Thursday, May 27, 2010
Arkansas Mystery Skeleton Was First 'Chupacabras'?
In November 1991, Frank Pryor and his wife, Cindy, were hunting deer near Charleston, AR when they stumbled upon the mostly skeletal remains of a creature not easily identified.
By the remaining tissue clinging to the bones, it was calculated that whatever it was had been dead for as many as 6 weeks. The rounded skull possessed two large orbits and a large mouth filled with sharp teeth. Missing were its limbs, but it had a large rib cage and a row of "spines" along its back.
Pryor took the remains to the Westark Science Department. There, Dr. David Meeks informed him that the creature was some type of carnivore unknown to the region. From there, Pryor passed the specimen on to Oklahoma Baptist University, but scientists there were unable to determine what the creature was. The learned men and women at Oklahoma State University examined the specimen and pronounced it a llama. However, a Fort Smith, AR veterinarian said that he was familiar with these animals and didn't believe it was one. Dr. Mary Whitmore, a professor of zoology at the University of Oklahoma, deemed that the specimen would never be identified. But another scientist, after studying it for several hours, concluded it was a new world camel (such as an alpaca, llama, or vicuña). Others scientists weighed in with their opinion that it was nothing more than the calf of a domestic cow.
Pryor was a bit disheartened that none were able to identify the animal conclusively. And yet the nascent mystery intrigued the Arkansas man. So, Pryor returned to where he discovered the animal in hopes of finding more of it. If he had a more complete skeleton, perhaps scientists would then be able to readily identify the animal.
While he found no further bones, Pryor did find some strange fibers embedded within nearby cattle tracks. Thinking these might be related somehow, he had them analyzed by Greg Fox, a DNA specialist in Ventura Co., California and the aforementioned Dr. Mary Whitmore.
Both, it is said, told Pryor that the fibers were not made up of any DNA known to exist. It would seem, however, the two scientists were saying that the fibers contained no DNA whatsoever. They were instead comprised of aluminum, silicon, calcium, and copper.
This is nothing unusual. Alloys made from these three metals are common and calcium is added in certain processes to strengthen the newly-forged metal blend.
It would seem Pryor met a dead end in his quest to understand the nature of the creature.
At some point during the excitement surrounding the find, it was reported that the popular television program, Unsolved Mysteries was interested in reporting the story. If true, they must not have liked what their investigation turned up, since no episode ever aired featuring the strange animal found in the wilds of Arkansas.
Later, as this strange story spread across the Internet, certain facts have become confused. For instance, in paring down the story to only its most salient details, the fact that DNA testing was done only on the fibers is frequently left out. The story perpetuates into cyberspace as DNA tests having been done on the animal, proving that it is not of this world. Further confusion arises when the fibers become metallic "hairs" that once covered the creature.
But it does raise and interesting question. Why was Pryor willing to spend the money on the fiber tests (an expensive proposition in the early 1990's) but not on the skeletal remains, which still had tissue clinging to them?
Later, some would go on to note a resemblance in description to the Chupacabras, which would rise to international stardom only a few short years later in Puerto Rico.
Dayne Chastain, a self-proclaimed treasure hunter, was reported to have borrowed the skeleton from Pryor (whom he considered a friend) in order to carry it in a bucket of preservative alcohol to Roswell, NM. Chastain was certain he could broker a deal for someone to purchase the strange find.
Mr. Pryor has contacted me (read comments) to inform me that the specimen has been examined by various scientists around the world. I have requested of him the DNA results from those. When these are made available, I will post that summary here.
He also wished to clarify that he did not pay for any DNA analysis on the purported hair samples. I can only assume then that the The Charleston Express was in error when they wrote on March 4, 1992: "Shortly after finding the bones, Pryor went back to the area and searched for anything else unusual and found several scraps of fibers in cattle tracks not too far away from where he found the bones. Although he couldn't be certain that the fibers had anything to do with the bones, he thought it was another strange happening and decided to have the fibers tested. He sent some of the fibers to Greg Fox, DNA scientist in Ventura County, California, and took some to Dr. Mary Whitmore, Professor in the department of zoology at the University of Okalahoma, and has just recently received results from their testing."
I wish to thank Mr. Pryor for elucidating these discrepancies and I look forward to his additional data in the near future. Perhaps in time the mystery surrounding these enigmatic remains will be solved, but until then we can assure ourselves that their ability to stir controversy is a strong now as in 1991.