Posts Tagged ‘Piasa’
“We are not realists. We are not idealists. We are intermediatists–that nothing is real, but that nothing is unreal.” Charles H. Fort
(pictograph at Black Dragon Canyon, Utah)
Imagine: huge birds, large enough to attack adults and carry off children… riding the arcs of storms, thunder and lightening flashing menacingly. It seems as though every Native American tribe has stories featuring these legendary creatures-and gargantuan birds haunt legends the world over.
In Arabia, it is known as the Roc. In Malaysia, the Garuda. In Papua New Guinea, they are called Ropen. In China, they call them Peng. Here in the United States, the feathered menace is known as the Piasa, or Thunderbird.
The archaeological record will attest to the massive winged creatures, which once thrived about our primordial world. The Pterosaurs-reptiles–lived during the Mesozoic Era (248-65 million years ago), and were the first vertebrates to evolve the power of flight. The largest had wingspans of over 40 feet!
More recently, true “giant” birds, the Tetratorns, soared above the mastodons and giant sloths of North and South America. With wingspans of up to 25 feet, their fossils abound in the northwestern corner of Arizona. They are thought to have gone extinct a mere 8,000 years ago. Or did they? Arizona’s Papago, Pima, and Cochiti people have their tales of giant birds, and in the Sonora region of Mexico and the southwestern U.S. live the Yaqui people. They, too, tell of encounters with Thunderbirds.
- On July 25, 1977, ten-year-old Marlon Lowe, of Lawndale, Illinois, was playing in his backyard when two large birds appeared. One bird descended upon the boy and tried to carry him off, and had him airborne for a time. His mother, seeing this from the kitchen window, gave chase, screaming. The bird could barely “lift off” with the boy, and dropped him after a hundred-yard chase. Both Marlon and his mother describe a dark bird with a naked head and a wingspan of 15 to 20 feet.
- In 2002, in Dillingham and Manokotak, Alaska, pilots and townsfolk observed large flying creatures with 14-foot wingspans. These were described as reptilian, with membrane wings and crested heads.
- In May of 2008, numerous reports of Pterodactyl-like creatures with wingspans of up to 18 feet were reported in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
So many of the world’s legends talk of massive birds sharing the earth with us-and indeed, American Teratorn bones have almost always been found “in conjunction with human habitation sites.”
It’s just plain startling to see a massive, unknown (or unclassifiable) bird in flight. It’s downright bizarre to contemplate the idea that the progeny of an Ice Age flock could still inhabit the planet. But is it more bizarre than the steel workers who saw flying reptiles over modern-day Pennsylvania, or the “Man-Birds” being reported in the lands of the mythical Thunderbird?
Are these archetypal images of our racial memory, as Carl Jung might have interpreted them? Or are these as-yet unclassified creatures, as cryptozoologists might imagine them?
Or are they phenomena that Fort would ponder over and report upon, patiently awaiting the next “impossible” airborne creature?
Go to binallofamerica.com/index.html for Tim’s interview with Ken Gerhard,
A great discussion of all things Thunderbird, Texas Big Bird, and Cryptozoological!