He's back on the big screen, the lord of cinema monsters, Godzilla. All hail the king of the 'terrible lizards'!
But as the theaters swell with movie goers, there is another monster that sits deep in the unconscious of each one of us. The fear of monsters is a deep instinctual impulse that has kept us alive for hundreds of thousands of years. Like running from a hungry tiger or crocodile, birds too know to take off quickly when the slightest sound or movement from the brush could mean a stealthy predator is about to make you its lunch. Humans, so they tell us, did not live alongside with dinosaurs. But as evolution tells us, our simpler mammalian ancestors did share the earth with the frighting Tyrannosaurus Rex and its horrible cousins.
Has the dinosaur vanished? That's what science tells us. They died off 65 million years ago by comet or gradual extinction. The field of cryptozoology believes otherwise. There are beasts, so they say, that survived into our modern times. Sightings from the early 20th century from remote regions of the globe. There are even reports of encounters with Godzilla-like beasts right up to our current day.
In the remote past, some alternative historians and fundamentalist Christians tell us that man and Dinosaur lived together and were even transported on Noah's ark. I don't go that far, but I do know of evidence that points to something resembling modern humans reaching far back beyond the commonly accepted timeline. Humans in the time of the dinosaurs? Lets explore . . .
The Biggest of the Big
|Godzilla size comparison. Source: Policymic.com|
|Scale diagram comparing a human and the largest known dinosaurs of five major types. Image: Wikipedia|
|"Fleeing Nothosaurs". From the Triassic period. Artwork by DAMNFX/National Geographic|
|Argentinosaurus, largest known dinosaur. Restored skeleton,|
Another plant eater for the contender of Longest Dino Ever, is the Amphicoelias at an estimated 200 feet from tail to snout. Unfortunately, the few bones that were discovered have been lost sometime around the 1920s.
|Spinosaurus loved a good fish meal and was the largest of the dino meat eaters. Image: BBC|
Looking like a mutated killer-stork, Spinosaurus (above) was mostly a fish eater but his length at 55 feet, certainly would make anyone feel intimidated. This is the largest known carnivorous dinosaur.
|Giganothosaurus, bigger than a Tyrannosaurus Rex|
Both eastern and western traditions talk about them and moth medieval cultures kept their stories alive. The idea of living dragons seems to outlandish to be believed, but are there reasons for such old and stupendous beliefs? Did dragons actually exist?
|The Hobbit 'Smaug Fires'. Image: Brothers Hildebrandt|
Starting with the Pterodactyl or the proper scientific name which is Pterosaur ['terror-saur'], these flying dinosaurs came in some 30 different types and ranged in many different shapes and sizes. They are not the ancestors of modern birds, and are more akin to a kind of reptilian bat.
|"Pterosaurs Took Flight on All Fours" from the headline of a 2009 National Geographic article.|
This creature is a Hatzegotpteryx.
Our knowledge of all of these incredible beasts is severely limited. What we still don't know, if we ever will, are some of their more important physical characteristics. What kind of makings did they have? What was their skin like? It has only been in the last few years that we discovered that theropods, or 2 legged dinosaurs like the T-Rex, were actually covered in feathers! (Which is probably more pleasing to the eye than the naked-chicken-look we're so accustomed too.)
I bring this up because of the very weird stories that come from the remote islands of Papau New Guinea. A place where jungles rule and many of the natives have never encountered people from the outside world.
Duane Hodgkinson encounters a Pterodactyl
In 1944, while stationed at a military base west of Finschhafen, Duane Hodgkinson was on a day hike in the dense jungle moving up a trail, and following a guide, when his group entered a clearing where grass stood about two feet high. Suddenly there was a thrashing sound in the brush. Looking in the direction of the sound, they saw a large winged creature take flight. It had a wing span of about thirty feet and the time in-between wing flaps was about 2 to 3 seconds. The underbrush, those tall grasses of about two feet - were swaying from the down-rush of the air from the wings of the creature. It flew out a little, then turned back near them. He was awe struck and saw that it had a long snout and a long appendage at the back of its head. It had a long neck and was of a dark color.
|A representation of the creature from a video interview with Duane Hodgkinson|
According to the local inhabitants of the island, there have been recent sightings with in the last few years. The History Channel's MonsterQuest investigated the stories of possible Pterosaurs' in the deep jungles and presented startling evidence.
This illustration is from a sea chart from 1595 shows what could be a Pterosaur, or as the natives call it, a Demon Flyer. Most of the sightings happen at night where people see glowing flying creatures. They say that the creatures have bioluminescence, the ability to light-up their bodies.
Maybe they don't breath fire, but giant bioluminescent flying creatures seen by frightened people in the middle ages and in the dark of the night, might very well appear to be fire breathing dragons.
Iowa's Van Meter Monster
In 1903 the small town of Van Meter, Iowa was terrorized by a flying monster that looked like a giant bat and shot a blinding light from a horn on its head. It too seems to have appeared usually at night. As legend has it, the creature had come out of an old abandoned mine.
The account in the Daily Mail tells of several towns people encountering the large mystery beast and being extremely frightened.
From the Daily Mail:
On the third night, a man spotted it perched atop a telephone pole. Another resident who saw it, described the monster as hopping like a kangaroo, while the local high school teacher likened it to a devil.
Scared and angered by what they had witnessed, the townsfolk followed the creature to an abandoned coal mine near an old brickyard where they heard a noise from the mine.
‘Presently the noise opened up again, as though Satan and a regiment of imps were coming forth for battle,’ reads an article in the Des Moines Daily News from Oct. 3, 1903.
The monster appeared together with a smaller version. In a flash of bright light they sailed away, but returned in the morning when the town's men had gathered with weapons ‘to rid the earth of them’.
‘The reception they received would have sunk the Spanish fleet, but aside from unearthly noise and peculiar odor they did not seem to mind it, but slowly descended the shaft of the old mine.’
The creature was never seen again.Flying monsters? Ancient glowing Pterodactyls'? It enough to keep you up at night.
Sightings of Living Dinosaurs
Something like the Loch-Ness Monster, this long necked water dwelling cryptid can be found in Africa's Congo River basin. In 1776, a french missionary saw enormous footprints. He later wrote; "must have been monstrous: the marks of the claws were noted on the ground, and these formed a print about three feet in circumference." There are 33 sightings listed of the animal on Wikipedia. Famous cyrptozoologists and TV shows have gone in search of the legendary beast. Existence of the creature is certainly something to be considered.
|Arica Monster of Chile|
Looking something like the velociraptors of Jurassic park, the Aruca monsters are said to have been spotted by motorists in Aruca, Chile. A night time sighting in 2004 described them as "dog-faced kangaroos that moved slowly through the air." They were not sure if they had wings or were using their legs to jump over the car. There were several of them, moving in a pack.
Sirrush or Mušḫuššu:
|Rissush on the Ishtar Gate. Image: Wikipedia|
|Spinosaurus. Image: Wikipedia|
There are more of these kind of clues or dinosaur and human-beings inhabiting the same realm, but I'll leave that for another time.
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