The Forbidden Valley?
I was seven in 1969 when this Dell comic came out. I spotted it on the kid-level comics rack at Atkins Drug store on South Cobb Drive and thought from it's cover that it must be the single greatest comic ever published. A herd of cowboys versus GIANT Dinosaurs? --Wow! Once I eyeballed the inside art I equated it more to the best Classics-Illustrated comic I'd ever seen.
Though I wound up not actually seeing The Valley of Gwangi movie (a Ray Harryhausen tour-de-force) until a Saturday afternoon in 1979 the dog-eared comic was still around. I guess the idea of cowboys battling dinosaurs in a "forbidden valley" in the old west stayed with me, inspiring more than one epic dream and tall-tale. The sequence where the Wild-West Show-hand wrestles with and breaks the neck of a Pteranadon stood out more than others for some reason. Probably the whole mano-a-mano thing with a prehistoric beastie.
So recently when I was looking for reference on American Indian Thunderbirds for a short film I want to do, I came across these three seemingly civil war-era photographs... and my first thought was (Gypsy whisper) Gwangi!
--and my second was "why haven't I ever seen these before?"
I guess the civil war extended a little further into that ol' forbidden valley than I thought.
Sure, the probability of fakery is 99%, but even still-- what in Holy Hell is this thing?
A rotting Platypus with canvas wings?
Still interesting as to why (and when) these pictures would have been faked to begin with. They're not like pictures of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster or even the Mothman where there's a market for the mania. Plus I've never seen any other "Thunderbird fakes" in books or on the Travel Channel etc. Does that make them any more believable? You decide!