The Cryptid Zoo: Roc

The rocs are gigantic flying birds found in legends from Arabia. They are also known in legends from parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. They usually look at least something like eagles or vultures, and they are nearly identical to the thunderbirds of North America. Cryptozoologists use the term "roc" as a handy label to refer to almost any gigantic flying bird that is sighted somewhere in the old world, including ones that resemble giant owls instead of eagles or vultures. Giant flightless birds are treated separately from rocs.

Legends from the Congo, that remote region of Africa which is home to so many cryptids and newly discovered species, tell of the ngoima, a monkey-eating eagle with a wingspan that might be as large as 13 feet. Since other species of monkey-eating eagles are among the largest flying birds in the world, this size seems plausible.

Fossil evidence tells us that two species of gigantic eagle once lived in New Zealand. Scientists estimate the wingspans of these birds to be about ten feet. They are thought to have survived until about the year 1100. Their main prey was probably moas. However, the Maori (the native race of New Zealand) have legends about two kinds of gigantic eagles, and they say the birds ate humans too, and survived until recent years.

The Chinese tell of an enormous bird called a p'eng. It lived in the far north but migrated during the season when typoons are common. They thought that this bird did not come from eggs, instead it had a larval form that resembled a fish. These juvenile water monsters later mutated into adult birds. It may be that here we have the roc superstition mingled with traditions concerning lake monsters.

You can find out more about the Roc from the following sources:

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 65-66, 238, 280, 335, 361, 431-432

Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2000. Pages 285, 312
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Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003. Pages 141-142

Weidensaul, Scott. The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking and the Search for Lost Species. New York: North Point Press, 2002. Page 217

Wikipedia, The. Roc

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The text on this page is copyright 2005 by Jamie Hall. Please use proper citation if you are using this website for research.