Utah’s Flying Prehistoric Monster

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 15th, 2010

Pittsburgh Press

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

September 3, 1903


Half Bird and Half Reptile Carries

Away Live Horses.

A terrible, nameless, unclassified creature of the animal world is exciting
the curiosity, wonder and fear of occasional visitors to Stansbury Island,
in the southern portion of Great Salt Lake.

This monster, for it can be called nothing else, has lately, it is said,
been seen by several persons, but the best account of its characteristics
and movements is given by Martin Gilbert and John Barry, two hunters who
this week returned from an expedition over the island, in the course of
which they studied the habits of this hitherto unheard-of creature for three

The monster, which appears to be almost equally at home in the air[,] on the
beach, or submerged in the briny waters of Salt Lake, is probably the sole
survivor of a prehistoric species. It is doubtless the last representative
of a family whose other members, dead ages since, have left the testimony of
their existence in the primeval rocks of the mountains.

Arranging in concise form the description of this incredible relic of the
animal world, from the accounts given by those who have observed it at close
range, it seems in plain, unscientific language a combination of fish,
alligator and bat.

In size it is simply tremendous. Gilbert places its length at 50 feet,
while Barry, who is an amateur scientist, says that an examination of its
tracks demonstrates that the monster must be at least 65 feet from head to

The head is like that of an alligator[,] the eyes fiercely glowing, the
jaws, capable of opening to a distance of 10 feet from the top of the upper
to the lower, are provided with a fearful array of sharp saw-edged teeth,
the body, so far as observation goes, is increased with heavy, horny scales.
As to this Gilbert and Barry are not positive, as the constant diving of the
beast, if such it may be called, into the strong brine of the lake has
incrusted it with a thick coating of salt, which save near the wings
completely hides the body.

It is due to this unusual phenomenon that the hunters obtained their first
sight of the monster. According to their account they first sighted it at a
distance of between one and a half and two miles. The day was clear, the
sun intensely bright. Gilbert’s own words of the discovery are:

“We were walking westward from the east shore of the island about 9 o’clock
in the morning when suddenly to the northwest there appeared a thing. I
don’t know what to call it. It looked to me like a brilliant rainbow folded
into compact mass, moving rapidly through the air.

“In three or four minutes the monster’s position was such that it no longer
reflected the sunlight directly toward us, and we would then discern the
outline of the form. Its wings were bat-like, stretching out over a great
expanse. I should say at least 100 feet from tip to tip. The tail was
proportionately short, and resembled that of a huge fish. We were not close
enough at this time to tell much about the head, only we saw that the jaws
were very long. In shape the head was like that of a crocodile.

“We watched it disappear in the gathering gloom of night, but were for a
long time paralyzed with fear, not knowing when it might return. It was
probably an hour later when it did come back.

“We heard the swish of the mighty wings before it could be seen, but as it
drew nearer, by the light of the young moon in the West, we saw that it
carried in its great jaws a large horse, which I supposed it had swooped
down upon while feeding. The horse was badly crushed and mangled.

“The monster carried its burden into the cave, and we could hear the
crunching of its jaws and the cracking of the horse’s bones as the beast
devoured its victim. After an hour or so all was so still, and then [we]
slipped quietly away in the darkness and returned to our cmap on the eastern
shore of the island.” – Salt Lake City Co., Denver [Colorado] News.
In addition to the other thoroughly unbelievable elements, we are asked to believe, apparently, that this sighting consumed an entire day. — Jerome Clark

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

6 Responses to “Utah’s Flying Prehistoric Monster”

  1. Desert Dave responds:

    Utah’s Flying etc.

    This story makes perfect sense to me. There is also in that area and through out the southwest the lovely “sacra datura” . If one, having knowledge of the powers of this blessed flower, chooses to venture forth on a path of enlightenment by partaking in the joys this flower has to offer, then indeed….a giant condor, a red tailed hawk, turkey vulture or raven would have no problem giving an aerial lift to its unfortunate prey-an unsuspecting mustang of the wild wild west.

  2. JungleHusky responds:

    Quote from article: “The head is like that of an alligator…”

    Reminds me of a large reptilian creature thought to exist in Japan that was revealed to be three crocodiles attempting to breed on top of each other, as mentioned in “The Field to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep” by Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe.

    However there are key differences between that case and this one as the sounds of wings are described in this report.

    Quote: ““We watched it disappear in the gathering gloom of night, but were for a
    long time paralyzed with fear, not knowing when it might return. It was
    probably an hour later when it did come back.”

    The first part essentially is worded to attract attention, example “gathering gloom”, the combined sound of those two words initially leads me to believe the person writing this was a skilled writer
    a) trying to make the report more appealing
    b) just randomly used those two words in that order

    The last part seems very odd as unless I was on an expedition, I would not stick around for an hour to monitor if a creature with the head of an aligator came back for a “second round”.

    Ultimately I believe there could be a thread of truth to this report. On September 6, 1903 a full moon was present see (http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/moonphases.html?year=1903&n=220)
    … and although this report was published on the 3rd, the Moon certainly could been called “young” which would be consistant with the reported claim that “as it
    drew nearer, by the light of the young moon in the West, we saw that it
    carried in its great jaws a large horse”. I cannot verify the horse aspect but I encourage anyone to check the moon place during 1903 as well as any other source which can be verified as to conclude the authenticity of Utah’s fabled monster.

  3. E responds:

    No wonder people don’t take CZ seriously after stories like this. I still hope it to be true, but the chances are rather slim.

  4. Ken Hulsey responds:

    This one reminds me a lot of the Elizabeth Lake Monster here in Ca and the flying reptile repoted in Texas in the 1970s.

    The monster of Elizabeth Lake was described as…” having bat wings, the neck of a giraffe, the head of a bulldog, six legs, a length of at least fifty feet.”

    It also had a taste for cattle.

    As a matter of coincidence, I just happen to own some property on the lake…….and Bigfoot has been seen in the area as well.

    As for the flying dinosaur in Texas, when my family and I lived there, I was scared to go out and play, for fear that the monster would swoop down and attack me.

    I was, of course, only 8 at the time.

    So, you see these stories pop up quite often….though this one kinda sounds like a “Transformer”, goes from airplane (flying reptile) to submarine (lake monster).

    The Elisabeth Lake Monster was said to do the same.

  5. Leslie responds:

    In the story it says that it was 9 o’clock in the morning when they spotted this thing, flying around in the sunlight. Then they are watching it “disappear in the gathering gloom of night”. Sounds suspicious to me.

  6. valst responds:

    I love professional debunkers; the “author” of this post wonders is a skeptic because “we are expected to believe that this sighting took all day” and yet another thinks its suspicious because in the course of the report both 9am and the gloom of night are mentioned. This story was reported to the writer who then wrote the story… Don’t you think that if he thought the story jumped from morning to night that he would have found that inconsistent himself?

    In other words, only someone in retrospect was genius enough to notice these “fatal” details? The problem is that the writer didn’t communicate the story well enough to fill in those details for some readers, but clearly he was smart enough to decide if the story hung together, or he wouldn’t have reported it.

    As I understand it, they were there three days..

    Here is another “version” of this story with a drawing if the alleged monster.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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