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Re: ceratopsians - any aboriginal American names? (tales and teratorns)


"> >>Just wondering if anyone knows if American Indians ever found one of
> these >>skulls and if they had a name for it/them?"

Some initial thoughts:
I would highly recommend taking into account post contact migrations (ie. post 
1492 movements). A number of groups expanded onto the plains as a result of 
horses traded north from Mexico prior to Europeans actually entering the area 
(eg. many plains Crees). Other groups expanded into the area as a result of 
pressure from other migrating groups (eg. the Lakota aka. the "Sioux"). It is 
also worth taking into account the fact that many groups have also moved much 
more recently, especially refugees who moved north of the line - so it may be 
difficult to establish who's territories tended to overlap potential sites.

After the mega-fauna extinctions, big game hunting on the plains became quite 
difficult. The high mobility of bison herds (the single significant prey 
species remaining) meant that hunts could only be seasonally successful (prior 
to the introduction of horses). This limited populations in much the same way 
as the Mara Masai migrations limit predator populations on route (lions 
maintain their territories year round and are unable to follow the herd). So, 
it might also be good to look at groups which were farming on the plains prior 
to the little ice age.

Even if successful, any apparent connections found may be fairly difficult to 
substantiate. A mere 12,000 years ago Aboriginal people were encountering two 
species of wolves and four species of bears and six species of cats big enough 
to routinely take humans. We know with some degree of certainty that oral 
tradition contains some memories from this far back. It is likely that many 
stories relate to this period.

I've often wondered about teratorns:
Many illustrations of thunderbirds show small "horns" which I'd advance as a 
patch of feathers shadowing the birds eye (as many visual hunting birds of prey 
have today). More tentatively, it is possible that teratorns took advantage of 
winds produced by storm fronts (leading to an actual association with thunder). 
Finally, I wouldn't be surprised if teratorns migrated into the high arctic 
during the summer months in order to feed on large populations of geese nesting 
there (reports of this migration are from my Grandmother's neighbors in Grand 
Rapids MB).

The first two would be difficult to substantiate - but it may be worthwhile for 
Pleistocene researchers working in the Arctic to keep their eyes open for 
unusually large bird bones...

-Jonas Weselake-George

It is also worth noting that the skulls we find get fitted into existing 
mythologies (eg. concepts of unicorns predate narwhals and cyclops predate 
elephant skulls). As a species we have undoubtedly found fossils for hundreds 
of thousands of years. We tend to attach new discoveries to existing schemas. 
So there could be cycles of forgetting about extinct species, freeing 
mythologies from natural history knowledge, finding bones and fitting them to 
mythologies, finding mythologies and fitting them to contemporary species etc. 
- many possibilities could be true at the same time. 

Of course, as scientists none of us can rule out the existence of mythological 
creatures in a real spirit world. So, this may all be "academic".

On Sun, 01 Nov 2009 19:27:39 -0600
"Box, Rick" <rbox@crateandbarrel.com> wrote:

> >>Just wondering if anyone knows if American Indians ever found one of
> these >>skulls and if they had a name for it/them? 
> This book :
> http://www.amazon.com/Fossil-Legends-First-Americans-Adrienne/dp/0691113
> 459 would be a good place to start looking; the word *triceratops*
> appears many times in the text (but you can only check so much with the
> amazon 'look inside!' feature).
> There seems to be a legend of the 'ancient evil beast.' 
> Rick Box
> Crate and Barrel
> 1250 Techny Road
> Northbrook, Illinois 60062
> T 847.239.6331
> F 
> E rbox@crateandbarrel.com
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Jonas Weselake-George <ee555@ncf.ca>