Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Chupacabra Revealed?

Posted by Ethan Clow on November 12, 2010

For over a decade a mysterious creature is thought to exist in North America, its name literally means “goat sucker”

Yes, Chupacabra. As we discussed in episode 88 of the show, the mystery of Chupacabra, if you could even call it a mystery, is solved.

First sighted in 1995 in Puerto Rico, but also seen in Mexico, and the United States, maybe even in Canada too. The name, comes from its allegedly sucking blood from goats and other cattle. It all started in Puerto Rico when livestock were found with puncture wounds and completely drained of blood.

The most common description of chupacabras is a reptile-like being, appearing to have leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin and sharp spines or quills running down its back. This form stands approximately 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 m) high, and stands and hops in a similar fashion to a kangaroo. In at least one sighting, the creature was reported to hop 20 feet (6 m). This variety is said to have a dog or panther-like nose and face, a forked tongue, and large fangs. It is said to hiss and screech when alarmed, as well as leave behind a sulfuric stench. When it screeches, some reports assert that the chupacabras’ eyes glow an unusual red which gives the witnesses nausea.

Less fantastic sightings indicated it was some sort of dog like creature, possibly an undiscovered species of coyote or wolf.

Over the years, there’s been a number of sightings and even a few bodies recovered, either killed by cars as road kill or killed by ranchers. In most cases what they discovered was not a new species but what appeared to be coyotes (or perhaps coyote-feral dog hybrids) that were diseased and mange.

Now in 2010 skeptic investigator Benjamin Radford revealed that Madelyne Tolentino, the original eyewitness, had described a creature she had recently seen in the science-fiction horror film Species as the chupacabra. The alien in the film, is nearly identical to Tolentino’s chupacabra eyewitness account: Radford revealed that Tolentino “believed that the creatures and events she saw in Species were actually happening in reality in Puerto Rico at the time,” and therefore concludes that “The popular image of the chupacabra—the one appearing on thousands of books, magazines, and Web sites as a credible eyewitness description—is in fact based on a science fiction film.”

So what about the bodies of creatures they’ve recovered?

Scientists think they’ve found the culprit, Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite that causes scabies in humans and coyotes. The chupacabras themselves are actually coyotes with severe infections by these mites, called sarcoptic mange, according to Barry O’Connor, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan.

The mites burrow into the animals’ skin causing them to lose their hair and provoking an immune response that causes their skin to become thickened and ugly. Their faces swell, and their canine teeth become more prominent, resembling fangs. Weakened by the infection, they may be more prone to attack livestock, rather than their usual prey, such as rabbits, he said.

As amusing a story chupacabras are, its a pretty good example of running with the most unlikely answer possible. Sure, it could be a coyote infected with sarcoptic mange…but doesn’t it make more sense that it’s all part some government cover up, involving alien, wolf, demon hybrids? Well actually, no. It doesn’t.

So we can now all rest easy that Chupacabras aren’t some supernatural wolf-dog thing.


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