Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 24th, 2007
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.
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?
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.