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April 13, 2010

A legendary beast called the chupacabra has a surprisingly recent origin.


The truth about the chupacabra…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s time for another episode of our new series, Reality Check. Listener Andrew Toler of Thetford Center, Vermont, asked whether there’s anything to the chupacabra, or goatsucker, a legendary beast that’s reported to suck the blood of livestock. Ben Radford, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer Magazine, says an eyewitness first reported seeing one in 1995—the same year the horror film Species came out.

BEN RADFORD (Skeptical Inquirer):
The chupacabra that she describes looks exactly like the creature in the sci-fi film. And somehow in her mind attributed the characteristics of something she saw in the film to real life.

Psychologists call this kind of mental mash up a confabulation.

Radford adds that alleged chupacabra carcasses have turned out to be diseased dogs and coyotes. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.