even home to small critters such as rodents or birds that can tolerate the rot and stench. The plants on their backs also offers a good means of camouflage when in slumber or as a deterrent to any animal with a sensitive nose. The smell is said to be so foul that animals tend to scurry away in order to avoid the awful stench.
The Inashi have giant claws to not just cut down branches when awake, but to also dig underground and search for resources. They can even burrow entire tunnel systems for when they begin their hibernation period. When an Inashi is fully an adult, the creature can shake the ground with each step due to how large the creature is. In order to preserve energy, they stay underground or asleep.
When underground, they use their wide mouths to eat large chunks of soil and rock, among the minerals eaten is high density gemstones in their raw form. It is not quite understood why the Inashi eats not just vegetation but also stones and soil. One thing is certain, in their stomachs, mini ecosystems exist that slowly absorbs and breaks down the minerals eaten. As they reach old age, the skin becomes hard like the stones they would eat and it makes their movements evermore difficult and painful.
In addition, when old age has set in, the plants also become intertwined and rooted with their hardening skin in a manner that almost alters the genetic coding. Some Ambrite scholars believe that the Inashi is a host of a parasitic plant that begins to control it by forcing to eat soil, rocks, and things it should not eat as a means to build the body for when it nears old age. It does this to create the perfect conditions for it to spore. However, this is currently still a theory as finding an Inashi after it reaches old age has not been successful.
The adult Inashi stands at about 28-35 ft from head to tail and weigh up to 5 t. They are fiercely strong giants, but incredibly slow. They tend to use an odor secreted by a fungi that grows on their back called Xun Ur to repel majority of predators. However, if they are injured, they do bear regenerative properties. The healing is believed to come from the unique ecosystem existing in their bowls, it stimulates the right organs to accelerate cell growth when the body registers an injury.
Giant Sloths are just cool creatures to think and imagine. The fact that these large creatures may have roamed alongside early humans is an amazing thought. I have seen many myths and stories across the world, most of them describing what may have been a Giant Sloth. I wanted to explore a creature like this, a descendent even, and the ideas of a creature that moves slow enough for an entire ecosystem to not just exist on it, but inside it grew. A big thanks to Cha Wak for bringing this beast to life.
H.S. Crow has literary works appearing in all mediums of entertainment with a focus on fantasy, science fiction, and horror. He is an author traversing the breathtaking Caligo, a vast universe containing our dreams and nightmares. Notable books include Lunora and the Monster King, Stars of Glass, & the upcoming Drums of Fog.