A Dinosaur…during the Civil War?

Did Union soldiers shoot down a living dinosaur during the midst of the Civil War?

Did Civil War soldiers shoot down a living dinosaur?

Did Civil War soldiers shoot down a living dinosaur?
Description: Outdated reconstruction of pterodactyls as flying marsupials
Attribution: Edward Newman (1843)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Living Dinosaur During the Civil War?

Take a good look at this image. It appears to show a group of soldiers standing around a dead pterodactyl. What do you think…is it real? Believe it or not, the answer is yes…with a big caveat. The photograph definitely isn’t photo-shopped. But its not from the 1860s either. Rather, it was a promotional tool for a science fiction TV show called Freaky Links. The soldiers are Civil War reenactors and the pterodactyl is a prop (incidentally, used for Episode 4, ”Subject: Coelacanth This!“).

“What’s interesting is that this story was picked up by many other websites who simply repeated the information without spending five minutes to check, which all the time I devoted to this. Life is short, after all.” ~ Sean McLachlan, Civil War soldiers shoot down a pterodactyl???

That pretty much sums up the problem with cryptozoology and claims of living dinosaurs. The field is ripe for hoaxers. Heck, even the earliest claim of this specific type was nothing more than a hoax.

Perhaps the earliest ‘living pterosaur’ account dates to 1856 when, according to the Illustrated London News, a live pterodactyl with a 3 m wingspan emerged alive from within a rock dislodged during the construction of a French railway tunnel…This story is clearly a hoax: the pterosaur allegedly represented a new species dubbed Pterodactylus anas. Anas means duck; in France (where the pterosaur was allegedly found), a duck is called a canard. Canard is another word for hoax.” ~ Darren Naish, Pterosaurs alive in, like, the modern day!

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, is there any chance living dinosaurs exist in this day and age? It’s pretty unlikely. If such creatures still existed, it’s hard to believe legions of bird watchers would’ve missed them. The 1890 Thunderbird story is slightly more believable, but not by much. And Ivan T. Sanderson’s famous 1932 encounter with a possible olitiau is interesting but even Sanderson believed the creature to be a giant bat rather than a living dinosaur (with a 4 meter wingspan, that must’ve been one helluva bat!).

So, for now we have to side with the skeptics. Although I have to admit I’m tempted to trek out to the Huachua Desert one of these days and see if I can’t locate the 1890 Thunderbird’s skeleton. Anyone up for an expedition?

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4 Responses to A Dinosaur…during the Civil War?

  1. Interesting! I didn’t find the reference for the fact that it was used in a TV show. Do you have a link for that? I’d like to add it to my own post. The website I got it from was peddling it as real and had a whole story of how this guy had found the picture and had it analyzed by researchers who don’t exist.

  2. David says:

    Hey Sean,

    Great post by the way! I liked the background info too. Loren Coleman’s actually got the original model in his Cryptozoology Museum. Here’s the link…just scroll to the bottom.

    http://www.lorencoleman.com/museum.html

  3. Coming over from Sean’s site.
    I agree. It’s like the Bigfoot myth. In this day and age, if it really existed, someone would have really great video footage of the beast. At the very least, some hunter would’ve shot one by now.

  4. David says:

    Hey Alex, thanks for the visit. I have to agree with you. There’s not much hope for the likes of Bigfoot. If there are any undiscovered large animals still out there, I doubt we’ll find them on land or in the air. The ocean is probably the best hope for that type of thing.