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The famous photo of Champ was later revealed to be a floating log, but Champ's legend is kept alive by occasional "sightings" and ambiguous photos and videos. A relatively recent addition to the monster list, the Montauk Monster was a strange creature that washed up on a beach in Montauk, N.

A photo of the four-legged, clawed, nearly hairless animal circulated around the Web. Some thought it was a hoax; others believed it was a pig, or an unknown, possibly genetically modified animal. The Montauk Monster was finally identified as a decomposing raccoon. While mermaids don't necessarily fit the public's image of monsters or beasts, the Feejee Mermaid was quite an exception. Showman P.

Loch Ness, a place filled with mystery and legend

Barnum introduced his infamous FeeJee Mermaid in the s: not a beautiful, half-naked fish-woman but a hideous head and torso of a small monkey on the body and tail of a fish. It wasn't real, of course—close inspection of the specimen reveals the hand stitching that holds the two animals together —just one of several faked mermaid created to cash in on the public's curiosity. It seems like every country has its own lake monster.

Centuries ago, Native Americans believed that a water spirit lived in the lake, and live sacrifices were made to pacify the aquatic demon. There's actually no real link between Native American myths and the monster, but this is often cited as its origin. Ogopogo was in fact named after a popular dance hall song, and despite a lack of scientific evidence, people report occasional odd things in the lake to this day. Vampires are hot. From "Dracula" to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "Twilight," no mythical monster has captured the public's imagination in the same way.

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Fictional vampires are often tormented, sexy souls, and while blood-drinking human vampires don't exist—well, there are a few freaks out there who drink blood, but they don't survive on the stuff—there are many true vampiric animals, including leeches, female mosquitoes, ticks and, of course, the vampire bat. Now Benjamin Radford, a paranormal investigator and managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, says he can put the story of the chupacabra to rest.


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After five years of digging, he said he's uncovered the roots of the mystery. In his new book, "Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore," Radford lays it all out, showing how one woman's story turned into a global sensation. Stories of the chupacabra, which means "goat-sucker" in Spanish, spread mainly in Latin America, the southwestern parts of the U.

Chupacabra

Many people assume that the phenomenon goes back hundreds of years, Radford said, but it's really only about 15 years old. Prior to that, other researchers found a reference to a chupacabra in the s TV show "Bonanza," but it referred to a whippoorwill bird that folklore suggested sucked milk not blood from goats, he said.

It wasn't until the summer of , in Puerto Rico, that people started connecting the name "el chupacabra" with the fearsome four-legged creatures thought to prey on other animals. That's when Madelyne Tolentino, a housewife in the village of Canovanas, reported the first sighting to the local news, Radford said. After years of investigating and tracing the story of the chupacabra backwards, he said he finally reached her through Facebook, via her ex-husband, and interviewed her last year.

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Radford said the creature reportedly spotted by Tolentino was about four feet high with oddly-wide, dark eyes, thin arms, three fingers and stood on two legs. She also said it lacked ears, had small air holes instead of a noise and feathery spikes on its back. After appearing on the local news, her story was picked up by UFO researchers, who spread the story on the Internet, where it went viral.

When the story aired on "Cristina," a Spanish-language equivalent of Oprah Winfrey's show, he said, it became an even bigger part of the global consciousness. But Radford said that when he spoke with Tolentino during his research for the book, he found her detailed description of the chupacabra was too detailed. In fact, he said, it was "suspiciously detailed. And, during their interview, Radford said, Tolentino revealed that just weeks before her mysterious sighting, she had seen the hit science-fiction movie "Species," which features characters that look much like the chupacabra of her memory.

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The Legend of the Chupacabra: Mystery Solved? - ABC News

But Radford said he doesn't think Tolentino is a liar or hoaxer, just that she confused something she saw in a movie with something she saw in real life. People were finding dead animals. Now, he said, it's clear that those dead animals didn't die mysteriously but after attacks by dogs, mongooses or other animals. At the time, however, "Her description put a face and form to a previously amorphous and vague sense of something being weird. Radford said that a separate category of chupacabras started appearing in southwestern parts of the U.

In those reports, the so-called chupacabras are reported as hairless, coyote-like creatures that stand on four legs. But Radford said that forensic science and DNA evidence has shown those to be mangy canids — dogs, foxes and coyotes with a skin disease called sarcoptic mange. It's a contagious skin disease, caused by mites, that affects many dogs and results in hair-loss, he said. They tend to be spotted more in warmer climates because they die off in colder weather.

Next time you hear a report of a chupacabra sighting, Radford says you should examine the evidence and not blindly believe what you read. But he also says that despite his book -- and the case he says he's solved -- people will continue to tell the tale of the mysterious chupacabra.

People are still going to see a weird hairless thing and someone is going to call it a chupacabra," he said. And the idea of a Hispanic beast that sucks goats' blood is kind of cool -- it captures the public's imagination. All rights reserved.


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Play Courtesy Benjamin Radford.