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Media Goes Chupagaga

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 15th, 2010

The Christian Science Monitor is running an article on the kind of routine stories coming out of Texas, which are being tied to cryptozoology, although they have little to do with the science. Here are some parts of it:

Chupacabra found in Texas: Is it a coyote?

The chupacabra found in Texas is no chupacabra, but probably a hairless coyote, according to one researcher.

By Stephen Kurczy, Correspondent / July 14, 2010

Boston

The chupacabra found in Texas this week and killed by an animal control officer appears to be yet another case of mistaken identity.

“It’s your typical mangy canid,” says Loren Coleman, who heads the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine and has researched the legend of the chupacabra, which means “goat-sucker” in Spanish. “It’s probably a coyote with mange.”

In a video report this week, San Antontio-based WOAI.com reported that a Hood County rancher heard a growl come from his barn. When he looked inside, “he saw the ugliest creature he’s ever seen. An animal officer came out, pulled the trigger, killing what some believe is the mythical or mystical goat-sucker.”

“All I know is, it wasn’t normal,” Frank Hackett, the Hood County Animal Control officer who killed the beast, said in the TV report. “It was ugly, real ugly, and I’m not going to lie on that one.”

DNA tests are now being done on the animal.

The Hood County Animal Control office declined to take questions from the Monitor today, redirecting all queries to the office of Chief Deputy George “Biff” Temple, who did not return a phone call.

This was by no means the first chupacabra sighting in Texas. DNA tests on similar looking animals found on separated occasions in 2004 revealed them to be coyoties. In January, CBS News reported that several golf course workers found the corpse of a chupacabra.

But Mr. Coleman, author of more than 30 books on mythical creatures, including Cryptozoology A To Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature, says the most recent chupacabra sighting is only another case of media hype.

Most sightings, he says, turn out to be dogs, foxes, or coyotes with mange – the skin disease caused by parasitic mites.

“There is absolutely nothing complex, nothing unexplainable, nothing mysterious about them,” he says. “What is mysterious is that the media keeps writing about them.”


The paper continues later,

The latest supposed chupacabra sighting in Texas appears to be a coyote, says Coleman, reached by phone.

“A lot of people seem unaware of how strange coyotes look without hair,” he says. “Coyotes have a bushy coat and very pronounced nose. But as soon as they lose their hair they look extremely weird and strange to people.”

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.


5 Responses to “Media Goes Chupagaga”

  1. Tarzanboyy responds:

    Why is this even covered in the media? People can’t possibly be idiotic enough to believe that a canine with a bad case of mange is a chupacabras. It never fit the description of the cryptid and it never will. It drives me nuts.

  2. Ragnar responds:

    As for the descriptions of the chupacabra being different from these creatures, I would note that eyewitnesses can be wrong. Does anyone have a picture of the chupacabra as described or is it just sightings?

  3. mystery_man responds:

    I would add that it isn’t just coyotes that look strange or unearthly without their hair. Many, many animals take on an odd, unrecognizeable appearance when stripped of their hair. We have seen this time and time again in cryptozoology, with hairless bears, raccoons, and what have you. Many, especially the general public, have no idea what these various species look like without hair, and many who are even familiar with these animals can be struck by how odd they can look when devoid of hair.

    Perhaps we need a database of some kind? Maybe something giving us images, even ones that are computer generated, of what various common species look like without their hair? This could be perhaps a good reference to look to in these cases.

    What is sad to me is that when a hairless animal shows up, there is often a lack of rational analysis of what we are seeing and rather a jump to more outlandish or bizarre explanations. In my opinion, there is a lot of grasping at straws in these cases, with explanations ranging from the invariable Chupacabras all the way to aliens. Why is this? Would the first, most rational, scientific response not to be to investigate whether this is in fact just a hairless version of a known or even common species? Then when that analysis turns up nothing, then you go looking to other explanations. Occam’s Razor applies here. Eliminate the known before you go grasping for the unknown.

    What you have here with a hairless coyote being billed as a Chupacabras before determining whether it is indeed a coyote or perhaps without even considering that, is not only not science but indeed the very opposite of science. I’d like to see people keep their heads and their wits about them when investigating these things.

    Another corrollary of the “hairless animal = strange creature” phenomena that I think pertains to this discussion is when decomposed carcasses get immediate billing as something outside known science. Again, we have seen this time and time again in this field, and to me it is a very similar situation to these hairless animals. Decomposing animals can take on an unearthly, bizarre appearance. You have the process of deterioration, bloating, plus the effects of scavengers working over the carcass, which can lead to the loss of soft tissues and an altered appearance (scavengers tend to go for the soft parts first) and yes, even hairloss. So the same rules apply here as they would to animals that have taken on a strange appearance due to hair loss, such as these coyotes.

    If we want to keep a scientific approach, when these sorts of strange carcasses or hairless animals show up, we need to discern what known species could be the culprit before even speculating on unknowns. If not, then as Loren says, this has very little to do with science.

    I want to find answers, not make headlines.

  4. Tarzanboyy responds:

    The descriptions vary, but early on, most accounts describe it as about four feet tall, bipedal, with large glowing eyes, reptilian skin, spines and a relatively short muzzle.

    Somehow or another, the waters got muddied by somebody who decided to label a hairless canine as a ‘chupacabra’ because someone found one of these things near supposed “chupacabra killings.”
    I couldn’t tell you whether or not the chupcabra is real as it was originally described, but the media and people who clearly don’t have two braincells to rub together have rendered the designation “Chupacabra” profoundly meaningless in cryptozoology.

  5. Zilla responds:

    I am so sick of this. The media has destroyed any interest I have in this cryptid.



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