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Cryptozoology

THUNDERBIRDS

Sightings of bigfoot, lake monsters around the world, and the chupacabras are just some of the many cryptozoological stories on the rise! Although many of these stories are controversial - some have evidence that defies belief.

Postby sandra » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:39 am

"The Comanche tribe call it ba'a' and the Potawatomi use the name chequah, but most people know of this mystery animal as Thunderbird. Although gigantic birds are reported in the past and present from various areas of the globe, the Thunderbird is isolated to North America. Native Americans believed that these giant birds brought thunder and rain with them as they flew through the air by flapping their wings, and lightning by closing their eyes. Nevertheless, the distinction between the stories of the Native Americans and people of today are not too far apart. Modern reports of Thunderbirds arise from various locations in North America, with a large occurrence from Pennsylvania to the Central states. Mark A. Hall, one of the foremost investigators of the Thunderbird story, gives the following description of the avian cryptid drawn from numerous sightings:
"The bird is distinguished by its size and lifting capabilities exceeding those of any known bird living today anywhere in the world. Wingspan estimates are necessarily all guesswork. But observers sometimes have had the benefit of a measurable object for comparison or the benefit of time to observe a resting bird. The results most often provide sizes of 15 to 20 feet. The bird at rest or on the ground appears to be four to eight feet tall. Typically the coloring of the birds overall is dark.."
Remarkably, a bird of 15 feet in size would be the largest bird known in the world today. The largest wingspan known on a living bird is that of the wandering albatross (diomedea exulans) with a wingspan to 12 feet, and while not a predatory bird, it still boasts an impressive span. The Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) and the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) are among the largest predatory birds in the world, with the Andean condor reaching a wingspan of 10.5 feet and the California condor (the largest North American predatory bird) reaches a wingspan of up to 10 feet. These are all truly marvelous birds and respectable in their majesty.

But consider the Thunderbird, reputedly capable of lifting a deer or a person from the ground. The current predatory birds are not equipped with grasping feet that are strong enough to hold much weight, instead they live primarily as carrion eaters and are only seldom predatory, and then usually on smaller animals. Reports of the Thunderbird, however, describe lifting deer and humans off the ground.


The attempted abduction of Marlon Lowe,
by Chelsea Sams

The attempted abduction of Marlon Lowe,
by William Rebsamen

Perhaps the most controversial inclusion of the Thunderbird capable of lifting a human comes from 1977 in Lawndale, Illinois. It was here that on July 25, 1977 towards 9:00 pm a group of three boys were in the backyard. They saw two large birds coming, and as the birds came in closer they went after the boys. Two of the boys escaped, but the third, Marlon Lowe, did not. One of the birds clamped onto his shoulder with its claws and proceeded to lift the ten year old boy about two feet off the ground for a distance of at least 30 yards. With screams of distress calling adults outside and coupled with a series of blows by the 65-pound boy, the bird finally released him. The boy was relatively unharmed, with psychological damage instead of physical.

Although viewed by some as a tall tale, the descriptions given by the witnesses of these birds describe a large black bird, with a white ring on its neck and a wingspan of up to 10 feet, traits oddly reminiscent of the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) which exhibits the same basic physical characteristics as that of the Lawndale bird. To this day, no one can explain away the incident from 1977 in any convincing manner, either the incident didn't happen or a large bird (of known or unknown status) attacked and carried a small boy one summer night to his and his family's terror.

The evidence thus far for the existence of a large undescribed predatory bird in North America is based on historical and modern anecdotal evidence with no physical evidence. There are however two tantalizing images of the Thunderbird, or at least of a large bird. The first was taken in the same year as Marlon Lowe's attack and in the same state. On July 30, 1977 John Huffer, an ex-marine and photographer, took a 100 foot roll of color film of two birds taking off from a tree in an inlet of Lake Shelbyville. The film concentrates on one of the birds only. Highly controversial, and thought by many to be of a turkey vulture, it sits as a little known film of a possible mystery animal. To date little, if any, evaluation of the birds in the film has been done. The Discovery Channel in their program "Into the Unknown" did give the film some mention, with a dismissal of a medium sized bird, probably a vulture.

The other possible photographic evidence is even more of a mystery, as it may not exist at all!! The image in question is the "Thunderbird Photograph" taken at the end of the nineteenth century in Texas. The image is said to depict six western clothed adult men, standing fingertip to fingertip in front of a barn where a large bird is nailed to the wall. Many have claimed to have seen or held this infamous image, including the late Ivan T. Sanderson who reportedly had acquired a photocopy of the image in 1966, the same year in which Sanderson gave the image, later lost, to a couple of men from Pennsylvania who were searching for the Thunderbird. The image has yet to surface, and may well not exist at all. The image was reported to have been published in 1886 in the Tombstone Arizona Epitaph, however this was somewhat dubiously reported in a 1963 article by Jack Pearl called "The Monster Bird That Carries Off Human Beings!" in Saga magazine. Searches of the Tombstone Epitaph have come up empty, aside from an article from April 26, 1890 of a 16 foot bird found in the desert by a couple of ranchers. So the mystery of the "Thunderbird Photo" is no closer to being solved then it was nearly 40 years ago during its first mention.

What then is the Thunderbird? It is a mystery. It has been reported by Native Americans and people today from all walks of life as an enormous bird, larger than any known species, but similar in appearance to a condor. Theories as to what the Thunderbird may be have run the gamut from surviving pterodactyls to the teratorns. The teratorns were large predatory birds from the Pleistocene that exhibited wingspans of upwards of 25 feet. Although thought to be extinct, their general presumed appearance is that of a giant condor-like species, similar in appearence to the Thunderbird. North America has many mysteries, among them the Thunderbird. These creatures are surely one of the most enigmatic cryptids in the world. With misinformation abounding, such as the "Thunderbird Photograph," and the lack of support in searching for these birds, it is no wonder that these creatures have evaded discovery like so many others from around the world."

THUNDERBIRDLINK
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great
astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
memory works both ways.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
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Postby Aquatank » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:39 pm

That wingspan is within avian variation to achieve flight. The largest Flying Bird in paleontology is the extinct as 6 million years ago Argentavis with a wing span of 26ft (while pterosaurs could almost double that).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentavis
However Haasts Eagle which was about half the wingspan of Argentavis only became extinct around 1400.

Thus a cryptid Thunderbird surviving is not as far fetched as some might believe. If we guess that these birds are mountain dwelling the range between New Zealand and Argentina means 3000-6000+ meter habitats. This would probably be within these 104 US mountains if you wanted to go bird watching a likely habitat.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4000_meter ... ted_States I'm guessing the most likely diet in the USA is mountain goats, so cross referencing habitat areas seems like a good idea since mountain goats tend to live at elevations of over 4000m. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_goat
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Postby sandra » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:30 pm

Very intersting information Aquatank. And hello by the way, long time. :)

Yeah it is said they do live on mountain tops and ranges, well that definitely makes the most sense, however I've read about them being in caves as well. There is a mountain I visti on ocasion called thunder mountain, it is said that a thunder being lives inside of it. When you walk on the mountain, it sounds hollow. I'm sure that sounds odd, however you would have to visit this mountain to see. It is a legend of the Native American people that a giant snake had trapped the thunder being there. I'm thinking your right about their diet, if they are real, they would eat things like mountain goats, in their habitat. Never heard of the Argentavis, thank you for providing the links. Pterosaurs could almost double 26ft in wing span? :shock: Thats one heck of a bird. Could you imagine.

Thunderbirds are also associated with the Windigo Con of Ojibwe prophecy or story telling. They say thunderbord travel with the storms, they are care takers, and part of the most direct communication with the creator. I know many Native American people (myself included) that associate the thunderbird with the eagle, but view the thunderbid as like grandfathers to them, grandfathers to everything, and of the most sacred manner. Like Some christians view Saint Michael as the viceroy of heaven, that is how many tribes feel about the thunderbird.
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great
astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
memory works both ways.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
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sandra
 
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Postby Aquatank » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:27 am

I thought of something else too, lack of sightings of something that big coupled with the possibility of a cave dwelling species might indicate a nocturnal species.

Of course if its a supernatural being proving its existence is much harder.

Which brings up a quirk that might happen, finding a legendary or mythological cryptid doesn't mean the world at large will accept it as the the legend and it will probably be catergorized as something else. Example: A Unicorn is probably a genetic expression of italian Roe Deer not a one horned horse, so the science community says possible one basis for the myth though it will be divided between that and Rhinos, while the public at large will only accept one horned horses.

But of course finding a living species of bird with the wing span of a Pitts Special would probably find favor in being a Thunderbird in the public eye.
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Postby sandra » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:20 pm

Right it is said to be a supernatural bird, however many people have claimed to have seen them physically. Which I don't see why there would be a problem with either idea. Just because it is a supernatural being doesn't mean it doesn't physically manifest, well same as I would view big foot. Yes I could see it being categorized as something else entirely as well, with the public only accepting their version of what they know it to be. Never really thought about the thunderbird being a nocturnal animal, I'm curious if there is any information on that myths or otherwise. If you read this and find anything of that nature yourself, let me know, I'm going to add alot more to this thread, so people can see different teachings/stories about the thunderbird. Plus I'd like to know more about them myself, I'm convinced they are real in the spritual world, but also like to find more about what others know of them.

Thanks for you input on this topic, I'm happy you added to it, its something meaningful to me, and I wasn't sure anyone would take interest.
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great
astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
memory works both ways.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
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Postby sandra » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:36 pm

Image



"The legend of the Thunderbird is an ancient myth that survives even to the present day in some Native American cultures. Though the Thunderbird myth varied from region to region and tribe to tribe, the Thunderbird was, in the eyes of the ancient Native Americans, a magical animal that was sent by their gods to protect them from the powers of evil. Riding on the wings of the storm, the Thunderbird embodied the power of the storm. Its eyes flashed fire, its cry was like the crack of lightning, and its mighty wings beat with the sound of rolling thunder, ever protecting its people from the powers of evil.

There are at least three different legends of the Thunderbird available to us today, that can give us some information about what this creature was like. The first comes from the Winnebago Indians of the northern Midwest and Plains states, a second comes from the Passamaquoddy Indians of Maine, and a third comes from the Quillayute, a Chimakoan tribe living along the Quillayute River, a six-mile river on the Olympic Peninsula, near Seattle, Washington."

http://www.mysteriousworld.com/Journal/1999/Autumn/Thunderbird/
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great
astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
memory works both ways.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
User avatar
sandra
 
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Postby sandra » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:39 pm

The Giant Thunderbird Returns

Today these enormous birds have been seen soaring through the skies of Pennsylvania, and in the past they've even been blamed for snatching children from the ground More of this Feature

A gigantic bird has been sighted in Pennsylvania. On the evening of Tuesday, September 25, 2001, a 19-year-old claimed to have seen an enormous winged creature flying over Route 119 in South Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The witness's attention was drawn to the sky by a sound that resembled "flags flapping in a thunderstorm." Looking up, the witness saw what appeared to be a bird that had a wingspan of an estimated 10 to 15 feet and a head about three feet long.

This is the most recent sighting of an incredible creature - most often considered a myth - known as a "Thunderbird." Sightings of these gigantic birds, apparently unknown to science, go back hundreds of years and are a part of many Native American legends and traditions. They have even been blamed for abducting, or attempting to abduct, small children. And now they seem to be soaring through the skies of Pennsylvania.

On September 25, the witness told researcher Dennis Smeltzer, that the huge black or grayish-brown bird passed overhead at about 50 to 60 feet. "I wouldn't say it was flapping its wings gracefully," the witness told Smeltzer, "but almost horrifically flapping its wings very slowly, then gliding above the passing big rig trucks."

The witness observed the creature for about 90 seconds in total, even seeing it land on the branches of a dead tree, which nearly broke under its great weight. Unfortunately, no other witnesses saw the bird on this date and no tangible evidence could be found for the bird after the site was searched.

What makes this story more interesting, however - even plausible - is that other sightings of similar description were reported in Pennsylvania in June and July, 2001.

On June 13, a resident of Greenville, Pa. was startled by the great size of the grayish-black creature seen soaring overhead, at first thinking it was a small airplane or ultralight aircraft! This witness observed the bird for at least 20 minutes, clearly seeing its fully feathered body and confidently estimating its wingspan to be about 15 feet and its body length at about 5 feet. This bird, too, was seen to perch on a tree for at least 15 minutes before taking to air again and flying off toward the south. A neighbor of this witness claimed to have seen the creature the next day, describing it as "the biggest bird I ever saw."

Less than a month later, on July 6, a witness in Erie County, Pa. reported a very similar sighting, according to an item in Fortean Times magazine. Again, the creature's wingspan was estimated to be 15 to 17 feet and was described as "dark gray with little or no neck, and a circle of black under its head. Its beak was very thin and long - about a foot in length."

These were not the first sightings of Thunderbirds in Pennsylvania, as you'll read later in this article. And if these reports are accurate, these birds are the largest flying creatures not yet identified by science. By comparison, the largest known bird is the wandering albatross with a wingspan of up to 12 feet. The largest predatory birds - which the Thunderbird is most often likened to - are the Andean condor (10.5-foot wingspan) and the California condor (10-foot wingspan).


LINKHERE
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great
astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
memory works both ways.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
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sandra
 
Posts: 3702
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:27 pm
Location: Minnesota US

Postby Aquatank » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:50 am

A tad bit more info I'm running across

Note in this link about an attack the statement about Gorilla-like face and 1.52m (5 ft )Tall, In my opinion this indicates stereoscopic vision generally. Within a reasonable guess of a length to wingspan ratio it would indicate a 3.04m (10 ft) wingspan in this case.
http://cryptozoology.suite101.com/artic ... s_big_bird

Destination Truth had a Thunderbird episode in which the The Stellar Sea Eagle wingspan 10 feet is mentioned and they got a nighttime trap camera footage of a large bird but no scale on it so it could've been an owl.

And back to Argentavis magnificens and its 7.01m (23 ft) wingspan this news article has a scaled picture showing in comparison to a human and an aircraft. It also supports the my hypothesis about Thunderbirds being mountain dwelling. http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2 ... a_glid.php
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/6262740.stm

Note The silhouette of Vultur gryphus http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology ... h_big_.php

Also in illinois an iffy possibility called the Piasa Bird
http://www.altonweb.com/history/piasabird/
http://www.illinoishistory.com/piasabird.html



***************************************************************************************************************
For First Time Amateur Searchers Reading This
Note the scaling problem, like UFOs and Big Black Cat pictures, any good picture of a Thunderbird or other cryptid must have a good point of reference to scale, or since it is the wild two good points a measurable foreground object and a background object with a known distance between the two, otheise it will be called into question. This helps prevent a forced perspective photograph. More importantly digital cameras are a good thing to avoid since fakery is harder to do with film negatives making celluloid film more reliable evidence.

Another point is carcasses and evidence. No close-up photo of a carcass is good without a collection of flesh preferably refrigerated or put in alcohol until legitimate authorities can inspect it and its DNA. Whole carcasses preferable over pieces, of course. One of the most common things about cryptids carcasses is they dissappear from the owners possession leading to the probabilty of being a fake. Hence it it is up to the reasearcher to preserve as much data as possible to prove without a doubt their evidence is genuine.
****************************************************************************************************************
edited to add:
More on the 1977 Illinois incidents
http://www.prairieghosts.com/thunderbirds.html

and Monsterquest ran the Lowe incident as Birdzilla.

In relation there was a 2009 Buzzard attack in the UK, probably in defense of chicks
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... -prey.html
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Postby sandra » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:51 pm

"One of the most famous of the early American legends of these giant winged creatures comes from the bluffs outside of the small Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois"

Wow I had not known that some of these legends come from this close of a surrounding area. Illinois is one of my neighboring states. However they also refer to it as piasa bird. Nor did I know their version of the legend and how it is also called thunderbirds. :shock: Interesting.

"While they've often been imagined or depicted as mega-condors, nobody really seems that sure what Argentavis and its relatives - the teratornithids or teratorns - really are"- however they believe these are restricted to South America? But couldn't they have been in North America as well? You would think a bird of this size would travel far distance in no time and have a large range.

"But once it was on a thermal, it could easily rise up a mile or two without any flapping of its wings - a free ride, just circling. Then at the top, the bird could simply glide to the next thermal and in this way it could certainly travel 200 miles a day," he told BBC News."

200 miles a day, why would they have ever only lived in South America? Or were they in North America as well?

The Illinois incidents are very interesting. Yeah I wish I could have seen Destination Truth's Thunderbird episode. Some people have told me that thunderbirds do have that type of face, kind of like that of a gargoyle like. Not sure If I believe that or not. They are depicted differently. Any way I could still see that episode I wonder?
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great
astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
memory works both ways.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
User avatar
sandra
 
Posts: 3702
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:27 pm
Location: Minnesota US

Postby Aquatank » Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:39 am

check youtube for them.

The main thing to remember when dealing with a teratorn is that genetically speaking many species carry their older codes and for whatever reason the old codes are either switched off and/or partially missing. This means occasionally old traits resurface in species. In the case of Teratorns is they have living descendents some of these codes may get reactivated from time to time hypotetically, allowing larger individuals of a current species appear from time. If over time the descendents of such species immigrated north eventually it would not be unusual to find the old traits reappear. Think of them as recessive genes unless the parents of recessive gene have almost similar set old codes the offspring will not activate those codes, and even then one slight variation might not allow those codes to activate.

Of course then there is the distinct possibilty the thunderbird species as a whole might still exist.
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