Stories of El Chupacabra first surfaced in March 1995 in Puerto Rico, when dead, blood-drained goats began to surface.
In the fall of that year, a newspaper printed an eyewitness description of a bipedal creature, 4 to 5 feet tall with spikes down its back, long, thin arms and legs, and an alienlike oblong head with red or black eyes.
That depiction became associated with El Chupacabra, and it reports of similar creatures began popping up throughout the Caribbean, in Latin America, Mexico and Florida.
“By the mid-2000s, anything weird was being called El Chupacabra,” said Benjamin Radford, author of several books on monsters and paranormal phenomena and managing editor of the journal The Skeptical Inquirer. “Mangy coyotes. Dead raccoons. Even a dried fish in New Mexico, which looks nothing like El Chupacabra.”
Radford believes the Chupacabra was never real, not even a hoax, but rather the residual memory that the 1995 film “Species” left in the mind of an impressionable youth.
Radford traced back every Chupacabra mention through the years, and pin-pointed the first physical description of the monster to a single event in the second week of August 1995.
An eyewitness named Madelyne Tolentino ran in a Puerto Rican newspaper an image of the alien-looking animal as El Chupacabra.
alt=“Image” width=“222” height=“380” />The creature, Radford noticed, shared a strong resemblance to the alien/human hybrid in the 1995 sci-fi thriller “Species.”
“You can make a direct connection between the film hitting theaters, her seeing the creature in the film, seeing it in the street, making the report and entering the public conscious,” Radford said.
When Radford spoke to Tolentino, he asked her if the thing that she saw could have been inspired by the film. Indeed, she had seen the movie in the weeks prior to making her description.
Soon after, reports of nearly identical creatures began appearing throughout Latin America. But these can be dismissed, Radford says, because they’re all based on Tolentino’s Hollywood-inspired monster.
“What I’ve tried to do is take the whole El Chupacabra enchilada and break it into small mysteries and then solve those mysteries,” Radford said. “There’s no place else for those mysteries to hide now. If I haven’t solved every piece of it, then I don’t know what I’m missing. It’s all there.”
“That said, if next month or next year somebody finds El Chupacabra that’s sucking blood from animals, I’m happy to eat my crow and add a chapter to the book.”