An exploration of our Earth's ever-captivating fauna through musings on the bizarre side of Zoology, Cryptozoology, Paleontology, and Paleoanthropology

Sunday, August 18, 2013

1995 Puerto Rico Chupacabra Was a Porcupine?

Comparison between an upright standing porcupine and a cartoon illustration of a Chupacabras which exhibits most of the features in Ms. Tolentino's sketch of the alleged Chupacabras which she saw. 
I was recently doing research into what animals could have been behind alleged Chupacabras sightings in Latin America. While it is well established that the sightings and carcasses of alleged hairless, dog-like Chupacabras were due to canines with mange, some early alleged sightings were different and thus enigmatic. In the article which I am sharing a link to here, cryptozoological researcher Dale Drinnon investigates what the possible identity of the Chupacabras (yes, Chupacabras is also a singular form) which Madelyne Tolentino allegedly saw in Puerto Rico in the year 1995. This sighting is regarded to have been the start of the Chupacabras craze, and is thought by Benjamin Radford to have been inspired by thoughts of the humanoid alien from the movie Species. However, Dale does not agree with Mr. Radford's view, and points out that the animal which Ms. Tolentino described and sketched does not have the human female proportions or features which the Species alien did.
He points out that a known mammal shares the features of this and other alleged Chupacabras such as the length/height of around four feet, the quill covered body, the ability to stand and walk upright, the clawed hands and feet which look like those of a habitual quadruped, the round head and snout, the black and beady eyes, red eye glow and red patch around the eyes, the mammalian "wet" nose, the cleft upper lip, the gnawing rodent-like incisors, and the occasionally reported ears and whiskers. Surprisingly, this bizarre mammal is the porcupine, likely the Mexican hairy porcupine in this case. Mexican hairy porcupines exhibit most of the aforementioned features, and also have a greenish hue to their bodies at times. I think that Dale is possibly correct with this hypothesis, and I agree with his observations and conclusion. So before you cast this hypothesis out as being ridiculous, keep the previously mentioned information in mind and read Dale's article on the subject. The link to his excellent article is here: Frontiers of Zoology: 1995 Puerto Rico Chupacabras

(Update): Cameron McCormick later suggested to me on Facebook that another possible candidate for the identity of the Tolentino animal is an armored rat (Hoplomys gymnurus). Although this species is not native to Puerto Rico, Cameron suggested that as people keep and release such strange animals it would be hard to rule out any exotic. I think this is certainly a possibility, and you can read more about this bizarre rat species here.
An armored rat

10 comments:

  1. That makes so much sense jay. Great work

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  2. Here is a question that seems to have been forgotten about as to what animal needs blood to survive? Or have we forgotten about what the Chupacabra or otherwise known as “the goat sucker” is famously known for? Many of the sightings go along with the number of dead livestock found with drained blood. Again what natural creature would require that amount of blood to live?

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    1. Actually, nobody has ever seen a Chupacabra make a kill, and the animal carcasses actually have most of their blood. They're pretty universally considered to be identical to regular feral dog attacks.

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    2. Yes, thank you for answering that comment Tyler. I meant to share Dr. Shuker's recent article on the subject but I had forgotten. So yes, it seems that the seemingly blood drained carcasses are the work of common predators rather than a vampiric unknown animal. The carcasses usually do have most of their blood, as Tyler mentioned. You can read more about this here: http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2013/07/why-blood-drained-carcases-are-not-work.html

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  3. Excellent post, Jay, and excellent work by Dale!

    Like many crypto-cases, I think we're dealing with a complex interplay of real experiences, misperceptions, folklore and social factors when looking at the Chupacabras phenomenon as a whole. But, in the case of this particular sighting, the porcupine explanation seems to work very well. And it would also work for subsequent sightings, once the social factors I alluded to above took effect.

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    1. Absolutely, I totally agree that there are so many factors in play

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