The Piasa (pronounced Pie-a-saw) is sometimes called The Piasa Bird. It is a legendary creature depicted in a mural painted by Native Americans on cliffsides above the Mississippi River. The ancient mural was created prior to the arrival of any European explorers in the region, and possibly before 1200 CE. The picture’s original location was at the end of a chain of limestone bluffs in present-day Alton, Illinois. The original Piasa painting no longer exists, but a new one has been restored in its position.
The Piasa is described as having a man-like face with sharp teeth, antlers, a scaly body,sharp talons,two huge wings, and a tail so long that it passed around the body, over the head and between the legs. The creature was given its name by the Illini Indians: “Piasa” means “a bird that devours men”. The Legend of the Piasa, involving a brave Native American chief helping to save his tribe from the monster’s craving for human flesh, can be read here.