Thursday, August 21, 2008

An X-Files Invention or an Unidentified Mammal?

The Chupacabra: An X-Files Invention or an Unidentified Mammal?
Texas Deputy Catches Chupacabra on Tape
By By Angie Mohr, published Aug 12, 2008

Dewitt County Sherriff's Office's deputy Corporal Brandol Riedel caught images on his cruiser's dash cam on August 8 of what he believes to be a real live chupacabra. What makes this chupacabra sighting different than others in the southern United States and Mexico is that Riedel committed the creature to tape in full daylight. The tape, lasting less than a minute, shows an animal, supposedly a chupacabra, loping down the road away from the squad car. The animal is dark-skinned and hairless. Its front legs appear slightly shorter than its hind legs, giving the creature a stilted and awkward gait. But it is when the animal turns its head in profile that you realize you are not seeing a run-of-the-mill dog. The animal's snout is longer than a normal dog's snout, giving it an out-of-proportion appearance.

The chupacabra (a Spanish name that roughly translates into "goat sucker") became an almost mythical creature in 1995 when the first attacks on farm animals were discovered in Puerto Rico. The first documented attack left eight sheep dead and exsanguinated (drained of blood), a feat not possible by dogs or coyotes. Since then, many other instances of farm animal or poultry death have been attributed to the chupacabra, who has taken on mystical and dangerous properties in common lore.

In August of 2007, three unidentified animals were found dead by Phylis Canion in Cuero, Texas. She photographed one of them before turning the animals over to the Texas State University for testing. DNA testing showed that the animals were most likely coyotes with extreme cases of mange. Riedel's chupacabra bears a significant visual resemblance to the 2007 case.

The re-emergence of the chupacabra tale coincides with the discovery of the "Montauk Monster" on a beach at the eastern end of Long Island last week. The Montauk Monster is also a hairless animal with features that are somewhat doglike but also resemble a reptile.

What are these creatures? Undiscovered species? Alien migrants? The answer is likely more mundane yet more frightening than that. Here in Georgia, loggerhead turtles show up on the beaches with no natural shell. Pigs living in isolation on a nearby barrier island have developed physical characteristics unknown to other pigs. The answer is likely that the impact we, as humans, are having on the earth is causing genetic mutations in wild species. All animals, including humans, attempt to adapt to climate change in an effort to continue the species. Perhaps the chupacabra is simply an adaptation of an animal just trying to get by. Eventually, science will know the answer, but, until then, people will continue to speculate about scary monsters.


No comments: