Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 9th, 2013
Source: Outside Online
Monster Hunt: The Chupacabra
Katie Heaney tries to figure out the difference between “shriveled dead thing” and chupacabra
Is this a chupacabra? Probably not, but it’s dead, so how could we ever know for sure? Photo: Pablo Spekuljak/Flickr
The trouble with the chupacabra is that it looks an awful lot like a handful of other, regular animals. When someone thinks he’s found one in the United States, the creature usually looks like a coyote, or a fox, or a dog, or a wolf, or a small kangaroo—just slightly off. But most things look a little off when they’re dead. And that’s what most so-called chupacabras have in common when they are found: being a shriveled dead thing.
But then there are those that describe the chupacabra more like a creeping lizard, a green-gray-black scaled monster, either with color-changing spikes or duller black (but still deadly, in the end) spines trailing down its back and tail, with a Hollywood bug-eyed alien face and claws on its fingers and toes. This is the fantastic version, and, it has to be said, the one without the carcasses to show for it. There are only drawings. Or, anyway, that’s what they want us to think.
The chupacabra—the name, Spanish for “goat sucker,” for the animal’s reported eating habits, the vampiric puncture wounds found on the necks or chests of its prey—is a relatively new legend, which I think makes it just slightly more suspicious for reasons I can’t quite explain but which have something to do with having too much familiarity with the historical setting into which it was born. (It’s the same way with religions, for some people. If you had relatives whose names you know and who were around and living when it all got started, doesn’t it just seem less authentic somehow?) 1995? I remember 1995. It did not seem an especially mystical year, or anything like one that could give birth to a new strain of folklore that could last for decades or more. But then, maybe I was too busy with the fourth grade to notice.
It is to that year, though, that the first eyewitness account of a chupacabra dates back, spotted in Puerto Rico by a woman named Madelyne Tolentino. A few months earlier, eight sheep drained of blood, apparently through puncture marks in their chests, were found dead in a town nearby. The attacks intensified, and soon some—some, but not all, of which were goats—were found mutilated in Canóvanas, where Tolentino lived. She was the first to report seeing the creature responsible.
In the months between the first set of attacks and Tolentino’s report, she went to see the science-fiction movie Species, about a sexy (but lethal) alien woman named Sil who is hell-bent on seducing a human man and who, in her true, spiny-backed form looks more than a little like Tolentino’s drawing of her chupacabra.
That’s how Benjamin Radford—a paranormal enthusiast-but-skeptic whose written works (and podcast, MonsterTalk) exist to ruin the fun everyone else is having by applying scientific criticism to cryptozoologic and legendary phenomena—came to decide the lizard-man variety of the chupacabra mystery was nothing but a cinematic fever dream. It’s fair enough, if you’re looking for “explanations,” or whatever.
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Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.