Member of The Crypto Crew:

Please Also Visit our Sister Blog, Frontiers of Anthropology:

And the new group for trying out fictional projects (Includes Cryptofiction Projects):

And Kyle Germann's Blog

And Jay's Blog, Bizarre Zoology

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Quetzalcoatl is Euryapsid, Too

Quetzalcoatl is a Euryapsid, too.

Quetzalcoatl, The Feathered or Crested or Plumed Serpent, is the American Dragon. That
is no small statenment as Quetzalcoatl holds the equivalent position in Mesoamerican society that the Dragon (Lung) holds in China. It is a fearsome but benificent deity associated with rain and fertility of the crops. But the two are of very different appearance apart from both being serpentine with a crest along the back and more exaggerated around the head, and a similarly-depicted tail.
I am not for the moment concerned with the "Big Bird" Quetzalcoatl which is post-conquest and which is really more of a White Man's invention. That is a subject I have dealt with separately under the heading of Churchward's "Quetzalcoatl", an anhinga.

Being the equivalent of a Chinese Dragon (and presumably a Merhorse by inferrance, the "Mane" interpreted as feathers this time around)
The Quetzalcoatls are shown doing something rather odd. Some of the Chinese depictions mentioned under the Taotie description mentions that the Taotie creature is said to do damage to its victims but to leave the body intact. Sometimes the Taotie (or even a regular Lung Dragon) is shown holding a decapitated human head in its jaws. And the tradition that the creature kills human beings but does not eat them and leaves the body intact is said of the Mokele-Mbembe or Congo Dragon.

My explanation of this goes to the body of tradition to look at interactions between Longnecks and seals. The older tradition about the Icelandic Skrimsl was that it decapitated seals and sank ships, according to Heuvelmans. Single Longnecks have been seen fighting groups of seals in Cornwall and off Vancouver island. It seems that the Longneck will seize the seal (or sea lion) by the head and then whip it around to break its neck, and sometimes decapitating the victim. But it does not eat the bodies of the creatures it has slain because its throat is not wide enough for the victim to go down. But it WILL kill them, presumably because it is a male being territorial. And it does seem that all the creatures reported doing this are the biggest (Maned) males. What seems also to be the case is that when moved to kill annoying human beings, the longneck will grab the human by the head and treat it as if it were a seal (it is said that attacks by the great white shak can happen because the shark mistakes a human swimming in the water for a seal, its more usual prey)
I do not know why the "Jonah and the whale" stories became attached to the Longnecks because the creatures are specifically said NOT to swallow humans, their throats are too small. Presumably this only comes about because "Sea-serpents" are thought to be real snakes.

However this current posting takes note that many depictions of Quetzalcoatls make a point of indicating a curlicue at the back of the head and behind the eye. The famous portrait heads on the pryamis at Teotihuacan, Mexico City (as shown to the right) show this most prominently, and it also occurs in such famous depictions as the one at the top of this blog (as copied by one of the artists at Deviant Art) which also indicates the curlicue.

It was stated in the Wikipedia Taotie article that some sculpted masks in Mesoamerica resemble the Taotie design in plan, and I suggest these are also intending to indicate that the local Mesoamerican Dragon is also a Euryapsid, with the diagnostic openings behind the eyes. And these later Quetzalcoatls from Teotihuacan definitely seem to be so.

Some writers to this blog have questioned me as to whether Dragon's heads could not simply be representations of conventional snake heads and the indications that I prtesume to be Euryapsid openings could be mistaken from ordinary snake heads. My reply has always been, that is NOT what an ordinary snake's skull looks like, snakes' skulls have no corresponding structures that would be represented that way. For comparison, here are two views of a rattlenake skull, the one being clip art and the second taken from an online dealer's catalogue:

And just to make the comparison clearer, here is a closeup of one of the Teotihuacan Quetzalcoatls and below, the skull of a mounted Plesiosaur to show the Euryapsid skull openings that correspond to the spiral behind the eye in the sculpture. This spiral is also nothing like the venom gland of a rattlesnake, for example.


  1. In several depictions of Nagas or Oriental Dragons, the limbs are shown as penant-like structures alternating arond bends on the opposite sides of the body,evidently done in a conventional way to indicate flippers. The second picture here (the first colour one) shows something of that natrure. Water Monsters of the Southwestern USA (Avan-yu, etc) show this better and make the "pennants" out more distinctly to be four flippers on a Plesiosaur-shaped body, Some of the depictions also go into more detail about Flipper structure and others indicate the "String-of-buoys" effect. Apart from the Geographical difference, Quetzalcoatl and Avan-Yu (etc) seem to be depicting the same creature.

    Depictions of Quetzalcoatl-like creatures are thought to go back to the first century BC in Mexico, according to the Wikipedia.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  2. Disrespectful and abusive comment by "El Vago" has been deleted. You'll get no postings here that way and you should have known better.

  3. By "euryapsid," you mean venomous snake, right?

  4. By no means do I mean to imply that, I have directly stated the exact opposite. Look at the illustrated snake skulls: the orbits are not complete and there is no bony bar in that space behind the eye. As far as I can tell the heads illustrated for Quetzalcoatls are not like that, they are sturdy skulls with much more bone than shake skulls have, and they indicate a secondary completely enclosed opening behind the eye socket. The pattern is much the same as "Dragon" heads illustrated in other cultures all over the globe, and always there is the same exact problem: snake's skulls are not made that way.

  5. Hey Dale ! I am from Vancouver Canada and am very impressed with your site.
    Not only are you knowledgeable on these great old monsters, you compare them in a way that isn't biasly conclusive. My cousin used the Quetzalcoatls as cover art on one of his CDs but I ended up here interrested in your list of strange creatures as I am writing a script for an ancient GODS story. I want to get it so that it is a Non-fiction movie but in a action/drama//sci-fi sort of way. I marked your site as FAVORITE and will read much more. Thanks.


This blog does NOT allow anonymous comments. All comments are moderated to filter out abusive and vulgar language and any posts indulging in abusive and insulting language shall be deleted without any further discussion.