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Chupacabras 1951

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 24th, 2007

Chupacabras small

Kenneth F. Thomas, editor of the Steamshovel Press and Missouri university archivist, shares an old reference to what seems like a new occurrence of “Chupacabras” in a sinister context, which he found on August 23, 2007.

Thomas writes that he made the discovery while….

…watching the 1951 movie Bride of the Gorilla with Raymond Burr and Lon Chaney. Burr gets poisoned by a witch and either starts becoming a gorilla or it’s all in his mind and he’s running around naked at night in a South American jungle. The natives are convinced that it’s a legendary beast called something like a “sucaris.” (It was hard to tell from the dialect.) When they describe the legendary beast they are quite clearly describing a Chupacabras. The verbal descriptions were a match. When they decide to set a trap for it, they use a live goat as bait. They do bring a goat to the trap they set for the creature.

Chupa de Mayo

Is this another historical footnote about the blood-sucking four-feet-all bipedal hair-covered Chupacabras – in 1951? Well, yes it is.

Is it another building block in understanding the previous history of the use of the word Chupacabras over 50 years ago? Yes, again.

Could it all be traced to the confusion with the use of the word for the birds called “goatsuckers”? Perhaps.

Whip-poor-wills and Chuck-will’s-widows are members of the so-called ‘nightjar’ or ‘goatsucker’ family of birds whose scientific name is Caprimulgiformes. Other family members you might see or hear in Indiana are the Poor-will and Nighthawk.  The Nighthawk is probably the most commonly seen and heard member of the family these days.  There are 67 family members around the world.Goatsuckers

I’ve written before of an early discovery of the use of “Chupacabras,” as a creature that usually is noted to kill goats and suck their blood. In the previous case, the term “Chupacabras” was employed in 1960, in an episode of the famed TV western, “Bonanza.” The word “Chupacabras” was said by a Mexican character who was talking with one of the Cartwright family characters, about a creature that sucked the milk from goats. On the show, it was thus linked to being one of the “goatsuckers,” and was related to the birds, the whippoorwills.

Zoologically, night jars and whippoorwills are members of the Caprimulgiformes (goatsuckers) and thus are called “Chupacabras” in Spanish. In folklore, the birds were said to suck milk from goats. It seems a natural extension of this usage that a cryptozoological creature, a relatively new cryptid sucking the blood from goats, would also be called a “Chupacabras.” (The form is both singular and plural; see “Chupawhat?”.)

A close historical look at why Chupacabras “exploded” onto the Hispanic-Anglo scene in 1995, from the bipedal blood-sucker incidents of that year in Puerto Rico and where it “evolved from,” is a massive research project waiting to be undertaken. I hope to see it funded and conducted by cryptozoologists, zoologists, and folklorists at a Latino university someday.

In the meantime, it is the individual work of you and others. For example, Hispanic cryptozoologist Scott Corrales is well-aware of Chupacabras reports back to the 1970s, and working on those. But the more help looking into the past, the better. I thank Kenn Thomas for sharing this new early mention of the aura of Chupacabras in cinema.

Another hear of others? Can anyone add to the Bride of the Gorilla mention with a proper spelling of the creature?

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


8 Responses to “Chupacabras 1951”

  1. bill green responds:

    hey loren very interesting great article about the chupercabra. thanks bill green :)

  2. twblack responds:

    Good report Loren Thanks!

  3. jules responds:

    Yes – That was interesting Loren.

  4. tpeter responds:

    Dear Loren–the South American natives in the movie calling the metamorphoized Raymond Burr a monster something sounding like “sucaris” COULD be a garbled pronunciation of “chupacabras.” However, it also reminded me of “succarath,” a longer or extended form of “su,” a legendary Patagonian cryptid noted for supposedly devouring its young rather than letting them be captured. A few years ago, I recall your e-mailing me, in response to my query, to explain that the “su” or “succarath” and another Patagonian cryptid, the “iemisch” had had to be left out of _Cryptozoology A to Z_ because there wasn’t space enough to discuss ALL the world’s potentially interesting cryptids. There was, I remember, an interesting discussion of the su and the iemisch in Willy Let’s _The Lungish, the Dodo, and the Unicorn_, alongside Ley’s *MOST* interesting chapters on the Sea Serpent and the Dragon of the Ishtar Gate & African mokele-mbembe. So, could the makers of the “Bride of the Gorilla” movie have been thinking of the su or succarath in having the natives call the monster a “sucaris”?–Just wondering, T. Peter

  5. PhotoExpert responds:

    Very interesting! Thanks for connecting the dots so intelligently. Good reading!

  6. RuthieK responds:

    I never heard of a succarath and Googled it. I found a picture of one from a 16th Century woodcut:

    http://www.newberry.org/smith/slidesets/Images/07-4.jpg

    It looks nothing like a Chupacabra, even assuming the artist had a fanciful imagination. The next two woodcuts are of a bison and a whale, and although not accurately depicted, the textual descriptions are pretty accurate.

    Here is the text from the website which accompanies the picture (http://www.newberry.org/smith/slidesets/ss07.html) –

    “One of the difficulties in assessing the value of Thevet’s work is his practice of transferring data from one part of his text (and geographical region) to another, both within and among his works. An excellent example of this practice is his treatment of the animal pictured in this woodcut, from Cosmographie universelle. In Les Singularitez de la France antarctique, Thevet located the Succarath in the region near the Strait of Magellan, but in Cosmographie universelle he placed it in Florida. In both cases he described the animal in similar terms: it lived near the banks of rivers and, if it were pursued, took its young on its back, covered them with its tail, and fled. Thevet added that the Timucuans of Florida captured these animals simply by building moats into which they fell. Thevet’s Succarath later appeared in Edward Topsell’s The Historie of Four-Footed Beastes (1607).”

    Sixteenth-century Images of North America: The Woodcuts of André Thevet Text by Roger Schlesinger (Washington State University) © The Newberry Library, 1987″

  7. red_pill_junkie responds:

    “I hope to see it funded and conducted by cryptozoologists, zoologists, and folklorists at a Latino university someday.”

    With such scarce fundings among Latin American universities, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

    I remember how much coverage those Chupacabras stories got during the late 1990s on the Mexican television. After a while it became evident that the networks chose those stories as a kind of disinformation campaign, to divert attention to more important and pressing matters, like the zapatista guerrilla for instance.

    And because of the Chupacabra hysteria provoked, many scared Mexican farmers went out to the caves where bats sleep during the day and killed hundreds of them with torches. Since bats are the natural pollenizers of the blue agave plant (azul tequilana), the chupacabras was indirectly involved in an important decreasing of Tequila production during those years… another thing to curse those ugly critters!! ;-)

  8. MindEcdysiast responds:

    Hello Gentlemen (and Gentle-Ladies)

    As I sit here listening to Arlo Guthrie singing about Alice’s Restaurant while I eat lunch, I decided to peruse once again one of my favorite sites.

    After I read the article, it reminded me of other things that I have pointed out to friends and family as we gather ’round the old “Boob Tube” (Yes I still have an RCA console TV). I love to watch the oldies, specially SciFi and Monsters. The reason for that being that there was little research done, most of it was entertainment.

    What your post reminded me of was one of my favorites since it takes place in Puerto Rico (my birth place). The title, Last Woman On Earth; the scene, occurs at the beginning, after the divers come back to land, they are walking through a “jungle” close to the city. But that is not the problem. The problem is that during their walk one of them pulls up a dead bird from the floor, and it happens to be a Toucan. Needless to say I was surprised since I come from the real inland jungle which we normally call rain forest, and in all the time I lived there no one that I know off ever recalls seeing Toucans except in the zoo. As a matter of fact most of the country folk probably have no idea what one looks like.

    As far as Nightjars being chupacabras, that must only occur in the Americas. For what I have read they are supposed to drink or suck from a goats tit. How does this change into killing a goat I don’t know, specifically if you have seen the size of a Nightjar. By the way, all the Nightjars in the Carribean are on the endangered list so they are even scarcer (hope I used the right word) yet. And for anyone that has made their treck to Puerto Rico, you pretty much know that the farm animals are treated in a much better fashion than people in most cases, since they are the families livelihood. Any and all noises that are not regular make the farmers get up and check. And I never heard of Nightjars drinking milk from any of my neighbors in the Island.

    As far as bats, how many does it take to suck a goat dry? And how long would that take? What is the bats intake of blood, ounces, gallons? And what are the chances that if there are more than one bat, they will all drink from exactly and only two perforations? And if you have ever seen bats come out of a cave, what are the chances that only one or two will get to a single victim?

    There was a Mayor in Puerto Rico that wanted the study done and funded by the government, but of course, we all know how far that goes. I believe, this crypto-being may have a very long history, we are just not looking in the right places. These 50′s movies may have exploited something exotic or en-vogue at the time, you can never tell, but whatever it was, it was not made up just for that movie.



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