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MODERN SIGHTINGS?

Dozens of eyewitness accounts and a few intriguing photographs suggest that this flying monster, thought to have died with the dinosaurs, might still exist

They were the largest creatures to ever attain flight. With wingspans reaching nearly 40 feet, pterosaurs ruled the prehistoric skies for over 100 million years, until they died out with the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.

Or did they?

There have been many modern-day sightings of creatures that by eyewitness description sound like pterosaurs.

There are also intriguing rock carvings and even photographs that suggest that this species of amazing flying monsters could have survived extinction, could have soared through the skies of the southwestern United States until very recently, and might still exist in small numbers in remote parts of the world.

Pterosaurs were not dinosaurs, but a family of large flying reptiles (“pterosaur” means “winged lizard”) that includes the pterodactyl and pteranodon. The pterosaur stood on two rather spindly legs and had wings composed of a leathery membrane that stretched from the animal’s extremely long fourth finger to its body. Despite their appearance, they were not related to birds (as dinosaurs are theorized to be), and were highly successful flyers that might have dined on fish and insects.

MODERN SIGHTINGS

Although there seems to be no hard evidence that pterosaurs did not die out millions of years ago – no pterosaurs have ever been captured and no bodies have ever been found – sightings have persisted.

Stories of flying reptiles have been recorded for many hundreds of years. Some think that tales of the “mythical” dragons in the lore of many cultures around the would could be attributed to the sighting of pterosaurs. Here are some more modern accounts:

May, 1961, New York State – A businessman flying his private plane over the Hudson River Valley claimed that he was “buzzed” by a large flying creature that he said “looked more like a pterodactyl out of the prehistoric ages.”

Early 1960s, California – A couple driving through Trinity National Forest reported seeing the silhouette of a giant “bird” that they estimated to have a wingspan of 14 feet. They later described it as resembling a pterodactyl.

January, 1976, Harlingen, Texas – Jackie Davis (14) and Tracey Lawson (11) reported seeing a “bird” on the ground that stood five feet tall, was dark in color with a bald head and a face like a gorilla’s with a sharp, six-inch-long beak. A subsequent investigation by their parents uncovered tracks that had three toes and were eight inches across.

February, 1976, San Antonio, Texas – Three elementary school teachers saw what they described as a pterodactyl swooping low over their cars as they drove. They said its wingspan was between 15 and 20 feet. One of the teachers commented that it glided through the air on huge, bony wings – like a bat’s.

September, 1982, Los Fresnos, Texas – An ambulance driver named James Thompson was stopped while driving on Highway 100 by his sighting of a “large birdlike object” flying low over the area. He described it as black or grayish with a rough texture, but no feathers. It had a five- to six-foot wingspan, a hump on the back of its head, and almost no neck at all. After consulting some books to identify the creature, he decided it most looked like a pterosaur.

AFRICA’S KONGAMATO

While other reports of pterosaur-like creatures have come out of Arizona, Mexico and Crete, it is out of central Africa that some of the most interesting anecdotes have come. While traveling though Zambia in 1923, Frank H. Melland collected reports from natives of an aggressive flying reptile they called kongamoto, which means “overwhelmer of boats.” The natives, who were occasionally tormented by these creatures, described them as being featherless with smooth skin, having a beak full of teeth and a wingspan of between four and seven feet. When shown illustrations of pterosaurs, Melland reported, “every native present immediately and unhesitatingly picked out and identified it as a kongamato.”

In 1925, a native man was allegedly attacked by a creature that he identified as a pterosaur. This occurred near a swamp in Rhodesia (now Zambia) where the man suffered a large wound in his chest that he said was caused by the monster’s long beak.

In the late 1980s, noted cryptozoologist Roy Mackal led an expedition into Namibia from which he had heard reports of a prehistoric-looking creature with a wingspan of up to 30 feet.

Monsters!

The state of Maine sits at the top northeastern point of the U.S. One of the smaller states (thirty-ninth), and also one of the least populated (forty-first), Maine is considered the safest state in the country in relation to crime. Maine is home to earmuffs (they were invented there), the world’s largest rotating globe (Eartha is more than forty-one feet in diameter), and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Filled with forested parks, low mountains, picturesque lakes, and lined by rocky coastlines, it is not only one of the most beautiful states in the union, it’s also home to quite a few monsters.
Cassie, Maine’s sea serpent

The monster nicknamed Cassie was first seen off the coast of Maine in 1779 in Penobscot Bay, when future U.S. Navy hero Edward Preble (just an ensign at the time) aboard the ship the Protector saw a sea serpent on the surface of the water. On closer examination, the creature stirred, and raised its head about ten feet out of the water before diving into the depths and disappearing, according to a story in The Bangor Daily News. A similar sighting was reported the next year in Broad Bay when sailors observed a serpent about 45 feet long raise its head out of the water on a long skinny neck before diving out of sight.

Cassie has been seen all along the coast of Maine, many times from 1912 to the 1940s. In 1958, fisherman Ole Mikkelsen, saw a 100-foot long serpent with a large head, and tail like a fish. The creature seemed to watch Mikkelsen and a fellow fisherman as they spread their fishing nets before it swam away.

The last reported sighting was in 2002 by a woman who wished to remain anonymous. She called a science museum claiming to have seen something near Biddeford that looked like the Loch Ness Monster.
The Pocomoonshine Lake Monster.

Pocomoonshine Lake Monster

The Algonquin Indians of Maine have seen a monster in Pocomoonshine Lake for centuries. Legend has it the monster is a result of a disagreement between an Algonquin shaman, and a chef of the Micmac. The Micmac chief turned into an enormous serpent, which the shaman vanquished and tied to a tree next to the lake. Since then a serpent-like creature nearly sixty-feet long has been seen swimming in the lake.

However, unlike Cassie, this monster isn’t confined to the water. The Pocomoonshine Lake Monster has been reported to be able to leave the lake, and drag its gigantic body across land to nearby lakes. A sawmill owner claimed to have seen the Pocomoonshine Lake Monster’s trail in 1882. The man said the monster’s track was four feet wide, and three feet deep.

The White Monkey

First seen in the 1500s, the White Monkey (as Europeans called it) of Saco River has lurked in the areas around the river for centuries. Described as a white-skinned man with webbed fingers, the White Monkey may be the result of a curse laid upon Europeans when a group of drunks kidnapped an Indian woman and her child, and threw them off Saco Falls. The tribe shaman cursed the waters, and the White Monkey reportedly killed three white men each year. Although the White Monkey was last seen in the 1970s, the most famous sighting was by a twelve-year-old Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church in the 1800s, according to etravelmain.com.
Hunters have sought an enormous white moose near Bangor, Maine, for more than a century.

Hunters have sought an enormous white moose near Bangor, Maine, for more than a century.

Specter Moose

A giant white moose weighing nearly 2,500 pounds, standing fifteen feet tall, and having antlers that stretch ten feet, has been sighted around Bangor, Maine, for more than 100 years. In comparison, an average male moose can weigh about 990 pounds, stand around six feet tall, and have an antler span of around six feet.

Called the Specter Moose because of its color, hunters have sought this enormous moose since the 1890s. Sightings of the Specter Moose were reported in 1917, and again in 1999.
Maine Bigfoot encounters stretch back to the 1800s.

Maine Bigfoot encounters stretch back to the 1800s.

Bigfoot

Although I’ve tried to limit “Exploring American Monsters” to creatures unique to each state, I have occasionally allowed Bigfoot in this series if the big friendly fellow is important to a state. Bigfoot sightings in Maine stretch back to the 1800s. The first account in the early 1800s published in the book “Camping Out” by C.A. Stevens, involves a trapper who was “ripped apart” by a creature. Although some people suspected a mountain lion, the trapper’s body had been beaten against a tree.

According to a story in The Bangor Daily News,” in 1895, two women and three boys picking blueberries saw a bipedal creature that “looked like an immense African monkey.” In 1942, two sisters who were fishing in Meddybemps Lake when two “hair-covered giants” stole their fish. Sightings of the “Durham Gorilla” began in July 1973, and lasted until mid-August. The sightings began with a group of boys riding bicycles saw something they thought looked like a giant chimpanzee.

Wendigo

This creature is an Algonquian Indian legend that involves a malevolent spirit that possesses a human body, and gives the person a taste for human flesh. Depicted as everything from a hairy human with sharp teeth and bulging eyes, to an emaciated human-like creature with antlers, to an ice giant that moves in a whirlwind, the one constant in all Wendigo legends is that it is a cannibal. People are susceptible to Wendigo possession if they are cursed, or have resorted to cannibalism during a famine.

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