Pterosaurs everywhere you look

We have been following the saga of Garth Guessman’s adventures in Papua New Guinea tracking down the very elusive Ropen, which is, of course, a pterosaur.  So I am always interested to come across other accounts of large flying beasts able to carry away a man or even larger prey.  In the process of reading through “The Island of California: A History of the Myth” by Dora Beale Polk (more on that in a later post) we find that Columbus and other explorers made mention of large flying beasts they called griffins, that terrified the natives due to their reported ability to carry away items as large as horses.  Polk quotes various sources of the legend in Chapter 10:

“Griffins were related to the fabulous birds of Arabia, as in Sindbad the Sailor.  Prestor John’s “Letter” tells of “birds called griffins who can easily carry away an ox or a horse into their nest to feed their young.”  He himself claims to have been carried across the uncrossable Sandy Sea by them, just as Alexander had been carried to the enchanted castle.  Griffins are found in Polo’s and Mandeville’s accounts on neighboring islands to the Amazons, and are described on neighboring pages.  But stories of griffins were also coming back from the New World.  According to Ferdinand Columbus’s account of the fourth voyage of Columbus, there were people living in trees between Varagua and Puerto Bello.  They did so “out of fear of the griffins that are in that country.”  During Cortes’ campaign in Mexico, claims were made of griffins in high sierras four or five leagues from the village of Tehuacan.  The population of the neighboring valley was said to flee in terror of being eaten by these creatures.”

Polk’s liberal worldview prevents her from looking at the eyewitness accounts of the natives as anything but myth and superstition, since pterosaurs are “known” to be extinct millions of years ago.  She writes griffins off as a much smaller creature incapable of carrying away anything larger than a Big Mac:

“The great condors must have flourished in substantial numbers in the Andes and mountains of central America when the explorers first came to the New World.  They were understandably identified as griffins.”

These pathetically stupid natives were living in trees because of bird that weighed thirty pounds and had a ten foot wingspan.  Our denigration of the griffin to just a condor insults these native people.  We regard them as knuckle dragging Neanderthals, barely having evolved out of the trees, and now fleeing back to them in fear of a bird.  From this racist view of aboriginal people came the justification for the English scientists of the 1800s to encourage Australian settlers to shoot aboriginals and send the bones back to England for scientific study.  They were regarded as less evolved creatures, lower on the development scale than the more advanced races of Europe.

Evidence for a young earth is all around us, but we have been trained to dismiss it as myth and fable.

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