Paraguay creature is a monkey

Mystery-mongering sites jumping on a story out of Paraguay of an “alien” “humanoid” “chupacabra” “reptilian experiment”, etc. They prefer to hype the extreme and fantastic ideas instead of explain that it’s… a dead monkey.

Last week, when I first saw this story, commented in Spanish, I asked Ron Pine, former curator of mammals at the Smithsonian, if it looked to him, as it did to me based on the fingers, head, legs, and long tail, like a water-logged monkey. Here is what he said:

Yeah, it’s a monkey. In that part of extreme southern Paraguay, there are only two possible species, and with its having no head and no fur, I can’t tell which one it is. One is a kind of howler monkey, Alouatta caraya, the so-called Black Howler Monkey (a poor name because only the males come in black, and, actually, “howler” is a poor term too, because “howler” monkeys don’t howl, but cough, bark, and roar), and the other is a kind of “robust” capuchin monkey, Sapajus cay, known as Azara’s Capuchin.

While the creature was labeled as “chupacabra” by some, the news reporters referred to the “mythical chupacabra”, indicating that there was no such real animal, only folklore belief. I’m sure many disagree. But in this case, it’s really a monkey. Hype is unwarranted, except as the usual clickbait, and it may create unnecessary fear with the natives. Notice how they conveniently included a skull in the scene to make it look additionally menacing and creepy.


Any mystery animal is often called “chupacabra” which has become a bucket term for any “weird animal” prior to asking a biologist what it likely is. The legendary chupacabra is a blood sucking critter that attacks livestock. But it is mythical. The culprits of livestock deaths are normal predators, such as dogs, and disease. It’s not at all mysterious. To frame it as such is a way to make the world seem more mystifying. Really, it’s just ignorant on purpose.

In this case, the animal has obviously lost all fur and looks distorted because of decomposition and immersion in water for a long period. As I’ve written before, this often results in people become alarmed because the carcass looks so unusual that it can not be reconciled with a typical animal.

  14 comments for “Paraguay creature is a monkey

  1. Ronald H. Pine
    October 26, 2015 at 12:48 PM

    When my quoted comment above was written, I had not seen the image with a head being lifted up out of the water. The video that I had seen showed the animal with a missing head. Apparently it was removed somewhere along the line. Even with the benefit of my now having an image of a waterlogged, denuded head to look at, I still can’t tell which of the two possible kinds of monkey was represented by this carcass.

  2. idoubtit
    October 26, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    Now it’s a SEA VAMPIRE? Gawd, the media is idiostuperific (my new word).

    The Daily Fail’s headline is: Does this clip show the corpse of a feared Chupacabra ‘vampire’? Locals claim dead animal that washed up in Paraguay is mysterious blood-sucking beast.

    And in the text, they state even the local fire commander who retrieved the body said it was a monkey. Headlines mean everything – it’s what people usually only read.

  3. idoubtit
    October 26, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    The neck looks extremely short. So, the head seemed to be facing the bottom and tucked under.

  4. Ronald H. Pine
    October 26, 2015 at 8:10 PM

    I still interpret it as missing the head.

  5. Ronald H. Pine
    October 26, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    Hmmm. It seems that I can no longer correct typos.

  6. idoubtit
    October 26, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    The edit limit is 5 minutes. That is, it is supposed to be. (Anyway, I fixed it.)

  7. Lagaya1
    October 27, 2015 at 12:50 AM

    I’v noticed this, too. The last few times I posted, there was no more “edit.”

  8. Lagaya1
    October 27, 2015 at 12:51 AM

    Still is none. And I could have used it!

  9. BobM
    October 27, 2015 at 12:57 AM

    Just about any hairy animal without its hair looks strange. 🙂

  10. October 27, 2015 at 9:29 AM

    I always knew Sea Monkeys weren’t just brine shrimp.

  11. idoubtit
    October 27, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    VAMPIRE sea monkeys.

  12. busterggi (Bob Jase)
    October 27, 2015 at 11:08 AM

    Chupacabras – when you absolutely, positively have nothing worth reporting on.

    Used to be sea serpents.

  13. EMME
    October 27, 2015 at 6:05 PM

    From my zoologist point of view that is a body of a dead decomposing howler monkey.

  14. Russian Skeptic
    November 1, 2015 at 1:55 PM

    Dash! One have just to look at its foot and toes to see that it is definitely a monkey.

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