I feel that it is time to wrap-up my series of articles about the living dinosaurs seen in northern Chile. After doing some more research, I have modified my hypothesis about what these creatures are, and where they came from.
I no longer feel that it is very likely for any non-avian dinosaurs to have survived to the modern-day. Therefore, I have now modified my theory in order to accommodate this.
I now think that these cryptids probably represent an undiscovered species of large, flightless bird with a long tail, arms with claws, and tooth-like structures in its beak. At first, this idea might appear far-fetched, but a close examination of some extant and recently-extinct bird species shows that it really is not that weird after all.
I will start with the Hoatzin. The juveniles of this strange South American bird have claws on their wings, which they use to climb trees. However, when they grow up, these clawed fingers disappear. This proves that it is, indeed, possible for birds to evolve hands with clawed fingers, just like their non-avian dinosaur ancestors.
Second, a recently-extinct bird from New Caledonia called Sylviornis had a huge number of caudal vertebrae compared to other birds. This caused its tail to be much longer than that of the average bird. In fact, it kind of resembled the tail of an extinct theropod dinosaur.
And third, there is a living species of duck called the Common Merganser. This species of waterfowl is unique because it has evolved a very fascinating feature; it has evolved tooth-like structures in its beak, which it uses to catch its prey (mainly fish). The Merganser is living proof that birds have the ability to re-evolve tooth-like structures.
I have now established that it is, indeed, possible for an aberrant species of bird to evolve a longer tail, clawed wings, and teeth-like structures. Such a creature would hardly even be distinguishable from a long-gone theropod dinosaur. Therefore, witnesses could easily mistake it as such.
I now conclude my 3-part series about the living dinosaurs of northern Chile. I have now modified my hypothesis. I now believe that these creatures are probably dinosaur-like flightless birds.