Is it a Hoax, the Civil War Pterosaur Photo?

By the living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

More Evidence Supports Ptp

The scientist Clifford Paiva has uncovered additional evidence that the Civil War pterosaur photograph called “Ptp” is indeed as old as it appears at first glance: It was probably taken before about the year 1870.

Take this all in context. Before January of 2017, when Paiva and I jointly made our announcement of our findings, almost all the critics assumed that this photograph was a hoax created with the help of Photoshop. That conjecture has been shot down and is about as dead as the animal seen in the photo.

evidences the Ptp photograph is genuine, with a modern pterosaur

The Ptp “pterodactyl” photograph that is now declared genuine

In my recently-published book Modern Pterosaurs, I explain why the drag mark on the ground and the broken-down sapling tree are evidence that the animal was dragged into that clearing to be photographed. Those are indirect evidences that the photograph was not constructed by using digital image manipulation software such as Photoshop. Something real appears to have been dragged into that clearing.

Paiva also found a prop under the beak of the apparent Pteranodon, evidence that the photo was recorded in the 19th century. That is direct evidence that the photograph was taken before about 1870, for one soldier’s shoe is resting on that beak, and people needed to be kept motionless during many seconds of exposure.

Paiva recently found additional evidence in the photo: more brush that had been cleared in front of the animal and another prop, this one under a wing.

One Critic Still Cries “Hoax”

I won’t mention his name here, but this skeptic has written more, perhaps, against the possibility of an extant pterosaur, than another other writer in the world. He has been revising his long web page lately, correcting two or more mistakes he has made in the past, but he still fights against the credibility of the living-pterosaur investigations. Let’s now look at his insistence that what is seen in the photo is not a Pteranodon.

The critic lists twelve points that he believes are evidence that what is seen in Ptp is not a Pteranodon. I made it clear, in my Youtube video “Introduction to the Old Photograph Ptp,” that Paiva and I are not declaring that the pterosaur must have been a Pteranodon. Why does the critic think that is important?

In the past fourteen years of my investigation, of the many eyewitnesses who have reported to me their sightings of apparent pterosaurs, some persons use the word “Pteranodon” when referring to a living animal that was observed. That does not mean that the flying creatures seen by those eyewitnesses had to have been very similar, in details of biology, to what is now known from fossils of Pteranodons.

Some persons who see the Ptp photograph use the word “Pteranodon” when referring to that pterosaur head. That does not mean that it must be very similar to what is now known from fossils of Pteranodons.

What difference does it make whether or not the pterosaur that was at the feet of those six soldiers was very similar to what is now known, from fossils already discovered, about a species of Pteranodon? Why should all the species of Pteranodons that ever lived on this planet be represented in fossils already discovered?

Surely the critic does not believe that no evolution of any kind has ever occurred. Why should the head of the pterosaur seen in the Ptp photograph be exactly like what that critic would want it to be, if a species of pterosaur had been shot by Civil War soldiers?

Let’s be happy in this wonderful discovery of a modern pterosaur. If there is a real problem in the photograph, let it be known and examined. That makes much more sense that what another critical skeptic said about Ptp, pointing out that it looked suspicious that none of the soldiers had any of their shirt buttons unbuttoned.

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More Evidence for the Civil War Photograph

I’ve written about the tree-branch prop used when this “Ptp” photo was recorded, indicating it was probably before about 1870 when those six men were standing over the body of the pterosaur. . . . The scientist Clifford Paiva has recently found another prop, this one under the left wing of the animal.

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Introduction to the Civil War Photograph

In this Youtube video, Jonathan Whitcomb explains why the Ptp photo is far more credible than some people had thought it was. It included evidences of authenticity.

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A Civil War Monster Photograph

What a gruesome head! I don’t recall when I first saw the monster photo, perhaps as long ago as 1968, but that long beak and head appendage made me uneasy. I saw nothing wrong with the six soldiers . . . a creepy sensation never completely left me: It was the memory of that head.

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A Pteranodon in a Civil War Photo

The key player in the photo that is now called “Ptp” is this: an apparent Pteranodon, not fossils bones but apparently recently deceased when the photograph was taken.

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“Monster” in a Civil War Photograph

I don’t know if the Ptp photograph was from Vicksburg in 1864; that appears to be just an online rumor. But Clifford Paiva and I have examined evidence that it was recorded before about the year 1870, according to the photographic practice of using props to keep people motionless.

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Skeptical Responses to Civil War Pteranodon Photo

By modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

The dead flying creature seen in the “Pteranodon photograph,” (Ptp) although it may be called a “pterodactyl” by some Americans and a “ropen” by others, could be a pterodactyloid pterosaur, possibly without the long tail that ropens are seen to have.

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Controversial photograph of six Civil War soldiers next to the apparent body of a recently deceased giant pterodactyl or pterosaur, maybe a Pteranodon

Figure-1: The photograph “Ptp” declared authentic by Paiva and Whitcomb

The winged creature with a Pteranodon-like head shown in Figure-1—that was officially declared to be a genuine pterosaur by Clifford Paiva* and me, Jonathan Whitcomb, on January 14, 2017. (See “Old Photo of a Pterosaur Declared Genuine“)

*(Clifford Paiva is a missile defense physicist who has examined the Ptp photograph in detail. He shows, in his analysis, that this image is a genuine photo of what it appears to be, and that this is an actual recording of a real animal with these men.)

Criticisms by Skeptics of the Photograph

This post is an answer to a recent Facebook group discussion question: “What has been the response to this photo by those that don’t believe they exist anymore?” Before getting into that, we need to be clear about two similar photographs that are sometimes confused with each other.

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Two different "pterodactyl" photos, one authentic and the other a fake in imitation

Figure-2: Compare the recent imitation (credit: Fox TV) with the original (Ptp) photo

The one on the left was created by Haxan Films, producers of The Blair Witch Project, apparently for a “Freakylinks” TV episode on the Fox Network. It’s a promotional photo (credit the image to Fox TV) sometimes called the “yellow shot.”

The photo that we’re examining, however, is the genuine image (Ptp), not the imitation. I will not speculate on the intentions of those who played this trick; I can’t look into their hearts and minds. But the potential results of the confusion are unfortunate, making it more difficult to learn the truth about the original image.

Skeptical Online Publication by Glen Kuban [but see update]

Let’s begin with one of the longest web pages ever published in criticism of investigations of reports of apparent modern pterosaurs: “Living Pterodactyls?” by Glen J. Kuban. This online publication, which may be sometimes referred to by paleontologists, has hundreds of words on top of hundreds of more words. But though the copyright is “2004-2013” (as of January 16, 2017), limited editing has been done since the earlier years. In addition, much of the material is either outdated (even years ago outdated) or irrelevant to the primary research done since 2004. Here is one reply: “Are all Pterosaurs Extinct?”

With about 31 paragraphs written to discredit the possibility of modern pterosaurs, you would think Mr. Kuban would have much to say in criticism of the old Civil War photo. Yet the tiny image of that photo takes up only a little more than one fourth of the page width. And notice how little is said about it:

Figure 4. Civil War “pterosaur”  (widely acknowledged as a hoax)

At first, when I recently looked over “Living Pterodactyls?” I thought this was all that he wrote about the photograph. Then I noticed one-and-a-half sentences at the bottom of a paragraph to the left of the image:

. . . the photo has since been exposed as a hoax–a promotional stunt for a Fox television series. [see update below]

Does that sound familiar? Yes, Mr. Kuban has provided a tiny version of the original photograph (albeit greatly cropped at the top and bottom), but he refers to the newer IMITATION (“yellow shot”) photo with the words, “exposed as a hoax.”

That’s a bit like referring to a photo of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and declaring that it’s evidence that the Civil War did not start with the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

The problem with the hoax photo (yellow shot) is that it was staged, with Civil War reenactors, in fairly close imitation of the original (Ptp) shot, even to the placing of the foot of a “soldier” onto the head of an imitation creature.

Take the Ptp photo shown on Kuban’s page in context. To the left of it, and slightly below, we find nothing about that photo in a 91-word paragraph about an ostrich pelvis that was mistaken for a “pterodactyl skull.” I don’t recall mentioning that blunder in any of my publications, and I’ve surely written more about modern pterosaurs than anyone else in the world. How much better it would have been for Kuban to have ignored that ostrich pelvis and dig a little deeper into the original Civil War “pterodactyl” photo!

As it is, he appears to be completely ignorant that two photographs are involved: one obviously a hoax and the other one shown in miniature on his page. Worse than simply confusing them in his mind, however, he writes about them as if there were only one photograph. How easy for a reader to assume that only one photo is involved!

Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not accusing anyone of dishonesty. But “Living Pterodactyls” may be the longest and most frequently accessed one-page online criticism of modern-pterosaur research that has ever been published. And those who use only this skeptical page as a source of information on the subject can be greatly mislead.

Update on April 29, 2017  (by Jonathan Whitcomb)

I communicated with Glen Kuban in March and April of 2017, and he revised his long page [“Living Pterosaurs (Pterodactyls)?”], correcting his mistake in confusing the two photos (Haxan Films Freakylinks hoax versus the Ptp). I am grateful for that. He now shows both photographs and they are much larger than his earlier publishing of Ptp.

I hope that the two of us will continue to have positive communications and continue to make needed revisions and corrections in our writings because of such communication.

Yet I found that Kuban had, while making that correction regarding his confusing two photographs, added many paragraphs that appeared entirely orchestrated to discredit everything that appears to support the possibility of any species of extant pterosaur. Indeed, he seems to have added about twenty paragraphs, and much of that material is about my writings.

He mentioned how little support I have in general and in how little support exists for the idea that Ptp has a genuine image of a modern pterosaur. Yet it seems that Kuban has failed to take into account that he himself may have played a part in that opinion, for his web page “Living Pterosaurs …” had, for years, a statement that the photograph (Ptp) was a hoax for a television series. I don’t imply any intention of deception on his part, nevertheless, what could have been more misleading than that, for all the readers who may have read that part of “Living Pterosaurs …”?

Comment by Loren Coleman

With all the accomplishments in cryptozoology by Loren Coleman, he has not been friendly to the possibility of modern pterosaurs. In one of his web posts, “Civil War Dinos,” he includes both of the photos we’ve examined, correctly revealing the source for the more-recent Haxan image.

But the older photo gets only a two-word conclusion from Coleman: “Verdict: photoshopping.” The first version of Photoshop, however, was created in 1988. The problem with Mr. Coleman’s conclusion is simple: Some people remember seeing that older image in the middle of the 20th century, generally around the 1960’s or 70’s.

In light of the research done by a missile defense physicist, verifying the authenticity of the Ptp photograph, those two words by Loren Coleman are not convincing.

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Pteranodon-like head in this genuine image

 

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Genuine Modern Pterosaur in a Photo

On Saturday, January 14, 2017, the missile defense physicist Clifford Paiva and I communicated by phone and mutually agreed that the image herein labeled “Pteranodon Photograph” contains a genuine image of a modern pterosaur . . .

Skeptics of live-pterosaur research

I have admired Jonathan Whitcomb’s Ropen / Pterosaur research for many years. I have posted a few of Jonathan’s offerings from recent years, which includes an article he wrote for Phantoms & Monsters . . .

Pterodactyl Attacks in Canada

Be aware that I have so far found nothing in the book by Paulides (missing persons) that gives any hint that he knew about living-pterosaur investigations when he wrote it.

Ropen – Pterodactyls

Long-tailed featherless ropens are not at all restricted to the southwest Pacific Ocean. It seems that these nocturnal pterosaurs have established themselves on most continents.

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Ropen Sighting in Ohio in Late 2016

By the modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

Last month I got an email from a man who lives in Gahanna, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. He and his teenaged son were driving near their home at 6:45 p.m. on December 19, 2016, when a large creature flew over their car, giving them a quick but close view. It had a wingspan greater than the width of their car.

I communicated with the man, whom I will call John, through several emails, and on January 6, 2017, I interviewed him by phone. I believe they saw an American Ropen, although my associates and I still don’t have enough information on the North American sightings to say much about species for this kind of modern pterosaur in this part of the world. John told me the following about what his son told him about the tail:

. . . the creature whipped it around…he said it had sharp projections on the tip…but it was moving so fast he said he just got a glimpse of it . . .

During my phone conversation with John, he told me that his son saw some kind of structure at the end of the tail. That strongly suggests to me that they saw a ropen.

Before ending our telephone interview, we decided that he should be anonymous. “John” has a number of college degrees related to biology and works in a profession in which he could be the subject of ridicule if his sighting was made public with his name and place of employment. (I know these details myself, however.)

But the main point is this: They saw a flying creature that was far bigger than any bat, very unlike any bird, and appearing to be a pterosaur.

John told me, in one of his emails:

. . . it is still so vivid in our memory…you could see the bumps of its skin and the claws on its feet. we stopped but of course it vanished.

He also said,

. . . now that we have seen this we are so much more believers in that there are many things out there most people have never seen and will never see but they are there.

He told me, in our phone interview, that this area of Ohio has many limestone caves and his neighborhood has many kinds of wildlife.

Other Pterosaur Sightings in Ohio

This ropen-sighting area, in a suburb of Columbus, is just over 100 miles from Antwerp, Ohio, where two sightings were reported a few years ago, encounters over or near a bridge on the Maumee River in the summer of 2003 and a year earlier.

Yet another pterosaur sighting was much closer to the late-2016 encounter in Gahanna, Ohio: only 4.5 miles away, near the corner of Westerville Road and Denune Avenue, in the northern part of Columbus. What a proximity! That was in the winter of early 2014, probably just before sunrise.

After finding this report on my computer, I wrote the following email to John:

Hi, _______

Thank you very much for the talk we had by phone yesterday. This morning, I was looking through my records of sightings in Ohio and found that I had forgotten about an important report, very relevant:

A lady and her daughter were at a bus stop early in the morning, in the winter of early 2014, when they saw a large “pteradactyl” fly right by them, at about the same height above the ground as the one you saw last month. Here’s the thrilling part:

This was at Westerville Road and Denune Avenue, less than five miles from where you had your sighting. This appears to me to be about 4.5 miles southwest of your location.

This means we need to support local investigations in your area, for this is too much for coincidence. Even if it’s only one ropen in that general area, it deserves immediate attention. I’ll be writing about this [including publishing blog posts], and looking for help, within the next few days.

Jonathan

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Ropen page on Wikipedia deleted

. . . the ropen continues to survive skeptical attacks, despite declarations about extinctions. The most obvious extinction, however, is that of a page on Wikipedia.

Pterosaur sighting in Ohio

. . . a number of eyewitnesses have reported apparent live pterosaurs in Ohio, regardless of the apparent lack of newspaper headlines. Probably unknown to many news media reporters and editors, sighting in neighboring states may be of the same species . . .

Modern Pterosaur in Papua New Guinea

After only a few minutes of their arrival, however, the giant ropen, flew just over the surface of Lake Pung. All seven boys ran home in terror, for that ropen had a mouth “like a crocodile” and a tail that one of the eyewitnesses estimated to be “sefan meetuh” long (about 22 feet).

Ohio Pterosaur Sightings

Three separate encounters in Ohio:

  • Kenton (2010)
  • Mount Vernon (2005)
  • Antwerp (2002 and 2003)

Antwerp, Ohio, actually had two sightings, in consecutive summers.

Modern Pterosaurs and Missing Children

The tragedy of strange missing-persons cases—that compels me to write about my interpretation of the more mysterious aspects of these disappearances, especially because so many of these lost individuals are children.

Living Pterosaurs

The ropen is described in ways that actually lead to two words: “dragon” and “pterosaur,” depending on culture and taste. But notice the word noticeably absent: “extinct.” Many people are convinced that they are alive because they have seen them flying over their heads.

Ropen – a Modern Pterosaur

. . . ropens continue to  fly overhead, continuing to shock humans  who had assumed that all pterosaurs had  become extinct millions of years ago.

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A Few Sightings of Pterosaurs Reported in 2016

Be aware that an eyewitness may use one or more of a number of words for the flying creature that was observed:

  • Dragon
  • Flying dinosaur
  • Pterodactyl
  • Dinosaur bird
  • Featherless flying creature

The point is that these are featherless flying creatures and are generally larger than most birds, many of them also having long tails.

This is just a small sampling of pterosaur sightings that were reported to me in 2016.

Pterosaur Sighting in Missouri in 1985

I’ve never told anyone of this except three family members . . .

[In] St. Louis Mo. . . . I was ten years old at a family BBQ with my dad…it was before dusk and still enough light in the sky that it was still blue . . . we heard this horrific screech from right above the trees in the surrounding yard. I looked up and saw something AMAZING ! It was a real live Pterosaur!

Huge …. The size of a small airplane! Wings like a bat but never flapped, just glided in circles. The head had a long crest . . . Long beak with razor like white teeth, greenish yellow eyes, long tail with a tuff like shape at the end but NOT FUR OR FEATHERS. leather type skin. It was I guess 50 ft above our back yard party . . .

Mass panic broke out as adults dropped their beers and burgers and grabbed their kids and ran inside. I was NEVER once afraid although my dad . . . lost all composure and swooped me up and ran inside the house . . .

“Pterodactyl” on the Big Island of Hawaii on Aug. 20 2016

My military boyfriend and I were taking a regular swim in the warm ponds on Big Island. I looked in the sky and noticed a giant flying bat-like creature. I pointed it out and said it was a pterodactyl and he doubted me and thought I was kidding. He didn’t even want to look up. It was flying around for around 30 seconds and he finally looked up and his jaw dropped. . . .

We watched it for around 2 more minutes gliding around without moving it’s wings much . . . It had very unusual triangular shaped flesh leading up to it’s feet and a huge wingspan and was brown colored. . . . The time was around 5:20 pm Aug. 20, 2016.

Dragon-Like Creature Sighted in Iowa

. . . I saw a creature here in Iowa that looked a lot like your dinosaur.

. . . I am a Minister here in Iowa and I have for years been worked in homeless shelters and worked with people in addictions. In the early summer of 2014, I was working at a mission type program [called] Teen Challenge in Colfax Iowa.

. . . [In the afternoon] as I was driving him home I looked out my
drivers side window. And out over a corn field 1/4th mile out . . . I saw a large bat/bird like thing trying to fly. . . .

It would flap its wings, gaining some air and then try and glide. It was a very windy day and this creature kept gaining a little height and . . . was then pushed down [to] the ground by the wind. It was too heavy to fly. . . . I caught a glimpse of its body. It had a long lizard/snake like body with a long tail.

. . . I would guess it was 6 ft to 8 ft long with a 12 [foot] wing span. It’s face looked a lot like a Komodo dragon’s face. It was gray/black  . . . I don’t drink, I have never done drugs, [in] perfect health. I was shocked. . . .

[More recently] I have been working with a new client also from Colfax. He shared that he was from [that] town . . . . in the spring of 2014, at around dusk he had been driving friends into Colfax when . . . his daughter and one of his friends had started yelling at him to turn around. They had spotted a winged dinosaur that was trying to fly. He did not believe and kept driving. Every time he drove by that spot his daughter would bring it up. This was within a half mile of where I saw the creature.

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modern-pterosaur sketch by the eyewitnessThis sketch was drawn by the eyewitness (Gitmo, Cuba, ca. 1965)

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Pterosaur Sighting Reports in the USA

Keep in mind that these reports were received in 2016, meaning not all of them were of encounters with “pterodactyls” in this year. It’s always been common for some eyewitnesses to report sightings that they had in previous years, some encounters even being many years previous to the time of reporting to me.

Sightings of Pterosaurs in the United States

To illustrate how sightings of pterosaurs stretch across the United States, let’s look at excerpts from the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America . . .

Pterosaur sightings in Missouri and in North Carolina

The man and his grandmother saw the large apparently smooth-skinned creature, on July 15, 2004, flying about a hundred feet above an Arby’s restuarant in St. Louis . . .

Pterosaur Sightings in Hawaii

. . . seen a Pterydactyl like creature on the Big Island. Twice actually in the last 2 months. My husband and son also saw one about two weeks ago. I have been doing all kinds of research to see who else has seen this because it seems quite crazy, but I am abosolutely positive in what I saw.

Book on Pterosaurs Sightings in Oklahoma, Missouri, etc.

This cryptozoology book also has sighting reports from Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, Maine, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, California, Michigan, Arkansas, and other states of the USA.

New – Pterosaur Sightings in the United States

Details are now available on ninety important sighting reports: apparent pterosaurs in the lower-48 states of the USA, with data compiled at the end of 2012.

Modern Pterosaur in Iowa

I noticed a post by a skeptic who wrote about the legend of the Van Meter creature of 1903, a reportedly winged monster that frightened citizens in a small town in Iowa.

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Pterosaur Sightings in Pennsylvania

Near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, three children observed an apparent pterosaur flying overhead. I received an email from their father last week, on what he learned by questioning them. The sighting was on Thursday, May 5, 2016, in the middle of the afternoon, and the oldest child of the three is eight. Here is part of that email.

Mr. Whitcomb . . .

By way of full disclosure: I have had a mild, amateur interest in cryptozoology in the past; so, I was familiar with you before today, although I have not yet read your book. My children are as interested in dinosaurs as any children their age. They flip through dinosaur books and such. I have mentioned to them before that some folks have claimed sightings of living pterosaurs, and that I am open to the possibility.

They have seen herons in the past, and know what they look like in flight. We have sometimes commented on the similar appearance. . . .

There is no doubt in my mind that they truly believe that they saw a pterosaur. That doesn’t mean that they did–but they truly believe that they did. . . . as I interacted with my kids about this, I grew to suspect that they may really have seen something unexpected. . . .

They emphasize repeatedly that the tail had a knob at the end.

I thought that perhaps, if this were a misidentification, the “tail” might actually be legs, and the “knob” the feet. BUT they insist that they saw short legs and feet BESIDE the tail. THAT is what I find most curious. . . .

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, concluded that those three children did indeed witness a ropen flying over their neighborhood. Their descriptions of the flying creature correlates with what other eyewitnesses report in various states of the USA.

Pottstown-Flood-01Pottstown Flood of 2006, photo by Richard Vetter (for the license, see bottom of post)

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It seems the ropen that flew over the Pottstown area of Pennsylvania may have had a wingspan of about twelve feet and a tail about six feet long. That proportion is similar to what others report: a two-to-one ration of wingspan to tail length, although we do have exceptions (which variations may be explained in various ways, including eyewitness error and encounters with more than one species).

Sighting of an Apparent Pterosaur in Philadalphia

Around the late 1990’s or so, two persons in Philadelphia witnessed a possible pterosaur. I got an email from one of them in 2005 and included the account in my book Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition).

[The sighting was at] approximately 5:00 A.M. [probably in the summer] The weird part is I live in Philly. [My friend] was dropping me off, and parked. . . . we saw something that made our jaws drop. . . . This thing didn’t seem to fly quickly. [Its] wingspan was huge. We’d figured at least 20 feet or so. It wasn’t flapping real hard like a sparrow or pigeon does. It almost seemed to sail. It came from the South, and appeared to be heading west [towards the Delaware River].

As God [is] my witness we saw this thing. . . . It had an anvil shaped head and somewhat of a long neck. . . . We do have a hawk in my neighborhood. So I know what the heck that looks like. This thing had to be at least twice the size of a hawk. Maybe three times. I’ve seen . . . vultures down by the Delaware River, and this thing in no way looked like that or a crane. No way. . . . I will go to my death remembering that, and so will my friend . . . It freaked us out so bad.

That creature flying over Philadelphia may not have been a ropen, for the report suggested it did not have a long tail, but it certainly appeared to be something other than any known bird or bat.

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Ropen or Pterosaur in New Mexico

An amateur astronomer, standing outside his New Mexico home, about 140 miles west of Lubbock, Texas, saw an apparent bioluminescent nocturnal pterosaur on September 1, 2014. It was gliding across the telescope’s field of view, which was at low magnification for finding the Andromeda Nebula. Michael Slack, of Roswell, New Mexico watched the flying creature both through the eyepiece and by direct observation.

Pterosaur Sighting in Pennsylvania

They guess that the body was “about as long as a lion.” They guess that the wingspan was “one and a half of our bathroom . . . maybe a little less.” Our bathroom is eight feet long. They guess that the tail was as long as “one and a half broomsticks.”

Pterosaur Sightings in New York, Maine, and Rhode Island

. . . my friend and I were canoeing [east of Buffalo, New York] in the creek accessed from my back yard, when we sighted a very strange creature that we had both thought to be a prehistoric bird. Immediately, I thought ‘pterodactyl.’ It was a greyish color with no apparent feathers. I remember the wing span and the head shape but I don’t recall the tail end.

Pterosaur Deception? NO!

Surely I could have created some fuzzy image, pasting it onto one of those 14,333 photographs that my game camera had recorded over a period of many months. That would have been easier than searching through those 14,333 photos, scanning them for any sign of a living pterosaur but finding none. Why did Prothero accuse me of deception?

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Creative Commons license for the use of the photograph: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ – some cropping of the bottom of the photo and a tiny portion around the other edges

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New – Pterosaur Sightings in the United States

Details are now available on ninety important sighting reports: apparent pterosaurs in the lower-48 states of the USA, with data compiled at the end of 2012. These many details had been unavailable to the public before now (June of 2015). Why? They could have been badly misinterpreted by some persons, with unjustified speculations about migrations. The data is now released with the precaution that at least the great majority of flight patterns are probably unrelated to anything involving migration.

Long Tails and Tail Flanges in Pterosaur Sightings

It seems that ropen-like featherless flying creatures dominate other apparent pterosaurs, by a ratio of ten-to-one, according to what eyewitnesses report about the presence or absence of a long tail. (All the data here revealed relates to sightings in 33 of the 48 contiguous states of the USA.)

A surprising 28% of the reports included some description of a structure at the end of the tail, sometimes called a “diamond” or “spade.” Considering how easy it would be to overlook such a structure or to have a poor viewing angle, it strongly supports that the long-tail reports are accurate. The great majority of sightings of apparent pterosaurs in the forty-eight contiguous states of the USA appear to be encounters with one or more species of extant Rhamphorhychoid pterosaurs.

pterosaur in South Carolina, sketch by eyewitness Susan Wooten

Sketch by the eyewitness Susan Wooten

See the Raw Data for Yourself

To see the data itself, right-click on the following link and choose “Open in new window,” and then left-click on the image itself:

Pterosaur sightings in 48-contiguous states

States With Multiple Sightings

Many of the thirty-three states had only one sighting report in the compiled database. The following states, however, had more than two:

California: 13

Texas: 10

Georgia: 7

Washington: 6

New York: 5

North Carolina: 4

Ohio: 3

How the Reports Were Chosen

Each report used in the data compilation was considered more likely than not to have come from an actual encounter with a modern living pterosaur. If a report appeared to have been probably from something other than a sighting of an actual living pterosaur, that report was left out, and the data was never included in the database.

Most of the reports were from eyewitnesses who were interviewed by Jonathan Whitcomb, but a minority involved other interviewers and other sources.

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Pterosaur Sightings Data for USA

I now make my pterosaur-sightings data available to the public, from the compilations leading up to the end of 2012, for the forty-eight contiguous states of the USA, for the more credible reports. Out of the 128 sightings (worldwide) in that compilation, 90 were in the lower-forty-eight states.

Pterosaur Sightings in America

“ . . . my friend and I were canoeing in the creek accessed from my back yard, when we sighted a very strange creature that we had both thought to be a prehistoric bird. Immediately, I thought ‘pterodactyl.’ . . . no apparent feathers.”

Pterodactyl Sightings in America (in Virginia)

“It came from the direction of the moon . . . all I saw was its silhouette. I could see it was big even before it was close. It seemed like it crossed a great distance with only a few flaps of its wings . . . I have not before nor since ever been so petrified in my life. . . .”

Book: Live Pterosaurs in America

The ropen of Papua New Guinea might not be the only living pterosaur in the world. This book about apparent living pterosaurs in the United States could be even more shocking.

Living Pterosaurs of the United States

“I couldn’t put this book down. It is absolutely fascinating to read about eyewitness accounts of the people who have seen these creatures.” [book review of the second edition]

Non-Extinct Pterodactyls in the USA

I’ve communicated with only a few paleontologists over the past eleven years of my investigation. In general, a fossil expert will fight against the possibility of a modern pterosaur until an eventual admission emerges: He will admit there is a small chance that a species may have survived into the present.

Ropen-Pterosaur in New Mexico

An amateur astronomer, standing outside his New Mexico home, about 140 miles west of Lubbock, Texas, saw an apparent bioluminescent nocturnal pterosaur on September 1, 2014.

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Dinosaurs Carbon-Dated to < 40,000 Years BP

Assumptions About Pterosaur and Dinosaur Extinctions

For generations, Americans and peoples of other Western countries have been indoctrinated, from early childhood, with continuous proclamations about all of the dinosaurs and pterosaurs becoming extinct many millions of years ago. The truth is now coming out, however, with direct carbon-dating of dinosaur bones.

Since carbon dating became available, in the mid-20th century, many scientists had assumed that the new method for determining ages was inappropriate for dinosaur fossils. They took it for granted that no carbon-14 could be left from those bones, for radiocarbon dating should detect no radioactive carbon from anything that had lived many millions of years ago.

Carbon-14 Dating

The new concept in determining when particular dinosaurs lived is this: Date the bones themselves, not the layers that are removed from the layers in which the fossils are found. This direct method relies on the proven principles of radiocarbon dating (C14).

Carbon-12 is the normal non-radioactive isotope of carbon. The version with two extra neutrons is carbon-14. The dating method was invented by Willard Libby in the late 1940’s and is now a standard tool for archaeologists and some other scientists.

The radioactive version constantly gets created in the atmosphere by the collision of cosmic rays with nitrogen in the air. This transforms into carbon-14 and combines with oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide. Those CO2 molecules get into into plants by photosynthesis, the same way that carbon-12 does.

Animals get C-14 by eating plants, although the radioactive form of carbon is far less common than carbon-12. When an animal or plant dies, carbon no longer enters it. That is when the ratio of the radioactive isotopes (compared with non-radioactive) decreases, for C-14 gradually decays back into a non-radioactive form.

After some time, perhaps centuries or thousands of years, a sample from an animal or plant can be tested for the ratio of the isotopes of carbon. This gives scientists raw data for arriving at a calendar date for when that organism died.

This method of dating dead material can be accurate for a maximum of about 50,000 years before the present (BP), depending on the type of test and other factors. This brings up a question:

Can Dinosaur Bones be Carbon-14 Dated?

A better question may be this: “Can we learn anything useful from carbon dating dinosaur bones?” Different persons have different beliefs about when dinosaurs lived, and that makes for different reactions to the question.

If dinosaurs only lived many millions of years ago, then all of the carbon-14 should have decayed away millions of years ago. So why do we always seem to find that isotope of carbon when we do that testing on dinosaur bones? Many tests have shown ages well under 40,000 years.

Could there be contamination of the specimens? That’s the easy answer, if nobody digs deeper into the details. Unfortunately for the old standard models, the processes and results do not fit with simple contamination conjectures.

But the simple answer to the question is this: Something can be learned from carbon dating of dinosaur fossils, even if it is only to test the processes for accuracy or the preparations for contamination possibilities.

So why are not many scientists quickly following up on the earlier tests and sending dinosaur bones to the laboratories? Almost nobody wants to be seen as a fool for abandoning the old ideas about ancient extinctions many millions of years ago. Professors and researchers have lost their jobs, in the United States, for challenging such old established beliefs.

long-tailed and long-necked dinosaur

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Dinosaurs Living With Humans

Waldemar Julsrud, a German living in Acambaro, Mexico, discovered some unusual objects while riding his horse around El Toro Mountain, in July of 1944, including a partially buried ceramic figurine. This led, in time, to the discovery of many more ceramic works of art, some of which depict dinosaurs.

Carbon-14 Shows Dinosaurs Lived Recently

One of the oral presentations in the 2012 Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore surprised at least some of the members of the audience. Dinosaur bones from several different locations had been carbon-dated, and it appears those animals lived only tens of thousands of years ago, not many millions of years ago.

Recent Dinosaurs

How recently did the dinosaurs and  pterosaurs live on this planet? Why not allow modern radiocarbon dating to continue to reveal the truth about  when these wonderful creatures have  lived?  If no C-14 is found in any of the dinosaur bones, in the new tests,  then the previous positive findings  may be questioned.

Sense of Truth

My friend Mitchell was in a hurry to get to the restaurant for  breakfast. Looking back, we’re grateful he was late, getting to  within a few blocks of the Twin Towers when the first plane hit.  That restaurant was near the top of one of those towers. Yes, it  was that time, on that day, in New York.

Carbon-14 Dating and Dinosaurs

Because so many paleontologists have so long assumed that all dinosaurs became extinct many million years old, the abstract of the report by the Paleochronology group was censured, deleted from the conference website because they did not like to consider such an apparently revolutionary discovery. The two chair persons did not challenge the data openly but removed it from public view without notifying the authors.

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Pterodactyl Attacks in British Columbia?

Set aside any independent reports that I, Jonathan Whitcomb, may have personally received from eyewitnesses; we have two authors whose books either imply or describe apparent modern pterosaurs (AKA “pterodactyls”) in British Columbia, and those two nonfiction books include reports relating to possible attacks on humans:

  • Missing 411 Western United States & Canada – by David Paulides
  • Bird From Hell (second edition) – by Gerald McIsaac

Be aware that I have so far found nothing in the book by Paulides (missing persons) that gives any hint that he knew about living-pterosaur investigations when he wrote it. As of December 17, 2014, I have read through half of his book. The “pterodactyl” interpretation is my own, so please don’t hold that author responsible for this unorthodox view of missing persons on Vancouver Island (or anywhere else people disappear). The authors who have written from this perspective are me and Mr. McIsaac.

Since the Bird From Hell book mentions a lack of feathers and that eyewitnesses describe a tail that is six feet long, I believe that this is a species of ropen.

Two missing toddlers on Vancouver Island

These two children were only two years old when they were tragically lost, on Vancouver Island, to what seems to have been the same kind mystery. One little body was found three-and-a-half miles away and the other, four miles away; both of those distances were too far to be reasonably ascribed to toddler wandering.

To learn the details of these and many other cases of missing persons, refer to the book Missing 411 – Western United States & Canada. The critical point is how these two disappearances of children in western British Columbia relate to other cases in the western United States: When the body or living victim is found, the discovery is often too many miles away from the location where the person became missing and often too much higher in elevation.

Two-year-old Yehudi Prior and his father were four miles north of Wild Duck Lake, on September 23, 1974, when the toddler disappeared. The body was found six days later, “near Hope Creek in the next valley north of Wild Duck Valley . . . a fantastic long distance . . . It seemed impossible that he could go that far.”

Two-year-old Lynn Marie Hollier left the family cabin on July 24, 1986, at Horne Lake (also on Vancouver Island), just west of Spider Lake Provincial Park and Horne Lake  Caves Provincial Park. Tracking dogs were not successful. Twenty-six days after the toddler became missing, two hunters found the child’s body under a fallen log, over three miles from the family cabin. The mother later responded to the suggestion that her two-year-old had walked that far uphill: “There’s no way . . . It just doesn’t seem possible.”

Take the above two cases in context. Many similar missing-persons tragedies involve the later discovery of scattered bones or no evidence of what happened. This leads to the distinct possibility that an animal predator is involved. Yet when a body is found intact or a victim is found alive, odd assortments of clothing are missing, including one or both shoes. We now have an explanation, but it is shocking.

More research is needed, but the overall evidence seems to be pointing at a flying predator and one that is larger than any extant bird known to western science. It seems that the body of Lynn Hollier was found because the child was under that fallen log, where the flying creature could not locate what it had dropped.

That is why tracking dogs are so often unsuccessful: The victim had been carried away through the air, not dragged over the ground.

How does a flying predator drop a human prey? It’s when clothing or a shoe or two is mainly what is gripped by the animal: The person falls out of the clothing that is then left in the claws of the creature. That is why clothing is found maybe hundreds of feet away from an intact body or living victim or the clothing is never found, for the animal soon realizes what happened yet cannot find the human to eat it. The body of a missing person, or a living victim, is often found in thick bushes where the predator could not find what had been dropped.

I hope that knowing details about such tragedies can help us avoid other similar tragedies in the future. My condolences to the family members who could not have been expected to have known about these normally-nocturnal flying creatures and the dangers a few of them may pose on rare occasions. These apparent modern pterosaurs seem to be mostly fish-eaters or they often hunt bats or birds.

“Bird From Hell” of Northern British Columbia

It’s known as the “Devil Bird” by elders of the First Nation people in the area where the author Gerald McIsaac has lived for many years. He believes, as I Jonathan Whitcomb believe, that this is a species of pterosaur. To quote from McIsaac’s book Bird From Hell (second edition):

The public is well aware of [some] predators . . . but they are not aware of the pterodactyl [as a living animal]. That is the reason so many people are killed by this animal [in British Columbia].

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Women may be Attacked in British Columbia

One of the girls in the village was recently attacked by a pterodactyl. She had a campfire burning in her backyard  and was attacked in the darkness. . . . She called me up, very upset, as people are laughing at her.

Deadly Pterosaurs

Not all human encounters with live pterosaurs are a pleasant surprise. On rare occasions, a ropen, or kor, or indava . . . will attack somebody, and the results are sometimes tragic . . .

Pterodactyl Attacks in Yosemite

These weird disappearances are not confined to Yosemite, nor even to the United States. Several factors do seem to tie together cases that are separated by long distances and sometimes separated by decades. To understand what may be happening in Yosemite National Park, we need to see in a broader sense. Look to Canada and to Mexico.

Is the Ropen a “Stupid Fantasy?”

As this interview became publicized online, another biology professor, this one in Minnesota, became upset and wrote his own blog post, ridiculing the idea of modern pterosaurs. The content of the post by the skeptical professor, however, was weak.

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