For many generations, people in
One man claims the rugged landscape near
Dave Zander has lived near the Doña Ana Mountains for more than 30 years spending almost all his spare time hiking, exploring and fossil hunting in the range between the Robledo and Organ mountains.
He saw something that he's unable to explain and many people find hard to believe.
He recalls the day eleven years ago when he spotted something extraordinary: two creatures perched on a mountain less than a mile away.
"These creatures were so huge they looked like the size of small planes," Dave Zander said. "All of the sudden one of them jumped off dropped off the top of the mountain, came down the front of the mountain and all the sudden these huge wings just spread out.
"I would say the wings were at least a 20-foot wingspan."
Definitely something out of the ordinary.
"Not a normal bird, definitely of a giant variety," Zander continued. "It makes you feel like it could come over and carry you off if it wanted to."
Zander witness a real-life scene out of the movie
One ancient bird in the vicinity is an Andean condor living at the
"In comparison a 20 foot wingspan would truly be a monster and something undocumented by science," cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard said. "I believe what Dave Zander may have seen are surviving teratorns."
Gerhard has made a career studying prehistoric birds.
"What's interesting the reports of these giant raptor-like birds to continue into modern times," he said. "We seem to have a large concentration of them here in the Southwest particularly in the
Gerhard documented many of these strange reports from all over the globe in the book "Big birds! Modern sightings of flying monsters."
The book includes sightings in different clusters over the past 30 years.
In 1972 in Maxwell in northeastern
In Lordsburg in the 1800s locals talked constantly about the sightings of pterosaurs.
And a picture circulated the country in 1890 out of
"Other eyewitnesses are describing specifically giant feathered dark birds with an enormous wing span," Gerhard said.
Gerhard said his research falls into two different descriptions from witnesses. Some said the birds look like the prehistoric pterodactyl while others, like the creatures described by Zander, resemble the ancient thunderbird from Native American mythology.
You can find thunderbird images atop many totem poles and also carved into the lava rocks of the
According to legend, the thunderbird is said to have a wingspan the length of two canoes with the ability to deafen people with the sound of its flapping wings.
"It is definitely a real animal, according to the native peoples that lived here," Gerhard said. "It's not necessarily a legendary animal."
However a word of caution comes from folks like Ben Radford, managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, which applies scientific reason and evidence to extraordinary claims.
"There is a desire to link modern sightings with these Native American stories but the problem is they're not necessarily the same thing," Radford said.
Radford said believes the eyewitnesses saw something:
"Ultimately a lot of these sightings, whether it's these monsters, these creatures, Chupacabras, what have you, these come down to eyewitness testimony," Radford said. "They're stories, there's nothing wrong with stories, but they're just not good evidence."
Radford has debunked numerous stories about the Loch Ness monster, crop circles and Bigfoot.
He said he relies on evidence.
"You don't have bones, teeth," he continued. "You don't have any hard evidence, so you look to these stories, you look to these myths.
"We know from many scientific experiments people are notoriously unreliable about estimating things."
And in this case, Radford said he thinks Zander and the other witnesses in
What makes the reports intriguing is that most experts agree scientists have yet to discover every species on the planet and really have no idea what is out there:
"I believe there's a good chance that a number of large prehistoric animals remain undiscovered by modern science." Gerhard said.
Radford readily concedes there are species yet to be discovered, but...
"Do I think there are giant animals and birds and creatures out there?" he said. "No."
For his part, Zander continues to keep his eyes on the skies but hasn't had a repeat visit from the creatures. The one experience has stayed with him.
"I feel honored to have seen the one sighting," he said. "I had if they're still up there still living up there and thriving, I say awesome, more power to them."
I received the following email from a man who lives west of
Dear Sir. I witnessed a large flying creature this evening that I cannot identify. I found your site during a search. I'm apprehensive of mentioning it to any friends or family until I can get a grip on what this was.
I live west of
I then noticed a large flock of birds flush out of the trees near the riverbank. Then suddenly this giant flying creature swooped down into the river valley and just as quickly flew back up into the rocks. I continued to watch but did not hear or see it again. I call it a creature because it looked nothing like a bird. I was about 50 yards from it and would say conservatively that it's wing span was 15 ft. or so! It was dark colored and had a very long beak and a strange long thin tail. This sounds crazy, but it actually resembled one of those flying dinosaurs though the head was not as large and it looked like it had feathers.
I got back home and looked on the internet for examples of bird species but found nothing close. I'm not originally from this area and have never heard of anything like this. That is why I'm contacting you. Do you have an idea what it was? I see you have a website, maybe someone who reads your site could help identify it. JJ
On December 6, 2010, researcher Jonathan David Whitcomb issued the following press release:
For generations, the mystery lights of
Now a cryptozoologist from
According to Jonathan Whitcomb, a cryptozoology author in Long Beach, California, when one of the bioluminescent predators has been glowing for awhile, not far above the ground, it will be joined by another of its kind, which will then turn on its own glow. After insects have been attracted to that area, the two creatures will separate, which appears to distant human observers to be one light splitting into two. The predators will fly away from each other for some distance, then turn back and fly together. During the separation, bats may begin feeding on the concentration of insects before being caught from two sides by the larger predators.
Whitcomb was a forensic videographer, in 2004, when he traveled to Papua New Guinea, hoping to videotape the glowing nocturnal "ropen," said to be a large flying predator and scavenger. Although he did not see the creature, he interviewed many natives, who impressed him with their credibility and amazed him with what they had seen. Whitcomb became convinced that the ropen is a pterosaur, commonly called by Americans "pterodactyl" or "flying dinosaur."
After returning to the
He analyzed the eyewitness accounts of those flying creatures and wrote a nonfiction book: "Live Pterosaurs in
Although Whitcomb admits that Marfa Lights may come from an unknown bioluminescent bird or bat, he says, "It is more likely than not from a creature similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea, and my associates and I are sure about the ropen: It is a pterosaur." - Jonathan David Whitcomb
NOTE: I have been reporting on Whitcomb's research and expeditions since I started 'Phantoms and Monsters'...in fact, he has forwarded several reports directly. This theory involving the Marfa Lights is interesting since much of the phenomena associated with the ropen of