img src=”http://weirdthings.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/skitched-20090921-113627.jpg” alt=”skitched-20090921-113627.jpg” border=”1″ width=”208″ height=”203″ align=”right” hspace=”10″ vspace=”10″/>It’s been less than 20 years since the first report of an elusive blood-drinking monster referred to by local Puerto Rican farmers as El Chupacabra, and already the creature has become a cryptozoological stalwart, amassing news clippings from a growing number of disparate nations and settling its grotesque body down into an ever-deepening pop cultural niche. Certainly, the creature’s speedy rise to cryptid infamy is attributable to the Internet and globalized media. More than that, though, El Chupacabra is a result of the modern age encroaching upon an agricultural working class that, for the first time, found their dogmatic perception of nature challenged.
El Chupacabra’s legend didn’t start with a reported sighting, but rather with the discovery of several exsanguinated goat carcasses that bore what appeared to be a distinctive, three-holed puncture wound. Local farmers, whose inherited knowledge of area wildlife functions at an almost genetic level, understandably panicked at the sight of this wholly unfamiliar, and seemingly effortless, brutality. Especially given that Puerto Rico is an island, making the natural or forced migration of distant land mammals virtually impossible, it’s understandable that people succumbed to a kind of fearful origami, folding their terror into a fantastical shape that seemed primed for tri-toothed goat sucking – El Chupacabra, a spined monster, about the size of a large dog, that looks at once mammalian and reptilian. Supernatural-obsessed fringe media outlets in North America began obsessing over the beast and, within months, the number of alleged sightings skyrocketed.
What the Puerto Rican farmers didn’t know was that the panther, a cunning predator, had recently been illegally imported and introduced into the country’s biosphere. Meanwhile, industrial expansion, human population growth and construction had had a devastating effect on the eco-systems of Mexico and the American Southwest. Many coyotes and wild dogs lost their homes and found natural food sources dwindling. Often, malnutrition and mange caused these animals to lose their fur, develop hideous scabs and become increasingly desperate and vicious. Alternative prey, like farm animals, became a necessity for the newly displaced coyote population. These sick, desperate and grotesque-looking animals, in feeding themselves, nourished the Chupacabra legend, and despite the indisputable fact that a majority of sighted Chupacabras shared notable physical similarities with diseased coyotes, the media frenzy continued.
Eventually, the UFO-obsessed paranormal community embraced El Chupacabra, and employed it in their indefatigable search for truth.
Wednesday: El Chupacabra and E.T.</em