Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chupacabra a Giant Pleistocene Vampire Bat

As I have posted in the past, the best characterization of the Chupacabra phenomena is to postulate a nocturnal gargoyle or giant vampire bat.  Actual scavenging of soft tissue may actually be caused by scavenging dogs, particularly as they are often the only animals filling that particular gap on ranch lands.

The difficulty we faced was the lack of such a creature in any of the sources available to myself.  Dale Drinnon has stepped up and brilliantly filled that particular gap for us in the attached item.  I left most of the illustrations out so you could easily work through the text and links.  Go to his site (first link) to see the illustrations.

Most important is the existence of a giant bat found in Pleistocene fossils.  It was and is a vampire bat.  And if we have learned anything, it is that large nocturnal animals have large ranges and are rarely seen by humanity.  Just as Gigantpithecus immediately provides the exact precursor for the Sasquatch,  Desmodus draculae is quite able to do the same for the rarely seen Gargoyle vampire bat.

It really helps when the anticipated creature happens to be already in the fossil record.

We have seen other prospects, but none are likely vampires and that particularly includes the hairless dogs out scavenging.  The reptilian pterodactyl subspecies has been seen, but not necessarily in relation to vampire activity or even large animal hunting.  I think that there are just too many jack rabbits out there.

Then we have one other key issue.  That is the massive reduction in the activities of man the hunter.  This has allowed large predators and herbivores to hugely expand both range and population.  We still keep the bears and wolves on a short leash as well we should.  However, aerial predators will have a well hidden den and a minimum fifty mile range providing an easy ten thousand mile hunting range, to say nothing of even more adventurous multi day expeditions through the night skies.

It is thus little surprise they survived the pressure of man the hunter by holing up in difficult country and can do so today in new ranges when even less boots are on the ground. 

The good news is that we have narrowed the search down to a plausible culprit and also identified a variety of other creatures that share the same terrain but are not guilty of vampire activity at all.

More on ChupaBats, Jersey Devils, False Vampires and Real Chupacabras


"Desmodus_chupii, chupa vampire bat" from one of the Cryptozoology message boards, original discussion now deleted. This would be intended for one of the larger "Chupa" bats and hence not likely a "Desmodus"

TIME World:

Could There be Real Monster Bats?

By Tim Rogers / Llano Grande 2 Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009

Villages infested with vampire bats are one thing. But Nicaragua has its own folklore of blood-sucking monsters. From tales of the infamous chupacabras — the mythical alien, kangaroo, bat,dog that feeds on the blood of goats and chickens — to the lesser-known comelenguas, an unseen beast that feeds on the tongues of sleeping cattle, most Nicaraguan farmers can hold their own when it comes to telling vampire stories around a campfire. But, perhaps just like The X-Files, there could be an element of truth to some of the legends.

In 2002, when the chupacabras was supposedly terrorizing a rural farming community outside the colonial city of Leon, a former government vampire hunter told the local press that the real blood-sucking culprit was a giant vampire bat with a 5-ft wingspan, which he claims to have once caught in the northern mountains of Nicaragua. Bat experts and other vampire hunters insist there's no way a vampire could grow that big, but zoologist Bill Schutt says the hunter could have caught the Vampyrum spectrum, a monstrous carnivorous bat found in Nicaragua. The Vampyrum spectrum is an extremely rare predator with fierce teeth and a three-foot wing span. But, Schutt notes, it's not a real blood feeder, despite its name.

Still, there was once a true giant vampire bat and some experts think that creature of the late Pleistocene, the Desmodus draculae, may still be alive today in some remote corner of the world. Nicaragua perhaps? Unlikely, Schutt says, but not impossible. "I'd jump up and down if one were discovered today," Schutt said. The farmers of Nicaragua, however, may not be as happy.

Read more: 

Darren Naish had written about the possibly-non-extinct giant vampire bats of the Pleistocene in an earlier article: 

Better known than any of these species is the sensationally-named Desmodus draculae Morgan et al., 1988, first described from Venezuela's Cuevo del Guacharo (this is the same cave where Alexander von Humboldt first discovered the remarkable Oilbird Steatornis caripensis in 1799). D. draculae has more recently been reported from Belize and Brazil, and an even bigger giant vampire that represents either a population of D. draculae or a closely related species is also known from Buenos Aires Province in Argentina (Pardinas & Tonni 2000) - a surprisingly southerly record for any vampire. D. draculae is often described as a 'giant vampire'. In relative terms this is true, as its remains are about 25% bigger than those of the Common vampire. Was it really a 'giant' when compared with other bats? At most its wingspan was 60-75 cm and it perhaps weighed about 60 g, so it was about on par with a large horseshoe bat or a small fruit bat. This makes it bigger than the vast majority of microbats, most of which weigh between 10 and 20 g. [image from here]. [it was 2 and perhaps as much as three feet across in wingspan] 

Intriguingly, the morphology of some of these vampires suggests that they differed in ecology and behaviour from the living vampire species. Furthermore, of particular interest is the fact that some of these vampires survived until very, very recently. Very recently. Check back soon: all will be revealed....

[It turns out that some of the remains were not fossilized, they were fresh and they were recent. Hence the IUCN Red list of Threatened species lists them as possibly NOT extinct: 

George Eberhart's Mysterious Creatures mentions reports under the heading of Giant Vampire bats at sizes from two or three foot wingspan to a five or six foot wingspan. All experts agree that is much too wide a range for one species and so the most likely scenario is that there is a giant vampire bat, Desmodus draculae, which is a blood-drinker, and also the larger giant FALSE Vampire, something along the lines of Vampyrum spectrumTimes 2, which can hypothetically have a six-foot wingspan and be not a blood drinker but an active and indiscriminant carnivore (To my mind that is actually worse)

I had heard about Giant Vampire bats as candidates for Chupacabras attacks, including sightings which specifically called them Giant Vampire bats, since I started the Yahoo group Frontiers of Zoology back in 2006, but as it later turned out, these would be the giant FALSE Vampire bats since they had a wingspan in the range of 5-7 feet across.

The smaller types of "Giant Vampire Bats" are usually quadrupeds like the actual (small ) Vampire bats are usually on the ground, while the largest one (approx. 3-3 1/2 feet tall and identical to Kamazotz of older MesoAmerican lore) is said to be habitually a biped on the ground (it sits up on its hind feet whether or not it actually walks that way.) The actual "Giant Vampire bat" is still very small, only a few inches long, but the medium-sized giant bat is like the False Vampire bat (Vampyrum) at twice its usual dimensions. It is about the size of a small dog.

The Spectral Bat 

The Spectral Bat (V. spectrum) is a large, carnivorous leaf-nosed bat. Some alternate names for this species are the False Vampire BatLinnaeus's False Vampire Bat and the Spectral Vampire Bat. Confusingly, they are not related to the Old World family of large carnivorous bats to be found in the Megadermatidae that are also called false vampires

This species is the largest bat in the New World and the largest carnivorous bat in the world, having a wingspan of eighty centimeters or so (almost three feet) and a body length and weight of 125–135 millimeters and 145–190 grams respectively, though larger specimens with wingspans of over one hundred centimeters are not unknown. The ears are very long and rounded.[2] There is no discernible tail, but the tail membrane is long and broad. The large feet are robust, with long curved claws. The muzzle is long and narrow, and the teeth are strong with the upper canines being well developed. The skull is robust and has a well-developed sagittal crest which projects pass the foramen magnum.[2] The noseleaf is medium-sized, lance-shaped, horseshoe and spear with continuous rim raised to form a hollow cup around the nostrils. The fur on the dorsal region is long, soft and is reddish brown in color. The fur on the underside is shorter and paler.[2] The spectral bat is a fairly agile and powerful flier. It has been described as flying "at low speeds in crowded flight spaces, maneuvering deftly, perhaps often landing to make captures, and having the low speed lift capabilities to carry off large prey items".[3]When in flight, spectral bats produce pulses of 1.5-1.8 milliseconds. The terminal phase of echolocation seems to be very short, being 0.5 msec or less.[4] It is likely this species uses short pulses of low intensities because it flies close to obstacles and near the ground.[5] It appears that spectral bats can discriminate between two similar targets.[4]

The spectral bat ranges from Veracruz, Mexico, southward to the island of Trinidad, central Brazil and Peru. It appears that the bat is restricted to Neotropical forest regions elevations ranging from sea level to 1,650 m.[6]This species seems to prefer to live in lowlands and foothills, streamsides, evergreen forests, yards and swamps.[7] Because of its carnivorous diet and large size, the spectral bat has a ecological niche unique among bat species.[2] The spectral bat is list as Near Threatened by the IUCN "due to its dependence on primary forest habitat and is rare and dispersed anywhere it is found, making it extremely susceptible to habitat fragmentation and population decline".[1] There are no major threats throughout its range but local threats include habitat fragmentation and destruction.[1]

Drawing of two spectral bats

The spectral bat is carnivorous, feeding on birds, rodent and even other bats.[8] With regards to avian prey, this species prefers to hunt birds that weigh between 20 and 150 grams (g), sleep in foliage rather than in holes or burrows, and either roost communally or have a strong body odor. In one bat roost, the remains of 84 birds from 18 species were found.[8] Non-passerines seem to be significantly preferred over passerines. When hunting, spectral bats use scent moreso than sight or echolocation to trace prey. One bat was recorded using nearby rivers as flyways to move between foraging areas on the edges of forests and tree clumps in pastures.[8] Upon locating prey, a bat will stalk it from above before striking.[9] The spectral bat is a slow and careful stalker and is more often successful in capturing bat than otherwise. When attacking, the bat drops down on the prey and graps it by the head near the snout or beak and its long canine teeth will sink into the skull. With the prey between its jaws, the bat then flys back to its roost. When feeding, the bat holds and steadies its prey with its thumb claws and masticates[chews] it.[9]

Hollow trees are the most common roosting sites for this species. Bats may roost solitarily or in small groups. It appears that births are limited to a single young at the end of the dry season or the beginning of the rainy season.[2][1] Overall, little is known about the reproductive cycle of this species. The spectral bat is perhaps the only bat species that forms long-term pair-bonds and lives in extended family groups.[10] Adults pairs will roost together in the same hollow tree for over a year and their offspring of three reproductions may remain with their parents. The spectral bat is one of only two species that shows evidence of male parental care (the other being the yellow-winged bat).[10] A least one adult male or older offspring will remain in the roost with the most recently born juvenile, while the other bats in the group go out to forage. Foragers may return to the roost with prey and the energy content of these prey may exceed the needs of a solitary forager.[10] Thus, it is likely that both the adults and the older offspring will guard the young and provision them with food.[8] The foraging habits of the spectral bat apparently involves an extended period of time during which the young learn to forage.[10] With the extended time in which parents are involved with their young and the provision of adult to offspring is what drove the selection for monogamy in this species.


1.           a b c d Chiroptera Specialist Group (1996). Vampyrum spectrum. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesIUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.
2.           a b c d e Navarro, D., D. Wilson. (1982) "Vampyrum spectrum". Mammalian Species, 184: 1-4.
3.           ^ Findley, J. S., E. H. Studier, D. E. Wilson. (1972) "Morphologic properties of bat wings". J. Mamm., 53:429-444.
4.           a b Bradbury, J. W. (1970) "Target discrimination by the echolocating bat Vampyrum spectrum". J. Exp. Zool., 173:23-46.
5.           ^ Novick, A. (1977) Acoustic orientation. Pp. 74-287.
6.           ^ Peterson, R. L., P. Kirmse. (1969) "Notes on Vampyrum spectrum, the false vampire bat", in Panama.Canadian J. Zool., 47:140-142.
7.           ^ Handley, C. O., Jr. (1976) "Mammals of the Smithsonian Venezuelan project". Brigham Young Univ.Sci. Bull., Biol. Ser., 20(5):1-89.
8.           a b c d e Vehrencamp, S., F. Stiles, J. Bradbury. (1977) "Observations on the foraging behavior and avian prey of the neotropical carnivorous bat, Vampyrum spectrum". Journal of Mammalogy, 58: 469-477.
9.           a b Greenhall, A. (1968) "Notes on the behavior of the false vampire bat". Journal of Mammalogy, 49: 337-340.
10.       a b c d McCracken, G.F. and Wilkinson, G.S. (2000) "Bat mating systems". In: Reproductive Biology of Bats. (E.G. Crichton and P.H. Krutzsch, eds.). pp. 321-362. Academic Press, New York

 There is supposed to be a type of permanently grounded "Giant vampire bat" living in deep water-filled caverns in Mexico and Belize, but if there is any truth to the rumor it would more likely be giant False-Vampire bats, and I suggest that they are not really cut off from the surface either but must have cracks or crevices by means of which they climb into and out of the caverns again (One Cryptozoologist has mentioned the type and other Cryptozoologists have largely ignored his allegations)

False vampire bats are true carnivores and larger ones could actually be dangerous to domesticated animals and other prey. Some of the reports mistaking them for Vampire bats still speak of them as mobbing on sheep and goats, which invariably die from the wounds thereafter. The bats are also not shy to bite humans (attacks have been reported including in the Southern United States, Old Dixie) and the bites could transmit rabies or other diseases. 

In tallying up Chupacabras reports, it seems to me that a glaring omission has been made.

The Jersey Devils correspond generally to some of the "Batchupa" reports in some respects and they are attached to a long series of Animal mutilation allegations. So actually, they are also Chupacabras and some of the oldest historical recorded reports of Chupacabras fall under that heading.

Jersey Devil Reconstructions, the one on the right is based on the older one on the left, which was published in a Philadelphia newspaper early in 1909 as part of the flap in sightings at that time (Coinciding with an outbreak of "Devil's Hoofprints" in the snow) If the original for the Jersey Devil is actually a longnosed bat like the False Vampire bat, the relative lengths of the fore and hind limbs are swapped in this drawing. That is a conceivable mistake. The animal would ordinarily be a quadruped but able to rear up higher in front, and the takeoff would be from a biped position and leaping into the air while spreading the wings. In the proposed giant bat, the wingspan would be about 6 feet across and it might stand 18 inches tall at a stretch, but the reports could easily exaggerate either of those measurements out of fear.

Maps for locations of Jersey Devil sightings in 1909 and for all suspected Vampyrum (False Vampire Bat- type) Cryptid  reports in the New World. Jersey Devil reports are not restricted to New Jersey and in fact stretch from New Your City (some probable hoaxes and meant to poke fun on New Jerseyites) to Maryland, Washington  DC and the Carolinas: some reports are even as far afield as Georgia and Florida at the turn of the 20th Century, and Jersey Devil type reports have recently broken out again in Northern Florida as The Northport Devil. As usual, ALL sightings are typically thought to be of "the Devil" himself.

Further to the South, in Chile, the traditional form of a Vampire is the Chonchon, which is to say, something about the size of a human head with bat wings (Sometimes the ears are said to be the wings: the wingspan may be set down as about a fathom, six feet)

George Eberhart in Mysterious Creatures (2002) has separeat entries for both Chonchon and Giant Vampire Bat, but he says if there is any truth in the Chonchon stories they would be relatable to the Giant Vampire bats. For my part I independantly noted that the body of a flying fox (Old World fruit bat) is about the size of a human head and a giant bat of equivalent size in the New World, thought to be a vampire, could easily be described in those terms.

These are three drawings by a witness in Texas and posted on the Cryptomundo site. I do not wish to go and post more Cryptomundo material than the absolute minimum, but here I have to say that this is probably a good modern sighting for the American Ahool or Kamazotz species, the one that is also commonly described as "Monkey-faced" On this occasion it was seen lurking in a graveyard. Since the wings were not fully spread there is no good estimate for their size although sightings in this category commonly say ten feet.

Below are some more of the Reptillian category of Chupacabras, the most common category of legitimate sightings for creatures called Chupacabras. In the first "min-Rex" example a "Stinger" is on the end of the snout where most reports would have said a tongue (and where the original would have had a tongue and not a stinger, in fact), the next one is also a recognisable reptillian although not in the same style, and the design at bottom, done for T-shirts you can order over the internet, the idea is plainly once again that it is a sort of iguana. The long toes deserve mentioning: while many references say Chupacabras have three toes, several of the better tracks have four or five and a series of them asy that the difference is because the outer toe is like a thumb and set apart, hence often missed: the innermost toe is also the smallest. The effect is of having a Chupa track like a small to medium-sized human hand but "Turned the other way around", thumbs-outward, like the famous fossil reptile Chirotherium (and indeed like many living lizards also)

Best Wishes, Dale D.

All Zoological evaluations made here are are of course provisional only and
 made as the best fit for all the available evidence  as of the time of

Posted by Dale Drinnon at 01:10 

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