I rarely mention jaws that snap or claws that scratch. I write more on featherless features of long-tailed creatures, emphasizing both non-bird and non-bat evidence from eyewitnesses, and I warn against a weakness in Western mentality, pleading for self-inoculation against the intellectual danger of bulverism. Laying aside those points, I’ve recently read the cryptozoology book Bird From Hell, not the best or second-best living-pterosaur nonfiction but it warns us of a more down-to-earth danger. It’s now time to mention what often captivates readers: teeth with an appetite to bite.
I hope that no pterosaur was responsible for any of the human deaths in British Columbia, Canada, along the 500-mile stretch of highway from Prince George to Prince Rupert, but I also hope that all attacks from irresponsible humans, against innocent human victims, will cease, and that this world will become a paradise in which death itself will cease. Notwithstanding all our hopes for the future, however, we now face a present danger, a warning from Gerald McIsaac, author of Bird From Hell, who believes that “most of the hitchhikers [on this highway at night] who disappear have been killed by this animal. It is also my opinion that many of the people who have disappeared have not been reported.”
Chapter Eight, “Highway of Tears,” in Bird From Hell reveals, “Amnesty International estimates that since 1969, thirty-two women and girls, most of them Aboriginal, have disappeared along that highway.” Nobody denies that some women and girls in this part of Canada are victims of abuse at home and that some of them hitchhike on this highway, making themselves vulnerable at night. But the general human population, at least the Native Americans in one area of northern British Columbia, keep indoors at night to avoid the “devil bird,” and some eyewitnesses of that flying creature have been attacked by an animal with wings, when those persons have stayed outside after sunset.
Of course it is possible that aboriginals are superstitious and that all the missing persons, over the decades, who have walked that long highway at night were attacked by human rapists and murderers; that seems possible on the surface. But animalistic humans do not fit all the reported encounters at night in British Columbia, according to the book Bird From Hell.
What about the dead horse mentioned in that book? Much of its body was found by a tree. Of course ordinary non-human predators could be responsible, or so it seems. But why were parts of its body in the top of that tree, with some of the branches broken?
What about the girl in Kwadacha (northern British Columbia)? She was outside one dark night, when it seemed that “one of the boys” was spying on her. She was big for her age, and decided to teach him a lesson by charging him. At the end of the charge, she came to a stop. It was not one of the boys . . . She was facing a creature that she later called the “devil bird.” It released a “cloud of smoke” and flew away. Whatever the species of that flying creature, pterosaur, whatever, it was not one of the boys or one of the animalistic humans who have attacked girls on the Highway of Tears.
I don’t believe everything that I’ve read in Bird From Hell, but other cryptozoology books mention “pterodactyl attacks,” even when a different name is used for the flying creature. Take one account in the pioneering nonfiction On the Track of Unknown Animals, by Bernard Heuvelmans:
Coming straight at me only a few feet above the water was a black thing the size of an eagle. . . . its lower jaw hung open and bore a semicircle of pointed white teeth set about their own width apart from each other. . . . And just before it became too dark to see, it came again, hurtling back down the river, its teeth chattering, the air “shss-shssing” as it was cleft by the great, black, dracula-like wings. . . . the brute made straight for George. He ducked.
Those are the words of the well-known biologist-explorer Ivan T. Sanderson (1911-1973). Within minutes, a large flying creature had dived straight at a human twice; I would call that behavior “attacking.”
I have read other reports of early-to-mid twentieth-century attacks, in Africa, from pterosaur-like flying creatures; but in late-2004 I did more than read: I led a small expedition on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, where I interviewed an old villager who encountered a strange flying creature. Micheal told me that he had witnessed, in 1949, the glowing ropen one night, when it dug up and carried away a human body that had just been buried in a grave in Gomlongon Village. I would not call that behavior “attacking,” for the man was already dead, but it was extremely rude to the family and friends of the deceased. If I were a resident of Umboi Island, I would not allow my children to wander too far, alone at night. And if I were a resident of northern British Columbia, I would avoid a long walk at night.