Everybody likes a story about monsters. The problem is that, generally, these creatures live in very distant lands or at the bottom of dark lakes. However, there is a being that has defied all legends, achieved world fame: the Chupacabra.
There are videos, photos, and above all many stories. The chupacabra myth has Latin American origins but reaches countries such as the United States or Russia.
Much has been written, there are even documentaries, to unravel what is reality and what is a legend. Benjamin Radford grew up amidst accounts of this seemingly supernatural being and as a member of the Committee for Skeptic Inquiry in the United States.
He decided to carry out compilation work to determine the veracity of its existence. His research shows that the phenomenon is rather modern and that the first person who claimed to have seen it was Madeylen Tolentino, from Canóvanas, Puerto Rico, in 1995.
In his description, it was a “terrifying being, similar to an extraterrestrial”, which passed in front of the window of his house. Then more and more accounts appeared that depicted him as a bipedal creature, between 1.20 and 1.50 meters tall, with large eyes, claws, and spikes along its back.
“At first I was skeptical about the existence of the creature. At the same time, I was aware of the possibility of discovering a new animal. I didn’t want to ridicule the case or dismiss it. If the chupacabra was real, I wanted to find it,” Radford explained.
But the chupacabra did not become famous only for its appearance, but for being responsible for the mutilation of cattle. The “beast”, as it was called at first, sucked blood from cows through perforations in the neck. Already in this millennium, his characterizations began to vary and he was described as a wild animal without hair, which was already four-legged.
Eventually, some could be hunted or were found dead, so Radford got down to business and collected DNA samples. In total there were 12 bodies, which were found in the state of Texas and other areas in the southeastern United States.
“When you have a body, everything changes. You can take DNA samples, bone samples, you have morphology,” he said. The studies were lapidary with the legend: the bodies belonged to dogs, coyotes, or raccoons, and even one was a fish.
“The reason these animals were identified as chupacabra was that they lost their hair. They had sarcoptic mange caused by mites, which is very common,” Radford said. For her part, Allison Diesel, a professor at Texas A&M University and specialist in inflammatory skin diseases, confirmed this version: “This disease can be frightening enough to make any animal look like a monster.
For example, the Mangy dogs are almost bald, with parts of the skin red or almost black, and very thick. If you add to that the wounds that the animal takes when it scratches, you end up with a good prospect of the chupacabra.
The question, then, was how did these dogs take blood from cows? It is not uncommon for these animals – dogs and coyotes – to bite on the neck when they attack, and leave the bodies in place, so the victim dies of internal bleeding, showing no other injuries beyond the perforations in the neck” – Bill Schutt, from the Museum of Natural History in New York, explained to the BBC.
However, Schutt reopens a question about whether the bodies analyzed are what cause the mutilation of cattle, since from his experience animals that feed on the blood of others do not act in this way: “Species that suck blood, they get it from the surface of their victims’ skin, they don’t look for it in the jugular vein. ” A creature the size of a dog “would starve quickly if it fed on blood, due to a lack of essential components such as fat.” For Radford, his conclusions are decisive: the chupacabra does not exist, they are only speculations of people who see what they want to see, however, he could not give a total closure to his theory. Myth or Reality?
The scientific explanation to the myth
According to some experts in biology and wild animals who came to the area, the issue of blood loss could be due, rather, to the fact that the animal in question had unintentionally perforated some large artery, causing its victims to bleed.
It, therefore, remained to know which animal it was, and these researchers did not have much trouble finding an answer.
At that time, there had been many cases of coyotes affected by mange, a typical disease of all breeds that often affects dogs, wolves, and other canids, in which it causes symptoms such as hair loss, thick skin, or bad smell, all of them described by witnesses who claimed to have seen the Chupacabra.
Also, these animals were possibly too weakened to hunt wild prey, so they turned to livestock, much easier to capture.