Raleigh, North Carolina – photo by James Willamor
The sighting was reported on The Gear Page, an internet forum that is popular with some musicians. Because it’s not a cryptozoology forum, we can better see how Western cultural assumptions influence how people react to a report of a “pterodactyl” flying over a highway on the outskirts of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Within about six hours of the sighting of the apparent pterosaur, “Smgbad” wrote (on March 24, 2013, at 12:21 a.m.) what is partially quoted here:
Ok… so I saw a Pterodactyl up close tonight. Not joking.
I was driving along on I-540 in Raleigh at sundown tonight, cruising at about 70 mph, heading to my weekly jam session with my buddy. All of a sudden I see the HUGE bird looking thing fly across the overpass I was on, maybe 20-25 feet in front of my car and about 7 or 8 feet off the ground.
He reported the following points of description:
- It had “an enormous pointed beak.”
- “a pointed top of its head”
- “The wingspan was probably about 5-6 feet wide”
- “bony wing structure ending in points (almost like sails)”
- “what looked like small claws” on the middle of wing
- “bat-like in a way”
- Maybe it had “greyish fur or dark skin.”
- “two legs like a bird kind of jutting straight out” the rear
- The legs were “followed by a LONG tail with a spade at the end.”
The eyewitness added the following:
I am not joking. I was not drinking. There were NO drugs involved. Some friends I told tonight believed me as they knew was unusually freaked and excited. My wife thought I was full of it.
The comments on that forum, that followed the report, filled 70 pages, with over 1,000 remarks, at least a few of which were responses by the eyewitness, defending his stand that what he had observed was not a common bird.
Many persons on that forum stated that it was almost impossible that the flying creature was a pterosaur. Some insisted that it was a bird that the eyewitness misidentified. Other persons just made fun of the idea. A few believed that the eyewitness actually saw what he reported that he saw.
Long Tails of Pterosaurs
Any cryptozoologist who might investigate the sighting could find the following statement interesting: The eyewitness also said, “Pterodactyls don’t have long tails in reconstructive art I looked at afterwards. Question is…. WHAT THE HELL DID I SEE?!?”
Statistical analysis of the more credible reports of apparent modern pterosaurs is clear about long tails: 41% of the sightings were of long-tailed flying creatures and only 2% did not have a long tail (57% of the reports did not give any clear indication of tail length). A twenty-to-one ratio tells us that long tails are common on these flying creatures, regardless of popular assumptions based upon television and film portrayals of pterosaurs.
Paleontologists, for the most part, believe that the short-tailed pterosaurs mostly lived long after the dominance of the long-tailed “basal” pterosaurs. Perhaps that’s why many science fiction animations (on television and in film) show “pterodactyls” with short tails. The point is this: Eyewitnesses are not being influenced by television or film when they report long tails on the featherless flying creatures they encounter.
Other Sightings in North Carolina
Many of the persons who commented on the forum discussion seemed to have no knowledge of any other similar sighting; they looked at the report without the perspective of those cryptozoologists who have examined many reports of modern pterosaurs. Let’s consider other sightings in North Carolina.
In Asheville, N.C., a lady saw a “huge” black winged creature fly very low over her car. It had no feathers but “sharp edges” to its features.
In Jacksonville, N.C., an eyewitness saw something “huge” flying in the sky: “It looked like a pale greenish white and smooth-skinned. It didn’t appear to have any feathers, and it had the tail with the diamond shape on the end.”
Another eyewitness reported, “When I was around 10 y/o and on the way to a camp in North Carolina, I saw one . . . It was an amazing sight. . . . It looked like a pterodactyl!”
I was going over a report of a pterosaur sighting in North Carolina and noticed similarities with Susan Wooten’s sighting in South Carolina.
At about sundown, but with sufficient light, on March 23, 2013, the eyewitness . . . was driving on the I-540, in or near Raleigh, North Carolina . . .
I too have seen one, or what I believe to have been one, and there are many people who claim they have seen them. When I was around [ten years old] and on the way to a camp in North Carolina, I saw one soaring high in the sky.