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Monday, 26 September 2011

Chupacabras SOLVED

For some odd reason I announced my findings on this blog months ago and very few people took any sort of notice at all.

My initial reaction was that Benjamin Radford wanted a description of a creature CALLED A Chupacabras matched to a typical Chupacabras description from earlier than 1995. My reply was that the descriptions were there, the descriptions were traditional (and can be traced back into the 1500s and 1600s) but that the NAMES they were being called did not include "Chupacabras"

I have amended that stance: there is good proof that the iguana lizards were being called "Goatsuckers" in Spanish  even as the equivalent monitor lizards were being blamed for sucking the milk of goats in the 1960s and back to the 1920s, and this from an article published on the internet by 2000. Furthermore, several of the native terms SOUND like "Chupas" up to including this most recent posting about "Zupays" using the Peruvian Quechua word for "Devils". And so I take back that qualification I had made in the first place: The NAME is in there, too. And from PreColumbian times.

July 15, 2011
CHUPAS and "ZUPAYS" of South America:
The recently discovered South American dinosaur "Zupaysaurus" has the first part of its name the Quechua word for "Devil" and it was named that because it was said to resemble "Devil (Dragon) Lizards" reported in the Northern-Argentina area. These were the local equivalent to "Chupacabras" reports and they were said to resemble the agressive small dinosaurs called "Raptors" by the fans (After Velociraptor, the word "Raptor" alone only means "Hunter" and conventionally refers more properly to Birds-of-Prey.) "Living Dinosaur" proponents have heard reports of such creatures and I recall at least one recent posting about the creatures on the CFZ Blog. It should be noted that the Marpilli was suppsed to be a sawbacked lizardlike creature blamed for cattle mutilations as far back as the 1920s going by Whittall's sources.

Zupaysaurus the "Devil Lizard" much like tradtional "Devil Lizards" of South American mythology. The mythological creatures are very like the "Mini-Rex" or River Liz[ards] reported in the SW USA, and to the biped-lizardlike Chupacabras. Like those reports, the South American original is likely to be a large spinybacked Iguana lizard that is capable of running on its hind legs: Likely the males have red eyes. It is possibly a species of the genus Iguana if it is anything like the similar reports from Mexico. It is probably fair to refer to the original mythical creatures as Zupays (Devils)Best Wishes, Dale D.

May 17, 2011
Tatzelwurm Follw-up Article Last Dragons of Europe Addendum:

While we are on the subject of "Chupacabras", I find that the Aztec conventionalized design for a lizard, Cuetzpalin, also corresponds to the "Reptile" Chupacabras from Central America and to the depictions I cited earlier as its folkloric fore-runner before the more recent worldwide "Chupacabras" flap. And I reiterate that "Chupacabras" was originally one form of the "Milk Snake" myth, which is also known to attach to lizards as well as snakes, and that the "Goat suckers" were originally thought to suck the milk out of goats, not blood: the vampyric aspects of the myth come from other sources and attached on to an originally less sensational story.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

[I particularly wanted to make this latest comment added on my blog to be better known:]

From a 2000 posting about Chupacabras on the web:
"There's a goat-sucker which is living and real; like the mardkhora, it lives in Persia, near Baghdad in fact. It is the varanus lizard, a living species. It has the appearance of a Rhinegold dragon, being about three feet long with the body and tail of a lizard, a flattish head, a thin forked tongue and a loud hiss. The local name for it was buz majjeh, or 'goat-sucker'. Freya Stark, who lived in Iraq in the 1920's, writes of traveling near Baghdad, in a derelict local taxi; in the desert, she writes, there were dozens of huge and clumsy lizards whom her taxi-driver enjoyed running over. When she tried to discourage him, he said the lizards crept up on flocks of sheep from behind, and sucked the udders of the ewes without their noticing. Nor was this a joke played on Freya, because British students collecting field specimens in Iraq in the nineteen-sixties described the very same lizard and heard the very same story...
"The idea of the goat-sucker is now in Iraqi folklore; it is in American Indian folklore; it is in modern American mythology. I think it went from Persia to Arabia via the Muslims, and from Arabia to southern Spain. The island of Puerto Rica was settled by immigrants from southern Spain. The Iraqi legend of the monster that crept up on goats and sucked their milk, appeared in new clothes in the New World; it may have collided with the idea of the mantequero, the monster which sprang on travelers and sucked their blood or fat; it may have collided with the idea of the goat-sucker bird. Or perhaps the goat-sucker bird is descended from the goat-sucker lizard; who knows?"

-This is a variation on the "Milksnake" story which goes back to Roman times. And the Varanus lizard is measured snout-to-vent: three feet does not count the tail. And not only monitor lizards are blamed for sucking the milk from goats: skinks, geckoes, iguanas and Lacerta lizards are libelled with the same myth in other places. In this case we can say that the documentary evidence shows that "Chupacabras" was a dragon lizard living near Baghdad in the 1920s and the 1960s, and an iguana lizard living in the US Southwest and Mexico in the 1970s and 1980s as an "Animal mutilations scapegoat" immediately prior to its transmogrification into a modern mythical monster. [And yes, the story about the bird follows after the story involving the snake or lizard, and is derived from it]

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.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

'Chupacabras' before Chupacabras

Up until recently the name 'Chupacabras' did not refer to the bizarre cryptid it is defined as any more. Recently, Benjamin Radford explained what he took to be the 'Origin of the Chupacabras' in a Puerto Rican woman's recollection of a recent horror film at the time. Because of the H. R. Giger-inspired monster in the movie, that woman produced a sketch Radford claims became the template for all the other 'Chupacabras' sightings from then on.

The Radford Explanation: witness's sketch above and the monster "sil" from the movie SPECIES.

Only there is more than one thing being called a chupacabras, as I have explained before on earlier CFZ blog entries. And because of that we have more than one origin story.

Chupacabras-dog such as is the common type in Texas: and Mexican Hairless Dogs

Here is the passage I posted in the group when I first found out about the reptilian-chupacabras being folkloric in Mexico, posted in October of 2009 (before I found it I thought it had been 2008) I later reprinted the entire text from the site and I am still looking for that message. One of the names as I recall was Timbo. There is also an exactly equivalent tradition in Northern Argentina.

I always regretted NOT posting the illustration from the originating site, but it was very small and attempts to blow it up did nothing for the quality of the photo.

... I saw a Mexican Folklore page (in Spanish) where the Reptile-Chupacabras was called by the name of a traditional "Grave robber". That would have been the first version I had heard of in connection to animal mutilation[sheep, in Navajo country] cases in the SW in the 1970s, and in fact it has separately become a standard monster in the Dungeons and Dragons FRPG game, as the "Bonesnapper", another small-dinosaur representation. Until I saw the Mexican Folklore page I had no inkling that the creature was actually out of documented Folklore.

And then last night I had an important additional piece of information, which I added to the original message:

I did a little more research and I found out that the name does not originate in Mexico but in Texas, and it is a Comanche word meaning "Hairless." Hence it was an appropriate name for a hairless dog as well as a reptile. I am not certain how widely circulated the name was in earlier days, but I assume it was once synonymous with the creature sometimes called "Mountain Boomer" (The first proper name I knew for the creature, but actually a mis-applied name for the collared lizard, which likewise runs on its hind legs)

So anyway that nails down that particular loose end.
Best Wishes, Dale D.

(Common mountain boomer or collared lizard. The cryptid version is said to stand up 2-4 feet high on its hind legs and to have exaggerated crests down its back. The cryptid version was being blamed for cattle mutilations in the Southwest back in the mid-1970s, Personal Information.)

[The Cryptid version is also called Mini-Rex and River Liz]

Re: [chupacabra] Need $250? Take Ben's Chupa Challenge!

Just so happens that my blog posting for today (See earlier notice sent in by Jon Downes) discusses an independant tradition which corresponds to the Chupacabras reports from Texas. It just so happens that the creature was NOT being called Chupacabras and so I shall not be collecting any rewards, just because these things are seldom as neat and clean as certain researchers may like. The name of the blog posting is "Cupacabras" Before Chupacabras
and it is about a creature that was being blamed for cattle mutilations before the Chupacabras reports broke out, but did correspond to certain reports of creatures later called "Chupacabras", particularly around Texas. The name of this creature turns out to be a Comanche name meaning "Hairless" and thus applicable to a hairless canine or even a Reptillian creature.
And the reason for the connection is that the "Cattle mutilation" victims were supposedly found bloodless. The legendary creature was however supposed to be more of a ghoul than a vampire, and otherwise supposedly robbed graves.
So unfortunately in this case the soution is a pretty sound connection but falls completely OUTSIDE of Ben Radford's definition. Sorry about that unforseen complication, Ben!
Best Wishes, Dale D.
CFZ BLOG: November 19, 2009
This paste-up is also from the files of the Frontiers of Zoology group and features the CFZ's own chupacabras representation.

I had remarked before that I first heard of a chupacabras creature in the mid 1970s as a FOAF report originating in the American SW: and it was described basically as being like a small spiky-backed dinosaur or a big iguana lizard, said to be raiding livestock. It was actually a story meant as an explanation of 'cattle mutilations', then a big news item. so the first example I heard of was a cattle-mutilations creature that was a spiky-backed lizard, and the name chupacabras not invented for such a creature yet.

I have since learned that there is a traditional Mexican version of this small dinosaur creature, usually said to raid graves and eat the bodies. A version of the legend has made its way into standard D&D lore as the fantasy creature known as the bone-snapper.

At any rate, when chupacabras reports proper started to emerge later on, several of the reports specified a small dinosaur or large spiky-backed lizard creature, sometimes said to run or jump away on its hind legs. The montage cuts together several representations of these.
Eberhart's Mysterious Creatures has an entry on such creatures under the heading 'Giant North American Lizard' but the first name I heard in common usage for them was Mountain Boomer. Other sources call them 'Mini-Rex.' And Ivan Sanderson's archives included separate letters from two unrelated sources writing about such a 'Small dinosaur' from the Arkansas-Oklahoma area, neither one of which was ever published. Some iguanid lizards do get up and run away on their hind legs, including the collared lizard (the more usual 'Mountain Boomer').

When the spiky-backed 'Chupacabras' reports started coming out of Puerto Rico, some sort of large iguanid lizard might have been involved. It probably would not be the same species as reported in Texas, Arkansas-Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and Mexico but it could have been something similar. The depiction does look like the front end of an iguana. And male iguanid lizards are known to have red eyes.
If it is necessary to be said, I don't think the lizards actually do any cattle mutilations or goat-sucking, or even digging up graves and breaking the bones. They only get blamed for that. What does that most often (and in just about the whole world over) is feral dogs, and they leave regular dog tracks (Ref. photos also on file in the group)


Retrieverman said...
Keep in mind that there are large Iguanid lizards in the US, such as the Chuckwallas and desert iguanas. Collared lizards are also large native lizards in the suborder Iguania.

We also have plenty of introduced iguanas in the US. I remember when wild caught green iguanas could be purchase for a song. Iguanas are very hard to keep properly and are not for novice lizard owners. Of course those people who bought them soon discovered this fact, and many were turned out.

I doubt that a big tropical iguana could live very long in the wild outside of South Texas or South Florida. However, they could survive for a summer.
Dr Dan Holdsworth said...
Actually, large Iguanas do make a pretty useful explanation for the chupacabras sightings. Imagine this scenario:

A smallholder or farmer hears a commotion in his chicken run one night. He grabs a gun, and maybe a torch too and goes out for a look, thinking he's got a fox at his birds. When he gets close in, something reptilian and weird runs away at speed into the bushes.

What has actually happened is that a local feral iguana has been snoozing fitfully over near the chicken run, being no harm to anybody since early evening. A fox or feral dog turned up, waking and seriously scaring the Iguana which although frightened is cool because it is night, and so stays put, hoping not to be seen. The commotion of the chickens, caused by their being scared of the fox or dog, fetches out the farmer.

Not having been born yesterday and knowing that mutterings of the local equivalent of "Gah, there be a fox arfter the chickens, gerroff moi land!" and the noise of a farmer tramping out of his house and down towards the chickens usually means a close encounter of the shotgun variety, the fox or dog scarpers rapidly and silently before the man appears.

Not so the iguana. By now this poor lizard is seriously spooked but it is a reptile, it cannot move all that fast if cold and in the dark. It only runs off when the farmer is almost on top of it, and then pretty clumsily, running on its back legs to try to put ground between it and him as efficiently as possible. By day it probably saw him coming and got out of the way unseen; by night it sounds like a herd of marauding elephants as it runs off (and probably becomes the feral dog's evening meal, if it doesn't get up a tree pronto).

By morning, we have dog-like prints, scared chickens and a weird scary (and scared) reptilian wotsit seen by the farmer; ingredients for the legend.
Cullan Hudson said...
As someone who has spent the past three years living in Puerto Rico and studying the origins of this phenomenon, I must say there are some intriguing points brought up in your post. I've certainly formulated some similar ideas in my own research. However, I'm also the author of Strange State: Mysteries and Legends of Oklahoma, and must confess I'm greatly intrigued by the OK/AR "dinosaur" at which you hint. Do you have further information on this that you could share? I'm currently at work on a companion volume to my book on Oklahoma mysteries.
Dale Drinnon said...
Thanks, guys, the comments are appreciated.

To Cullen: I am sorry, but I do not oversee my own blog entries for the CFZ, Jon puts them up. Consequently I never even see the comments until I might happen to look back again. And so unfortunately I did not see your comment until more than a year later. If you are still interested in my information, it is available to you anytime, just contact me through my ordinary email at

And once again, I truly regret that I missed your comment earlier.


  1. You obviously haven't followed Scott Coralles' work on the subject. Based on the multitude of mutilations and condition in which the animals are left(puncture mark on neck, and body nearly if not entirely exsanguinated) your theory doesn't hold any water, and none of the animals you compare save the dinosaur come close to your idea.

    I've PERSONALLY traveled to Puerto Rico and met an actual witness to a chupacabra who had one take a chicken from his backyard. He was reluctant to talk about it with anyone due to ridicule, but I was a tourist and with a little down to earth friendliness and support, the witness felt comfortable with me enough to share it.

    This local told me one night that his dogs (which were indoors at the time) were going berserk barking at the backyard and he thought it was due to an intruder. He grabbed his gun and opened the back door to investigate and was immediately confronted with a site he had never before seen. A creature that stood on its hind legs clutching one of his chickens in it's front arms/claws. At this point he said he could not move while this creature stared at him, as if he was paralysed (therefore he could not fire his gun). The creature which he basically described as the typical chupacabra (grey bodied, slanted RED eyes, kangaroo shaped, spines on the back etc.)then leapt out of his backyard over a fence in one single bound.

    Based on this single testimonial and the seemingly supernatural ability of the "life form" to cause paralysis and leap away like magic, it strikes me as something more likely akin to a non-terrestrial creature in origin considering ALSO the UFO flap that occurred in the area during the same time frame that the Chupas were going full force in the region.

    That of course is only a guess, but having seen numerous UFOs myself in the last 10 years, I don't really have much doubt that the world is far more complicated and fascinating than most realize, thus the prosaic explanations just don't hold up in this particular situation.

    I would also add, that the hairless dogs promoted by the media are a red herrings/smokescreens.

  2. Might I add, And YOU Obviously are NOT considering where I am coming from and the diistinction which I make in Cryptozoology: I do NOT consider what you are describing as a Cryptozoological subject, I ordinarily do not discuss anything connected with UFOs as Cryptozoological subjects, and the only reason I made an exception for Reptoids is because the ones I was speaking of had no apparent connection to UFOs. I freely admit that some of the more recent "Chupacabras" cases involve something connected to UFOs, those cases fall outside of my jurisdiction. AND in that case, the name "Chupacabras" is as mis-applied as it is mis-applied to hairless dogs and to giant bats which are also alleged. "Chupacabras" as "Goat-Sucker" categorically comes out of a traditional belief that some large snakes and lizards suck the milk out of goats and that was the ONLY reference that name was used for prior to about the 1990s
    Now as I say, I am not denying what you are saying, I am saying that what you are talking about falls outside of the definition that the name originally had AND that the study of what you are talking about falls outside the confines of Cryptozoology in its proper sense.

    Thank you very much for your input.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Posted by Anonymous to Frontiers of Zoology at 16 March 2012 02:38

    "Fascinating stuff! There's a great collection of mythical creature [Info at}....Maybe worth checking out ...?"

    Unfortunately I do not endorse the site and hence I would not pass the original message with the original link. But this much is OK!
    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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