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.