Copiapó (Chile) Flying Creature Sighting (1868)

EnolaGaia

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While rummaging around in the 'Net I ran across the cryptid illustration below.

Copiapo-CreaturesFromElsewhere.jpg

This got my attention, and I wondered what FTMB may have thought about this particular sighting.

I can't find any mention of it on FTMB, so I'm starting this thread on it (FWIW).
 

EnolaGaia

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This time-slip blog page:

http://time-slips.blogspot.com/2010/11/idle-thought-copiapo-case.html

Provides the following factoids:

- The story was originally reported (in Spanish) in the newspaper El Constituyente on March 18, 1868, based on a letter submitted to the paper.

- The contemporary English version of the story derives from an anonymous letter published in the journal Zoologist (2d ser., iii.1868, p. 1295) under the title 'A Strange Bird'.

The blog quotes the English version as follows:

"A STRANGE BIRD"
Copiapo, Chile, April 1868:

"Yesterday, at about five o'clock in the afternoon when the daily labours in this mine were over, and all the workmen were together awaiting their supper, we saw coming through the air, from the side of The Ternera a gigantic bird, which at first sight we took for one of the clouds then partially darkening the atmosphere, supposing it to have been separated from the rest by the wind.

Its course was from north—west to south—east; its flight was rapid and in a straight line. As it was passing a short distance above our heads we could mark the strange formation of its body.

Its immense wings were clothed with something resembling the thick and stout bristles of a boar, while on its body, elongated like that of a serpent, we could only see brilliant scales which clashed together with metallic sound as the strange animal turned its body in its flight."
 

oldrover

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While rummaging around in the 'Net I ran across the cryptid illustration below.

This got my attention, and I wondered what FTMB may have thought about this particular sighting.

I can't find any mention of it on FTMB, so I'm starting this thread on it (FWIW).

All I can say is that I used to have the book that picture comes from. I haven't seen it for yeas, but I sort of recall there might have been mention of a metallic clanking noise from the scales o the breast as it flew overheard.

Thanks for posting that.
 

oldrover

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"we could only see brilliant scales which clashed together with metallic sound as the strange animal turned its body in its flight."

Right again.
 

EnolaGaia

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All I can say is that I used to have the book that picture comes from....

Sorry - I neglected to cite the book. It's:

Creatures from Elsewhere: Weird Animals that No-One Can Explain
Peter Brookesmith
 

David Plankton

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This got my attention, and I wondered what FTMB may have thought about this particular sighting.

Apart from the metallic scales part, I always thought this could be down to a misidentified condor. (I had the book also)

I've been searching unsuccessfully to try and find a sound clip of said bird to see if it's in any way 'metallic'.

The Andean Condor would fit location-wise, but look how weird the Californian Condor looks -

California-Condor.jpg
 

oldrover

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Sorry - I neglected to cite the book. It's:

Creatures from Elsewhere: Weird Animals that No-One Can Explain
Peter Brookesmith

That's the one. I was given my copy by my then girlfriend's father.
 

oldrover

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Apart from the metallic scales part, I always thought this could be down to a misidentified condor. (I had the book also)

I've been searching unsuccessfully to try and find a sound clip of said bird to see if it's in any way 'metallic'.

The Andean Condor would fit location-wise, but look how weird the Californian Condor looks -

View attachment 11764

I'm always very dubious about rationalising this sort of thing with existing animals, or at least proposing candidates, but yeah. It does seem like a potential explanation.
 

David Plankton

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You know when sometimes you see crows in the summer and the sun hits their wings at a certain angle it appears white, shiny. Metallic?
 

EnolaGaia

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FWIW ... I ran across a couple of UFO sites that mentioned this 1868 sighting and tried to re-interpret it as a UFO rather than a cryptid.

My guess is that the UFO folks were keying on the report's claims of the mystery figure's rapid speed and straight-line trajectory.
 

EnolaGaia

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The sighting allegedly occurred circa 1700 local time, as the miners were coming out of the mine for a dinner break. I can't find any clues as to how long it was between exiting the mine and seeing the anomalous object in the sky.

My point is that there may be issues of transient visual acuity and eye adjustments here ...
 

oldrover

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You know when sometimes you see crows in the summer and the sun hits their wings at a certain angle it appears white, shiny. Metallic?

Yes, I've seen that on few species. And there are also many species with iridescent breast feathers.

The sighting allegedly occurred circa 1700 local time, as the miners were coming out of the mine for a dinner break. I can't find any clues as to how long it was between exiting the mine and seeing the anomalous object in the sky.

My point is that there may be issues of transient visual acuity and eye adjustments here ...

Which is a point, but in these cases I think none of the above can come into play as there's nothing to suggest that the incident has any factual basis, as in if the sighting (whatever prompted it) ever took place.
 

EnolaGaia

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... Which is a point, but in these cases I think none of the above can come into play as there's nothing to suggest that the incident has any factual basis, as in if the sighting (whatever prompted it) ever took place.

True ...

Something else that occurred to me ...

The printing of fantastic, if not outright spurious, newspaper stories during the 'silly season' (typically July through September; during summer doldrums) is a well-known phenomenon in North America.

I wonder if there was a similar 'silly season' for tall tales in 19th century South American publishing, and if it happened to occur from January through March south of the equator.
 

oldrover

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True ...

Something else that occurred to me ...

The printing of fantastic, if not outright spurious, newspaper stories during the 'silly season' (typically July through September; during summer doldrums) is a well-known phenomenon in North America.

I wonder if there was a similar 'silly season' for tall tales in 19th century South American publishing, and if it happened to occur from January through March south of the equator.

I think that this sort of reporting was pretty ubiquitous back then.
 

Sharon Hill

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The head looks like and the noise resembles a giant grasshopper/locust. They click when they fly away.
 

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Metallic sound? A UFO mistaken for a flying animal?
 

EnolaGaia

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Metallic sound? A UFO mistaken for a flying animal?

There are some UFO sites that list this sighting based on that theory.
 

Cavynaut

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Bulging/ glowing red eyes eh? That's something of a constant for cryptids.
 

JamesWhitehead

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I'm pretty sure that striking picture is in The Unexplained Magazine. I may check later, though the Index to that wondrous compendium of cobblers is almost surreal in its ability to omit major articles under obvious key-words. :dunno:
 

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How about an eagle which had just caught a snake? From below it could like one animal with feathered wings but with scales on the torso and a long snake like tail.
 

EnolaGaia

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How about an eagle which had just caught a snake? From below it could like one animal with feathered wings but with scales on the torso and a long snake like tail.

I've seen that theory put forward on one or more of the forum sites I visited when looking for this story. This seems like a workable explanation for the bit about a sinuous tail.
 
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