Saturday, December 8, 2012

Odd Animals Return

In the past I have posted a few times on odd animals mentioned by Meher Baba.

Baba on Odd Animals
The Terror Bird Returns

I have been trying to figure out what Baba was talking about when he referred to certain animals that he said once lived that bridged certain gaps between animal kingdoms in evolution. These quotes are from the 1930's while Baba was working on a film script that included a depiction of evolution, with many clarifications.

Recently the Avatar Meher Baba Trust issued a book titled Meher Baba's Early Messages to the West where much more about this film and the comments Baba made referring to evolution are included. There is quite a wealth of information on this abandoned film project in this book that has not been previously available. It was from materials found in the Meher Baba Archives in India.

Bat's wing
One that jumped out at me was an actual illustration of one of the animals Baba described, the giant bird that Baba said bridged the gap between birds and bats (which are mammals). The bird, Baba said, was 15 feet tall, had the legs of an ostrich, a long neck, the beak of a vulture, and apparently (from the image below) the wings of a bat. It could run 60 miles per hour, Baba said, and could fly very slowly.

Here is the picture found in the archive done from Baba's description of this extinct bird.

Giant 15 foot bat-bird as described by Meher Baba in the 1930s
I found this image exciting, for to me it confirms my guess of the bird he mentioned. Understand that this description of a 15 foot bird was given in the 1930's. Compare the above image to the giant terror bird discovered in Argentina in 2006.

Artist rendering
Before 2006 scientists did not know there was a terror bird so large. The first skull of this sort was discovered in that year in Argentina.

Giant terror bird skull newly discovered
Modern ostriches
The image below shows one depiction of this bird represented as standing 10 feet tall, but assumes the neck was curved and body stooped like a rooster. Had the artist conceived it as more vertical like an ostrich, as Baba had them depict his bird, this specimen might have been taller than shown and closer to the height Baba said a bird of such a type once existed. In any case it fit Baba's description rather well. Also it is of course assumed the wings of this giant terror bird had feathers, and of course no one would have any reason to  postulate its wings might have been leathery like a bat. After all, only the fossilized bones were found and not its wing's covering.

Bat's wing skeleton
Another possibility is that by half bat Baba meant that the bones of the wings took a bat wing's form. I have not been able to find an image of the bones of this newly discovered bird's wings, some artist renderings not depicting wings at all. Though I don't know, it is possible the wings were not found along with this bird's enormous skull.

In any case here is the description of the dimensions of this giant bat-bird from Meher Baba's Early Messages to the West is as follows.
HALF BAT, HALF BIRD. By this time there appeared on earth this wonderful animal. It was a huge creature, fifteen feet high. It had two legs like an ostrich's, each seven feet long; it had a neck two feet in circumference and four feet in length. Its beak, bent like that of a vulture, ran to a foot in length, broad but tapering down at the outer end. It could both walk and fly, but ran much faster than it flew. It could attain a running speed of about 60 miles per hour. 
The other odd animal that Baba's team drew from his description links the fish and reptile kingdoms and was essentially a giant worm with three heads Baba also said once existed.

Giant three-headed worm described by Meher Baba
Baba said this worm was 175 feet long. Its central head was six feet in circumference, and the two protruding heads on either side were one foot each in circumference. It was 14 feet wide in the middle of its body, while its reptilian hind portion slowly tapered to a tail that was six feet in breadth and ten feet long. The three heads resembled that of a fish. The central head had jaws and teeth, but the other two had no teeth but holes connected with the gills of the central head. All three heads were provided with only a single windpipe, and they breathed togther. Each head had a single fish-like eye.

How's that for an odd animal?!


  1. How literal do you, or other Baba devotees, take Meher Baba's description of the precise sequence of evolution (from vegetation, to worm, to fish, to bird, to mammal, to human)? I ask because modern biology has concluded (from the fossil record and DNA comparisons) that mammals did not evolve from birds (and thus there would be no half-bat-half-bird organism); and that birds did not evolve from fish.

    One could interpret the evolutionary sequence that Meher Baba outlines in other, non-literal ways.

    1. Thank you for the comment. It's a good one. As far as I have found from decades of following Baba's words, I am one of the only people I ever met who has taken any real interest in the subject. I don't think most Baba devotees really think about it. However, since I was a boy my father pointed out to me inconsistencies between Baba's stages of evolution and the view of modern science.

      I take the advice of St. Augustine, who warned Christians in the 5th century not to use scripture to make scientific claims, at that time the area of philosophers still. For instance Augustine said that attempts to use the Bible to argue about the shape of the Earth made such theologians look ridiculous (Augustine was himself a philosopher before he was a Bishop of the Church). He said theology should leave such concerns to the philosophers (which included what we today would call the sciences). Augustine himself was adamant that the world was spherical, the view of all learned men of the ancient and medieval world, and had a very common sense view of the material world.

      I enjoy the topic, and if you would like to discuss the subject more don't hesitate to email me, using the contact link above.