Sightings of mysterious giant bird continue in San AntonioJuly 31, 2007
San Antonio Express News
Loch Ness has its monster - Does San Antonio have one, too? Strange sightings of a huge flying creature have been reported as recently as six months ago. Is it a monster or myth?
Guadalupe Cantu III was busy working his newspaper route, but he says the big news of that day 10 years ago flew right over his car. He says he's seen what most have not - an unidentified flying object, one that still scares him.
"We were afraid that it would come at us. So we stayed in the car till it passed this way," witness Guadalupe Cantu III said. "This thing's all feathers, all black. Much bigger than me. It looked at us. It had very stooped-up shoulders." The beast has been spotted from the Rio Grande Valley to the mountains of New Mexico.
"(It) looked like what was possibly two people standing on top of a mountain up there," said David Zander, who saw the monster in New Mexico. "Something that big ... I guess it kinda makes you feel like it could come over and carry you off if it wanted to."
San Antonio's Ken Gerhard has written a book on these dark birds as big as planes, with wingspans from 15 to 20 feet.
Native Americans called them thunderbirds: depicted in their art, their flapping wings were said to cause explosive noises.
"What's interesting is that the reports of these giant, raptor-like birds do continue into modern times," said Gerhard, a cryptozoologist. Cryptozoology is the study of and search for legendary animals to prove their existence.
He says there's solid evidence something is overhead.
"I believe there's a good chance that a lot of large, prehistoric animals, if you will, remain undiscovered by modern science," he said.
So what could the giant birds be? Some witness sketches eerily resemble prehistoric creatures, like the pteronadon of 160 million years ago.
However, Gerhard theorizes it could be a creature that's a little less extinct - if that's possible - a pteratorn.
"These are the surviving ancestors of modern condors and vultures. They lived up until 6,000 years ago, we know for sure, in parts of North America," Gerhard said. "In fact, over 100 specimens have been recovered from the La Brea tar pits in California."
But critics have another take: human error.
"Was it really as big as he thought it was?" asks Ben Radford, editor of "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine. "When there's enough information to come to a determination, I've always found an explanation for it."
Radford says the eye can be deceived.
"Eyewitness testimony is very unreliable. And so it's hard for a person to tell - even experts to tell - 'Is that thing I'm seeing out there, is it small and nearby? Or is it huge and farther away?' " Radford said.
But in one sighting in San Antonio, three people gave similar accounts, witnessing the same fly-by of a huge, winged creature. A trio of South Side teachers traveling a deserted road had their cars "buzzed" by the monsters, and it made the papers in February 1976.
In fact, for decades papers throughout South Texas have chronicled the flying creatures. In the age of the Internet, the reports continue, like this one from a recent sighting near Huebner and Babcock roads.
"The creature was large, at least 6 feet," the report reads. "I don't know if I ever want to see another one."
"If I were outside there walking, it would've gone after me," witness Cantu said.
Cantu believes most sightings go unreported because people are afraid of the ridicule they could face.
However, he says a face-to-face encounter with the creature would be much worse.
"I think if you do see it, then you might wind up missing," Cantu said.