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Scabies

The 8-legged Monster Behind Chupacabra Mystery

Sightings abound of a four-legged, hairless, fanged monster that kills and sucks the blood, and sometimes milk, from livestock in the United States and Latin America . Its name chupacabra literally means "goat sucker."There is, in fact, a real monster behind the sightings, but it has eight legs, measures at most 0.02 inches (0.5 millimeters) long and burrows into skin, rather than sucking blood. Its name: Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite that causes scabies in humans ... and coyotes.The chupacabras themselves are actually coyotes with severe infections by these mites, called sarcoptic mange, according to Barry OConnor, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan.Infections in humans are usually mild, causing patches of itchy skin. Over our long evolutionary history with the mite, we have gained the ability to fight off the infections. Domesticated dogs and other animals have less experience with the mite than we do, and for them sarcoptic mange infections can be severe. But the ...

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