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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Decemystery (2022.3) 21: The Gigantic, Metallic, Aerial Snake-Lobster of Chile


Welcome back to my blog, dear reader. It’s officially the first day of winter, which is nice for those of you who like winter. Personally, I’m more of an autumn and spring guy. Winter signals to me that it’s Decemystery, which I always enjoy doing deep down. It’s a time when I get to test my writing capabilities by jumping from story to story without much of a break. It’s a great deal of fun until I feel like I’m losing my hair. Ah, but whatever; let’s get into today’s mysteries.

Our story today for Decemystery 2022.3 is one that caught my attention due to the name. It’s also one that’s on “Think About It Docs,” which is a website dedicated to UFOs, aliens, and all other things extraterrestrial. Despite that, this story sounds a lot like a cryptid story, but believe me, it isn’t, not in the slightest. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; you’ll see what I mean in due time.

Now, then,  let’s take a trip to South America. The weather is warmer, the wildlife is exotic, and both the UFOs are truly something else. Today, we’ll be discussing one that I call The Gigantic, Metallic, Aerial Snake-Lobster of Chile! Strap in because this is going to be one of the weirdest rides of the month yet.

A New Type of Rock Lobster

I originally found this story on sustained_disgust’s Obscure Unsolved Mysteries Iceberg under the name “Giant Flying Lobster of the Haunted Mine.” I figured I’d change it up since I didn’t want to seem like that much of a thief. Anyway, the link leads to the aforementioned Think About It Docs, with the site’s article being entitled “1868: Enormous bird seen in Copiapó, Chile.” If that name sounds familiar, that’s the area where a group of miners became trapped back in 2010. I have no idea if this took place anywhere near where the mine was located since I don’t know the geography of Chile whatsoever. All I know is that mining is very important in that area (or so says Wikipedia).

The first thing you’ll likely notice on the page is the header image, which is of a pterosaur. Specifically, it appears to be a drawing of a Dsungaripterus. Side note: that link is from a German Wiki; here’s a link to an English one, though that lacks the image. If you’re curious as to why this is there, don’t worry: your question will be answered and replaced by five more very shortly. Anyway, on to the story!

Our story was documented in Chris Aubeck’s book “Return to Magonia.” It occurred on March 17, 1868, in Copiapó, Chile, at 5:00 p.m. (or 17:00 for those of you who use 24-hour time). A group of miners (the exact number isn’t given) had just finished up a hard day of work in the mines. After hopefully cleaning up, they gathered to have dinner. While they waited, they saw something “arrive through the air” near “the side of the mine,” which was known as “La Ternera.” Apparently, that translates to either “The Veal” or “The Beef.” Something tells me that there’s a missing accented letter or two, but La Ternera is a real place—or, at least, a mountain range bearing that name exists. There’s also an area called the La Ternera Formation. However, I wasn’t able to find if either location had a mine, be it in active use or not.

Anyway, that aforementioned “something” was a gigantic bird that was rapidly making its way “from the northeast to the southeast” in a straight line. Initially, the miners believed it to be clouds that were “covering a part of the atmosphere.” I would question how this is possible, but as I’ve said this month, I’ve mistaken animals and creepy crawlers for other things before. I won’t judge people who just spent all day in a mine that harshly.

During the creature’s flight, it flew “just above” the heads of the miners, which I’m pretty sure means that this thing was ridiculously low to the ground. Thanks to this low-flying maneuver, the group got a good look at the thing, and it’s here where everything goes sideways. Up until now, my initial thought was that this was just a bird—maybe an exceptionally large one. However, that’s not even close to being the case, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to cover this story so badly.

According to the miners, this thing had a head akin to a lobster’s and a body like a snake’s. Its wings were “covered in brownish feathers,” while the rest of its body “seemed to be covered in something resembling thick hair, like a sow.” Along with that hair, it also had “bright scales” that were visible. These scales “sounded like metallic pieces” whenever the creature moved them. Rounding things off, it had eyes that were wide open and “bright like embers.”

To the surprise of no one, the miners went from being amazed at the sight above them to being terrified. Some of them later claimed to have smelled something “terrible,” likening it to “arsenic when it is burnt.” For those who don’t know, arsenic is one of the deadliest poisons in the world. It can also be burned (which I wasn’t aware of until I read this). Here’s what the CDC has to say on burning it:

Arsenic is flammable in the form of dust when exposed to heat or flame or by chemical reaction with powerful oxidizers. Arsenic is slightly explosive in the form of dust when exposed to flame. When heated or on contact with acid or acid fumes, arsenic emits highly toxic fumes, including arsine gas.

I found this quite interesting since I’ve heard claims of UFOs having strong odors; I figured it was worth sharing. I take no responsibility if you decide to play with Arsenic, by the way. If you’re dumb enough to do that, I don’t know what to tell you.

Anyway, getting back on track, not all of the miners claimed to be assaulted by the stench. Whether or not they smelled anything noteworthy is not said, but I’d hazard a guess and say they didn’t. Dispensing a foul odor on Earthlings is the hottest new activity for those native to Alpha-Centauri!

What happened after the sighting isn’t stated, which is a major shame. All we have are two anecdotes. The first is that the more superstitious miners thought that the devil was the one who flew over them. That is quite an odd appearance to take, but I won’t judge. I’m not about to go to war with the devil.

The second thing is a lot more eye-catching. Supposedly, others (who I’m guessing were either miners as opposed to the denizens of Copiapó) recalled seeing “a similar monstrous bird” flying over the city some years earlier. However, I was unable to find any record of this.

That would normally be where the story ends, but I wasn’t satisfied with it. By all accounts, that sounds absolutely nothing like a UFO sighting. Rather, it strikes me as a cryptid encounter; specifically, it sounds like an exaggerated Kongamato account. So, I decided to seek out a bit of additional information, which was surprisingly just as easy as it sounded since I got a result right away.

When I looked up Chris Aubeck’s book, I got a result from a site called “Sacred-Texts,” which looks like it was made in the 2000s with its archaic appearance. Or am I just dumb, and websites nowadays still look like this? Either way, the site has documentation of UFO sightings, which means it’s going in my bookmarks for future visitation.

The very first sighting listed on the website is from July 1868, and it’s the story we just went over. Now, I want to say right now that I don’t own Aubeck’s book. It sounds pretty interesting, but both Sacred-Texts and “Magonia Catalog,” which is a Microsoft Office spreadsheet (I think), cite “Fort 638; Anatomy 11.” I don’t know what that means, but the article on Think About It Docs is cited after Aubeck’s book.

Anyway, besides the date being different, there’s a bit more in the summary that’s given on both sites. There is no mention of the miners, let alone a mine. Rather, it’s said that “local people” saw this. Now, in the interest of fairness, it’s possible the miners were locals. However,  given the difference in the date, I believe it’s also possible this sighting occurred after the one we just went over. Unfortunately, I don’t know for certain; personally, I want to believe this sighting took place after the previous one.

The previously-mentioned locals bore witness to a bizarre “aerial construction” with lights “flew low” over Copiapó. It emitted “engine noises” as it flew, which gave me the mental image of something from a steampunk universe. They also said it resembles a “giant bird,” as opposed to some hideous mutation of a snake and a lobster. However, just like with the miners, they said it was coated with “large scales” that produced “a metallic noise.” If only Pinochet had been around to hear of this thing. He would’ve loved it. Why use helicopters when you have a giant metallic bird?

Rounding things off, I want to preface that I cannot verify this myself, but Sacred-Texts and the Magonia Catalog claim the following, and it piqued my interest greatly; take a look:

Although not an actual landing, this is the first instance of close observation of an unknown object at low altitude in the nineteenth century.

There are countless reports of UFO sightings, and there are no doubt more that have gone unreported. So, I doubt this was the first instance of this, but I wanted to share it just in case.

With that, our story comes to an end. I sadly could not find any more, though I’m sure there is a bit more out there somewhere. If you happen to know, by all means share it. Aside from that, this story blew me away. I have never heard of anything like this. I’ve heard numerous reports of dragons, sea monsters, and other bizarre creatures, but never what I can only guess to be a robotic avian. Or maybe a UFO shaped like a pterosaur. Though, this is not the place for that; nay, we have a section just for that. So, let’s dive right into them!


1. One of the strangest UFOs to ever be seen

I want to start off with this theory because it’s the one that lets me discuss pretty much everything I want to say right off the bat. It’s also the one that today’s sources clearly lean toward—and if I’m to be honest, I can’t blame them. Though, I’ll save that for later. For now, I want to fixate on one major flaw with this theory: the lack of any measurements (or even tough guesses) as to how big this thing was.

This was something that really bothered me as the story went on. None of the sources specified how big this thing was. The most I could find was on Think About It Docs, which stated it was an “enormous bird.” That definitely helps, but only so much. Was it the size of a school bus? A train? A Boeing 747? I know this was 1868, but I wish we had something to go off of. Without it, I can’t help but envision this as either a plane-sized Mecha-Rodan or a mechanical parakeet.

Anyway, with that out of the way, this theory does have a bit going for it. Presumably, there were a multitude of witnesses. It also definitely sounds like a machine and not a living being. There are a fair number of stories involving supposed living pterosaurs that have mentioned them attacking humans.

There was also the sighting that purportedly took place years prior to the one involving the miners. Assuming it did happen (and it wasn’t the other version we went over), then it would mean there were quite a few witnesses to this thing. I’d love to know if any of them smelled that burning arsenic scent.

All things considered, this theory has a fair bit going for it, which feels weird to type; I’ll elaborate on why later. For now, though, it’s time to continue on to the next theory.

2. A collective hallucination

As wild as it may sound, this theory has one major thing going for it. Assuming the version of events from Sacred-Texts and Magonia Catalog were actually referring to the story of the miners, then our eyewitnesses had just gotten done working all day in a mine. If they had no breaks, they were exhausted, almost certainly dehydrated, starving, and had probably inhaled toxic fumes. I would not be shocked if one ended up hallucinating (or mistook a large bird for something else—more on that later) and the others instinctively panicked.

The only major flaw to this theory relates to whether there were other eyewitnesses outside of the miners, at least from what I can tell. People who weren’t likely dehydrated and all around exhausted. If there were, then it becomes significantly harder to label this as a collective hallucination. Sadly, I have no idea if the miners were the only witnesses or if others in Copiapó saw it. I’ll elaborate on my stance later; for now, on to the third theory!

3. A pterosaur

I considered nixing this theory, but I opted to keep it because it’s a reminder, a reminder of when I went into this theory expecting something much different.

Let me tell you about that. You see, in my infinite wisdom, I skimmed this story at first and didn’t fully get the scope of this creature’s robotic nature. I also had no idea about Sacred-Texts or the Magonia Catalog. All I knew was that some miners saw a weird creature, and it sounded like a pterosaur. That was it; I didn’t even register that they saw it fly right overhead.

So, armed with that superficial information, I added this theory. In fact, I was prepared to have this go up with the “Cryptid” tag! But then, I began writing. It was only then that everything finally set in, and I was hit with the realization that there was no way in Hell’s razorblade-filled jacuzzi that this was a pterosaur.

But I decided to keep this theory. Why? Well, I wanted to share this story now rather than later because if I ever want to revisit my old writing for some reason, I want a reminder for myself to properly read the story before I begin writing. Please, future me, stop winging it (no pun intended). Just read the story; it’ll do you some good!

4. A case of misidentification

This theory is something of an offshoot of the second. Only, instead of it being a hallucination, the miners saw a large bird (maybe a flamingo; see the image below) flying low, and they mistook it for something else. There is not much more to say; everything I would say was done so up above.

5. A hoax

As far as I can tell, there is zero proof for this theory. I highly doubt that Chris Aubeck would be stupid enough to risk his reputation by fabricating something this insane. While I know authors have made stuff up for the sake of having a good story, this is way too absurd in my eyes. Still, I’m including it as it’s a staple theory for any sort of mystery like this.

6. Steven Tyler

He finally learned to walk this way—sort of. He took it a step further and began flying like a rag doll.

My Take

This is one of those cases where coming to a conclusion is aggressively difficult. When I skimmed through this story, I thought there was no way this was a UFO; I had never heard of one like this. I cannot imagine why aliens would make one like it. Though, now that I have gone through everything, a part of me is looking at that theory and going, “You know, maybe it isn’t so crazy.”

Simultaneously, I can easily see this being some sort of hallucination—assuming that there weren’t any eyewitnesses outside of the miners. If there were others who saw it, I think that theory would become considerably less convincing. I doubt people who were properly hydrated and relaxed would end up thinking they saw an enormous mechanical bird flying right over their heads. Though, hey, maybe I’m wrong. I am not a psychology major, after all.

I guess if I had to pick, solely based on what I know and what I can discern as “fact,” I’d have to say this was a UFO. Even though that makes me feel kind of goofy, given I laughed at the notion before writing, that’s the only theory that I feel has the most going for it. From a logical standpoint, I think the hallucination theory makes the most sense, but I can’t concretely say only the miners saw this thing. And because of that, yeah, I feel this was a UFO. Maybe the “giant bird” description was just an embellishment? If that’s the case, then it would make a whole lot more sense to me!

On one final note, I would love to know if there are any other stories like this. If you happen to know of any, I would love it if you left a comment letting me know. Seriously, writing this was such a good time; I really want to cover more stories like it.


To add to what I said above, I wrote this story while having a rather lousy day; it ended up salvaging it and was an absolute blast to write. It was a fun, wild ride that once again reminded me of why I love writing about strange things. I hope you enjoyed it, too, and I would love to know what you think this strange thing was. And as always, stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you for reading!

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