US scientists say an animal found in Texas is not the chupacabra – or goat-sucker – of American myth, but a coyote with a hair loss problem.
DNA tests on the carcass found at a ranch south-east of San Antonio yielded a virtually identical match to coyote DNA, biologist Mike Forstner said.
The coyote was one of three found dead by rancher Phylis Canion this summer.
Central American myth has long spoken of a vampire-like creature that slays livestock by sucking out their blood.
The chupacabra is said to attack its victims at night, leaving a trail of carcasses with their throats torn out.
Mr Forstner said that he himself had assumed the creature brought in for testing at Texas State University was a domestic dog but “the DNA sequence is a virtually identical match to DNA from the coyote”.
Ms Canion and some of her neighbours discovered the 40-pound (18-kg) carcasses of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in Cuero, 90 miles (145km) south-east of San Antonio.
She said she had saved the head of one of them to get it properly tested.
Additional hide samples have been taken to try to determine the cause of the animal’s hair loss, Mr Forstner said.