Saturday, September 01, 2007

The chupacabra in all possible worlds....

Phylis Canion of Cuero Texas found this ugly little beast dead on the side of the road. She's been calling it the legendary chupacabra and she's waiting for DNA testing to prove that it's...uh...not a dog?

Is this the mythical chupacabra? It depends on what your definition of is is. Or maybe just your definition of chupacabra. If you mean an odd looking creature with protruding teeth about the size of a small dog--then sure. This is a chupacabra. If you mean a small animal that hunts chickens and is rarely seen--then maybe this is a chupacabra. If you mean the very species of animal that has actually committed rampant goaticide and chickicide and has inspired many tales of demonic blood-sucking creatures from Puerto Rico, Mexico, the U.S. and several other countries--then...well...this and coyotes and wild dogs and foxes and jaguars and panthers and some snakes and birds of prey and mischievous humans are all 'el chupacabra'. Maybe even rats.

Legends are fascinating semantically because they are defined by their Prototypical Properties and yet they are extremely flexible because they often have no well-examined extension by which to create a Typical Denotatum. Necessary Conditions are almost impossible to impose because each speaker has merely chosen which of the Necessary Conditions make up the intention. And extensions are almost always ephemeral and partial. Sightings are merely instances of faith that investigation will not reduce a collection of properties to those belonging only to the extension of another already attested intention.

So Canion really can't expect that the DNA tests will prove that her creature is a chupacabra. There is no extension of that animal or its DNA that can serve as a standard for Necessary Conditions. So far she can only hope that the DNA is not limited to the same properties that are necessary and sufficient to denote the DNA of a dog or some other animal--probably canine. But even if the DNA does limit this to a canine of some sort all is not lost. It might turn out that the chupacabra was a nasty little mutt all along. That would require that some of the previously argued conditions of the chupacabra be discarded.

Because if by chupacabra you mean this

Then no. This is not the chupacabra.

(photos by Eric Gay/AP)
(drawing from here.)

1 comment:

Thanks for reaching out.

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