Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The above image is what was first reported by the people in Puerto Rico in 1995. The Chupacabras, from chupar "to suck" and cabra "goat", literally "goat sucker", is a cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas. It is associated more recently with sightings of an allegedly unknown animal in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States, especially in the latter's Latin American communities.
The descriptions vary but tend to stay close to the original: "a heavy creature, the size of a small bear, with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail."
The first reported attack was in March of 1995 where eight goats were supposedly drained of their blood with puncture wounds on the necks of the animals. In August of that year another sighting was reported in the Puerto Rican town of Canóvanas, when as many as 150 farm animals and pets were reportedly killed. In 1975, similar killings in the small town of Moca, were attributed to El Vampiro de Moca or the Vampire of Moca and were originally attributed to a satanic cult, but is now concidered by some to be the earliest incident of the Chupacabra. Since then the creature or creatures have been spotted in the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Brazil, United States, and Mexico.
In September of 2010, more than 300 goats owned by shepherds in Mexico’s Puebla state have been decapitated by someone, or something, that hasn’t yet been tracked down. There was very little evidence of blood in the area where the goat bodies were found and the locals claim it to be the work of the Chupacabras, which drinks the blood of it's victims using a probosis like appendage in it's mouth according to some reports since 1995.
Now, in recent years in America, there have been reports of "Chupacabras" ranging from Texas to Maine and even a report of a sighting in Russia of all places. However, these sightings differ greatly with the traditional depiction of the Chupacabra. Described variously as a large rat like creature to animals that look like blue or blue-gray hairlesss dogs, they apparently attack livestock like their Latin cousins. However, in many cases (Photos below) the dead specimens have been determined to be dogs, coyotes or coy-dogs with scabies, mange or both resulting in hairlessness and wrinkled scabbed flesh. Their unusual appearence is because of the parasites in their skin, causing their hair to fall off and their skin to become irritated.
This is the one thing about the Chupacabra that bothers me. The above images are obviously canine, to anyone with even a basic knowledge of canine body form, but people see a hairless dog wandering around and they automatically say it's a Chupacabra despite the fact that it looks nothing like the traditional descriptions or sightings of the creature. The fact that science has proven that the specimens collected are nothing more then parasite carrying canines doesn't seem to dissuede Americans from their erroneous belief that these are the Goat Suckers of legend. In my opinion, the sure fire way to tell if a creature is one we already know, regardless of what it looks like in the flesh, is to look at the skull and they all have canine skulls so clearly they are dogs or their relatives. End of story.
The image below, by kjmarch at DeviantArt, is a good representation of the various but similar descriptions made from various sightings over the years...and the closest one to a dog in it, the second from the left, still doesn't look like the dogs reported in America as the Chupacabras.
In the Philippines, another cryptid called the Sigbin is slightly similar to the Chupacabra. It is said to walk backwards with its head lowered between its hind legs, and to have the ability to become invisible to other creatures, especially humans. It resembles a hornless goat, but has very large ears which it can clap like a pair of hands and a long, flexible tail that can be used as a whip. The Sigbin is said to emit a nauseating odor and drinks the blood of it's victims.
The Peuchen of Chile is another cousin of the Chupacabra and descriptions are similar to it's Latin brethren. However, it is thought by most scientists to be nothing more then a legend built on the local populations of Vampire Bats but are described as winged snakes so the bat idea seems off to me.
The Chupacabra has also had a long run in the media, probably because it catches the attention and fear of the audience. It's been the star of a SyFy movie called "Chupacabra: Dark Seas" as well as featured in cartoons like "Dexter's Laboratory", "The Venture Brothers" and the anime "Negima?!". A Scooby-Doo movie was also based on it, "Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico" and the show "X-Files" had an episode depicting it. There is even a Welsh rock band, "Super Furry Animals", that have a song on their 1997 album "Radiator" called "Chupacabras".
So in my opinion, the Chupacabras is only a Chupa if it fits the description from the original sightings in 1995, not the American "cousin" of it. Pretty much every American version is just a canine with parasites, so frankly I don't think Cryptozoology should be concerned about them; it's technically a wildlife concern for the Rangers and officials concerned with disease control. And the fact that the Chupa is so meshed with popular media just attests to the fact that it's a fascinating critter, be it real or legend.
I think that if it is real, it could possibly be a relative of Vampire Bats, but the size stumps me. So maybe it's something else entirely, a new species undiscovered by science...or it could just be a known predator and flies could be eatting up the blood before anyone notices the dead. We may never know...but I keep hoping and will continue to research this in the hopes that some day the entire mystery can be solved.
Keep your eyes peeled though if you own goats or chickens! El Chupacabras may be lurking just around the corner...