The Legendary Thunderbird Photo

CuriousIdent

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Another possibility is that it only appeared in one or two publications, and since then somebody (or some corporation) has acquired the copyright and never re-published it.
The problem is, nobody can remember these publications where it originally appeared.


Not implausible. I wonder (not wanting to get to conspiracy theorist, here) but do certain Native American tribes consider Thunderbirds to be sacred? If so, is it impossible that somebody with Native American ties purchased and suppressed the photograph?

Yeah. That might be pushing it a bit far. :)

The magazine referred to upthread was Life magazine:

Hi guys,

Just for the record, I have a clear memory of the Thunderbird photograph, although I saw it just under 50 years ago. There's a barn, the critter nailed to it and some 12 men or so lined up in front of it, one of the guys wearing an Abe Lincoln type top hat. I saw it in 1957 in "Life" magazine. We were living in a refugee camp at the time and the magazine was in the communal TV room, where magazines tended to lie around for several months, so it may have been in any issue from 1956/7. If by some bizarre chance anyone has access to the magazine from that period I'm sure its there. I sent this info to Mark Chorvinsky a couple of years ago, but sadly, heard he'd died recently.

Did anybody ever look into this? The post was from 2006.
 

PeteByrdie

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I've seen it posted a fair few times. No idea where that came from. Or indeed if it's a genuine bird. I mean, if it *is* that's incredible, in its own right. But all the same...

The image which most have described doesn't quite match this though. That refers to it being nailed to the wall of a Barn, and with multiple people in the photo. Cowboys, in fact. Or at least of that period. And not in American Civil War costumes. It was also less Bird like and more prehistoric, I believe. I could be wrong.
It's a reconstruction of a teratorn, I believe. That such an impressive beast once flew is astonishing. I also don't think that picture is responsible for the thunderbird photo recollections. It doesn't seem to fit any of the versions mentioned.
 

Monstrosa

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I'm sorry, I didn't explain my self very clearly.
I think that many people have seen either this image or one of the marabou stork images as referenced by Dr Shuker when much younger, later they have come across references to thunderbird pictures, this prompts the little grey cells to go rifling through the mental archives and up comes a conflation of the seen image with what is expected (ie barn, people in old american dress) they say to themselves, "yes I've seen that" and Bingo!
It is a reconstruction of Argentavis magnificens.
 

CuriousIdent

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I'm sorry, I didn't explain my self very clearly.
I think that many people have seen either this image or one of the marabou stork images as referenced by Dr Shuker when much younger, later they have come across references to thunderbird pictures, this prompts the little grey cells to go rifling through the mental archives and up comes a conflation of the seen image with what is expected (ie barn, people in old american dress) they say to themselves, "yes I've seen that" and Bingo!
It is a reconstruction of Argentavis magnificens.

Hardly implausible, sure.

Although I still would not 100% discount that such a photo existed. One of my main concerns about modern digital publishing is that unless a physical copy of *any* document survives some day it will disappear for good.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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I was convinced I remembered it being in here....
20141217_104055 (500x352).jpg

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.......it isn't.
 
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CarlosTheDJ

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I had the individual PG Tips cards, only got the album off eBay a couple of years back - it's got some classics in there all right.
 

GNC

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Do the reports of memories of the thunderbird photo mention if it had feathers or not? Now we know dinosaurs probably had feathers, would it make it less likely to be an authentic memory if nobody had mentioned that detail in the legendary pic?
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Do the reports of memories of the thunderbird photo mention if it had feathers or not? Now we know dinosaurs probably had feathers, would it make it less likely to be an authentic memory if nobody had mentioned that detail in the legendary pic?

Pterosaurs weren't dinosaurs.
 

Nosmo King

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But was the thunderbird a pterosaur and did it have feathers in the memories of those who remember it?
I remember the thunderbird photo being 4 or 5 prospector types standing, holding a huge raptor type bird in front of them, ive seen pretty much all of the images proported to be the thunderbird pic, the civil war soldiers, the nailed to a barn, the stork but the one i reember was not a pterosaur or stork, definately a huge bird with feathers.
 

GNC

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I remember the thunderbird photo being 4 or 5 prospector types standing, holding a huge raptor type bird in front of them, ive seen pretty much all of the images proported to be the thunderbird pic, the civil war soldiers, the nailed to a barn, the stork but the one i reember was not a pterosaur or stork, definately a huge bird with feathers.

Having a look at the mock-ups, it seems you get both feathered and unfeathered varieties mentioned as memories.
 

Nosmo King

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Having a look at the mock-ups, it seems you get both feathered and unfeathered varieties mentioned as memories.
My memory is some sort of huge condor/eagle/vulture type bird
 

Sharon Hill

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Having a look at the mock-ups, it seems you get both feathered and unfeathered varieties mentioned as memories.
Reasonable since it's all derived from people's imaginations of memories.
There isn't a right answer to the questions of what THE "thunderbird" photo really looked like.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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I browsed the entire thread earlier.
Many of the posted links are now dead but, to summarise, both the photos of US Civil War soldiers standing around a supposed downed pterosaur (the Freakylinks one and the canoe one) are confirmed hoaxes and something of a red herring.
The legendary "missing" photo that people recall seeing had a large winged creature - possibly feathered, possibly not, stretched out in front of a barn or similar building.
A brief Google, using these criteria, displays a number of photos and a few sketches.
I won't bother posting the drawings, but I assume the following photos have long since been thoroughly debunked?

tb1.JPGtb2.JPGtb4.JPG
tb5.JPG

Isn't it possible that mock-ups like these have been used in cryptozoological publications and credulous readers took them at face value as genuine photos?

Let's face it, finding an extant pterosaur or even an Argentavis magnificens would be utterly fantastic - but it isn't going to happen and these magnificent creatures haven't graced our skies for millions of years.
 

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Ogdred Weary

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(Copied from the False Memories thread ... )
I wonder if persistent reading/hearing about something can give rise to a false memory? I had a friend who used to tell the story of the time we went to a nightclub and my tights fell down because the elastic waist gave way. She told it most amusingly - the only problem was that she wasn't there when it happened. She couldn't go with us that night and I was there with another friend (who also verified that first friend wasn't there). But she wouldn't have it and swore blind that she'd been there and seen the whole thing, when really she'd just heard us tell the story many times.

I agree, I've noticed that some of my anecdotes have become the anecdotes of friends and family down the years. I don't think I'm guilty of believing other people's memories are my own but I think I've recounted other people's anecdotes as though I was there when I wasn't. Sometimes it's just easer to do so, rather than explaining that someone else related the story to me and I feel that doing that often robs the story of some of its power. I wonder if people start off like that and eventually end up falsely believing they were "there" as it were.

Reading about the mythical "Thunderbird Photo" over the years has, in the past, almost made me feel like I've seen it, even when I'm certain I haven't. There was a letter to FT years ago about a playground tale of giant one eyed centipede under a primary school, the writer said tat just writing about it made them feel as though they had seen it when they knew that this was absurd, reading the letter gave me a very clear image of said beastie under my old primary school and made me feel the memory was my own... Most people are not as analytical or thoughtful as the posters here and probably end up believing all sorts of things through similar processes.
 
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escargot

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Reading about the mythical "Thunderbird Photo" over the years has, in the past, almost made me feel like I've seen it, even when I'm certain I haven't.
There is one though, or several. Or have these been worked up as a joke since people started arguing about it?
 

Cochise

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I agree, I've noticed that some of my anecdotes have become the anecdotes of friends and family down the years. I don't think I'm guilty of believing other people's memories are my own but I think I've recounted other people's anecdotes as though I was there when I wasn't. Sometimes it's just easer to do so, rather than explaining that someone else related the story to me and I feel that doing that often robs the story of some of its power. I wonder if people start off like that and eventually end up falsely believing they were "there" as it were.

Reading about the mythical "Thunderbird Photo" over the years has, in the past, almost made me feel like I've seen it, even when I'm certain I haven't. There was a letter to FT years ago about a playground tale of giant one eyed centipede under a primary school, the writer said tat just writing about it made them feel as though they had seen it when they knew that this was absurd, reading the letter gave me a very clear image of said beastie under my old primary school and made me feel the memory was my own... Most people are not as analytical or thoughtful as the posters here and probably end up believing all sorts of things through similar processes.
I'm certain I've seen it. But is what I've seen a fake?

There is this one (from Reddit) which appears to be in a book.

https://i.redd.it/9fh6oy3l4uz61.jpg

It's not the original, it's a conjectural reconstruction.

But anyways the one I remember had the bird spread out before a hut or similar to a hut with people standing in front.
 
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escargot

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I'm certain I've seen it. But is what I've seen a fake?

There is this one (from Reddit) which appears to be in a book.

https://i.redd.it/9fh6oy3l4uz61.jpg

It's not the original, it's a conjectural reconstruction.

But anyways the one I remember had the bird spread out before a hut or similar of a hut with people standing in front.
I've seen several versions and assumed they were all fake. :wink2:
 

Ogdred Weary

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I'm certain I've seen it. But is what I've seen a fake?

There is this one (from Reddit) which appears to be in a book.

https://i.redd.it/9fh6oy3l4uz61.jpg

It's not the original, it's a conjectural reconstruction.

But anyways the one I remember had the bird spread out before a hut or similar to a hut with people standing in front.

Where did you see it, any idea? How big was the animal? Bird or something else? How many people?
 

Ogdred Weary

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There is one though, or several. Or have these been worked up as a joke since people started arguing about it?

I suspect it's a Fortean myth, maybe there was something to get the ball rolling as it were but I suspect whatever it was was either a fake or an illustration that people have remembered as a photo. Or maybe it's just a very persistent, sticky bit of folklore, it's a lovely idea/story.

Cochise is the first person I've come across who says they've seen it.
 

Cochise

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I've seen several versions and assumed they were all fake. :wink2:
I certainly think all the ones that have some sort of pterodactyl are fake. The one I remember, though, had what looked like an Eagle with about a 12 foot wingspan.
 

Nosmo King

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Where did you see it, any idea? How big was the animal? Bird or something else? How many people?
I swear I have seen the 'Thunderbird' photo, but the photo I have seen is no a prehistoric pterodactyl, but a huge bird of prey, held from behind spreading its wings out by 6 or so prospector types,
 

Ogdred Weary

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I certainly think all the ones that have some sort of pterodactyl are fake. The one I remember, though, had what looked like an Eagle with about a 12 foot wingspan.

Twelve feet isn't that big is it? I mean it's big for an eagle, though apparently the Andean Condor can get to 11ft, could it have been an errant one of those?
 
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