The below photos show a Native American style Thunderbird Mask in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The caption accompanying the mask reads: “The Thunderbird legend tells of the Great Chief who lived in the highest mountain. At one time a great flood threatened to engulf the world. Lightning flashed four times, and a Thunderbird, a mythical creature from the sky, appeared, transformed itself into a human being, and came to the rescue of the Great Chief”.
The Thunderbird is of particular interest to Forteans as there is a long standing legend of a real life flesh and blood Thunderbird, this cryptozoological legend has even apparently been photographed. The story goes that: “in April 1890, two cowboys in Arizona killed a giant birdlike creature with an enormous wingspan. It was said to have had smooth skin, featherless wings like a bat and a face that resembled an alligator. This description has some similarity to that of a prehistoric pterodactyl, an animal whose existence was known at the time. They are supposed to have dragged the carcass back to town, where it was pinned with wings outstretched across the entire length of a barn. A picture of this event may have been published in the local newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph. Cryptozoology.com has an account of this story with the events taking place in the state of Texas”.
What is especially interesting to Forteans is that many people seem to remember seeing the rumoured photo of the Thunderbird, but no one has ever been able to find a copy of it. It is easy to believe that the mythical Thunderbird photo does not in actuality exist and the common memory of seeing the photo in the dim and distant past is some form of creation of the Fortean hive mind, a self-generated false memory. But then again the photo may exist, so do keep looking!
Pictures, Edinburgh (October 2011)