We don't expect our craziest urban legends to exist for good reasons, but we do at least expect their origins to be mysterious. If you can just point to the guy who made up the crazy story in the first place, what are we doing here? It turns out that's a good question for everyone who has ever found themselves debating the authenticity of legends like ...
5El Chupacabra Came from a Shitty Sci-Fi Movie
When farm animals die out in the open, they have a tendency to come out at the end of a week looking like they've been the victim of some pretty disturbing animal torture. As we've explained before, an FBI investigation revealed this to be the work of pretty common farm conditions and some pretty bored farmers: The sun causes bloated corpses to burst along straight lines that look surgical in their precision. Maggots drink the blood that doesn't drain out of the burst skins, making them look like they've been drained.
"Sure, we're disgusting now. But one day we'll blossom into flies, and then the world will appreciate our beauty!"
Rather than letting such boring truths go unexaggerated, Northern farmers invented an animal torturer that had to be investigated by the FBI, while farmers down Mexico way invented El Chupacabra -- a small, possibly extraterrestrial critter believed to attack goats and cows, drinking their blood and leaving the empty husks behind.
Leech, via Karl Ragnar Gjertsen
Before you start getting all judgy, you should know that goat blood margaritas are delicious.
While it sounds like the sort of thing that comes down to us from the days of witch burnings, it turns out the legend of the Chupacabra isn't that old: The first sighting occurred in 1995. It's become so prevalent since then that every single unidentified animal that turns up is usually plastered on the news as a potential Chupacabra for a couple of days.
"We don't know what this is, and after you watch our special report, neither will you."
The Ridiculous Origin:
The movie is about an alien creature, Sil, who attempts to get pregnant by boning every dude she sees while in the guise of a human. During the last third of the film, we finally see her in her true form, courtesy of H.R. Giger.
The Little Giger Page (PDF)
File this in your porn drive under "Cleanse Hands With Holy Water After."
The creature Tolentino saw in her yard had bulbous eyes and spikes up and down its back, walked on two legs and leaped everywhere it went. She even had an artist draw what she saw.
The result of one alien fucking an entire zoo.
It was similar enough that an editor from Skeptical Inquirer, Benjamin Radford, decided to track Tolentino down and find out if she'd seen the movie. While the body shape isn't exactly a spitting image, Radford picked out over a dozen morphological similarities between Sil and El Chupacabra. Added bonus: The opening scenes of the movie are set in Puerto Rico.
Ha! Classic Puerto Rico.
When he finally interviewed Tolentino, she totally copped to seeing Species shortly before her initial sighting, even noting the similarities between the two creatures herself and saying it would be a "very good idea" to watch it. So this national phenomenon that has been reported on by literally every local news station in America is based on the testimony of a woman who can't tell the difference between B-movies and reality. We suppose the truth will come out soon enough, as Tolentino claims to have hired a detective who specializes in animal crimes and is able to talk through his butt.
4El Dorado, the City of Gold, Was a Distraction Tactic
El Dorado, the famous ancient Mesoamerican city of gold and immeasurable riches, is the ultimate hidden treasure. Discovering it would fulfill mankind's long held dreams of getting diamond-pissingly rich with minimal effort.
"Hi, can you direct me to the solid gold pyramids, please?"
With easy money on their minds, countless conquerors and fortune seekers launched painstaking, often deadly expeditions searching for the fabled city. Of course, nobody ever came close to finding it, which, oddly, didn't stop the city from popping up in modern pop culture. There was The Road to El Dorado, the first animated film from DreamWorks to be a critical and commercial failure. Despite the clear message that nobody cared about the legend anymore, DreamWorks revived the Indiana Jones franchise only to have Indy hunting for Crystal Skulls in Akator, the Mayan name for El Dorado.
For some reason, ambitious world beaters of every era just couldn't figure out what everybody else intuitively understood: Cities made of gold, and people who search for them, are both pretty goddamn silly.
"That wealth will buy me a gentleman's death from mercury poisoning,
rather than a pauper's death from syphilis."
The Ridiculous Origin:
It turns out El Dorado was a real thing, just not at all what the Spaniards thought. The whole legend was based on a Muisca tribal ceremony where they covered a new chieftain in gold dust. The Spaniards heard them talking about a golden person and made the natural assumption that he must be from a golden city, the same way that filthy French people come from filthy French cities.
Since the conquistadors' attitude toward all gold was decidedly Scrooge McDuckian, they were intrigued by the legend they had willed into existence. And when the natives realized that the white guys had willfully misunderstood their way into a magical city made of gold, they didn't exactly go out of their way to correct them.
"There's a whole city of diamond blow-job robots deep inside that uncharted jungle. You can't miss it."
After all, what would you do if you were invaded by an army that:
1) was obsessed with gold for some reason,
2) oppressed the living hell out of your people and
3) believed you were stupid and incapable of complex thought?
The correct answer was to tell them that there's a big ass city completely made of gold and precious gems juuuust over those mountains that are really, really far away from you and your people, then watch the dust from their boots settle as they rush off on their exhausting, dangerous journey. Since the Spaniards couldn't conceive of the natives outsmarting them, they never looked back.
"Hey, do me a solid before we go. Are those little colored toads poisonous, or delicious?"
And so, the whole golden city myth that cost entire armies their lives and has been fascinating Westerners for centuries was actually the oldest trick in the book. The natives pump-faked a tennis ball into the woods, and the Europeans have been chasing it for the past 200 years.