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article imageMangy coy-dogs raise specter of Chupacabras in Hood County Texas

By Stephanie Dearing     Jul 16, 2010 in Science
Cresson - Two weird dog-like creatures were killed earlier this week in Hood County, Texas. One of the reportedly "ugly" hairless animals was sent for DNA testing to determine its species.
Sadly, for those who want to believe in the mythical Chupacabra, DNA tests showed the animal was only a coyote-dog hybrid. Examination showed the animal was severely afflicted with mange and intestinal parasites reported NBC Dallas Forth Worth Wednesday.
Until then, the strange-looking creatures had caused a furor as speculation became rampant. Many news sources were not afraid to compare the creatures to the legendary Chupacabra.
Residents of the area had seen the creatures off and on for a few weeks prior to their deaths, causing consternation. Hood County is home to coyotes, but those who had encountered the suffering coy-dogs did not recognize the animals and said things like "I've never seen anything like it." A second coy-dog had been shot by a rancher in Hood County, reported the Star Telegram.
Chupacabras, it should be pointed out, are mysterious dog-like creatures that kill their prey by sucking the blood. Frequently seen, they are often blamed for the deaths of livestock in South American countries. The creature has never been proven to be real, and sightings have previously been explained as 'mass hysteria.' These days the Chupacabra occupies a space on the long list of urban legends.
Texas is no stranger to weird creatures. Earlier this year, a dead animal found on a Texas golf course caused a Chupacabra stir. That beastie was found to be a young male raccoon, said the Star Telegram. The real mystery is how the raccoon lost all its hair - and how the apparently otherwise healthy raccoon died.
The Christian Science Monitor jumped into the Chupacabra story with a different angle. They found a cryptozoologist who claimed the strange creatures found in Texas this year are "just media hype." Loren Coleman told the CSM "There is absolutely nothing complex, nothing unexplainable, nothing mysterious about them. What is mysterious is that the media keeps writing about them."
Coleman took the media to task earlier this year over the propensity of the media to exploit the words "Chupacabra" and "Yeti." Unfortunately, Coleman did not offer up any explanations as to why humans are so ga-ga for reported sightings of strange creatures.
Which begs the question: why do people get all excited about the possibility of a Chubacabra? Could it be there is a psychology at work similar to that underlying belief in visits from little green men, or is it just that our instincts prompt us to get excited over things that don't look "normal?"
Speaking to Discovery in 2000, Coleman likened the Chupacabra phenomenon to Jennifer Lopez's meteoric climb to stardom at the time. "What's unique about the Chupacabra is that it's crossing languages, which I think shows how small our world is getting. It's sort of like Jennifer Lopez, kind of cross-cultural."
Parasitism and other diseases can alter the appeance of many animals, including birds. This can result in almost frantic queries over the identification of what is otherwise a normal Northern Cardinal.
The psychology of Chupacabra sightings is complex. Could the buzz result from our inability to identify an animal because its appearance has been altered, triggering a sense of responsibility and perhaps guilt over how humans are altering natural earth systems?
Perhaps the legendary Chupacabra represent our deep-seated longing to be reunited with the wilds, a la ecopsychology?
Or maybe people are just looking for a good thrill. We're always looking for amusement through "safe" fears, and brushes with a mythical predator appears to be just the ticket. As Boris Sidis wrote in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 1911, "... As Kipling puts it, "Fear walks up and down the jungle by day and by night." Our life is so well guarded by the protective agencies of civilization that we hardly realize the extent, depth, and overwhelming effect of the emotion of fear. Fear is rooted down deep in the very organization of animal existence, it takes its root in what is the very essence of life,―the instinct of self-preservation. Primus in orbe Deus fecit timor. "We lead,” says Galton, “for the most part such an easy and carpeted existence, screened from the stern realities of life and death, that many of us are impelled to draw aside the curtain now and then and gaze for a while behind it.”
And just possibly the Chupacabra might actually be real, but, as learned this week in Hood County Texas, aren't the fearsome creatures of lore but just a case of mistaken identity. Mother Nature Network has an article that describes twelve animals that are real, but which were mistakenly described as being mythical creatures.
Interest in Chupacabras might be different from person to person, but one thing is certain -- the legend is not dead, and this week's discoveries have apparently only whetted interest in the creature.
More about Chupacabra, Hood county texas, Animal control, Myths, Coyote dog hybrid
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