Archive for December 20th, 2008

Three Examples of Pterosaur Survival Into Ancient Times?

Church of Darwin, Crypto, Dinosaurs in Literature, Giants in Those Days,, Science, Sophistication of Ancestors, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Dec 20 2008

Copyright 2008 by Chris Parker and
Photo/Graphic: Institute of Texan Cultures

What if pterosaurs did survive into the “age of man”? Do you suppose that they would inspire accounts of “dragons” in ancient cultures the world over down through time? Curiously, there are accounts of winged, reptilian dragons in virtually every culture down through history. Science says that this is a coincidence and that pterosaurs died out 65 millon years ago,or more than 50 million years before even primitive man came on the scene.

Admittedly, its not easy to positively identify creatures in ancient art sometimes under the best of circumstances and mistakes can and are made, but we think that these three examples along with the many others that we’ve discussed on more than 80 pages of our Dinosaurs in Literature and Art Section might at least cause one to pause and to wonder if everything science has told us is correct….

Amerigo Vespucci

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Amerigo Vespucci first arrived in what is now called South America in 1499 and visited again in 1501. Columbus is credited with discovering the continent even though both of them in all candor were practically the last ones here (behind African’s, the Chinese, the Celts, etc…..).

Columbus thought he had landed in the Indies. Vespucci recognized that he had landed on an entirely new continent and did a better job of popularizing his journeys throughout Europe. In 1503 or 1504, Amerigo published a pamphlet, in Latin, under the Latinized name Albericus Vesputius, entitled Mundus Novus. It was in this pamphlet that he stated his belief that the land reached by Columbus in 1492 , was really a wholly new discovery.

This was contrary to Columbus who mistakenly continued to believe that he had reached India. Because Columbus was so firmly entrenched in his belief, he did not give these lands a new collective name (like Columbus).

He would give the islands and regions he saw and or landed on, a name, but he could not rename India or China. A mapmaker named Waldseemiller decided to name the new continent after Amerigo on a map that was included in a book about Amerigo’s journeys and discoveries. It was feminized to America and that name took. We were however, probably this close to living in Vespucciland and to being forever known as Vespuciians.

Like many explorers before him, Vespucci mentioned some interesting sightings, including, monsters, dragons, serpents and giants, which may have been believed in his time but which are largely discounted or disbelieved today.

John Ogilby was the illustrator who illustrated some of Vespucci’s books and pamphlets, yes later based on Vespucci’s descriptions. Though he wasn’t an eyewitness, one of his drawings (1671) based on Vespucci’s eyewitness account bears a close resemblance to the long tailed pterosaur; it has bat-like wings and a long tail among other features. The Pterosaur wouldn’t be discovered by “science” for more than 100 years.
Giants (Amerigo Vespucci, by Frederick A. Ober)

“As at our arrival we saw no collection of people, eleven of us landed. Finding a path inland, we walked nearly two leagues and came to a village of about twelve houses, in which were seven women who were so large that there was not one among them who was not a span and a half taller than myself.

When they saw us they were very much frightened, and the principal one among them, who seemed certainly a discreet woman, led us by signs into a house and had refreshments prepared for us.

They were such large women that we were about determining to carry off two of the younger
ones as a present to our king; but while we were debating this subject, thirty-six men entered the hut where we were drinking. They were of such great stature that each one was taller when upon his knees than I when standing erect.

In fact, they were giants; each of the women appeared a Penthesilia, and the men Antei. When they came in, some of our number were so frightened that they did not consider themselves safe, for they were armed with very large bows and arrows, besides immense clubs made in the form of swords.

Seeing that we were small of stature they began to converse with us, in order to learn who we were and from what parts we came. We gave them fair words, and answered them, by signs, that we were men of peace and intent only upon seeing the world. Finally, we held it our wisest course to part from them without questioning in our turn; so we returned by the same path in which we had come–they accompanying us quite to the sea-shore, till we went aboard the ships.”

Serpents (Amerigo Vespucci, by Frederick A. Ober)

“We noticed that they were roasting a certain animal that looked like a serpent; it had no wings, and was so disgusting in appearance that we were astonished at its deformity. As we went through their huts or tents, we found many of these serpents alive.

Their feet were tied, and they had a cord about their snouts so that they could not open their mouths, as dogs are sometimes muzzled so they may not bite. These animals had such a savage appearance that none of us durst turn one over, thinking they might be poisonous. They are about the size of a kid, about the length and a half of a man’s arm, and have long, coarse feet armed with large nails.

Their skin is hard, and they are of various colors. They have the snout and face of a serpent, and from the nose there runs a crest, passing over the middle of the back to the root of the tail. We finally concluded that they were serpents, and poisonous; yet, nevertheless, they were eaten by the natives.”

“After having sailed about four hundred leagues, continually along the coast, we concluded that this land was a continent, which might be bounded by the eastern parts of Asia, this being the commencement of the western parts of the continent, because it happened that we saw divers animals, such as lions, stags, goats, wild hogs, rabbits, and other land animals which are not found in islands, but only on the main-land.

Going inland one day with twenty men, we saw a serpent all of twenty-four feet in length and as large in girth as myself. We were very much afraid, and the sight of it caused us to return immediately to the sea. Oft times, indeed, I saw many ferocious animals and enormous serpents.

Shan Hai Jing

This famous Chinese book is at least 2000 years old. Among the animals presented are certainly examples of mythology or of dubious factuality. But how can anyone deny that this creature menacing a stag and a goat from the air, with bats wings and a long serpentine/pterosaur-like tail is in fact a representation of a pterosaur?

“Shan Hai Jing (traditional Chinese: ???; simplified Chinese: ???; pinyin: Sh?nh?i J?ng; Wade-Giles: Shan Hai Ching; literally “Collection of the Mountains and Seas”) is a Chinese classic text that is at least 2,000 years old. It is largely a fabled geographical and cultural account of pre-Qin China as well as a collection of mythology. The book is about 31,000 words long, and is divided into eighteen sections; it describes ver 550 mountains and 300 channels.

The exact author of the book and the time it was written at is still undetermined. It was originally thought that mythical figures such as Yu the Great or Boyi wrote the book. However, the consensus among modern Chinese scholars is that this book was not written at a single time by a single author, but rather by numerous people from the period of the Warring States to the beginning of the Han Dynasty.

Its first known editor was Liu Xiang from the Western Han, who was connected to several works on Confucian classics. Later Guo Pu, a scholar from the Western Jin, made a further annotation to it, including a few others.


The book is not a narrative, as the “plot” involves detailed descriptions of locations in the cardinal directions of the Mountains, Regions Beyond Seas, Regions Within Seas, and Wilderness. The descriptions are usually of medicines, animals, and geological features. Many descriptions are very mundane, and an equal number are fanciful or strange. Each chapter follows roughly the same formula, and the whole book is extremely repetitious in this way.

It does contains many short myths, and most rarely exceed a paragraph. The most famous ancient Chinese myth from this book is that of the ancient Chinese figures, such as Great Yu, who spent years trying to control the deluge.

The account of him is in the last chapter, chapter 18, in the 2nd to last paragraph (roughly verse 40). This account is a much more fanciful account than the depiction of him in the Classic of History. In Anne Birrell’s translation, Nüwa is not present in a flood story, but another account of her is very briefly touched on in chapter 16″. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Egyptian Rock Crystal Ewer
Egypt (Fatimid)
10th-11th century.

We won’t say much about this winged creature attacking a full grown goat and in fact dwarfing it. The beak is not that of a raptor such as an eagle (not curved) and the long neck and wing shape at least make an identification of a pterosaur at least possible.

Rock crystal Carved from a single block of rock crystal, this ewer is a work of outstanding quality. It is one of a series that survives in collections across Europe.

They are often in cathedral treasuries, where they were rededicated after being captured from the ir original Islamic settings. Made in Egypt in the late tenth century, this ewer is exquisitely decorated with fantastic birds, breasts and twisting tendrils. The Treasure of Caliph Mostansir-Billah at Cairo, which was destroyed in 1062, apparently contained 1800 rock crystal vessels. Only a few of these have survived to bear witness to the splendour of the Egyptian caliphs, this example being one of them.

Great skill was required to hollow out the raw rock crystal without breaking it and to carve the delicate, often very shallow, decoration.

The ewer was made in Egypt about the year 1000 of the Christian era. It is a masterpiece of Islamic craft. Sophisticated techniques were required to hollow-out a massive piece of the super-hard rock crystal into a vessel whose walls are mere millimetres thick. The magical clarity achieved was prized by contemporaries as a mystical combination of the properties of air and water.

Difficulties of working the surface reduced decoration to a severe simplicity. After the looting of Cairo’s treasuries, the ewer found its way to Europe where it was transferred to Christian use and admired as a marvel of exotic beauty.

The hunting scenes indicate its original use was secular, as part of a lost Islamic world of courtly life with wine, poetry and music. Rock crystal – like Chinese celadon – was believed to shatter on contact with poison…a comment on the fragility of beauty itself.
Stephen Bayley, Guest Curator

Few objects evoke the richness of mediaeval Islamic culture as much as the small group of carved rock crystal ewers made for the court of the Fatimid rulers of Cairo in the late 10th and early 11th centuries. ….

Fatimid rulers conquered Egypt in 969 and renamed their new capital city Al-Qahira (The Triumphant), which remains the Arabic name for Cairo. Ewers were amongst the works of art made in varied media to reflect this name through their cultural opulence.

Such lavishness could not be maintained indefinitely and by the mid 11th century the state had become so impoverished that much of the Royal Treasury had to be sold, explaining the sudden dispersal of these ewers; a “fire sale” which was recorded by a Fatimid Treasury official in Kitab al-Dhakhai’ir w’al-Tuhaf (The Book of Gifts and Rarities).

Carved from a single piece of flawless rock crystal, which is as hard as toughened steel, the ewers were hollowed out and then carved by hand with extraordinary finesse, leaving a surface in the thinner areas that is only a couple of millimeters thick.

Almost all surviving examples have come through cathedral treasuries and each is decorated with animal groups associated with hunting, surrounded by arabesque designs. Of the other six examples, one is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, having been bought privately in 1862 (decorated with a hawk attacking a deer); two are in the treasury of the Basilica of San Marco, Venice (one decorated with a lion, the other a ram); one is in the Cathedral of Fermo, Italy (decorated with a falcon); another is in the Louvre, having been in the treasury of the royal Abbey of Saint Denis, Paris (decorated with a small falcon), and one well-documented ewer (decorated with falcons) which was stolen from the museum in Limoges in 1980. In 1998 another example in the Pitti Palace, Florence decorated with partridges), was apparently broken beyond repair…..Christie’s