The “Chupacabras” is similar, both in appearance and on its background story, to a contemporary videogame character, ‘Sonic, the hedgehog’. While this short essay does not intend to claim that the electronic character was the origin for the Chupacabras, it will try to explore these curious similarities. Others have already noticed this link between the two, but usually with a tongue-in-cheek. There is however some room for serious speculation about it.
The most widely known representation of the Chupacabras is related to its genesis with this name in Puerto Rico. If you have ever read something about the subject, it’s very probable you have seen some version of the original sketch by Jorge Martin for the sighting of Madelyne Tolentino. It was created in December 1995, and one notable thing about it are the curious pointy appendages running along the spine of the creature.
This is exactly the trademark of Sonic, created in 1991 by Naoto Oshima and turned into the official mascot for the Sega videogame company. As a stilized hedgehog, those spikes are easily understood.
The Sonic games franchise, which extend to this day, reached its peak success exactly in mid 1990s. Online websites mention that at this time, Sonic was more popular among american children than icons like Mickey Mouse, Abraham Lincoln or Mario (from rival Nintendo).
In the original description by Jorge Martin above, the “spine-like apprendages” are described as having colors that “change constantly from red to blue, to yellow, to green, to orange, to violet”.
When Sonic jumps and spins to turn into a kind of ball to roll away or combat his enemies with his spikes, he is also involved on a bright sphere of multiple changing colors.
“At first I believed these animals to be the result of some genetic or bionic experiment“, wrote Jorge Martin. This was among one of the first speculations about the origin and nature of the Chupacabras, though other stories emerged after a while. “I now believe that they are not of terrestrial origin“, Martín added.
The culprits of the “genetic or bionic experiment” were, of course, the Americans, who have military bases in Puerto Rico. People speculated that one or more genetic monsters had just escaped. This particular version is an almost exact parallel to the background story for the Sonic videogames:
“Once upon a time there was a peaceful world called Mobius that is threatened when Dr. Kintobor, a kind scientist who was researching the Chaos Emeralds, is transformed into an evil megalomaniac after a lab accident. All the beautiful animals of the planet are transformed intro evil robotic beings, Badniks — except for Sonic the hedgehog, a friend of Kintobor that was too quick to be captured. Now Sonic must find the Chaos Emeralds, rescue his friends and defeat Kintobor before it’s too late”.
Dr. Kintobor, turned into evil Robotnik, transforms gracious animals into bionic robotic slaves, poluting and destroying the planet on his way. The whole game was “Captain Planet” style.
The Chupacabras didn’t appear from nothing in 1995. It didn’t came from the blue videogame character either. The origins of the Chupacabras can be traced back to “animal mutilations” in USA almost three decades earlier, and to the “Moca Vampire” of the very same Puerto Rico in 1975. These coincidences between the appearance and stories for Sonic and the abominable sucking creature may well be just that. Coincidences.
Representing spines or “appendages” the way Martin did in his drawing does not necessarily proves that it was based on a Sonic drawing. Any child, if asked to draw a hedgehog or an animal alike with spines, may draw something similar. The Chupacabras, furthermore, despite having being described as a color-changing creature, was also described and more usually portrayed as having more dark tones.
Obviously a multi-colored character is more appropriated for fun child characters than scary monsters.
Having made all of these points, and noting that probably are many reasonable others, we cannot help but to also suggest that maybe these are not just coincidences.
Both the Chupacabras and Sonic may have been cultural products that emerged and reached huge success at around the same time. They are both always referred to as a single character, as if there was only one of them — this is not very evident in English, but in Spanish countries where the language clearly differs between singular and plural forms, the Chupacabras is always referred to as a single creature. This was emphasized by Argentinian Max Seifert at the time as an indication that the phenomenon was about a myth, and not the effects of an unknown species of animals.
While Sonic in the end may not be the origin for the Chupacabras, the same cultural references and influences could explain both of them.
And then, in the end it’s always possible that Jorge Martín was playing with his children’s Sega Genesis. Or not, maybe it was just a Master System.
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