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Saturday, 3 December 2011

1995 Puerto Rico Chupacabras

In all this time this blog has not directly addressed the 1995 Tolentino case from Puerto Rico which Benjamin Radford states was the actual beginning of the Chupacabras craze. Just what could a creature standing upright, the size of a small human, with its back covered in quills like a porcupine be?

The answer is, absurd though it may sound, A PORCUPINE.

 No, I am not being funny.
Ivan Sanderson notes in his book on Abominable Snowmen: Legend come to Life, that porcupines can stand up on their hind feet and even shuffle along like little bears, leaving tracks like little bear tracks as they do so. And this is not hard to imagine because they are structurally much the same as beavers and squirrels when you take the quills off them. And they grow to about the same size as a beaver, about three to four feet long. So they are also in the right size range to be considered a Chupacabras candidate.
A porcupine has little clawed hands and feet just like the Chupacabras sketch. The porcupine has a large round head with the size of it exaggerated because of the quills. The snout of the porcupine sticks out of the round head that a porcupine has in the same manner as is shown on thr Chupacabras sketch. And the Chupacabras sketch shows the fore and hind feet of a quadrupedal animal rather than what a habitual biped would have, being held the same way a porcupine holds its limbs when standing on its hind legs. This is somewhat clearer on the slimmer South American species of porcupine labelled Greenscreen Animals below. I apologise for using this one, but it was the only way I could get the right photo.

Upon closer examination we find more corroborating evidence. Porcupines have a red eyeglow and in some species the eyes are circled with a reddish-coloured skin patch. The eyes of a Chupacabras are also commonly represented as black and beady. The short snout has a mammalian "wet" nose on it and a prominently cleft upperlip. Protruding out of the upper lip is a pair of gnawing rodent incisors, although the artists can show some confusion about the shape of the lower incisors. Whiskers are sometimes shown on the sides of the snout, and to top it all off, ears are sometimes shown at the back of the head as the right size and shape to be porcupine ears (Although the ears are more usually said to be not apparent to the witnesses)

It also seems the original sketch is a little misleading in that the area with quills on the back has them being shown spread too thinly, and as a result the body looks too emaciated. However, the bottom as shown is actually quite thick in proportions. Filling in the area indicated for quills with a thicker bunch of quills copletely alters the body profile.

I did a search on Yahoo using both "Porcupine" and "Puerto Rico" and found that the most likely suspect was the Mexican hairy porcupine, some specimens of which have been introduced on the island as well as on Cuba, it seems.This photo is the result of the search using both of those criteria.
This species not only has the red skin patch around the eye, the body has a general greenish cast to it (The quills are sometimes said to be irridescent and show as different shifting colours to the observer)
As another contrast  between this type and the more usual "Chupa" seen elsewhere, here is a reconstruction of the more widespread reptillian type as done by "Cryptisaurus" on Deviant Art:

Benjamin Radford offered his "Solution" to then a book he wrote earlier this year in which he says the solution to the 1995 Puerto Rico sighting was that the witness was thinking of Natasha Henstridge in the movie "SPECIES", and offering a reward of $250.00 to anyone who could prove him wrong.

Well, first off, Natasha is still obviously built like a human female, stands like a human female, has arms and legs of the usual human proportions and used in the usual human manner, has a waist which givers curves to her figure, and she has breasts. The Chupacabras has short animal legs, no boobs, and a bottom-heavy body. Natasha Henstridge does NOT have a "Gray Alien" head or eyes, and as an alien the eyes are heavily-lidded and not obviously red or black or any other colour. She has more and diffeent kinds of hoses and attachments on her that the Chupacabras does NOT have. In short, there is VIRTUALLY NO RESEMBLANCE from an objective point of view. So if Tolentino thought the creature she saw was anything like Natashia being "Sil", she was confused or being misled by her questioner. Which is quite possible and that questioner should be fully cognizant that the process happens, since he says so himself.

And I am still not asking Benjamin Radford for $250.00-No, that would be too small a price to pay after being so misleading on the subject. I would ask for $25000.00 and that the book be withdrawn from publication. And of course that if there needs to be any court case arising from this that Mr. Radford pay court costs since he was the one that offerered the reward and initiated all this nonsense in the first place.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. The porcupine is an interesting idea. But the chupa always depicted with sparse spines, and only on the back. I find it hard to see a chupa report based on a porcupine, unless porcupines can get mange.

  2. Unfortunately for your statement's sake, the quills of a porcupine are meant to come out. There is a very natural sort of "mange" porcupines are prone to-losing large quantities of quills in an attack by a determined foe. In fact there are some exceptionally gruesome phhotos of one extremely determined, extremely STUPID pit bull dog which was photographed when its entire head and chest was obscured by a thickset population of porcupine quills. almost every time the photo is run, it comes with the punch line: "Somewhere out on that mountain there is a naked porcupine running around"

    The second reason is that the artists are LAZY in their depiction of porcupines. Remember Walt Kelly's Pogo? One of the regular characters was a porcupine. He rarely ever had more than a very few representative quills drawn on him. It was easier that way, In the case of Chupacabras artists, the creature is nearly always shown at a front-on or three-quarters view, scarcely enough to get a good impression of how thick the quills are supposed to be. Not only are there no rear-view drawings, there are very few profile views actually drawn. So we are talking about a view of the creature that the witnesses are not depicting.

    The third reason is that there are all sorts of different porcupines and they have different lengths and densities of quills. So what may be true for one species might not be true of another.

    Add to this the secondary features that some porcupines have red patches around their eyes, their eyes glow red, and the facial features drawn on some Chupacabras (Especially the foreteeth) indicate that they are large round-headed RODENTS. I am nowhere near suggesting that this one explanation can be applied to most Chupacabras sightings or even that it is a good idea for only this case in particular and a very few others most like it BUT if it is at least a moderately plausible explanation in this one case then Benjamin Radford has lost the argument because it is a drawing which much more closely resembles a porcupine on its hind legs rather than a shapely human female with pasted-on rubber appliances.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Dale, huge problems with this, basing this on numerous reports, the first and foremost being that porcupines don't break into chicken coups and then exsanguinate the occupants, after all, they are vegetarians. The quills puncturing the jugulars in each and every instance would be beyond belief. There has never been any porcupine spines found anywhere in an attack. Porcupines are not fast (I used to live in flagstaff AZ and saw big ones on occasion), nor can they jump over walls and into trees and over roofs of houses. I could go on and on and on and on.

    I believe if there is ANY real photo in existence of a chupa, this would be one to consider...

  4. Part 1.
    Whoa, Whoa, hold on people!

    You are not paying attention. I have been writing about Chupacabras on this blog from the beginning, in this case back in March. From the beginning I have been saying CHUPACABRAS is not only one thing. It is several different things that are mistakenly being called by the same name

    Moreover this is my point of view on ALL major Cryptid categories.

    Before I started this blog I had determined to my own satisfaction that the Chupa reports were mostly of a kind of reptile like a large iguana lizard with a ridge of spines down its back and one which is known to run around on its hiond legs. I wrote about that as recently as only a few postings before this and you can easily see the posting when you look over to the side at the "Most Popular" recent blogs. Secondarily, Chupacabras is a category made up of assorted canids, but usually mangy stray dogs. It is the DOGS that are to blame for the animal mutilations of all sorts and I have direct information that the dogs are doing the damage that the reptiles are being blamed for. I had that confirmation from the 1970s, before the name "Chupacabras" even came into circulation within the media. And thirdly, some of the Chupacabras reports refer to giant bats usually thought to be giant Vampire bats. I believe these are easily divided into two or more species ranked by size.

  5. Part 2.
    In this particular instance I am not speaking of ALL Chupacabras reports. I do not even say I all those reports are the same thing. In this blog posting I am specifically focusing on the INITIAL 1995 Chupacabras report which is suppoed to have started it all,as it specifically states in this posting's title and to certain other reports most like it, also mostly from Puerto Rico and based on mistaken impressions of exotic species not recognised at the time and blamed for depredations upon domesticated animals as in the case with the reptile Chupacabras only because they were viewed with suspicion and superstition since they were unfamiliar animals. The actual depredations were most likely being done by FAMILIAR but overlooked animals, ie, DOGS.

  6. Part 3.
    In this particular instance we are talking about an animal seen briefly by moonlight by a single witness and this incident is stated by Benjamin Radford to have "Started it all off" At the same time, we DO have evidence for porcupines being in Puerto Rico, for which see the photo in the main posting. That the porcupines did not kill anything or leave any quills at any scenes of the crimes is only to be expected: the whole thing is a massive case of misdirection. A is assumed to go with B, A is supposed to go with C and D in other cases, and then A,B,C and D are all spoken of as if they were one thing, "Chupacabras" and actually all most people are concerned about are the cases of A, Animal mutilations. which are the most mundane and most easily explained of all of the aspects of the reports-in fact it is an effort to find a special explanation for something which does not need explaining!

    In this example of suggesting the one case of a quillbacked animal (standing upright on the occasion of its first sighting)as a porcupine, other quillbacked reports are also suggested. Not all of them in Puerto Rico, some other reports might come from as far off as Maine. In the case of the quillbacks I believe we also have some other distinctive features such as the mammalian wet nose at the end of a short blunt snout, split upper lip and gnawing rodent teeth seen in some of the other depictions. This small package of facial features is very distinctive and cannot have originated in the dog, reptile or bat categories. I consider these features to be determinative of a porcupine along with the quills.

    As to the photo suggested by twasbrillig, IMHO that is a very poor fake.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  7. Finally a "chupa" explanation that makes sense! A porcupine is the perfect explanation for these kinds of reports. Benjamin Radford's solution fails simply do to the fact that chupa-like reports (and I am pretty certain the name Chupacabra as well) were already being used in tabloids (of the Sun, Enquirer, and Weekly World News type)before the movie 'Species' came out.

    I have a personal experience that may shed some light on this porcupine confusion. In the 1990s my mother called me all excited that there was an alien in her backyard. When I got to her house she excitedly pointed out the alien. It was a groundhog. The sad thing...I raise guinea pigs 9which don't look too dissimilar) and the movie 'Groundhog Day' was my mom's favorite movie. She simply assumed it was an alien because it was walking on its hind legs.

    As for "basing this on numerous reports, the first and foremost being that porcupines don't break into chicken coups and then exsanguinate the occupants" I must say that I am pretty sure that Natasha Henstridge was not doing that either! In fact were there EVER any actual exsanguinated corpses? Every single 'chupa' attack picture I have ever seen is either long in rigor mortis (and, of course, doesn't bleed because the heart is not pumping)or worse some one is claiming his chicken has been vampirized while there is blood all over the ground near the chicken -duh that's where all the blood went dummy. One thing Benjamin Radford did get right was that the blood-draining claim is pure bull being claimed by city folk or people who really should know better.

    Thank you Dale for mentioning my long dead blog Cryptodraco in an earlier post. I had to drop it because a hacker broke into my account. Maybe some day I will actually do that post on oriental dragons being based on giant salamanders but you will probably beat me to it.

    Yours truly, Tamara Henson

  8. Hi Dale!

    Thanks for this fascinating, bizarre post. There's quite a few mistakes in it, and most of those would be corrected if you'd read any of my work on it (for example in my book Tracking the Chupacabra, or in the articles in Skeptical Inquirer and Fortean Times) instead of basing your information on a news article or wherever you got it.

    Second, the $250 reward I offered is not about Species or Sil. If you read your sources more carefully you'll see that; in fact, here's the exact offer:

    "I'll offer a public $250 reward (plus a signed copy of my book Tracking the Chupacabra) for the first verifiable written evidence of a blood-sucking monster called the chupacabra (or chupacabras) that dates before 1990. It must be a published, dated reference."


    So... Can you admit you were wrong about this?

    Ben Radford

  9. Ah, you came back! Earlier in the afternoon I had a posting from somebody using the name "Ben Radford" but when I came to put it through moderation, it had been deleted. I assumed it had been a big put-on.

    Now I see an "Anonymous" posting pretending the same thing. I don't know if I should be taking it more seriously because it was posted anonymously but then that was the poster's decision.

    You are still quite the joker I see! You end up with what purports to be an honest statement "so, can you admit you were wrong with this?"

    WRONG? This from a man who cannot recognise the crucial differences between an attractive woman's figure and the breastless asexual bottom-heavy lump shown in the witness' sketch? WRONG from a man who furthermore cannot recognise the differences in shape between a typical quadruped's fore and hind legs to a woman's longer and straighter ones? WRONG from a man who does not even recognise that the "Alien" head in the sketch is not even the same type of alien head or face as the woman shown in the movie, nor yet even the same type of eyes?

    No, There is no reason to admit to being wrong to anything when there obviously IS NO visual similarity between the sketch and the woman portraying "Sil" And that was in particular what the strength of your theory was supposed to be about, was it not?

    And I might say to you as well that your hypothesis is wrong on many key features which you could have found the correct information to had you merely been reading along with this blog. For I wrote to you first in March this year specifying to you exactly the information you asked for. You shall want to see especially the posting of last September 26 which reprinted the important information of previous Chupacabras postings on this blog,

    Which included a quote from a 2000 blogsite which further quoted information from the 1920s saying that monitor lizards in the near east were then being called "goat-suckers" and accused of stealing the milk from goats. What you have is clearly a version of the Milk Snake myth, which can be traced back to Roman times. In the New World, iguana lizards are some of the lizards that can be attached to the Milk Snake legend, and obviously at some point there was a variation of the Milk Snake mysth which became a Vampiric myth. As far as that goes, some of the standard Milk Snake stories from Mexico have decidedly Vampiric overtones. To go along with that, you have the whole separate section pof "Minidino" sightings which corrspond to the most common types of Chupacabras sightings, and these go all the way back to preColumbian times with names including such things as "Zupay" (Chupay), "Cipactli" (Chipactli), and "Cuetepalin, all of them depicted as similar "MiniDino" creatures as running on their hind legs with a row of spines down the back, and one of these creatures was associated with Cattle mutilations as far back as the 1500s and 1600s in Chile.

    So you were IN ERROR, Mr. Anonymous, and my reply is that you can just go and pull your book off the market, I would not touch a thing that was that massively and deliberately misleading. And I never wanted any part of your $250.00 "Reward" either, it would be a slap in the face to accept such measly sum for something that was so obviously wrong-headed from the onset. Better you should give your money to some charity over Christmastime.

    And it was wonderful for us to have this nice little chat, especially since you decided to remain Anonymous.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  10. Jon Downes reminded me after I had posted this that HE had the Porcupine theory for Puerto Rico Chupacabras sightings first, and I said I remembered something he said about mongooses but not the porcupine part. Jon then very kindly sent me a copy of his book, The Island of Paradise so I could review his version.

    Before this gets any further I should mention that this theory applies only to the series of spiny-backed creatures seen in one part of Puerto Rico within one general area and within a few years of 2000 either way. Both of us noticed that some representations associated with Chupacabras indicate gnawing rodent teeth, but I was speaking of representations of Chupacabras per se and he was speaking of traditional "Devil" masks and other artistic representations.

    Jon felt it was a porcupine but he thought the characteristics were more like an Old World porcupine than a New World one: on the contrary I had come upon references to the Mexican porcupine species as being present in Puerto Rico and hence I concentrated on that. But actually the reports and representations are not good enough we can know for certain yet.

    However it is remarkable enough that we each came to this same theory independantly (for this small local set of Chupacabras reports) and that should be taken as strengthening the case for the theory itself.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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