LYRIC O' THE DAY:
I tried to keep her on a short leash
I tried to calm her down
I tried to ram her into the ground
--Seether, Veruca Salt
First order of business is to thank the lovely Laila Knight for this:
I’m thrilled to know that my ramblings amuse at least one other person than just me. I stumbled upon Laila's blog one day and have been held spellbound ever since. And she's a Nebraska girl, which means we are both Children of the Corn. I hope to someday drink lots of Guinness with her and search for fairy mounds.
Speaking of Guinness, the other night I heard something hurling itself against our patio door. At first I thought it was just our half-blind Siamese getting her grub on--the cat has a tendency to really enjoy her food. My next thought was that it was a Chupacabra, so I grabbed the first thing I believed to be a weapon. I stumbled to the window to see a ball of fur that was much larger than my familiar ball of fur. But before I could dial the National Enquirer, I flipped on the porch light in time to see five pairs of masked eyes staring back at me. They were playing street hockey with a bag of IAMS cat food using several stripped stalks of corn from our garden. I tried to scare them away, but apparently me in a tank top and boxers shaking an Elmo slipper is just not that scary. I think I heard them laughing as they lumbered across the yard into the night.
Our corn is ruined, but I must thank Rocky and his buddies for my inspiration for this Sunday’s mythbusters: let’s welcome El Chupacabra.
The Chupacabra is mostly a contemporary legend with the majority of reports of its existence beginning in the mid 90s in Puerto Rico. However, there have been stories of creatures exsanguinating livestock since Coronado’s time. The modern Chupacabra is felt to be a folkloric descendant of The Moca Vampire, a creature blamed for the gruesome deaths of farm animals in Moca, Puerto Rico in 1975 shortly after a UFO was sighted in the area.
Coincidence? I think not.
The killed animals reportedly exhibited puncture wounds and were drained of their blood. Apparently the beast had a taste for goat, so many locals referred to it as a “goat sucker.” Which is far more poetic in the native tongue as “Chupacabra.” Sightings died down until 1995 when farm animals again were showing up deathly anemic in Canovanas, Puerto Rico. An eyewitness described seeing a creature so frightening that the mayor of the city led a hunting party in search of it--complete with crucifixes, rifles and a caged goat. He did not find the creature, but he did get re-elected.
The first American sighting was in Florida in 1995 when 27 chickens and 2 goats turned up dead near Miami, mutilated and drained of blood. Chupacabra attacks have since been recorded from Hawaii to NYC to Russia. In recent years, the Chupacabra has rocketed into Kardashian-esque popularity in terms of paranormal interest. It even has its own Facebook page.
What is the draw of a creature that rarely attacks a human, but is notorious for killing livestock by draining their blood like a Homo sapiens-sympathizing sparkling vampire? Perhaps it’s the visual:
|Who you callin' goat sucker?|
Although there have been many descriptions of the Chupacabra, most say it is a creature about 3 to 4 feet tall with black or red eyes, fangs, pointed ears, a wolfish face, spikes or fins on its back, and if you get close enough, the pleasant aroma of sulfur. Actually, that sounds a lot like my college advisor. I will never forgive him; I was supposed to be a theater major, dammit.
In some Central American myth, El Chupacabra can also have bat-like wings and blends into its surroundings by changing color just like a chameleon. It moves by leaping on powerful hind legs or flying, and often emits a hissing noise when disturbed. Whoever hears it experiences waves of nausea and pain, and possibly amnesia. This is what I think it might sound like. After looking through so many pictures, it’s hard not to think that the Chupacabra may have a relative on the cryptozoological tree, the gargoyle. Certainly, some eyewitnesses describe the creature as gargoyle-esque.
There are many speculations on the origin of the Chupacabra. One theory is that the creature is the abandoned pet of some extra-terrestrial life form that came to Earth eons ago. Which means that at some point, the Earth became the Humane society drop-off for irresponsible alien pet owners. I present as evidence of this theory:
|If Stitch is a Chupacabra I totally want one.|
If you like conspiracy theory, there’s the assertion that Chupacabra is a NASA gene manipulation experiment gone bad. The most vocal supporter of this argument is Jorge Martin, a self proclaimed UFO researcher and Puerto Rican journalist. Martin claims that a Chinese-Russian scientist named Dr. Tsian Kanchen has done multiple experiments splicing the genetic code of different creatures, creating what he calls Anomalous Biological Entities, or A.B.E's. Martin--although without corroboration by Dr. Kanchen--has asserted that the Chupacabra is the result of one of these experiments, which should not be confused with R.O.U.S.'s of The Princess Bride notoriety.
|Artist's depiction of a Chupacabra from blueroadrunner.com|
|Rodent of Unusual Size. Uh, wait a minute. . .something looks familiar.|
There are also those concrete thinkers out there who believe El Chupacabra is nothing more than a wild dog or other animal getting an easy meal via livestock. So far, they may be right. In 2009, a taxidermist in Blanco, Texas, thought he had a chupacabra--turned out it was a type of hairless dog native to Mexico and Central America called a Xoloitzcuintle. Also known as a Xolo, this breed is over 3000 years old and was revered by the ancient Aztecs as a sacred animal, charged with leading its owner through the underworld when the time came. They also raised it for its meat, which tells me that sacred to the Aztecs might not have been all it was cracked up to be.
When carcasses of creatures believed to be Chupacabras have been found and studied, none have revealed a new species. Most are identified as coyotes or raccoons with mange. Other unusual creatures that have been accused of being Chupacabras include an albino civet cat with a skin disease and in one case, an ocean skate. The most recent sighting of a Chupacabra (outside a Maryland hospital) actually ended with the animal being lured into a trap and videotaped. “Prince Chupa” was described as a kangaroo-rat-dog mix, but was ultimately identified by Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a fox with mange. Apparently this was the same week that the hospital instituted a smoke-free policy. Nicotine withdrawal can be a bitch.
|Please don't eat me!|
Benjamin Radford, a paranormal investigator and deputy editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer, believes he has debunked the myth of the Chupacabra in his book, "Tracking the Chupacabra, The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction and Folklore". After extensive study of the all of the sightings and stories (including a personal trek in a Nicaraguan jungle to find the critter), Radford traced the physical description of the monster back to Canovanas, Puerto Rico to the original eyewitness account by Madelyne Tolentino. After talking with her, Radford thought Ms. Tolentino described a creature that was eerily similar to the 1995 human/alien hybrid in Species. Turns out, she had seen the movie only weeks prior to her run-in with El Chupacabra.
|This is Ms. Tolentino's original description of the creature, thanks to skepdic.com.|
|And this is Sil from Species.|
Could the Chupacabra just be the subliminal creation of one woman’s mind and spread throughout the world by those who want to believe? Ms. Tolentino was convinced she saw something that day in 1995, but the beast may have been from Hollywood, not from places unknown.