Pterodactyl Hunt

Pterodactyl Hunt

Once every year, an unparalleled phenomenon occurs on the Swarthmore College campus. The temporal boundary between the present and 65,000,000 years ago weakens, letting loose vicious pterodactyls and a slew of countless other monsters to attack the student body! How does Swarthmore respond? What do the students do in the face of impending doom?

They pick up foam bats, of course.

Usually occurring in early October, The Pterodactyl Hunt is a Swarthmore tradition unlike any other. Students come together to wear trash bags, fight monsters, and generally make fools of themselves—all while having the time of their lives.


Ben Schwartz '12
Berkeley, California
"It's a chance for students to drop their usual inhibitions, stop worrying about classes or grades or stereotypes or heteronormativity, and just be completely ridiculous for an evening."

The Pterodactyl Hunt is coordinated every year by the members of the Psi Phi Club, who spend a few weeks preparing for the event—and making sure that students are thoroughly prepared to defend the campus.

Students need not fear if standing on the side of good isn’t their thing. Psi Phi also spends time during those weeks to recruit students to the side of the monsters, which is by no means confined to pterodactyls. There’s a whole range of baddies and creatures of evil that join the fray, including (but never limited to) goblins, orcs, kobolds, the jabberwock, the lonely troll, and dactyl guards (dubbed, with nerdy wit, the “spondees”). Certainly, this mass of monsters proves to be a daunting task for Swatties to conquer, but Swarthmore students are of a valiant sort, and refuse to let their campus fall to the dactyls!

Ben Schwartz '12, who took part in organizing the hunt, mentioned a particularly glorious moment during the battle of 2009. “There was only one pterodactyl remaining, and all the monsters had lined up to protect her. The hunters were thoroughly intimidated by such a vicious mass of enemies, and were shying away. Then, my RA, Suzy (who earlier in the evening had realized that she preferred being a battlefield coordinator to direct combat), managed to organize what looked to be a solid hundred students into a single mass. She got her hunters riled up and yelling, and led a massive charge. It was beautiful.”