The Thunderbird Photograph: Hoax, or a Real-Life Monster?

Chuck Banner | February 5th, 2017
1.bp.blogspot.com
1.bp.blogspot.com

Back in 1890, news of a strange sighting jarred the people of southeastern Arizona. A local newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph, reported that two ranchers encountered an enormous, winged creature that they claimed looked like an alligator with wings. They were returning to Tombstone from a stint in the Huachaca Mountains when they came across the animal, which was reportedly visibly exhausted from some long flight, but flew a short ways when it saw the men. Armed and on horseback, the men began chasing the creature, firing at it until it was badly wounded and soon died. Amazingly, they said it measured about 92 feet in length, but was comparatively tiny in diameter at only 50 inches. Its head was an enormous 8 feet long, and each of its wings measured 78 feet in length, with no feathers or hair, just thick, rubbery skin. In short, the animal was massive – it was part bird, part alligator, and completely bewildering.

So did these men make up the story of the other-worldly beast for publicity? It’s entirely possible, since by 1890, Tombstone had turned into something of a ghost town after an earthquake flooded the lucrative silver mines which had provided the town’s only industry. It certainly could have benefitted from tourism that might have resulted from such a bizarre story. But no one seemed to make any effort to exploit the story to reel in tourists, and it was all but forgotten by the 1930s when author Horace Bell unearthed it as part of a book on Old West folklore. Then, in the 1960s, a magazine writer named Jack Pearl claimed that there had been a picture showing the ranchers having nailed the gigantic beast to a wall, and that it had appeared in the original article in the Tombstone Epitaph. In fact, several other people also claimed to have seem the photograph, but no one could locate any copies of it. And somehow, they all seemed to agree that it was indeed the type of photo described by Pearl.

By the 1990s, the search for the missing “Thunderbird Photograph” was in full swing; if so many reputable people claimed to have seen it, then it must exist somewhere. Finally, in 2015, a cryptozoology website, Cryptomundo, published several photos, supposing that one of them may be the lost Thunderbird Photo. But none of them even came close to matching Pearl’s description of the giant creature nailed to a wall (instead, one showed men standing behind a smaller bird-like creature on the ground, one showed men holding a large bird upside down, and the last showed Civil War soldiers and was clearly was not even from the right time period.) If seeing is believing, then we can assume that the Thunderbird sighting was nothing more than a hoax, due to the complete lack of convincing photo evidence. In all probability, the claims of having seen the photo of a creature nailed to a wall were some sort of psychological phenomenon, a “shared memory” of a photo that never actually existed. But, as some cryptozoology enthusiasts would be quick to point out, we also have no clear evidence that this creature didn’t exist, so we can’t be 100% certain that the men fabricated the story. Either way, for many, it’s fun to think about.

Next Article
  • Giant Artificial Glaciers Growing In The Desert

    One smart engineer from a small remote village in Indian has put his engineering skills to the test and decided to counter-effect the problems being caused by global warming. A global and immense problem for one engineer to tackle, but Sonam Wangchuk is up for the fight. His solution is very simple, create artificial glaciers...

    Read More
  • The Flower That Will Kill You With A Smile

    When one hears the phrase satanic grin, you may think of the DC Comics The Joker’s laugh as he executes a deadly plan. That sardonic grin is well known across the whole world, a grin that comes hand in hand with death. The corners of your mouth go up really far on each side and...

    Read More
  • The Deadly Dynamite Tree

    There is actually a tree that exists covered in poisonous spikes which is capable of dropping exploding dynamite fruit on your head. And to make matters worse the explosions launches spikes & seeds to launch out into the air at over 150 miles per hour, sending them a good 100 feet. ...

    Read More
  • Two Chinese Woman Jump Off A Bridge To Decide True Love

    A young man was put to the test and found himself facing a very difficult situation, his current girlfriend and ex-girlfriend jumped off a bridge to find out who he would save. To say he was confused that two grown women had thrown themselves into a river would be an understatement, but that is what...

    Read More
  • The Raptor Of The Skies That Views Humans As Prey

    For most people living in the western world or any relatively urban area, being eaten by an animal sounds like a story you would only read about in Africa. It sounds like a story that would only happen in a horror tale or during a fantasy story. But not so long ago, being eaten by...

    Read More
  • The Australian Bushranger Who Was A Master Prison Escapist

    One Australian bushranger by the name of Joseph Johns had a very interesting talent: no cell or prison could hold him. In fact, he escaped from prison on so many occasions the authorities became frustrated and built him a special cell that was tailored to keep him inside. The governor even came and checked the...

    Read More
  • Romania Home To The Living And Growing Rocks

    These mysterious rocks that appear to be living entities in Romania continue to grow & grow, defying all the odds and confusing biologists around the world. They really do appear to be something that is impossible: stones that move and grow. Locals refer to them as Trovants and they have confused experts all around the...

    Read More
  • Chuuk Lagoon The Biggest Underwater Graveyard

    If you happen to like diving with wrecks and skeletons then you may want to check out Chuuk Lagoon on your next trip. Previously known as Truk Lagoon, this was a main Japanese naval base during the Second World War. It was home to a huge portion of the Japanese fleet and was their main...

    Read More