Friday, December 29, 2006

Square craters. A case of 'structural features'? Or, perhaps...ancient buildings without roofs? You decide.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I know, I know...the obvious answer from any esoterically minded individual would be, "It's alien..." However, I posit that it is very possible we are looking at a Sasquatch limb. And let me tell you, when this story doesn't make any headway and it disappears from the archives at means they know something and they aren't telling. Call me paranoid...
The Thunderbird: Examining the Legend
Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 (CST) by Thoth
Across the globe there are stories of giant birds often called Thunderbirds that we assume exist only in legend. Their presence has been faithfully recorded in the mythology of many cultures for thousands of years in the form of cave art, carvings, pottery and ancient stories.Oddly enough, there are many people who believe that there is more to these stories than mere legends. Records of actual sightings of the strange ‘giant’ also span the world; often mirroring areas where the legend originates.These sightings obviously fuel much debate in the world of cryptozoology, because they suggest that there is a previously undiscovered species of bird that has eluded science despite its immense size. Witnesses’ descriptions further complicate the issue because sightings fall into two distinct categories: giant feathered birds, or giant featherless creatures.This discrepancy has caused some researchers to question if the term Thunderbird is mistakenly used to describe two completely unrelated animals. Investigations into what these mysterious and elusive creatures could be centers on two very different lines of thought: that they are either an unknown species of bird, or a pterosaur (a type of dinosaur that in theory died out several million years ago). There is however a third explanation that in many ways encompasses the other two; that these creatures are an entirely supernatural phenomena. The biggest challenge that faces researchers and investigators today is to understand what kind of creature the Thunderbird is.The Legend of the Thunderbird The Thunderbird’s name originated from the belief that its massive wings were responsible for creating thunder and lightening as it flew through the skies. Even in America, the Thunderbird appears to have been called many different names in different cultural traditions. The native people of modern-day Illinois called it the Piasa while in New England some tribes knew it as the Pmola.The Thunderbird’s reputation is as varied as its names; in the Pacific Northwest Thunderbirds were seen as protectors and its image adorned canoes to protect fishermen from whales. But tribes such as the Cherokee, who called it Tlanuwa, feared the Thunderbird and claimed that it raided the villages, carrying off small dogs and children.Interestingly, the legends of the Algonquin people of New England told how the giant birds rode the wind currents from the southwest all the way up the eastern U.S. to New England. Researchers have noted that this fits with many reported modern day sightings, as the birds seem to follow the prevailing weather systems which start in Mexico and flow to the northeast, through the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys up into the Appalachian Mountains. It comes as no surprise to hear that many modern sightings are in the same places where many of the Thunderbird legends originated. Mistaken IdentityIn the past, many investigators have suggested that what are reported as Thunderbird sightings are actually condors, turkey buzzards or even large eagles. These birds have wingspans of between six and ten feet depending on the species, although this is considerably smaller than the thirty foot wingspan attributed to the Thunderbird. Also, condors, the biggest of the suspects, are not native to many areas where sightings have been reported. Certainly though, some witnesses have stated specifically that the bird they saw strongly resembled a condor, both in size and outline although they are particularly rare today. The famed ornithologist John J. Audubon offered another candidate that might have been mistaken for a thunderbird. Audubon described an unknown species of eagle in the area of the Illinois and Ohio River valleys that he named Washington’s eagle. This particular raptor species was said by Audubon to be over three and a half feet in length with a wingspan exceeding ten feet. Audubon only made five total sightings of this bird, although during one he managed to shoot and examine a specimen. However, not all biologists accept that Washington’s eagle is a separate species, and suggest that Audubon was mistaking large golden eagles or even immature bald eagles for this other bird. Some of the modern reports of unknown giant birds sound as though the witnesses could be describing the type of bird that Audubon had seen, especially as some sightings appeared in the area that the ornithologist described. Modern sightings of giant birdsIn Alton, Illinois, in 1947 there was a rash of sightings in which the witnesses described having seen impossibly large birds. In early April of that year, a farmer named Robert Price reported a ‘monster bird... bigger than an airplane’, and on April 10th another was spotted, this time by Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Smith and Mr. Les Bacon. In that sighting, the witnesses thought they were looking at a small airplane until the bird flapped its wings. The sightings that year continued until early May and then stopped until 1977 when one was sighted again.On July 25th 1977, several residents from Lawndale, Illinois reported seeing two large birds of an unknown species which attacked three boys playing in a yard. One of the boys, ten year old Marlon Lowe, was seized by one of the talons of one of the birds and witnessed claimed he was actually lifted about a foot into the air. The boy weighed about 65 pounds at the time, so any bird capable of lifting another animal of that weight would have been enormous. One witness said the bird had a body the size of a large man and had a white ring around its neck on an otherwise coal-black body. Another witness, the boy’s mother, said the bird resembled a condor. Fortunately the boy was able to struggle free, and was left with only minor wounds. This was not the only report of these large birds from the area in that year; just a few days after the above incident, a man and his wife watching model airplanes fly over their farm reported seeing two birds with estimated ten-foot wingspans. On July 30th in Bloomington, Illinois, a man who was spending the day on a fishing boat with his son managed to film two giant birds after they took flight, shooting about 100 feet of footage of the birds. He estimated their wingspan as being over twelve feet. When the film was shown to local Department of Conservation officials, they stated the birds were merely large turkey vultures, which are native to the area. However, other researchers and wildlife experts disagreed, as turkey vultures do not grow to the size of the birds reported by the many witnesses. There were also several sightings in June to September of 2001 in Pennsylvania. On June 13th, a resident of Greenville, Pennsylvania reported seeing a huge dark grey or black bird with a wingspan of 15 feet flying overhead. One of the witnesses’ neighbors also came forward to say they had seen this huge bird, which was observed for about fifteen minutes before flying away to the south. What appears to be the same bird was seen in July, this time in Erie County and again on September 25th, this time flying over a highway and landing in a tree, where a dead branch nearly broke under its weight. Again, the bird in this sighting had a wingspan of an estimated ten to fifteen feet, and didn’t resemble any of the known local birds. Giants of the PastDuring the past, there were other species of raptors in the skies over the Americas. In fact, during the mega-fauna era of the Pleistocene, there were at least seven species of eagle in North America. Although most died out when the other large animals did, at least one survived into the period when, even by the most conservative estimates, humans were colonizing the Americas. This bird was Teratornis merriami, a bird of enormous proportions who was still alive as recently as 8000 years ago. From the fossil remains, we know it stood about five feet tall and had an awe-inspiring twenty-four foot wingspan, something comparable in size to a single-engine aircraft. Because the remains of Teratornis have been found alongside human artifacts, it is likely that early residents of the North America not only knew of Teratornis but might have hunted it, either as food or because it hunted humans. Fossilized remains of the bird have led researchers to believe that Teratornis was a predator and not merely a scavenger. Given that many of the Thunderbird legends tell of these birds carrying away humans as food it is possible that this amazing creature is actually the origin for the Thunderbird legend. Is it a Bird? Although it existed in the legends of many cultures, at times it seems the stories are describing vastly different animals. In some places the description clearly fits that of a large bird, while in others it takes on distinct reptilian characteristics.Researchers have noted that many of the descriptions of the Thunderbird, including images and petroglyphs, have a more reptilian nature. They suggest that it is possible that the Thunderbird isn’t a bird at all, but what could only be described as a living fossil – a pterosaur.Pterosaurs were a group of flying reptiles that lived along the dinosaurs and died out at the end of the Cretaceous Period. Pterosaurs ranged in size from the tiny Pterodactylus elegans with a wingspan of just under 10 inches to the mighty Quetzelcoatlus, with a wingspan of up to 40 feet. However, no remains of pterosaurs have been found in the fossil record after the so-called “K-T” boundary, which is the time in the geological record when all dinosaur fossils cease to appear.An early visitor to the region of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the French explorer Jacques Marquette, reported seeing a painting of the Piasa bird painted high on the face of a cliff. Marquette’s description of the painting gives details that sound more reptilian than avian:"On the flat face of a high rock were painted, in red, black, and green, a pair of monsters, each as large as a calf, with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger, and a frightful expression of countenance. The face is something like that of a man, the body covered with scales, and the tail so long that it passes entirely round the body, over the head, and between the legs, ending like that of a fish." Unfortunately, today only a reproduction of that painting remains as no one has been able to pinpoint the exact location that Marquette’s described, leading skeptics to suggest he may have lied about seeing this particular image.As outlandish as it sounds, many researchers have taken the possibility that there could still be living pterosaurs very seriously. There have been recent expeditions to Papua New Guinea to search for a flying creature the locals call the ‘Ropen’ which from descriptions, sounds like a living specimen of a pterosaur called Rhamphorhyncus from the Late Jurassic period. There are other places in the world where cryptozoologists believe that these creatures may still exist; reports of pterosaur-like creatures such as the Kongamoto of the African Congo region continue to intrigue many. The Pterosaur ReturnsIf sightings of feathered giant birds are plentiful, it has to be said that so are sightings of flying reptiles. In 1992, a small plane in Brazil reported a near collision with what everyone claimed was a white pterosaur, which supposedly flew next to the plane. This encounter occurred while a twenty-four passenger plane was flying over a mountainous jungle region. The plane’s flight attendant claimed the creature flew alongside the plane enabling her to see it clearly through the windows, but no estimated size for the creature was given.Over the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, film was shot in the 1970s which reportedly showed a pterosaur in flight. Although the footage appears to have been lost it was mentioned in books on cryptozoology at the time.In 1976, a policeman named Arturo Padilla of San Benito, Texas was on patrol in his vehicle during the early-morning hours when he spotted a huge shape in his headlights which resembled a huge bird. Just a few moments later, another officer in the same town saw the same large creature, which he described as gliding along without flapping its wings. A short time after that report, a man in Brownsville named Alverico Guajardo claimed that around 9:30 in the evening a large creature he described as being ‘like a bird, but not a bird’ crashed into his mobile home. Mr. Guajardo said he witnessed the stunned creature standing in his yard after the crash, and described it as huge and unlike anything he’d ever seen.In January of 1976, a young man in Raymondsville, Texas was reportedly attacked by a creature he claimed stood six feet tall and had a wingspan he estimated at being at least ten feet wide. Although not seriously injured, he was very shaken by this encounter, and said the creature that attacked him had huge red eyes and blackish-brown leathery skin, but no feathers. In February of the same year, three school teachers on their way to work at a local elementary school were startled when they saw a huge creature with a wingspan of at least twelve feet soar over their cars. After arriving at work and researching what they had seen, they found a library book with a similar creature in; according to the book, these three very reliable and intelligent witnesses had seen a pterosaur. A more recent sighting in which the witnesses were convinced they’d seen a living pterosaur came from Perth, Australia in 1997. A couple taking an evening walk observed a creature flying some 300 feet above them, which had wings shaped like an elongated triangle, reddish-tan leathery looking skin with no visible feathers but possibly covered in scales, and a body shaped like a torpedo. The couple watched the creature for several minutes, and they claimed the creature glided without flapping its wings while they watched it fly slowly off to the south along the coastline.Supernatural PossibilitiesSkeptics point out however that there is no physical evidence to support claims that these undiscovered birds or reptiles do actually exist. The most famous ‘photographs’ of pterosaurs allegedly taken during the American civil war are known to have been faked by the media and other ‘big bird’ photographs remain disputed at best.Rather than looking for a creature that lives amongst us, it is possible that we may be looking for a creature that is only visible when conditions are favorable. Whether those conditions relate to a build up of psychic energy, times where the veil that separates our dimension from other dimensions is compromised, occasions when aspects of the past are somehow ‘replayed’, is unknown. There is even the very real possibility that what we are witnessing is off world in nature. There are strong similarities between the phenomena known as the ‘Mothman’ and some images and descriptions of the Thunderbird. Mothman was the name given to a creature sighted several times in the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the 1960s. This creature was a tall, winged being with eyes that were either glowing red orbs or that reflected red light. Like some Thunderbird traditions, the Mothman was a frightening creature and considered to be a bad omen. In Mothman’s case, the sightings ended around the time of the disastrous collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967, which kiiled forty-seven people. The mothman has of course been attributed to natural causes, with many people suggesting that it was actually a sandhill crane; a grey large bird, with large red spots that could have been mistaken for eyes.ConclusionsThere have been other animals such as the coelecanth and the Laotian rock-rat that were believed to be long-extinct that were found alive and well. But of the habitat of these creatures; dense forests and deep oceans lends itself to their concealment. In contrast, reports of unknown fliers vary from remote and sparsely populated areas of the world such as the Amazon to well-populated places like Illinois and Pennsylvania. It is hard to imagine that we’ve overlooked either a bird the size of Teratornis or a flying reptile of about the same size, yet it is hard to ignore the claims of seemingly reliable witnesses, who sometimes have observed the creatures in question at close range often during daylight. It is clear that a significant number of these sightings could be genuine misidentifications, but what about the rest? There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that there are enigmatic creatures in our skies that we haven’t yet been able to identify exactly what they are and where they come from. To discover more about these strange creatures might require a willingness to consider the impossible, to think outside the box and really look at the legend of the Thunderbird from an entirely fresh perspective. The legend of the Thunderbird may yet become a reality.
This article was written by FyreSpirit.© Thothweb - http://www.thothweb.comAll images copyright © by their respective photographers. This article is copyrighted. No part of this article can be reproduced without the written permission of ThothWeb.

Monday, December 11, 2006
Outlines of a mystery
We know who drew these giant shapes in Peru's desert - but why?
11:51 AM CST on Sunday, December 10, 2006
By LARRY BLEIBERG / The Dallas Morning News
NASCA, Peru – Everyone here, it seems, has a theory about the Nasca Lines.
The mysterious markings on the desert floor are a massive astronomical calendar. That's a popular one.
Or maybe they point to hidden reserves of water, the source of life in the desert.Then there's my favorite: UFO landing site. Forty years ago, Danish writer Erich Von Daniken popularized that theory with his best-selling book Chariots of the Gods?
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Photos: The Nasca Lines of Peru
Now, strapped into a four-passenger Cessna circling over a figure called the astronaut, I'm not sure what to think. One of its hands points to the sky, another to the ground. His owlish eyes stare into mine.
Look at me, the 1,500-year-old seems to say. Can you solve my mystery?
Here's what's known: For hundreds of years, the Nasca people created lines on the ground. Some form familiar figures: a spider, hummingbird and dog. Others – a whale, monkey and parrot – don't belong in the desert at all.
The only way to see the Nasca Lines is from the air. That makes them even more mysterious. How did pre-Inca people make these images without being able to fly? And what was the point of forming lines if they couldn't appreciate their glory? The lines weren't even discovered until 1929, when a pilot flew over the area and was astonished to see eyes looking up at him.
Thanks to the ancients, the town of Nasca now has a veritable air force: More than a dozen companies fly planes over the lines. The tours are an industry, as indicated by the handwritten sign taped to my plane's instrument console. "Tips are welcome," it says in six languages.
Not bad for a dusty desert town of about 20,000, a six-hour bus ride south of Lima. The modern city of Nasca, a place that gets less than an inch of rain a year, owes its prosperity to the mysterious markings. Statues inspired by the desert figures decorate the town plaza. Sketches of the lines are everywhere else. Elongated hummingbirds mark store signs, while a lizard graces City Hall. On sidewalks, brass inlays of a monkey and spider reflect the sun.
But the lines might have been forgotten without Maria Reiche. She came to Peru from Germany in the 1930s as a tutor and eventually dedicated her life to documenting the creations. For years, she surveyed the area, measuring the markings and pondering their meaning.
"To the local people, she was the gringa loca, the crazy woman sweeping the desert," said Bruno Huancahuari, who works at the Maria Reiche Foundation, a museum built at her former home outside Nasca. Displays include her hand-drawn maps and the Volkswagen microbus she used for explorations.
The world came around to Ms. Reiche's way of thinking before she died in 1998. Her statue now overlooks the city plaza. UNESCO declared the area a World Heritage Site, but not before some lines were destroyed by development – the Pan American Highway cuts a lizard's tail in half.
Only a few spots allow visitors to get a close look at the lines. A roadside fire tower, built with Ms. Reiche's funds, provides a view of two figures: a tree and a pair of hands. Like the astronaut and monkey, the two hands have only nine fingers. Another mystery.
But the city is generous with theories. Here's one explanation offered to me by a guide: Nasca has nine months of blazing summer heat, thus nine fingers.
Maybe so. But to understand the lines, I wanted to see them from ground level. Half a mile from the tower, visitors can get a desert-level view of the creations. I kneel to look straight down a line. I see no monkeys, whales or spiders. Just a long, straight pathway bordered with stones and disappearing into the distance in the brown, dusty desert.
The markings were made by clearing away dark rock, exposing white soil below. Archaeologists have demonstrated that using sophisticated surveying techniques it would have been possible for the Nascans to create figures working from a small model expanded to a large scale. That's probably how they were built. But one researcher has shown that the Nascans also could have built hot-air balloons to supervise the construction from above. We'll never know. The Nascan culture disappeared, eventually absorbed by the Incas.
Ms. Reiche spent her final years at the Hotel Nazca Lines (Nasca has alternate spellings), where she received free room and board in exchange for nightly lectures, during which she wrestled with questions such as these.
The hotel keeps the tradition alive with a nightly planetarium show. I drop in one evening, browsing alpaca scarves and Nasca replica pottery in the lobby gift shop before a German couple and I are led outside to a circular wooden building for a presentation in English.
As Peruvian flute music plays, the lights dim and an astronomer reviews the theories behind the lines. Ms. Reiche, it's noted, came to believe the lines were a star calendar, and that gets a thorough examination as lines and stars trace across the planetarium screen.
The hummingbird figure, for example, has a line emerging from its beak that crosses the desert and eventually points to the spot where the sun rises on Dec. 21, the South American summer solstice.
But just a third of the lines can be linked to astronomical observations. It could all be coincidence.
Each figure is made from a single line, we're told. Some believe the Nascans would visit their drawings for religious ceremonies, following the lines as some worshippers elsewhere in the world walk labyrinths in prayer and meditation.
Another theory suggests that the lines point to springs. Water here is a constant worry. Peru's coastal desert is one of Earth's harshest environments. Summer temperatures often top 125 degrees.
The word Nasca means "hard place to live," but its ancient residents found ways to survive. They constructed a system of aqueducts, channeling water from underground springs to their crops. At one point, an aqueduct flows underneath a river channel.
The underground waterways would clog, so the Nascans built walkways spiraling down as far as 20 feet, making it possible to clear obstructions and keep the water flowing. I follow one path down to the water level, marveling at the engineering and the startling sight of water coursing through a desert. These were clearly sophisticated people.
That same day, I look them in the face at the Chauchilla Cemetery, about 20 miles south of town. The dead rested in peace here until a century ago, when grave robbers desecrated the huge burial ground. The criminals grabbed pottery and textiles, leaving bodies and bones scattered across the desert floor. And that's where many remain.
Mummies have been returned to 12 graves, which are open for viewing. I stick to the path linking the sites. Vertebrae, femurs and slivers of unidentifiable human bones lie exposed on the sand.
The Nascans placed their mummies in a fetal position. Many had long hair, some still attached to the leathery skin on their skulls. The scene is creepy even at midday, looking like a bad Halloween display. Then I see mummies of children, and I'm reminded that this was once a place of mourning and sadness. Their small bodies are heartbreaking centuries later.
Now all the bodies and skulls again face east, waiting for the rising sun and rebirth.
It's sobering, but I had come to celebrate the Nascan's genius, not their demise. I had come to see their lines from the air.
Nasca's airport is little more than an open-air waiting room. Visitors line up for flights, which last 25 minutes and cost about $50.
I share a plane with a couple from Spain, who take the back seat. I'm to be the co-pilot. Before takeoff, we're given a map showing our route and the dozen or so figures we will see.
The pilot introduces himself, then radios the control tower for permission to take off. I'm unnerved when he writes the runway coordinates on his hand with a pen. Before I can back out, we're airborne.
In moments, the city of Nasca gives way to wide-open desert. Lines stretch everywhere. There are literally thousands, covering hundreds of square miles, but only a small percentage form recognizable figures.
The pilot taps my shoulder and points. There's a whale swimming forever through the sand. We circle it twice before moving on to the next figure, like a game of aerial connect-the-dots. Next come a pair of trapezoids – Erich Von Daniken's UFO landing strips. Then we circle the astronaut, who looks forlorn on the hillside, his big eyes staring up.
The pilot taps me on the shoulder again and pushes his body against the yoke so I can stretch behind him for a view out his window. It's like the driver of a sports car leaning forward to let a passenger into the back seat. Except we're cruising several thousand feet above the ground.
We pass a dog and a monkey. That's when I make my own Nasca Lines connection: The monkey's spiraling tail looks just like the path leading down to the aqueducts.
As we circle the figures, the plane tilting and dipping, my head starts spinning. I feel the blood drain from my face.
The pilot guarantees his tip when he nudges my shoulder. He pours some alcohol on a cotton swab and hands it to me, motioning for me to hold it to my nose.
My head clears.
During the next 10 minutes, we pass a spider, hummingbird, parrot, hands and a tree. I had seen the last two from the tower the previous day, but now the altitude guarantees a spectacular view.
Then he circles one last time and heads back toward town. For the first time in my life, I feel a cold sweat pouring down my back.
Somewhere over a grove of tangelo trees, I officially lose my breakfast in a bag provided for the occasion.
Back on the ground, I take a shaky step down to the tarmac.
The Nasca Lines remain a mystery to me, but I now have a wish for the ancients.
If aliens ever did fly in circles over the desert in southern Peru, I hope they tipped their pilot well.
Why were the Nasca Lines made? Here are some theories:
UFO landing strips. OK, a little far-fetched, but the idea presented in the best-seller Chariots of the Gods? helped popularize the lines.
Astronomical observatory. Many of the lines point to constellations and can be tied to solstices and equinoxes. But most don't.
Water. The desert-dwelling Nascans obsessed about water, and the lines could map underground sources.
Labyrinths. Each figure is constructed from a single line, so they could be walked during ceremonies.
Sports stadium. The Nascans were great athletes, the thinking goes. Maybe the lines were running tracks.
For tribute. The markings can be seen only from the air, making them messages to the gods. (See first suggestion.)
The town of Nasca (also spelled Nazca) is about 275 miles south of Lima. It's possible to visit on a day trip, flying from Lima to the towns of Pisco or Ica, and then taking a smaller plane for a flight over the Nasca Lines. But that would give you time to see the lines from the air and little else.
Consider overnighting, and even adding an extra day if you're a lines nut. Nasca sites can be visited on day tours provided by many area agencies.
I used a bus to reach Nasca, Cruz del Sur (, that cost about $21 each way from Lima and included movies, large business-class style seats, a snack and a game of bingo.
Avoid people selling tours and hotel rooms at bus stops. You'll get a better and more reputable deal from a hotel or agency.
Take my advice: Skip eating before you take a flight.
Flying over the lines costs about $50 for 25 minutes. Or you could fly from Ica or Pisco, which is closer to Lima, but it's usually just a flyover and won't allow time for other sights. These flights are $120 to $150.
The planetarium show at the Nasca Lines Hotel is offered in English nightly at 7 p.m. Cost: $6.
One of the newest hotels, Casa Andina, offers boutique style and comfort. About $75. Contact: 1-866-447-3270;
The Nasca Lines Hotel is another standby. Rates around $66; 011-51-56-522-293.
I stayed at the Hotel Alegria. 011-56-522-702. Cost: under $40. Some rooms are air-conditioned, important in the desert heat.
Peru travel information: