Two Interesting Sets of Flying Creatures from Pre-Columbian Costa Rica

Posted by Chris Parker
Apr 24 2007

Here are two precolumbian stone metates from Costa Rica, both featuring very curious flying creatures identified as “birds” by their galleries. Most of our interest here is on the first piece, of which, to us a more credible argument can be made that the flying creatures are pterosaurs, supposedly extinct many millions of years before these Costa Rican artists were born.

According to data quoted below, the Costa Rican’s of that period did revere buzzards and vultures, a possible alternative identification. After studying hundreds of photos of those birds we can find no reason to conclude that either of these is being represented here. You may reach a different conclusion. The bills on these creatures for one thing are way too long and for another the skull is two wide. It also makes us wonder if some of the pieces that helped them reach that conclusion were in fact not actually buzzards or vultures. On the other hand, vultures and buzzards will eat snakes, as the central creature is doing–but so did pterosaurs.

For us, the pterosaur hypothesis is butressed by; the feet/toes of these flying creatures. Birds have three toes, pterosaurs five–the fifth of which points backward and is extended. The feet and legs of these creatures do match what we might expect from pterosaurs but not what we might expect from birds.

The wings of the central creature as well as the two side creatures reminds us that the pterosaur wing was also believed to attach to the legs/feet as well. We’d say pterosaur wings might appear to separate from the body like those of the central creature here more than a bird’s would.

Previously, we looked at a “Mayan Pterosaur” (shown below)that is an exact head, skull and bill match for the Costa Rican flying creatures.

The eyes are especially large–perhaps larger than a birds eyes might be. Of course, we’re certainly not experts and are no smarter than anyone else. What do you think?

With respect to the second stone metate, it could be an insect, could be a pterosaur or a mythological creature. The wings sit on the shoulder in a pterosaur-like manner. Pteranodon, is one type of pterosaur with a prong/crest sticking out of its head like these creatures have–except that their prongs typically extend from the backs of their heads rather than from the front.

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