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281

chupacabra

OLogy Series
anthropology
card
281

chupacabra

OLogy Series
anthropology

Today, there are mythic creatures that some people believed to be real, like the Loch Ness monster of Scotland and the Abominable Snowman in the Himalayas. A modern myth in the Americas is the chupacabra, a fanged beast with red, glowing eyes that kills goats and cattle by sucking their blood. Many sightings were reported in Puerto Rico in the 1980s, and have since spread to Latin America and southwestern US.

In Spanish, "chupacabra" means:

goat sucker

vampire beast

magic chewer

Are you right?

Correct!

People claim that chupacabra kills animals by sucking their blood. In many reports, goats are often victims of the chupacabra.

One reason the modern myth of the chupacabra has spread so far, and so quickly, is:

its resemblance to the Loch Ness monster

the vast scientific evidence for their existence

the use of Internet and television

Are you right?

Correct!

Through television and the Internet, stories about the chupacabra and other modern mythic creatures spread quickly between communities, countries, and even continents.

Chupacabras are said to attack animals and drain their blood. Some claim the bodies look cut open with a knife. A possible explanation is:

disease

insects

both

Are you right?

Correct!

Animals that seem healthy can die from disease and infection. And some insects drink blood from fresh corpses. Also, when animals die, their bodies can expand and split open along a clean, straight line--as if cut by a knife.

Laurel Kendall, anthropologist

It's amazing how the portrayal of the chupacabra changes in different settings. In some places, it is a dangerous predator. In others, it is a sensational media creation you might spot on t-shirts and mugs.

One myth for chupacabras is that they are escaped pets of alien visitors.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

After all, they look like aliens with their large, glowing eyes. Other theories are that they're escaped genetic experiments or naturally occurring giant vampire bats.

Several dead bodies have been discovered that some people claim to be chupacabras.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

However, scientists believe the animals were coyotes with a skin disease called mange. An animal with mange may lose its hair and its skin can turn a bluish hue.

Some sightings claimed that a two-legged chupacabra hops like a kangaroo.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Descriptions of the chupacabra vary widely. Some witnesses say that it walks on two legs, but others say it walks on four.

Physical features: large, red, glowing eyes; large fangs and large claws on hands and feet; lizard-like skin or fur; backbone covered with sharp spines; human or apelike body; by some accounts, walks on two legs, but others say four
Location of sightings: Puerto Rico, Latin America, and the southwestern United States
Significance: A modern mythic creature, often blamed for unusual deaths of cattle and livestock.

Image credits: Sean Murtha; Laurel Kendall: courtesy of AMNH.