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1890, April 20: The Tombstone Monster

On April 26, 1890, the Tombstone Epitaph, newspaper of Tombstone, Arizona, USA, reported a very strange occurrence.

        According to the newspaper, on Sunday, April 20, two ranchers were returning from a trip to the Huachuca mountains (about 38 miles south-west of Tombstone), when they discovered a huge winged monster resting on the desert between the Huachucas and the Whetstone mountains. The beast -- described as resembling an alligator with an extremely long tail and giant wings -- lifted into the air to escape, but was apparently exhausted when found, and capable of making only short flights at the time. After the initial shock of the moment had passed, the two ranchers, winchester rifles in hand, rode after the fantastic critter. After chasing the monster for several miles as it presumably kept taking a series of short flights to escape them, the men finally had it in range and opened fire on the gigantic creature. It turned to attack, but "owing to its exhausted condition" was easily evaded by the men who kept shooting at the animal, which soon partly rolled over and became motionless.

        The ranchers took time out to examine and measure their strange prize: from head to tail-tip it measured ninety-two feet, with a greatest diameter of about fifty inches. The animal only had two feet, a short distance in front of where the wings were attached to the body. The head alone was eight feet long, with jaws thickly set with straight, sharp teeth, and eyes the size of a dinner plate that protruded out of the head. The wingspan of the beast was an astounding 160 feet from wingtip to wingtip! The animal's body had no hair or feathers, just smooth skin which was easily penetrated by a bullet; the wings were nearly transpaprent membranes.

        The story had reached Tombstone on Friday, April 25, when one of the ranchers had come to town for supplies, and announced his intention to skin the monster. The last word written on the topic by the paper was that the rancher and several prominant men of the town were hoping to bring the body to Tombstone before it was mutilated.

Modern Edits

        I myself haven't checked further yet but many other researchers claim that nothing more was printed on the matter above, which triggers a number of alarms... newspapers through the 1800's are fairly famous for publishing false news stories for a variety of reasons -- gullible editors, bored writers, or looking for a boost in sales -- and the Tombstone Monster could very easily be an example of one, especially if nothing more is said of it.

        With that said, it should also be noted that a number of authors out there include this account -- minus details of the monster's appearance -- among a short list of reports from the 1800's and early 1900's that are supposed to evidence for the survival of pterodactyl type dinosaurs. I'll be adding the other claimed reports as I get a chance, but from the details above it's clear the Tombstone Monster in no way resembled any known dinosaur.