Are Vampires Real?

In 1725 Arnold Paole fell from a wagon and died Within weeks of his death, his village of Meduegna experienced brutal attacks, leaving 16 dead

Victims were found drained of blood, with no obvious wounds The murder epidemic only ended when villagers drove a stake through Paole’s dead body and roasted it over a fire Paole’s story is just one of many real world vampire tales But are vampires real? In European folklore, a vampire is a dead body that leaves its grave at night to drink the blood of the living Although they were popularised by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula”, vampires have existed in folklore for centuries

In Chinese and Indian legends, vampires are unable to go past a bag of rice without counting every grain In Central America the “chupacabra” appears in animal form, and prefers the blood of livestock, not humans Most of the evidence we have that vampires exist comes from real life sightings, which share disturbing characteristics During the 1970s, London’s Highgate Cemetery was plagued by a supernatural figure in a top hat Many believe it was a vampire

On the 27 February 1970 local resident Sean Manchester wrote to the Hampstead & Highgate Express newspaper He said a “King Vampire of the Undead” lurked in the cemetery grounds He alleged this was the spirit of a medieval nobleman, raised from the dead by modern-day Satanists In the following months, the same paper received an influx of letters reporting chilling incidents in the cemetery Some found groups of dead foxes without sign of injury, lifeless amongst the graves

Paranormal researcher David Farrant attributed these events to the vampire Most horrifying of all, in October 1970 the burned and headless remains of a woman were discovered in the cemetery grounds The culprit was never identified More recently in 2007, the Guyana Reunion newspaper reported that a troublemaking vampire had been captured and murdered The vampire appeared as an elderly woman

She was long suspected of conversing with the devil and swilling infant blood Some witnesses confessed to having seen her shape-shifting and floating through keyholes to enter locked premises After locals beat her to death, they reported the alleged “supernatural goings on” had stopped In the last 30 years, increasing numbers of people have started defining themselves as vampires Author Ian Holt has spent extensive time with this group and says that this is just a new term for an ancient subgroup

Early examples of them include the Native American “shape shifters” In these cases, warriors captured enemies and ate their stewed remains to gain strength Folklore says that by repeating this exercise, people gained powers to transform into mountain animals such as wolves and deer Another example is Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the infamous Hungarian noblewoman She allegedly slaughtered hundreds of young girls between 1585 and 1609

She would then bathe in and drink their blood to “stay youthful” Scholars often consider her one of the first vampires In spite of these claims, Physics Professor Costas Efthimiou at the University of Central Florida, has mathematically disproved the existence of a vampire species His calculations are based on two aspects of vampire behaviour Firstly, tradition says that bite victims become vampires themselves

Secondly, each vampire must “bite” one human each month in order to survive Taking the year 1600, the time of Countess Bathory, as the starting point, he calculated the entire human population would have become vampires in less than three years This supports the consensus within the scientific community that vampires are biologically impossible Forensic scientist Dr Katherine Ramsland writes that vampirism “is a delusional notion that he or she…needs blood This arises not from fiction and film but from an erotic attraction to blood and the idea that it conveys certain powers”

Some members of the existing “vampire” subculture theorise that their bloodlust comes from having underdeveloped digestion facilities They suggest that drinking blood, which contains nutrients that have already been broken down, makes it much easier for their bodies to accept and process them This isn't too far removed from the vampiric creatures that do exist Vampire bats, lampreys, leeches and mosquitos – to name but a few – all have digestive systems designed for consuming blood Vampire bats are the only mammals to live off blood, but they do not kill their victims

They can give you a nasty infection, but are unlikely to turn you into a vampire There is much to suggest that vampire sightings have been imagined, and are not real After the Highgate Cemetery sightings, an investigation was launched into the letters written to the Hampstead & Highgate Express It turned out all the letters were connected to David Farrant He later admitted he had, fraudulently, written them himself

Farrant’s case is not unique Without proof for vampires, all evidence comes from individual claims that cannot be verified Many of these link back to folk stories that have lodged themselves in the popular imagination Moreover, the only scientific evidence to date goes against the notion that vampires exist At least, not outside the depths of our imaginations

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