The Native American tribes called it the Thunderbird. Modern archaeologists call it the Pterodactyl.
In 1890, The Epitaph, a Tombstone, Arizona newspaper, reported that two cowboys had killed a flying monster in the desert between Whetstone and the Huachuca Mountains. The creature they described resembled a pterodactyl, supposedly extinct. It had a wing span of 150 feet, an eel-like body, 92 feet long and four and a half feet in diameter. Its two feet protruded from the body in front of the wings. The beak was eight feet long, the jaws filled with huge, razor-sharp teeth. Its eyes protruded, and were the size of dinner plates. Its wings, devoid of feathers, were of a thick, transparent membrane.
The cowboys claimed that, when they first saw the creature, it appeared exhausted from a long flight and could only fly a short distance at a time.
On horseback, the men gave chase and fired on it. Several times the creature attacked them, but it was so exhausted they were easily able to evade it. Finally, the bullets took their toll and it died.
The Epitaph wrote: "The men cut off a small portion of the tip of one wing and took it home with them. Last night, one of them arrived in this city for supplies and to make preparations to skin the creature. The hide will be sent to eminent scientists for examination. The finders returned to the kill early this morning, accompanied by several prominent men who will endeavor to bring the strange creature to town before it is mutilated."
No record exists indicating whether or not this was accomplished. So we are left to wonder. Were the cowboys just telling a tall tale? Or did they really kill the last of its kind, a Pterodactyl--the Thunderbird of Old West legend.
P.S. from Bison Bill: “The FACT that cowboys and dinosaurs co-existed in the Old West is a subject rarely explored in Western cinema. A notable exception is the following Ray Harryhausen classic …”
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