Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chupacabra Mystery Solved

Halloween stories about the ghostly "chupacabra" circulate every year, but now scientists have solved the mystery surrounding this legendary animal.

Instead of being vicious, fanged creatures that supposedly drink the blood of livestock, chupacabras turn out to be wild dogs inflicted with a deadly form of mange, according to University of Michigan biologist Barry OConnor.

Monster

(Scientists believe legendary chupacabras monsters are actually coyotes with severe cases of mange, like the animal pictured here. Credit: Dan Pence)

The myth about chupacabras, also known as goatsuckers, started after reports of livestock attacks in Puerto Rico and Mexico, where dead sheep were discovered with puncture wounds, completely drained of blood. Similar reports began accumulating from other locations in Latin America and the U.S. Then came sightings of evil-looking animals, variously described as dog-like, rodent-like or reptile-like, with long snouts, large fangs, leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin and a nasty odor. Locals put two and two together and assumed the ugly varmints were responsible for the killings.

OConnor, however, and other scientists conclude that an 8-legged mite that burrows under the skin of coyotes can give these animals the "chupacabra" look.

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