Chupacabra is actually a hairless coyote
November 2, 2007
This summer the animal carcass caused a stir when a woman promoted the find as a "chupacabra", a legendary beast said to suck the blood of goats and other livestock. Her claims were criticized by veterinarians and pet owners, many of whom believed the animal to be a sick domestic dog. Nevertheless the woman saved the head of the carcass to allow genetic testing of the beast.
Frozen head of a so-called Chupacabra in Cuero, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
"Not often do we have genetic material available from an animal that has been linked to a legendary myth," Forstner continued. "If people are worried about the chupacabra, it is probably even more important that we explain the mystery. Folks can fear what they don't understand, and a big part of the goal in science is to explain the natural world."
"DNA tells a story. It allows us to determine the difference between animal species, and while I thought it was a canid (one of the members in the dog family), I could not tell from the photographs which one it might be," Forstner added. "From my perspective, we were interested in providing a direct answer from the DNA, testing the best guesses of experts by using the evidence from the animal itself.