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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About Jonathan Whitcomb

I'm a passionate investigator of reports of living pterosaurs throughout the world. I explored part of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2004, interviewing many natives who had seen the ropen.
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