Flights of Fancy: Ancient Aircraft or Tonight's Dinner?

Flights of Fancy: Ancient Aircraft or Tonight’s Dinner?

There are very few television shows I’ll actually make it a habit to watch, but one of them is Ancient Aliens. I find it rather interesting and entertaining; you can discover a lot of interesting places and history by watching, but there are a lot of connections made by taking galactic-sized leaps between civilization and extra-terrestrial visitation. And then, there are the incorrect assumptions and statements about the abilities (and intelligence, or lack of it) of people living in ancient civilizations. I can count at least several instances per episode. It bothers me every time they start by saying, “It’s impossible for these people to have…”

There are many times during these shows when signs, symbols, and artifacts are said to be ‘proof positive’ that UFOs hovered over India or aliens brought industrial technology to the Egyptians. At best, the connections are very circumstantial. And what’s worse, they often forget to look into the more mundane possibilities. One such case—a very popular piece of evidence appearing in the show—comes from South America in the form of golden pendants.

One of the gold artifacts in question

Hundreds of tiny pieces of gold jewelry were unearthed near the Magdalena River in north central Colombia approximately one hundred years ago. They were zoomorphic, or shaped like animals, and only a few centimeters in size. Approximately a dozen of these pieces have been said to resemble modern airplanes, yet they are believed to be from the Tolima culture crafted between 500 and 800 BCE, long before the Wright Brothers made their famous trip at Kittyhawk. In 1954, it’s said that an American jeweler named Emanuel Stubbs created duplicates of six of these gold objects. To some, these trinkets are known as the “Colombia Jets;” proponents of the ancient astronaut theory say they’re definitive proof of impossible technologies brought to the ancient people by beings from outer space.

Archaeologists and scientists say they’re birds and insects. Another theory regarding the most popular artifact (shown above) is that it could be a Hawk Moth; given their unusual characteristics, this could be true. But there are a few people out there with alternative theories who I think are headed in the right direction. They claim these are stylized fish. But let’s take a look at what one die-hard ancient jet advocate had to say about this:


“There are water animals which seem to fly through the water, such as rays, skates and some Selachians. But how does the depicted object compare with these choices? All its features taken into a consideration, we have no match. Seen from above, the object obviously has no fish features, but seems to show rather explicitly mechanistic ones.

In any case, they look more like airplane parts than like the claspers of a fish. If the two prominent spirals on the wings are supposed to be a stylized version of the eyes of a ray, then what are the two globular objects positioned on the head supposed to represent? To complicate the identification even more, the spirals on the wings have their copies positioned on the nose of the object, in the opposite direction. When the object is viewed in profile, the dissimilarity to anything from the animal kingdom is even more pronounced. If the zoomorphic explanation is supposed to hold, then why did the artist cut the head off almost three quarters from the body? And why is the nose is practically rectangular and the cut tilted forward, with eyes positioned at either side, when fish eyes are usually more near the center of bodyline and far forward on the head?

The tail is equally intriguing. No fish has only a single, upright and perpendicular flange. But this tail fin has an exact shape of fins on modern airplanes. There are also some markings on the tail which are hard to identify, but it does not seem to be anything related to animals, either.”

So… there’s no fish out there with features resembling these objects? Emphasis is on the design itself, not the overall layout of the body itself. But wait! What’s this?

Lithoxus lithoides from nearby Guyana

Oh. That’s an armored catfish. And what’s that? It’s found on the north coast of South America? In fact, a catfish could easily explain a lot of the features: the upright tail fin, the two bulging eyes on top, the flat underbelly, the “wings” or fins in two pairs along the side.

Side view of Peckoltia guajiborum

But hah, the gold artifacts don’t have a dorsal fin, you say? Well, when you commonly see an Plecostomus (“algae eater”) or Loricariidae (catfish) resting on the bottom of a river, its top fin is flat on its body. And for crying out loud; these are very simplified tiny pieces of jewelry!

Reported UFO sightings—even in historical accounts from hundreds of years ago—do not describe them as modern aircraft or even winged objects in the sky. Simply put, there’s far too much reason to doubt the pendants are flying machines. Connections can be drawn much more easily to creatures found right inside the living environment native to the region. As much as some people might want to believe these pieces of jewelry prove that aliens came to earth more than a millennium ago, the theory just doesn’t hold water.


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  1. Brycemeister

    09/19/2011 at 10:34 AM

    There was actually a scale model, based exactly on the Columbian artifacts, that not only flew, and flew well, but exhibited unique flight characteristics that not particular to fish of any sort-the model could literally stop, just before touching down, and gently alight, VTOL style, upon the ground. It also exhibited unusual acceleration characteristics. The, of course, there is the Egyptian ‘bird’, which, when tested in a wind tunnel, also exhibited flight characteristics. It could easily have been a child’s glider toy.

    • Ken Summers

      09/19/2011 at 11:52 AM

      Yes, three Germans took one of the tiny objects, blew it up to model airplane size, added a propeller on the front and wheels on the bottom… and it flew. Well, ok… they made some other alterations too. Their design was very smooth and didn’t have all the raised decorations on the “wings” which might effect its ability to fly. The wings don’t even seem to be in the same proportion (and are straight and pointed, unlike the curved “wings” on the actual object). But when you blow up the size of an object from about 3.8 cm (1.5 inches) to 90 cm (2 ft 11.4 in) in length, I guess you’re permitted some artistic license. Unless, of course, that license leads you toward it being a fish.

      Of course, a model airplane can’t maneuver exactly like a fish does. Fish don’t have propellers, jet engines, or motors and move through water, not air (unless you count the flying fish(. But fish are streamlined to glide quickly through water, therefore they will naturally exhibit some signs of aerodynamics.

      I’d be more inclined to say it was an airplane if it had a propeller and wheels, or something that showed it was intended to fly people around. As for the jet hypothesis, well for one; what would they have used to fuel it? Even if they found something and built a big metal jet that is still lost somewhere in the jungle, the exhaust is aimed right at the tail or the plane. I doubt they would want to burn the plane up shortly after takeoff.

      If you examine the models compared to the original objects, it’s not difficult to see that the model planes were created as an amalgam of the two gold artifacts. Not only that, they were improved upon by modern devices like propellers, wheels, and engines. The Egyptian glider sounded a lot more logical to me. Still, assuming that it was anything other than a toy flying bird is a big jump. The Egyptians documented everything meticulously. If they had gliders that could carry a person over the land, you can bet there would be engravings bragging about it.

      • Bottom Feeder

        09/19/2011 at 11:20 PM

        I’ve grown up with Aquariums been a hobbyist for decades and have seen and kept many “plecos” as the sucker mouthed catfish are often called. I also have a keen interest in these types of stories as well.

        While it is a very good and plausible argument you make with the sucker mouth catfish, and I am one who can truly appreciate it, I think the pectoral fins are too close to the tail and the gap at the back of the head doesn’t make sense either, as well as some of the other so called stylized aspects such as those 4 vertical cylinders near the tail.

        But I think your theory is flawed mostly because you are not taking into consideration the bigger picture.

        “This huge artifact was found in a secret chamber below Pakal’s tomb. Needless to say it’s identical to an engine exhaust system, maybe it was really part of one:” see the pic here…

        What about the crystal skulls which are flawless? HOw did they carve these?

        What about the Mayan “Space Suit” or is that equate to a diving bell? Either way that’s pretty advanced. or other amazing artifacts and megalithic structures

        I think the following website provides an interesting evaluation…

        Considering how many amazing artifacts the Mayan culture and other ancient cultures produced, there are many mysteries that remain, such as HOW the giant megolithic structures were built in the first place especially the pyramids. The pyramids by themselves are such a widespread enigma, why was that particular geometric structure built in so many different and vastly distant areas from each other on our world? Was there communication between those vastly distant regions? THere is much evidence to suggest there was.

        And then the even bigger story…

        • Ken Summers

          09/20/2011 at 10:39 AM

          The fish I was talking about were specifically fish native to that region of Colombia and nearby areas. What you find in a fish store is an assortment of fish that end up dwarfed in size from being confined to a micro environment instead of out in the wilds, growing freely. I do thank you for thinking my argument was “plausible” because that’s the whole point. To deny any other possibilities means one theory is right and all others are wrong. I just feel that fish are a far more plausible idea than airplanes.

          To say that I’m flawed for not grasping the “bigger picture” is like saying you can’t analyze individual gases; you have to look at earth’s entire atmosphere as a whole. Every theory or idea is a building up of individual parts reaching a “big picture.” Each separate idea should stand on its own as a true statement. That doesn’t mean some can’t end up being wrong. I only picked out one thing to talk about, not the whole of ancient astronaut theory
          . I do find some ideas tossed out there interesting and worth looking into, BUT that doesn’t mean I’ll draw a line between any two things just because a few other things make some amount of sense.

          The “artifact at Pakal’s tomb,” I don’t know anything about it to draw a conclusion. I need something more than a blurry photo and a sentence on an online message board to weigh in on it. You know: things like detailed archaeological information on the discovery and what some experts have to say on the matter. The crystal skulls are under scrutiny. Most aren’t as perfectly crafted as the one shown all the time, and even that one is suspected to have been crafted in far more recent times. Yes, we don’t know how megalithic structures were built, but then again we couldn’t build the Parthenon without modern technology. I think that speaks more to the fast that we’ve become dumber and less skilled than it does anything else. As for the “space suit,” I suggest you take a look at THIS SHOCKING PHOTOGRAPH!

          So what am I saying? That the Mayans built a time machine just to come to the 21st century to watch Fantastic Mr. Fox? No. I’m saying we can find similarities anywhere if we look hard enough. That’s because we all basically started in the same place and spread out. Naturally, a few old stories are going to be kept by all cultures, changed to suit their environment and developing culture. If I saw a hieroglyphic that read “First flight to the Bahamas,” then I’d say you’re absolutely on to something. But look at Jules Verne. Can you honestly say that thousands of years from now, if someone picked up a copy of his book and said we were flying in rockets and time machines in 1860 you’d agree with that? We forget that imagination and fantasy are not just the seed of invention, but the basis of fictional storytelling too.

          It’s not just about gathering information. It’s about being able to sift through it, analyze it for validity, and form decisions and conclusions based on it. We live in an information age, but it’s also a time full of misinformation. Now more than ever we need to scrutinize things we read online or find on television. There’s never a wrong time to use a little extra critical thinking skills…

          • Brian

            07/04/2012 at 8:43 AM

            Just to add to the pile.. I and my g/f saw a unique alien in a spaceship (I do NOT use the term UFO if I can I D it at least to that degree). it hovered barely above power line level on a desolate road, turned on all it’s lights, EVERYTHING except get out and dance on the ship’s hull, which was not the classic saucer, but more triangular. What was so unique about ET? He looked Peruvian. Elongated skull, flattened nose, the wide lips…. all except for his skin, which my g/f says looked scaly and grey. ( I didn’t see much detail. I was busy dancing around like a complete and utter fool at the time.). I am taking art classes now, and I am slowly making a model of the alien in a program called Mudbox. I am more or less doing it to get a good, clear idea of what this guy looks like- and see if anyone might have a few answers.

            While Ancient Astronauts seems to pull theories out of their… umm… *cough* every so often, the ones with the peruvians at least make us both stop and say “hmmm”. The whole head binding thing makes us wonder as well after this encounter.

            The show sometimes makes want to slap some of them around, mostly because at times, they are less informed than I am. Some of it is from various experiences I have had (ufos, abductions, weird crap I cannot even begin to understand that may or may not be related), and the rest is plain ol’ reading.

            I can give a GREAT example of how things are liable to be stitched together in ridiculous fashion, ala some of the show’s segments. Have a look at the Mayan Calendar- the round one, and look at the face in the center (depending on the depiction- you may have to look at a few versions. While you’e doing this- have the pic of Einstein sticking his tongue out. You will see an uncanny similarity. ***Which is all it is***.

            However- you can slap any story you want to it! Einstein went back in time and visited and helped create the thing, the reason why his tongue is stuck out is because he knew about the calendar and knows it’s secrets, and it’s a “wink”… And people would *believe* it. As Ancient Astronaut Theorists Believe. (I turned that phrase into a drinking game theme, BTW)

            Now- airworthiness of the model. Do you know *how* much crap I have seen flying????? There are aircraft model hobbyists out there that can make ANYTHING fly. Lawnmowers. Chairs. I almost said port o potties, but that was a rocket model. Build it right, stabilize it right, and that model of your Aunt Matilda can fly like the Red baron. It’s too ambiguous for my taste.

            Wanna impress me, Ancient Aliens? Make some of the stuff like at Punka Puku (or whatever that place is. Too lazy too look it up). analyze something. Analyze the rocks. Do a core sample. Post the results. Have a John Henry type challenge: have someone with properly made ancient tools, versus someone with more modern tools, and RECREATE some of this stuff, out of the materials used. No plastics, preformed rocks, etc. Use quarried stone. Stop talking about it endlessly, and come up with less conclusions than you started, and PROVE IT.:-D:-D

          • Brian

            07/04/2012 at 8:48 AM

            Ooh- I got it. Combine Ancient Astronauts with Mythbusters!

            Problem solved. I can haz big check?

          • Ken Summers

            07/04/2012 at 10:49 AM

            A close encounter of the Peruvian kind, eh? Sounds like you need to email Greg! Your story might make for an interesting piece for the blog! Keep us up to date on the rendering. I’m only starting to teach myself vectors. Baby steps…

            Pumapunku (or Puma Punku) is definitely an interesting site and it certainly leaves a whole mess of questions in my head. I’m not sure I buy into all their “this is how it was made!” b.s. on the show, but it’s mind-boggling and definitely needs some major archaeological excavation, analysis, measuring, and attempted reconstruction. I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that bronze age people with simple stone tools could craft something on that magnitude. Not saying they were idiots, but that type of precision isn’t even remotely common in societies that old. It’s just… awe-inspiring.

            I may borrow your drinking game, good sir. One of these days I’ll have to list all my paranormal TV drinking game ideas!

        • butch

          03/19/2013 at 9:26 AM

          well with the diving bell being used as a refrence, the 1st one actually recorded to being used was somewhere around 326b.c. by alexander the great’s troops to spy on the persians across the hellespont using warped shields and reed tubing…….
          just sayin.

      • chev327fox

        04/12/2012 at 9:11 AM

        Actually it was a “scale” model… they didn’t change any of the dementions. They made two, on with a propeller on the front and the other with a propeller in the center (like a jet type engine in the middle setup).

        I’m not saying that they are right but it is interesting and I think people who blindly argue for one side or tge other are not very smart… because we can never know for sure and ANYTHING is possible.

        • Ken Summers

          04/12/2012 at 9:45 AM

          Yes, it was a “scale model” but not an exact replica. The detailed whirls were painted on instead of protruding like in the pendant/gold object. There was a lot of artistic license taken in the airplane model… undoubtedly as much as when the object was created or modeled after whatever its intended real-life counterpart.

          It’s true that anything is possible, but leaping to conclusions based on a one-inch piece of jewelry is a bit or a stretch. On the other hand, if they found a piece of a full-scale airplane–even just a part–I’d understand their delight.

          The main problem is artistic interpretation of anything isn’t always based in reality. Imagine an archaeologist digging up some of our relics thousands of years in the future. An Incredible Hulk toy. Gargoyles. Anything. If they said these were based on actual things that once existed, what would we think of them?

      • Steve R.

        07/25/2014 at 3:37 PM

        Your proposition is interesting and certainly plausible, however a couple of your above arguments are nothing more than straw men to be blown over.

        You say,”Their design was very smooth and didn’t have all the raised decorations on the “wings” which might effect its ability to fly.” This implies that whatever this tiny object was modeled after had the same “raised decorations” on its “wings” (fins), in which case your fish theory is debunked. Whether one made a model airplane or a model fish based off of these figurines, one would naturally remove the raised decorations.

        Then you say,”Of course, a model airplane can’t maneuver exactly like a fish does.” While this is true it’s another straw man. There is no difference whatsoever between Aerodynamics and Hydrodynamics. The reason we cannot build a heavier-than-air vehicle which could maneuver like a fish is due to the ratio of the mass of the animal/vehicle to the density of the medium through which it moves, and the flexibility of the body, of course. I doubt we will ever be able to build a heavier-than-air craft which could match the flexibility of the body of a fish, without which we will never be able to maneuver it in such a manner. (Maybe this one is more apples and oranges than a straw man.) 🙂

        Also, the stabilizers on the figures, while approximately in the same position on the body as the rear set of fins on the fish, none of the figures I have seen pictures of has even a remote resemblance to those rear fins. In fact on at least one of them the shape is exactly like the shape of the rear stabilizers of a plane.

        While I do not believe in the ancient alien theory, I do believe that we sell the ingenuity, inventiveness, creativity, and general level of knowledge of our ancient ancestors short. WAY short. There are far too many examples the world over of ancient accomplishments we cannot duplicate. I believe civilizations whose existence we will, unfortunately, never be able to find or identify arose during the stable period of the last ice age. I believe that the massive floods and the raising of sea levels worldwide wiped out almost all signs of these civilizations. I also believe that “Atlantis” was the last of these civilizations. I believe that the ancients could not conceive of such an advanced peoples existence being ended other than by the example they had of the Mycenaean’s and the story of their tragic end got blended with the Atlantis legend. But that’s a whole other box of worms, isn’t it. Lol.

        That said, I am seriously trying to find faithful reproductions of the figurines as I want to build my own models, based on exact scaling of all features, except the raised decorations for the reason stated above, and see if they will function as gliders rather than powered vehicles. In mountainous country gliders could be a useful tool for many things, rapid communication and transport of small groups of people (such as “shock” type troops) being two examples.

        • Ken Summers

          07/26/2014 at 6:57 PM

          Feel free to shoot me down, Steve, but we’re not in total disagreement here. Essentially, all I’m suggesting is that maybe these objects are just an artist’s interpretation of natural creatures. These gold objects or extremely small; even the moth hypothesized by another commenter is at least twice as large as one of these. Artistic design rarely is an exact copy. It’s normally much deeper and symbolic than that.

          But I don’t think ancient cultures were idiots either. We don’t give pre-Colombian cultures or other ancient peoples enough credit to be smart at creating wonderful things. (I blame it on a certain comfort we prefer in believing our modern world is superior and that humankind has leapt forward instead of just rediscovering lost technologies.) From Columbus “discovering” America to Ancient Aliens, there are many beliefs that do great disservice to the willpower and intelligence of thousands of years of humanity.

          It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if cultures in mountainous regions invented gliders. My question would be a propulsion system given the materials at hand. But I’m always willing to accept different possibilities. But at the same time, given that the dozens of other gold artifacts found in conjunction with these objects were identified as known animals, I’m still leaning in that direction.

          If you do need more information, the originals are the property of the Gold Museum in Bogota: I’m sure they have more detailed information in their archives.

      • barry mead

        11/05/2014 at 8:42 AM

        The thing is, you are oversimplifying and searching for the answer rather than taking the obvious.
        If alien visitation was common and well documented, would you be hunting for catfish ?
        So these items are simple pieces? Perhaps, but, to suggest they miss off fins because they looked down and didn’t see a fin is a weak argument.
        Additionally, how local to the area were these fish?
        And, why have we no fish with a cockpit? I guess that exists?
        The truth is you have spurned a answer because you don’t like it.
        In the area we have megalithic structures and legends of gods from the sky.
        We still to this day have ufo activity in the broader area.
        Reports in the past too.
        So rather than collate all legends and myth to see a common theme, rather than replicate the massive structures even in part to see how long/hard/complex it was to do, rather than explore traditions and texts and then adding it all together saying, mm maybe there is something to this that is not simple fish/birds, what you have done is said, i don’t like that idea, let me search fish and birds to find matches.
        Additionally, is there support for revering the fish/birds or simply making them jewellery do any bodies have them in their graves? Do they adorn mantlepieces of the discovered homes? Or, were they found in a temple ruin suggesting deification? If so, do they have a fish religion?
        Rather than look in depth this way, an idea is discarded because of fear of ridicule or simple personal opposition to the idea.
        What this does is pressures others to conform, pressures others to validate theories the establishment of a field, considers approved. This then dilutes real science in pursuit of confirmation of favoured ideas.

        True research would be conducted on a no favoured basis idea, taking either, each idea and testing the hypothesis, or, assuming no idea exists and examining all available evidence. In some cases the ideas must be presented first in order to consider what evidence counts towards or against.
        In the end, doing it sceptically on all sides, then derives a result that favours one side or the other or leaves the conclusion of insufficient evidence.
        Either way, there do not exist sufficient matching details to conclusively say it is a fish and it still matches better, any aircraft.

  2. Greg Newkirk

    09/20/2011 at 9:23 AM


    I don’t know. I’m pretty sure the crystal skulls were shown to be the result of a Spanish artists work long after they were supposedly discovered. They’re not terribly impressive.. I’ve held one.

    Pyramids, giant structures, etc. You know how they were built? Slave labor. Tons and tons of it.

    I’m not saying that I don’t like the idea that we’e been visited by extraterrestrial beings for thousands, if not millions, of years. The imagination can run wild with thoughts like that. What I am saying, though, is that for a lot of these things, there is a vastly more mundane possibility that is far more likely. Occam’s Razor and all that.

    Which is more likely? Secret bases on the moon hidden from us by a secret cabal, or some image artefacts with some matrixing thrown in for good measure?

    • Jerry

      07/25/2012 at 7:40 PM

      2 words “Project Disclosure.” In my opinion every single ancient civilization has historic references to visitation by technologically advanced beings. From Sumerians, to Moses and Genesis (sons of god mating with the daughters of man birthing the Nephelim) , Ezekiel (the wheel within a wheel experience) in the Torah, to the Egyptians, the people of India, the Mayans, and the list goes on and on, and they were all recorded within 500-1000 years of each other, I’ve seen first hand something that was unexplainable, while sitting with a friend who saw the same thing, the technology it used, was as far as we are told publicly, impossible to create with the knowledge base we have now. I don’t claim to have the truth, as no one should, considering the worlds largest knowledge base of historical works is held below vatican city and was gained by pillaging the villages and cities of historical civilizations. The knowledge base is the only thing we are missing, it leaves us with only half of the equation, and we are left to find the portion that is missing, that is where theory becomes the only option we as individuals have and you most people are following suit by accepting that history is fiction. If i told you __ x 3 -24 + 11 = 23 it would be easy to find the answer as 12, BUT if i said _ x 3 – _ + _ = _, the problem suddenly becomes impossible and pointless to even speculate, that is what stifling the knowledge base does. It attempts to remove the equation all together in hopes to keep people from seeking the answer.

  3. Brian Parsons

    09/20/2011 at 9:40 AM

    Great post! These things are “advanced” only in our perception and I consider the show “Ancient Aliens” just the same as all of the other shows on the paranormal; pure entertainment.

    “If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.” – George Carlin

  4. Kandinsky

    09/20/2011 at 1:54 PM

    Nice post Ken. The folk who see these objects as airplanes tend to base their ideas on modern pattern recognition. Yeah, they look like 20th Century aircraft and therefore the ancient Americas had technological flying craft. In the blink of an eye they’re off into certainties that everyone else had high technology and, lo and behold, the Rig Vedas are getting dragged in as *proof.*

    Vimanas and Oppenheimer soon follow.

    I’m not certain what the objects are meant to represent, they could be fish or they could be depictions of people in ceremonial dress…who knows?

    Beyond that uncertainty, it’s reasonable to rule out aircraft as a bad idea. To start with, aircraft need alloys, machine presses, screws, nuts, bolts, rubber flanges,gaskets and simpler technologies that led the way to even manufacturing steel. Producing these materials requires industry, infrastructure (transport, educational institutions, international trade etc) manufacturing plants. There’s no evidence at all that suggests these milestones of development had been reached centuries ago.

    Why were these societies leaving behind copper, stone and bronze tools when they were supposedly using machine lathes and fractioning towers for the fuel?

    Somehow, it’s more believable to think that a huge conspiracy has swept away the evidence than accepting these objects as cultural artefacts of Bronze-Age societies.

    • barry mead

      11/05/2014 at 8:48 AM

      Can i just add here, that to discount these as aircraft on the basis of what machinery is needed is a flawed concept.
      The simple reason being is you are starting out with the conclusion and fitting the evidence.
      Now maybe they are aircraft like (we cannot argue they are not, because test it, show them to a person unfamiliar with the argument and ask what it is, they will say spaceship/airplane, not bird, or fish) therefore they LOOK like, that may be coincidental. However if aliens visited or an advanced civilization existed previously then they would have the tools to make them, ergo saying they didn’t have the tools is not going to prove they are not airplanes, in fact there is no point asking if they had the tools if they aren’t but if they had planes they had the tools.
      Examination of all evidence before conclusion not conclusion then state what was/wasnt without any examination

  5. Jeff Davis

    09/20/2011 at 2:15 PM

    I’m not “buying” the Pleco call. Where’s the dorsal fin? Is there a sucker on the bottom of the pendant considering that’s the most obvious differentiating characteristic of the Loricariidae physicality?

    I am certainly not defending the ancient astronaut theories, it’s just that these objects DO NOT appear to be Plecostomus based unless the artists were more or less blind.

    • Ken Summers

      09/20/2011 at 3:37 PM

      Fish also do’t normally have knobs protruding from their bodies or swirly eyes made of coils. As I said, I think these are a stylized version of the fish, not detailed exact replicas.

      A drawing of one of the items can be seen here: There are no images I’m aware of showing the full underside. I’m guessing that’s because it was more or less undecorated. But from those drawings, the top left image does show what could very well be a “mouth” on the bottom side.

      These weren’t handcrafted by Michelangelo himself, they’re Mayan. In Mayan art you’ll find things are out of proportion, exaggerated, or simplified. But that’s true with all art, from Rembrandt to Picasso. It’s all filtered through beliefs, culture, skill of craftsmanship, and the mind of the artist. We get the difficult job of being in a different culture, with a different background, and trying to interpret these things from an outsider’s perspective.

      • barry mead

        11/05/2014 at 8:49 AM

        So there we go you cncede not normal but now from its a fish we are at, its a stylised fish. If we looked closer and saw the word altimeter would you say it was random letters that are stylised to represent the name of the fish?

  6. Jose LLerena

    09/20/2011 at 9:54 PM

    Did the zoomorphic jewelry serve any purpose, i.e., decorative, ceremonial, etc.? How was it utilized? Aside from the small aircraft looking jewelry , did this Columbian culture commemorate or preserve larger examples of it in other materials, e.g., petroglyphs, pottery, carvings, etc.? These are musings that popped up as I read your post. I will try to get some answers. Thanks for a good post.

    • Ken Summers

      09/20/2011 at 10:44 PM

      Thanks, Jose. I believe they were recorded as “religious artifacts.” there were many other similar gold objects found at the site, mostly fish and other animals. Aside from that, good questions! Let me know if you find out anything.

  7. patrick hughes

    06/26/2012 at 9:50 AM

    This seems to be some KOIND of flying device, probably put here by aliens…… from the SKOY.

  8. Jerry

    07/25/2012 at 7:19 PM

    This is fun and all, but explain to me the “tubes” on the tail fin of the lower image, and please, PLEASE address the lack of a dorsal fin more than your simple one liner to continue your theory, when capturing fish or walking in the water, the dorsal fin would be an extremely important thing to note due to the danger to ones hands and feet, the lack of such an important portion of any fish, removes all rational explanation of these being a fish. Skirting around the subject by saying the fish laying on the floor of a body of water is no excuse, and saying that they are very simplified artifacts, is beyond false, these are very intricate, and very detailed artifacts, the ideal that someone who carved them simply forgot to apply one of the most dangerous/important portions of a fish such as the dorsal fin, is preposterous. I’m not saying they are planes, but I’m not going to sit here and continue to entertain the idea that they made GOLDEN fish models and decided that the dorsal fin was unimportant. That would be like drawing a Tank and not including the Barrel.

    • Ken Summers

      07/26/2012 at 3:58 PM

      Let me get this straight: an ancient piece of jewelry less than an inch in length is supposed to be an exact detailed replica of the real-life thing it is intended to be? Fish normally have coiled gold wire for eyes and stylized symbols on their bodies too? I need to find these fish.

      Look at pendants made even today. Bears, fish, trees, etc. They’re not always picture perfect detailed replicas. Some are artistic interpretations. To simply say that it cannot be a fish because it’s not exactly what a fish looks like is absurd. Is it 100% absolutely a fish? Unless we dig up and reanimate the artist, we can’t be certain, but it seems quite reasonable to believe that it was probably intended to be one. It’s a heck of a lot better guess than a modern airplane.

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  10. James

    01/11/2013 at 12:49 PM

    Such a big deal being made about the figurines not exactly resembling any known fish/insect/bird. Look at some of the figurines that clearly represent frogs, but don’t really look like any frog in particular.
    I believe the reason the “wings” are on the bottom of these figures is simply because they were meant to be worn as pendants, and the artist would want the thing to actually lay flat against the skin instead of having wings which would rock from side to side, and jab themselves into the wearer if they bumped into something. This would also protect the soft gold from being bent back and forth and snapping off when worn.
    Almost all of the figures have limbs which jut out flat from the side of the animal represented. Aligators clearly don’t have legs that do this, nor do cats…. yet that’s what the figures are made to look like. I’ll again say it was done so that each figure would lay flat against a wearer’s skin.
    Why is nobody claiming the cat is a UFO because cat legs don’t go in that direction?

    • barry mead

      11/05/2014 at 8:52 AM

      I believe the same applies today so why dont they make jewellery the same anymore?
      So let’s have it right, a fish wont be an exact replica, but it HAS to be an exact replica of an aircraft or it isnt one?

  11. Cesar Crash

    01/06/2014 at 5:13 PM

    I think that it looks closer than the fish:

  12. seabee

    06/22/2014 at 6:57 AM

    I like the Flying Fish Exocoetidae for this.

  13. landl47

    12/13/2014 at 11:19 PM

    I’ve read the comments and watched the show and NOONE, not even the writer of this excellent article, has pointed out the obvious flaw in the ‘aircraft’ speculation.

    Any aliens who arrived here must have technology far beyond anything we can even dream of. It would take us 80,000 years with our present technology just to reach the nearest star. If aliens could get here, they didn’t arrive in aircraft or anything resembling aircraft. In fact, aircraft to them would be as obsolete as ox-carts to us. So why would they show the local people aircraft?

    Not only that, but why would they represent aircraft that are pretty much specific to the period 1950-2000AD? The Wright brothers’ bi-plane didn’t look anything like these supposed models and neither did the stealth jet which did a flyover at the Bears game a couple of weeks ago. The golden jewelry is believed to be some 2500 years old. Why would aliens represent aircraft from the second half of the 20th century in 500 BCE?

    This phenomenon is called pareidolia- finding familiar images in random material. It’s exactly the same phenomenon that causes people to think they have seen a picture of Jesus in a potato chip. In this case, they see something that looks vaguely like a 20th century plane and conclude that is what it must be, although there is absolutely no logical reason for thinking that aliens visiting the earth 2500 years ago would show the locals something that was in the distant past for them (if indeed they ever had aircraft like this at all) and in the unimaginable future for the people of that time. It just makes no sense.

    As for the objects themselves- stylized (as was almost all the jewelry at that time) representations of fish. No, they’re not anatomically accurate, but they’re jewelry. Just use your search engine and type in ‘stylized fish jewelry’ and you’ll find hundreds of examples which look no more like fish than these objects do. After all, who wants to wear a real fish?

  14. landl47

    12/13/2014 at 11:47 PM

    @Barry Mead: They do make jewelry like this today. I guess you haven’t bought much stylized fish jewelry recently.

    The reason it isn’t an aircraft is because there’s no logical reason whatever for it to be one- unless you think aliens from trillions of miles away (the nearest star to our sun is 25.6 trillion miles away) arrived in planes that resembled those built on earth over the last 70 years or so. These objects look a bit like the 1950-2000 generation of planes and a bit like fish which existed 2500 years ago. Which resemblance is logically more likely to be the correct one in 2500-year-old jewelry?

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