- uploaded: Feb 7, 2013
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Ian Punnett welcomed writer Mark Hall, who talked about reported sightings of giant owls and other mysterious behemothic birds. Hall said American Indian legends as well as modern accounts speak about such birds, particulary in the West Virginian Appalachian Mountains. Some of these 'great owls' are reportedly man-sized with 10-ft wingspans, Hall explained, and were probably the inspiration behind the mothman stories of the 1960s.Hall shared reports about thunderbirds as well, which he said have been seen from Alaska to Florida (perhaps because these enormous birds are migratory). According to Hall, contemporary thunderbirds are colored black or battleship gray and have 15- to 20-ft wingspans. He described an incident that took place in July 1977 when a young boy from Lawndale, Illinois was picked up by one of two thunderbirds flying overhead. Hall said a few days later two enormous birds were photographed in an area south of Lawndale. WikipediaThunderbird is a term used in cryptozoology to describe large, bird-like creatures, generally identified with the Thunderbird of Native American tradition. Similar cryptids reported in the Old World are often called Rocs. Thunderbirds are regarded by a small number of researchers as having lizard features like the extinct pterosaurs such as Pteranodon. Reports of Thunderbird sightings go back centuries, and the fossil record does show that giant birds (teratorns) with wingspans between 12 and 18 ft (3.7 and 5.5 m) were likely contemporary with early man. Today the creature is generally regarded as a myth.This article deals with modern sightings (the last 200 years) of such a creature, reported as real, as opposed to mythological accounts, though believers in the phenomenon often use the Native American legends in attempts to support their claims.AnalysisAs mentioned above, some cryptozoologists have theorized the ancient Thunderbird myth to be based on sightings of a real animal with a mistaken assessment of its apparent size. Some skeptics have claimed such a large bird could never have flown, but several flying creatures with huge wingspans are indeed known. The prehistoric vulture-like Argentavis magnificens had a wingspan of around 7 m (23 ft) and was capable of flight. The massive Cretaceous-era pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus northropi (or perhaps Hatzegopteryx thambema) was the largest known flying creature in history, with a wingspan of around 12 m (40 ft). However, the Thunderbird's identity as a pterosaur is unlikely because the pterosaur is extinct. A pterosaur's wings were made of a membrane of skin stretched over a bony finger, similar to a bat's wings. San Antonio based cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard believes it is a teratorn.Cryptozoologists also posit that the Thunderbird was associated with storms because they followed the drafts to stay in flight, not unlike the way a modern eagle rides mountain up currents. Cryptozoologist John Keel claims to have mapped several Thunderbird sightings and found that they corresponded chronologically and geographically with storms moving across the United States.