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Sunday, 27 March 2011

'Chupacabras' Continued

First and second photos posted here are some of the more reptilian sorts of chupacabras sightings cited on Spanish-language Mexican cryptozoology sites. Below, Chupacabras 'Aliens' closely resembling depictions of the folkloric grave-robber creature sometimes also called Timbo and referenced in the prior posting. This creature also just so happens to have been incorporated into TSR's Dungeons and Dragons game under the name 'Bonesnapper' (originally sent in by a player as an optional monster additional to the original Monster Manual.)
This illustration comes from the website:

With the caption (as translated by Babel fish) Type 1: Chupacabras Chupacabras came to be to known in 1995 after a series of attacks to heads of cattle in Puerto Rico. Later it was seen in Miami and on into Central America, coming to a wider notice especially in Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Between 1996 and 1997 its activity extended to Brazil and even execeptionally with its presence reported in Spain and Italy. The few witnesses who have seen it usually agree that one is a species of saurian of great red eyes, sharpened nails, and a species of spine formed by thorns. Its behaviour is essentially animal.

And following it is a depiction of a chupacabras from an 'orphan' site on the internet. (The site itself is gone but the photo still shows up on a photo search with the attributrion to The Unicorn Garden. A visit to the site The Unicorn Garden does not show this illustration in obvious view on any of the pages. Still, I leave the credit as it was listed.)

For the most part, the traditional creatures later being CALLED chupacabras in Mexico are referred to under the blanket terms of 'Nahual' or 'Nagual.' This was originally the name of an Aztec magical practitioner and healer but more usually means the same thing as witch or demon any more. The term 'Brujo' is also used. The idea behind Naguals originally was that they had certain animal totems, which granted them powers and allowed the practitioners to assume animal form - any of a number of different forms. I suppose even hairless coyote would count. So more recently the term includes shapeshifters in general AND the totem power animals as well. The name also has a more positive meaning of protective spirits in animal form. In the case of the reptilian chupacabras, I am not certain as to what the native name of the totem power animal supernatural lizard originally was, but different recent references call it the King Lizard or King Iguana, Dragon or Dragon Lizard, Cipactli and possibly Chan. There is sometimes a confusion with other creatures such as crocodiles: 'Cipactli' originally meant a crocodile and yet there are Mayan depictions of Cipactlis that are more like iguanas. A whole series of pottery design motifs from the Cocle culture of Panama seems to include crocodile designs, iguana designs, intermediate designs and some more unregognisable abstract designs derived from them. In folk art of the modern day, the reptilian sort of chupacabras (originally a 'grave-robber') is often shown as a conventional demon with a long tail tipped by an arrowhead, large claws on all four feet, standing upright, and with fangs and horns on its head.

This is a chart of Cipactli designs showing a variety of crocodilian and iguanid features, public domain. Below is another illustration from the same series, of a Mayan Cipactli. Cipactli is still sometimes used as a reference to some reptillian lake monsters reported from sinkholes, wells and sometimes volcanic crater lakes. Some of the distinctive pre-Columbian sculptures around Lake Nicaragua apparently show similar creatures as human-sized iguana lizards, and there are reports of "monsters" in the lake with a spiny ridge like that on an iguana's back, which sometimes shows above the waterline.

The following is a carcass of a supposed Mexican chupacabras, which is presumably actually some kind of an iguana lizard (specifically genus Iguana, scale unknown. Provenance unknown, photographer unknown and from one of the cryptozoology discussion boards)

A modern sculpture intended to show an outsized iguana lizard and the photo following it to show the corresponding live lizard. The carving is from Mexico and done as a party decoration, the photograph is from Costa Rica and from a travel brochure.

Costa Rican "Cipactli" -iguana design on a pot, and below, a replica of a precolumbian iguana-effigy pot.

Best Wishes, Dale D. No infringement of any copyrights is intended and and ownership marks on the photographs chose for reference have been left as they were when the photos were found.
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  1. A reader sent me this comment by private email: "So you are saying that the Cipactli (Chipachtli) became Chupacabras"? Well, that is partly what I am saying-both names refer to composite creature categories and so it is not a one-to-one correspondance. But at times, certainly, yes. But it's a roundabout route.

    Incidentally I see that Jon Downes chose to advertise this blog with one of the conventionalized "Demon" Chupacabras images. That is actually fitting becayse the "Demon" is visualised with reptillian features.

    The iguana in this case is sometimes said to be the size of an ordinary caiman and at most 10-15 feet long. And the same creature is reported in Colombia and Venezuela as being of much the same size and appearance as a komodo dragon lizard. But it is a member of the genus Iguana, fairly certainly if the depictions of it are accurate. Reports of the creature are otherwise called "dinosaurs" in both North and South America. (AKA "River Liz")

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  2. As to the "original Chupacabras", the story is clearly a descendant of Folklore regarding the "Milk Snake" which supposedly sucks the milk out of cows and goats (and apparently also women) see the link:

    The Milk Snake story is also told about lizards (that they suck milk, not blood, in this case) and undoubtedly the story on "Bonanza" in 1965 was a reference to this same tradtional tale, which has an origin lost in the mist of time.

    Incidentally, snakes will not ordinarily drink milk and it is bad for them.

  3. My apologies for the blog posting as it was before: when I posted this blog originally, the blogger was having difficulties and some unwanted bugs got in. I only just went back to fix it, since I had the know-how to fix the bugs by this point in time (and I did not originally)

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  4. I really have a hard time believing that these creatures belong to the genus Iguana, or any genus of known animal. They are way too different from any known animal, in my opinion, to be classified as such.

    I think that these creatures (as well as the ones reported from the USA) are most-likely either terrestrial crocodilians that walk bipedally and are endothermic, or lizards which have evolved an erect posture and possibly endothermy. I also am of the opinion that these animals' eyes are forward-facing, or at least partially so.

    1. Once again, you are assuming one kind, or making assumptions about all the reports that do not hold universally. Some of the descriptions and depictions actually ARE good matches for really big iguanid lizards. Others are not. Some are really good matches for outsized false vampire bats, and so on own the line. And some sound like Reptoid Aliens out of UFOs. And I have photographs from two different sources purporting to show the skull and skeleton of "Chupacabras" from Mexico, and they are very clearly very large iguanas.

    2. Now, I do not disagree with you that many different creatures are reported, and that not all sightings are of the same creature. And I also agree with you that the animals are probably large iguanid lizards. However, the sighting reports have led me to conclude that these animals probably do have forward-facing eyes, and that they are probably endothermic, or at least more capable of controlling their body temperature than most other modern reptiles.

      This is because most sightings happen at night, and seem to indicate that these animals are predators which use precision to strike at prey. To me, this indicates an increased likelihood of forward-facing eyes, and therefore, binocular vision. Also, they appear to be very active. Some witnesses have even described them as "birdlime". This, to me, indicates endothermy, at least to some degree.

    3. And I in turn have said that you are going to have to specify to me just exactly which reports you are talking about. I have a feeling I would classify some of the reports you are talking about in the Reptoid category and not the Reptile one. In this blog entry, the focus is on the reptioles: other, different entries are here to deal with reports of Reptoids and Lizardmen. I think we are getting our wires crossed.


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