Even though some sightings date back to the 1970s, El Chupacabra - "the goat sucker" - is primarily a phenomenon of the 1990s, and its fame has largely been spread by the Internet. The sightings started in earnest in 1995 with reports coming out of Puerto Rico of a strange creature that was killing farmers' livestock - chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and, of course, goats - sometimes hundreds of animals in one evening. The farmers, who were familiar with the killing practices of wild dogs and other predators, claimed that the methods of this unknown beast were different. It didn't try to eat the animals it killed, for example; nor did it drag them away to be devoured elsewhere. Instead, the creature killed by draining its victims of blood, usually through small incisions.
Then came the bizarre eyewitness descriptions:
- about the size of a chimpanzee
- hops about like a kangaroo
- large glowing red eyes
- grayish skin and hairy arms
- long snake-like tongue
- sharp fangs
- quills running along its spine that seem to open and close like a fan
- some believe it may even have wings
Toward the end of the '90s, the sightings of Chupacabra began to spread. The creature was blamed for animal killings in Mexico, southern Texas and several South American countries. In May and June of 2000, a rash of incidents took place in Chile, according to certain newspapers there. In fact, some of the most incredible claims yet came out of those sightings: that at least one of the creatures was caught alive by local authorities, then handed over to official agencies of the US government.
What is it? Theories abound, including: an unknown but natural species of predator; misidentified known predators; the result of genetic experimentation; an alien. Most serious researchers consider Chupacabra merely folklore, perpetuated by over-enthusiastic locals immersed in superstition or a penchant for telling tall, exaggerated tales.
Yet you can be sure that we haven't seen or heard the last of Chupacabra.
4. The Jersey Devil
There is a terrifying creature, they say, that haunts the dense pine barrens of New Jersey, and its frightening appearance earned it the name of The Jersey Devil. The legend of the Jersey Devil dates back to about the mid-1700s when it was considered an omen of disaster or war, but multiple sightings did not begin until the early 1900s. Some researchers claim that more than 2,000 witnesses have reported seeing the creature over the centuries. Although rare, sightings continue up to the present day.
Descriptions vary, but these are the most commonly cited attributes:
- about three-and-a-half feet high
- a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse
- a long neck
- wings about two feet long
- back legs like those of a crane
- horse's hooves
- walks on its back legs and holds up two short front legs with paws on them
It's interesting to note the similarities to Chupacabra!
Unexplained animal deaths and mutilations have been blamed on The Jersey Devil. Dozens of eyewitnesses claim to have been frightened out of their wits by it. What could this creature possibly be? The theories are similar to those cited for Chupacabra, but something scary definitely seems to be out there in the New Jersey woods.
For about 13 months beginning in November, 1966, a series of bizarre sightings took place around the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Aside from a spate of UFO reports and claimed poltergeist activity, several witnesses came forward with descriptions of an astonishing creature that may have been the focal point of all the weird goings-on. As detailed in John Keel's classic book, The Mothman Prophecies, hundreds of witnesses allegedly saw a large, winged humanoid being.
Here is how they described it:
- approximately seven feet tall
- a wingspan over 10 feet wide
- gray, scaly skin
- large, red, glowing and hypnotic eyes
- able to take off straight up in flight, traveling up to 100 miles an hour
- liked to mutilate or eat large dogs
- screeched or squealed like a rodent or electric motor
- caused radio and television interference
- had some mind control powers.
Dubbed Mothman by a local newspaperman, the creature seemed to have a peculiar affect on those with whom it came into contact: they began to "channel" information from what Keel called "ultra-terrestrial" entities. Keel himself was affected in this way, receiving "prophecies" from some unknown origin that were, more often than not, oddly less than accurate.
Weird stuff indeed.
Next page: The fairy folk and more...