Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 18th, 2007
Get ready. They are coming. Not by land or sea, but by the airwaves. The invasion has begun. They are here!
Have you noticed that when the thoughtful pieces on cryptozoology turn up, the segments are populated by “friends of the family,” commenting on the subjects under discussion? Have you also noticed the manufactured tension in these appearances? Often the media naturally sets up the “good cop, bad cop” scenario for their stories, and you should expect to see it again this week (if not on the History Channel, certainly in the stories done in the wake of “Birdzilla”).
How about “good investigator dude” Ken Gerhard (above) versus “bad skeptic guy” Ben Radford (below) or has the “white hat” vs “black hat” set-up in for a big mix-up this time? (I’m friends with both of these gentlemen, so I take it they understand I’m sketching out this “leather hat” vs. “no hat” melodramatic division purely to make a point.)
This coming Wednesday, with “Monster Quest” tackling stories of prehistoric-looking giant birds and “pterodactyls,” (yes, I know the media is using the wrong term, but hey, they’re using it) expect to hear random comments about flying cryptids. The History Channel series is already being noted by the media in San Antonio, who admit their attention to these creatures last summer was a ratings bonzana. Therefore, they ran an update at this week’s end.
Sidebar in support of libraries, bookstores, and books: Documentaries and television are wonderful, but a word about the print media. I highly recommend you take the time to read Ken Gerhard’s Big Bird! – Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters, Mark A. Hall’s Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, and Jerome Clark’s and my Creatures of the Other Edge. Reading is the only way you’ll get the full unfolding and background on the modern cryptozoological history of cryptid large birds, big bats, pterosaurs, pterodactyloids, and pteranodons. Visuals are nice, but don’t forget the books.
Meanwhile, back to cable, here is the latest from Texas television media outlet, KENS 5 Eyewitness News:
More sightings of a huge flying creature, originally reported by KENS, have prompted an investigation to determine if it is a monster or myth.
“Even though it was dark, the thing itself was black. The blackest I’d ever seen,” said Frank Ramirez.
Years ago, Ramirez thought he was after a prowler in the back of his mother’s Southwest Side home. But what greeted him on the garage rooftop still gives him goosebumps now.
“That’s when the thing up there turned to me, and it was in a perched state, and it started to turn,” he said. “It started to move its arms and this giant blackness was just coming out. At that point, I dropped the stick and I ran.”
Ramirez sketched a drawing of the large, bird-like creature. The image is disturbing, and similar to dozens of sightings across San Antonio and South Texas.
“If you were to take a man’s face and pull his chin down, just like a stretched face,” said Ramirez.
“I was just terrified and as I was running. I just thought it was going to carry me off or something.”
An earlier KENS story about a large, prehistoric-like bird drew more than 100,000 hits on MySanAntonio.com. More than a few people in San Antonio came forward to say they’d seen the creature, too.
One woman contacted KENS by e-mail, saying that because of our story, she now knows she’s not crazy.
KENS caught up with cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Gerhard recently wrote a book, called “Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters” on the large, dark birds.
“When investigating mystery animals, it’s important to point out that there are vast areas of land, even here in South Texas, that remain uninhabited,” said Gerhard. “If an animal like big bird does exist, it certainly needs some habitat, somewhere to hide.”
The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge has 88,000 acres, and the marshes and prairies are home to 413 species of birds, but no flying pterodactyls.
“Raptors of all kinds, from hawks to falcons, come throughout. Our most common is the Harris Hawk, ” said Park Ranger Stacy Sanchez.
But even Sanchez admits that blogs spiked with reports this summer of something.
“People were posting about a very large, raptor-like bird, and they were talking about an 18-to-20-foot wingspan. I don’t know … It’s kind of a myth,” said Sanchez.
Critics say where’s the proof? Eyewitness testimony without a feather or other body of evidence leaves these stories as they are – just stories.
“We know that it’s rare, and we know that this area’s been pretty popular hangout in the past,” said Gerhard.
Gerhard has been installing cameras in Harlingen, where Guadalupe Cantu wants his big bird sighting documented and validated.
Back in San Antonio, Ramirez has mounted an outdoor light to keep the creature at bay.
“I know what I saw. It took me more than a week to step out of this house. I wouldn’t step foot out of this house,” said Ramirez. “It had this very, very horrible demeanor-look on its face. Like I was lunch,” he said.
On Nov. 21, Gerhard will be featured in a History Channel documentary called “Birdzilla.” ~ Joe Conger, “I-Team: Expert trying to identify mysterious bird flying around S. Texas,” KENS 5 Eyewitness News, San Antonio, Texas, November 16, 2007.
To watch the KENS-5 video (while the link is still live), click here for it to upload.
If you would like to read the earlier story, from July 30, 2007, this is it:
Sightings of mysterious giant bird in San Antonio
Is it a bird? A plane? An ancient flying reptile, having survived the millenia, hidden in desert canyons and caves until now? No one knows…
Loch Ness has its monster. Does San Antonio have one, too?
Strange sightings of a huge flying creature have been reported as recently as six months ago. Is it a monster or myth?
Guadalupe Cantu III was busy working his newspaper route, but he says the big news of that day 10 years ago flew right over his car. He says he’s seen what most have not — an unidentified flying object, one that still scares him.
“We were afraid that it would come at us. So we stayed in the car till it passed this way,” witness Guadalupe Cantu III said. “This thing’s all feathers, all black. Much bigger than me. It looked at us. It had very stooped-up shoulders.” The beast has been spotted from the Rio Grande Valley to the mountains of New Mexico.
“(It) looked like what was possibly two people standing on top of a mountain up there,” said David Zander, who saw the monster in New Mexico. “Something that big … I guess it kinda makes you feel like it could come over and carry you off if it wanted to.”
San Antonio’s Ken Gerhard has written a book on these dark birds as big as planes, with wingspans from 15 to 20 feet.
Native Americans called them thunderbirds: depicted in their art, their flapping wings were said to cause explosive noises.
“What’s interesting is that the reports of these giant, raptor-like birds do continue into modern times,” said Gerhard, a cryptozoologist. Cryptozoology is the study of and search for legendary animals to prove their existence.
He says there’s solid evidence something is overhead.
“I believe there’s a good chance that a lot of large, prehistoric animals, if you will, remain undiscovered by modern science,” he said.
So what could the giant birds be? Some witness sketches eerily resemble prehistoric creatures, like the pteronadon of 160 million years ago.
However, Gerhard theorizes it could be a creature that’s a little less extinct — if that’s possible — a pteratorn.
“These are the surviving ancestors of modern condors and vultures. They lived up until 6,000 years ago, we know for sure, in parts of North America,” Gerhard said. “In fact, over 100 specimens have been recovered from the La Brea tar pits in California.”
But critics have another take: human error.
“Was it really as big as he thought it was?” asks Ben Radford, editor of “Skeptical Inquirer” magazine. “When there’s enough information to come to a determination, I’ve always found an explanation for it.”
Radford says the eye can be deceived.
“Eyewitness testimony is very unreliable. And so it’s hard for a person to tell — even experts to tell — ‘Is that thing I’m seeing out there, is it small and nearby? Or is it huge and farther away?’ ” Radford said.
But in one sighting in San Antonio, three people gave similar accounts, witnessing the same fly-by of a huge, winged creature. A trio of South Side teachers traveling a deserted road had their cars “buzzed” by the monsters, and it made the papers in February 1976.
In fact, for decades papers throughout South Texas have chronicled the flying creatures. In the age of the Internet, the reports continue, like this one from a recent sighting near Huebner and Babcock roads.
“The creature was large, at least 6 feet,” the report reads. “I don’t know if I ever want to see another one.”
“If I were outside there walking, it would’ve gone after me,” witness Cantu said.
Cantu believes most sightings go unreported because people are afraid of the ridicule they could face.
However, he says a face-to-face encounter with the creature would be much worse.
“I think if you do see it, then you might wind up missing,” Cantu said. ~ by Joe Conger, KENS 5 Eyewitness News, July 30, 2007.