Chupa…what? The elusive chupacabra
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Have you ever thought about how there are animals that blur the line between taxonomic classes and seem the product of an evolutionary hiccup? Examples that come to mind: the duck-billed platypus, the armadillo, the bat, and the pangolin. And I believe we can add the chupacabra to the list.
Pronounced (chew•pah•cah•brah), the creature is legendary in Latin America with Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Southwestern United States being particular hotbeds of activity.
Cryptid or taxonomic anomoly?
A somewhat recent addition to the world of cryptids—a world that includes the Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and the Jersey devil—the earliest documented chupacabra sightings occurred in the mid-1990s.
Translated from Spanish, chupacabra means “goat sucker,” because its victims tend to be smaller livestock, such as goats and sheep, that have had their blood drained through three puncture wounds to the chest. These puncture wounds are large enough in circumference to push an adult finger into. Keep that in mind.
Above all else, the chupacabra is a bloodsucker like a lamprey, tick, flea, or leech; but has more in common with the oxpecker, vampire finch, and vampire bat. The oxpecker and vampire finch are birds that puncture their prey with their beaks and then drink the victim’s blood. The vampire bat, a mammal, uses its sharp teeth to cut open its victims and then laps up the blood like a kitten with a warm saucer of milk.
Related post: The Vampire of Virginia
Similar to the duck-billed platypus and the bat, the chupacabra stands on a bridge between being avian (bird) or mammal and ends up being a mash-up of both.
Sightings put the chupacabra at around 5 feet tall when standing on its hind legs. And powerful hind legs they are.
Be it dog or bird?
Skeptics comment that the sightings of the hairless chupacabra are actually sightings of dogs with mange. They might not be wrong. Just about all the photos online are of dogs with mange. But categorizing the creatures in these photos as chupacabra ignores the question roaring in the room, “but what about the three large punctures wounds to the chest?” The wounds could not have been rendered by any dog as we know it. Casting further suspicion on these photos is the fact that the chupacabra is a nocturnal beast and that the photos tend to be of the daytime variety.
Enter the cassowary, oft-labeled “the world’s most dangerous bird.” Standing at roughly six and a half feet tall and weighing in at around 160 pounds, the cassowary is a large, squat bird similar to an emu or ostrich. Existing principally on a diet of fruit, the cassowary might seem an unlikely candidate for comparison with the bloodsucking chupacabra. However, the similarity between the two lies not in diet but in physicality.
Sightings put the chupacabra at around 5 feet tall when standing on its hind legs. And powerful hind legs they are. Many reports include the chupacabra’s ability to leap and bound about like a kangaroo.
Throw in a thirst for blood like that of the vampire finch, oxpecker, or vampire bat and—voilà—you have the chupacabra.
Like the emu and ostrich, the cassowary’s legs are incredibly strong, and here is where its potential to inflict mortal damage begins. The legs end with three long, dagger-like claws.
By nature a shy, mellow, and solitary creature, when the cassowary is cornered or agitated, the switch is flipped and it’s game on. The large bird leaps up and throws its talons at its antagonizer. The powerful strike can disembowel a human in an instant.
A mashup of different creatures thrown into one
Earlier I mentioned the chupacabra stands on a bridge between bird and mammal, and exists as a mash-up of both; well the bird would be the cassowary and the mammal would be the kangaroo. Throw in a thirst for blood like that of the vampire finch, oxpecker, or vampire bat and—voilà—you have the chupacabra.
Reports often contain descriptions of the nocturnal chupacabra as hairless, with spines along its backbone and possessing large red eyes. The spines and hairlessness are a throwback to more avian/reptilian form (perhaps prehistoric). The eyes are not red but reflect as red at night—just like an alligator’s. One does not need to stretch the imagination much to grasp the plausibility of the chupacabra’s existence.
In the beginning, I mentioned that I thought the chupacabra was incorrectly classified as a cryptid. Here’s why: as we move through this millennium the human population expands not only in numbers but also in landmass occupied. Inch-by-inch we encroach, usurp, and inhabit which forces encounters with species known and yet known. A prime example is the Bili ape (a.k.a. the Bondo mystery ape). Around the same time as the first chupacabra sightings, a new species of ape once thought more legend than reality was being “discovered” in the Congo by the western world. With characteristics of both the chimp and gorilla, the Bili ape resembles a chimpanzee that is about the size of a gorilla (standing around 5.5 feet). The locals categorize the mystery ape as a “lion killer.”
Animals robbed of the land that was their territory now make their way into suburban and urban centers on a more and more common basis. And this will only increase.
I believe that we will come to realize that many species now considered creatures of mystery, myth or lore will be proven real before they fall quickly into extinction—and I believe the chupacabra is one such species.
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