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Thursday, 17 February 2011

DALE DRINNON: Amphiteres=Anhingas in the New World

I had an early blog that spoke of a 'Quetzalcoatl' reported by James Churchward in his Lost Continent of Mu books and which I thought was an Anhinga or Snakebird.

(Blog Posting of December 14, 2009)
And the blog posting includes the line, "This version of the 'Flying serpent' is actually also demonstrable in Mexican folklore and said to raid livestock. That tradition would also be based on sightings of anhingas."

On internet sites for dragon lore, the New World Flying Serpents are referred to as Amphiteres, the bestiary name for presumably legless dragons but nonetheless with feathered wings. This despite the fact that they are sometimes portrayed with short legs and even duck feet on occasion.
Mexican Winged Serpent
[Mexican Folk-art Winged Serpent]
[Anhinga on ground]

Evidently such winged serpents were the origin of some very early and very exaggerated stories of winged lake monster serpents or devil birds reported in the old southwest, the Rio Grande area and Southern California. These were said to raid cattle and sleep in the lakes or streams but also to arise into the air like regular birds. The more exaggerated legends make them out to be fifty feet or more but they were also said to be the size of a man or about 5-6 feet long. [5-6 feet long is a common estimate in more recent Flying Serpent stories] The Elizabeth Lake monster in California in the 1700s and 1800s was most recently said to be a huge dragon 50 feet long with six legs, but at the same time a man was supposed to have grappled with it one-to-one and sent it packing. That sounds as if it were supposed to be of about the same size as the man. I believe Lindsay has an archived blog on the legends of that lake monster.
[Mexican Amphithere]
S. American amphithere
[S. American amphithere: Sightings in Jungle-Peru and Bolivia: pretty close to Anhinga head, neck and wings. Some Anhingas are dark blue or dark green (males)]

In South America the TRADITION was found as far south as Northern Argentina and Chile during the colonial days but I don't think any recent reports come out of those regions more recently. Traditions in both North and South America have gotten confused with thunderbirds because the legends call them dragons and vastly exaggerate their size.
Anhinga-Flying Serpent
[Anhinga=Flying Serpent or Devil Bird]

I hypothesize that in former days the Anhingas had occasional ranges, which included southern California and other parts of the southwest USA and Mexico, and also further to the south in northern Argentina, but that they ceased using these areas by 1800 due to human activity in these areas.
[Range map for Anhinga anhinga. Another species is in Florida]
[Female Anhinga]


  1. I got a message back about this blog posting that I thought was worth sharing:

    I have almost no interest in cryptozoology...but that article was so interesting I had to bookmark it and come back to the blog....later.....getting 200 emails a day, I wonder if I ever will have time....not to mention living a normal life....24 hours a day is not enough... reminds me of Rachmaninoff, he said music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime isn't long enough for music.......John

  2. Large anhinga fossils have been collected and described from northern South America, it would be possible that it is a separate large species.

  3. Map is wrong, Anhinga is indigenous to Florida year-round.

  4. Different species, at least according to the people that made the map.


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