|The Teratorn, now extinct?|
Many of the Native American tribes shared a common legend of a massive-winged creature that is suppose to be larger than a condor; the great Thunderbird.
The Legends . . .
The northwestern Indians said that the Thunderbird accompanied thunderstorms and that lightning flashed from its eyes. It was said to feed on killer whales. The Miami Indians called it Piasa, or 'devourer of man' and believed the bird required sacrifices or it would attack a whole community.
Thunderbirds were also seen as a kind of positive energy spirit that attacked monsters. The Ojibway Indians of Lake Superior said that a Thunderbird fought with Mishipishu, a snake like monster of the lake. The Thunderbird won the battle and as he took the serpent away in his talons, a crack of thunder and lighting marked the event. The Iroquois, however, saw the Thunderbird as the guardian of fire. The Iroquois also had a Thunderbird called Oshadagea, or Dew Eagle, and when the evil fire spirits attacked the earth, Dew Eagle would fly over the flames, and the dew from its back would put-out the flames and make the earth fertile again.
In more recent time, the Sioux Medicine Man, John (Fire) Lame Deer told of the Thunderbird and said that the he believed that they had gone to the furthest parts of the earth, unhappy with the dirty and impure civilization of the whites. The Sioux called the birds Wakinyan Tanka. Lame Deer describes them as creatures whose voices are the thunder and the small rumbles of thunder are the voices of their children. They are a kind of phantom being, with bodies that are not solid. There was a time when the Thunderbirds, fighting on the behalf of human beings, fought with the evil water monsters. The war erupted over the earth for many years until finally the Thunderbirds won.
The Sightings . . .
July 25th, 1977, 10 year old Marlon Lowe was playing hide and seek with his friends when a large bird grabbed him by his shirt lifting him about a foot into the air. As Marlon shouted for his mother, the bird continued to carry him for nearly 40 feet before dropping him. At the time, Marlon weighed about 60 pounds. At first it was believed that bird was a turkey vulture, but after his mother did some research at the library, she found the bird that had attacked her son; a black bird with a white ring at the base of its neck, a California Candor. (See segment 2 of 'Birdzilla' below for the Marlon Lowe story)
In October of 2002 in the Alaskan villages of Togiak and Manokotak, came reports of a bird with a wing-span of '14 feet'. Though the actual size would be hard to make out from the ground, the witnesses were shaken. A pilot saw it too from a distance of just 1,000 feet while flying his plane. "The people in the plane saw him," said the pilot John Bouker. "He's huge, he's huge, he's really, really big. You wouldn't want to have your children out." (See the Birdzilla part 2/3 below for the John Bouker segment)
The wingspan of a California Condor can reach 9 feet and probably bigger. It is possible that people are seeing condors, or are these creatures the ancient teratorn still alive and among us even today? The teratorn is the massive ancestor of modern buzzards and stood nearly 8 feet tall.
The Evidence . . .
In Unsolved Mysteries of the Old West, (Republic of Texas Press 1999) author W.C. Jameson tells the curious tale of the Thunderbird Cave in Utah. (Though out of print, the book can still be found as used on Amazon.com.) In 1738 a band of treasure seeking Spaniards who were loaded down with silver ingots, were attacked and killed by Indians angry over the continual trespassing of their hunting lands. Two survivors however, while in hiding, watched as the Indians took the Burros of the dead Spaniards into a cave that had a petroglyph of a large strange strange bird over its entrance. The Indians killed and hacked-up the bodies of the burros, even copping off their hooves. In the 1980's An unnamed treasure hunter went into the cave looking for the silver ingots in the famed Thunderbird Cave. After searching all over the land, he finally found a cave with a petroglyph of a large unusual looking bird over its entrance. The creature had a long reptile-like tail. While digging, he unearthed burro hooves and the large stem of a feather measuring 18 inches in length. The stem is pictured here beside an eagle feather. Ornithologists determined it to be a wing feather, but from what kind of bird, no one can say. Were the burros a sacrifice to the Thunderbirds?
|Broken mystery feather on left,|
mock eagle feather on right
Used by permission of the author, WC Jamseon
- My thanks to WC Jameson for the use of his photo.
|'Lost' Thunderbird / Pterodactyl photo that emerged in 2011|
At 9:37 the Marlon Lowe story (above).
Other Mysterious Creatures . . .
Lost Thunderbird Photo Found? You have to see this!
Largest Sea Monster Ever! Pliosaur 8 Foot Skull Discovered (Video)
Ohio Mystery Canine. A Wolf in the Buckeye State?
My Visit to see where the Mothman Took Flight