Destination Truth Ropen Episode January 26, 2013Posted by Jonathan David Whitcomb in Papua New Guinea.
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I wonder what the natives think of that Western idea, what those eyewitnesses in Papua New Guinea think about the universal-pterosaur-extinction assumption. It’s not part of their culture but ours. Many of those natives humbly acknowledge the advancements in Western technology, miracle machines that they would not have imagined possible. But our culture carries mental weaknesses as great as any superstition in any third-world country. Why insist that all species of a particular type must be extinct?
I’m thinking about a particular native who was interviewed by Josh Gates, during the Destination Truth expedition of 2007: Fabian. In spite of Fabian’s assurance, however, the expedition team was probably skeptical, at least to some extent, for those visitors to Papua New Guinea were, after all, Americans. They may have thought, “How could a large long-tailed pterosaur be still alive, without the knowledge of any of our scientists?”
Destination Truth was not a religious exercise or spiritual quest. It was a true-like adventure television show (or still is one, as the fifth season began in July of 2012.) Josh and his team members were probably each raised from childhood under the dominating influence of universal extinction indoctrination, regarding dinosaurs and pterosaurs. That explains why those team members were so shocked when their night video cameras picked up something inexplicable, a flying light that should not exist . . . something like what had been described to them by native eyewitnesses.
Fabian (right) firmly believes in the glowing flying creature—he has watched it
This native was also shown a sketch of the ropen and verified the long tail.
Fabian was sure that the flying creature has a long tail
A typical episode of Destination Truth lasts for about 45 minutes, focusing on searching for a cryptid, some unclassified creature within the realm of cryptozoology. The third episode of the first season features a search for a “pterodactyl-like” creature called “ropen” in Papua New Guinea and another cryptid in Chile: the chupacabra.
Josh seems to have been unaware that Pastor Kepas had a recent daylight sighting deep in the mainland of Papua New Guinea, during Paul Nation’s 2006 expedition.
. . . three pterodactyl about 100 feet away. The creatures flew up into the air and off away. They noted the long pointed beak, apparent lack of feathers . . .
While Paul Nation was nearly the end of his expedition deep in the mainland of Papua New Guinea, late in 2006, I was interviewed by members of the Destination Truth television production team, in their new office in Hollywood.
Why do I Believe in Live Pterosaurs? January 15, 2013Posted by Jonathan David Whitcomb in Criticism.
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Sometimes I get a question like, “Have you ever seen a living pterosaur?” (No I haven’t, at least through January 14, 2013.) I believe a more useful question, for all of us, is “Why do you believe in live pterosaurs?” It seems like a simple question; but a reasonable answer from me—that requires considerable explaining. I’ll try to keep it reasonably short.
Over many years, I have learned for myself that in my own United States of America we are bombarded, from before kindergarten to after college, by declarations of dinosaur and pterosaur extinction, and I have also learned that the universal extinction dogma is not based on scientific testing: It’s only an assumption.
But when I have gotten into a prolonged discussion with a paleontologist, it usually results in some kind of admission, from the fossil expert, that it is possible that an extant species of pterosaur may still be around somewhere; nevertheless paleontologists in general will consider it extremely unlikely and leave the subject with no desire to investigate the eyewitness reports I have received.
How rare is the person in a Western society who believes in pterosaur extinct because of objective evaluation of two points of view! The New Britain short-tailed pterosaur, that flies in daylight in the interior of that island, could be more common.
Most non-scientists assume that all of those flying creatures are extinct because the idea is so commonly proclaimed, as if it were a scientific fact beyond doubt.
Most scientists may believe it because it is a long-standing tradition, with apparently nobody ever contradicting universal pterosaur extinction. Off hand, I know of only one scientist who has approached this subject objectively, but because he chose to believe in the literal interpretation of eyewitness reports, skeptics then assumed he was biased in his choice; some of his writings have therefore been under a pen name.
To the point, there is no scientific test for determining pterosaur extinction. (In fact there’s no scientific test for determining the extinction for any species.)
That means the idea that all species of pterosaurs are extinct, all types that have ever lived on this planet are no longer living—that idea is so extreme that it requires extreme evidence to justify generations of proclamations about extinction. No such extreme evidence has come forward.
Eyewitnesses of Pterosaurs
Modern reports of apparent pterosaurs are similar to ancient reports of flying dragons, with a critical difference: Cryptozoologists like myself (we are extremely rare) interview eyewitnesses with questions that test whether or not an actual pterosaur was observed; in ancient history, even the most objective investigators had limited knowledge of pterosaur fossils, at least compared with modern cryptozoologists who specialize in pterosaurs.
Before the close of 2012, I added more eyewitness reports to the compilation of credible reports that had been analyzed the previous year. I then analyzed the data, which came from 128 sightings from around the world. Three independent factors eliminated any potential contamination from hoaxes, with clear indications that hoaxes could not have played any significant part (few if any hoaxes were involved).
How were those sighting reports chosen? Each one I deemed likely to have been an observation of an extant pterosaur, at least more likely than not. That brings up the subject of probability.
Probability of Modern Pterosaurs
I believe beyond any reasonable doubt that some pterosaurs live in this wonderful world of ours. If I were a member of a jury in a criminal case, and had that same surety of belief, when called upon to pronounce a sentence that would result in taking the life of the accused I would not hesitate in casting my vote. That requires an explanation.
Part of the explanation, for the sake of those who prefer something more tangible than my feelings, relates to probability. The 128 sighting reports I chose because each one I deemed to be at least 51% likely to have been from observing a living pterosaur. For simplicity, what does that say for all 128 sightings? If each one was judged only 50% likely to have been a living pterosaur, what is the probability that none of them were from living pterosaurs? Practically zero.
What if a hundred of the sightings were thrown out? With 28 sightings, each with a 50% chance of being a pterosaur, what’s the chance that not one of those 28 was a sighting of a living pterosaur? Not even one chance in 100 million. That’s basic mathematics (1/2 to the power of 28).
I realize that a skeptic may declare that I am biased and incapable of making a reasonable estimate of probabilities of a sighting being from an actual pterosaur. But what if I am so biased that my 50% estimate for each sighting is actually only 5%, that an objective estimate would make it a 95% probability that a report was from some cause other than a pterosaur? Even with that extreme manipulation of my estimates, the probability that not one of the 128 reports were from any real pterosaur would be less than one chance in 500 . . . horrible odds for universal extinction of pterosaurs.
But the 50% and 5% individual-estimates are for simplicity. I actually believe some of the sighting reports to be more than 90% probable to have been from living pterosaurs. The 1944 sighting by Duane Hodgkinson (mainland New Guinea) is one example. If all but the 8 most likely reports were eliminated, the probability that none of those 8 came from an encounter with an extant pterosaur would still be quite remote (and how could any objective scientist completely reject those 120 less-conclusive reports?).
Sample of Part of the Data
The following image shows only a small part of the data that was collected from the 128 sighting reports:
Click on the above image to see details on what information was gathered (shown in part)
“If we pursue the history of the investigation of pterosaurs . . . there is a natural link in our minds with the myths and legends of dragons.” [from the paleontology book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs, by Peter Wellnhofer]
Since late 2003, I have examined many eyewitness reports of these flying creatures, and the latest compilation of data gives us a remarkable insight into wingspan estimates . . .
Featherless Flying Creature in Georgia January 8, 2013Posted by Jonathan David Whitcomb in United States of America.
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In the late summer of 2008, I received an email from an eyewitness in Georgia, a lady who at first was anonymous in my publications (in 2012, she allowed her name to be revealed). I here include a small part of her sighting report, in her own words.
First Sighting by Sandra Paradise
In my searches I have been trying to find someone who might be interested in helping me to verify the existence of an animal I have seen twice in the last few weeks, on my way to work…besides researching the anatomy of what I think it is, and whether anybody else looks up often enough to see one. . . .
I live in a small town in northeast Georgia, called Winder . . . I was born and raised in Atlanta and moved here 9 years ago. . . . I work in Athens . . . a commute that is roughly 25 miles long thru the woods . . .
On August 27, I woke up very early in the morning and could not go back to sleep, so I decided to go ahead, get up, and get to work early and maybe be able to take off early. This put me in the road at about 6:45 am. The day was overcast . . .
. . . entering into a section of thick woods, driving around a slight curve downhill–there are high wooded banks on each side of the road there–and suddenly an animal flew out from my right. . . . and it flew directly in front of my car, across the road. I did not see where it went. . . .
As it leapt out from the woods, I saw it from below, and the tail was very long with a shape on the end. Its wings were probably half-spread and I saw several dark thin horizontal bands across the belly. . . . As it crossed my path, in front and slightly above me, I saw it had a head that was curved, like a hammer; the head had a crest on the top . . . the mouth was closed so I could not make out a jaw structure . . .
Second Sighting by Sandra Paradise
On September 10, I overslept dreadfully. I did not get out of my house til 8:50 am. . . . The day was overcast again . . . I’d gone two miles outside the city limits of Winder, was coming around a curve at the top of a hill . . . and there he was. . . . at the very top of the trees, just flapping along. This time he was further away . . .
But because I was at the top of a hill, the trees he flew above weren’t so high to me . . . They were at the bottom of the slope, so it was almost as if I were dead even with him. Again, he was almost in profile, he looked dark . . .
I could see the crest of the head, and the long tail that I could clearly see had a thickening at the very end. It did not hang down limp . . . it streamed out behind the body . . .
This one looked bigger than the first one, the first one looked to be as long as my Camry is wide. This second one . . . as big as my car is long. Holee cow.
She gave me permission, with reasonable limitations, to publish her sketches. The following needs to be taken in context, however: She did not indicate in her verbal descriptions any extreme tail bending. The following sketch should not be taken as a precise view of tail bending in her actual sightings.
One of the sketches drawn by the eyewitness (Copyright 2008 Sandra Paradise)
July of 2010. My wife and I were sitting outside when motion from above the tree tops to our left caught my attention . . . We were looking at two extremely large birds flying together . . . 15-20′ wingspans . . . appeared to be featherless.
Last week, my 16 year old son and I both saw a large um, thing, not a bird. It resembled a small pterodactyl. Very large wingspan, but the odd thing was it had no discernible feathers.
Bird Carries off a Baby . . . Hoax December 29, 2012Posted by Jonathan David Whitcomb in Criticism.
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In Mont-Royal Park, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a large bird of prey swoops down to pick up a small toddler who is sitting just eighteen feet or so from his mother . . . or so it appears in a video that was posted on Youtube on December 17, 2012.
The terrifying encounter never actually happened, however. The next day, an animation college in Quebec admitted that a few students had created the deception, using two computer 3D models: a bird and a baby.
As of December 29, that Youtube video had 40 million viewers, surpassing the goal of the creators of the hoax: to make a popular video. But it may have created a problem that could take some time to solve, for maybe a million viewers or so may still be unaware of the announcement that it was a hoax.
It reminds me of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938, in which many listeners in the United States heard what appeared to be a long news account of an invasion from aliens, Martians to be precise. About 6-20 Million Americans heard that broadcast, although perhaps only 15% to 25% believed that there was an invasion. That radio broadcast was a reading of a fictional story, a reading by Orson Welles.
Criticism of the Hoax Hypothesis
Soon after I brought up the subject of contradictory shadow directions in the video, I received a response from another Youtube viewer, somebody who had not yet learned about the announcement of the hoax:
“I don’t know what you mean. I’ve watched the video again and all shadows (trees, people, eagle) clearly point to the same direction. I’ve seen this happen to animals much larger than this baby was and since the video doesn’t seem fake to me. people even commented about how it was shown in a Canadian news report, but I guess you all wanna believe what you want. feel free to do so, I think it’s real until someone proves me wrong, which wouldn’t be a big deal for me. we all make errors..even eagles”
Part of what prevented that person from taking my idea seriously was my lack of details in explaining the shadows. This deserves a little explanation. Just watching through the video (at normal speed) does not help, for the viewer needs to stop where the right side of the meadow appears. Otherwise that scene flashes through our view too quickly to notice any shadows.
Another Youtuber viewer was set on the idea that there is no problem with any shadows in the video:
“Need to look again one tree is on a hill an the shadow is in the same direction as the one in the foreground, just the hill makes it look that way. Learn a bit LOL”
I did learn something, but it was different from what that person would guess: Many Youtube viewers (including this person) do not comprehend new ideas when they read words, at least compared with when they look at images.
Problem with Shadows
On the right side of the park, shadows fall to the left
In the middle of the meadow, shadows continue to fall to the left
As the camera pans moderately far across the meadow, the shadows indicate the sun is on the right. As it gets to the part of the meadow where the “baby” is grabbed by the “eagle,” then shadows suddenly show something very different: The sun seems to be on the left.
This frame of the video proves major tampering took place
When one frame of a standard home video shows shadows going in almost opposite directions, there is a problem. In this video, a few frames show this weird appearance of shadow contradiction.
Just a little further to the left, it is obvious how the shadows fall: to the right
The shadow problem shown above add a bit of mystery still, for why would the animators have needed to combine two images of the park? I would have thought there would be no need for altering the appearance of this meadow, for they were adding two animation models onto the background, which normally requires only limited (if any) change in the background.
Other indications of hoax involve the actions or inactions of persons shown. One person walking by the scene of the apparent attack pays no attention except to look in the direction of the videographer. The mother does not even notice the large bird as it shoots towards her and her baby.
The video showing a bird grabbing a baby was a hoax, a convincing imitation of a home video, a convincing portrayal of a large bird of prey, during its flight near the ground, in a park in Montreal, Canada, picking up a human child. Both bird and child were computer animation objects
In one frame of the video, one of the bird’s wings has vanished. Also, the apparent voice of the camera operator seems off, for he says “wow” when the bird is flying in an ordinary way high up above the park, but when it flies much closer and low to the ground the camera operator says nothing.
Somebody once suggested that some sighting reports of apparent pterosaurs were misidentifications of Hornbill birds. But what sightings? That skeptic made the same mistake as many other skeptics: throwing out generalizations rather than examining specific sighting reports.
Pterosaur Size December 10, 2012Posted by Jonathan David Whitcomb in Africa, United States of America.
Setting aside fossils, how big are the wingspans of live pterosaurs? Since late 2003, I have examined many eyewitness reports of these flying creatures, and the latest compilation of data gives us a remarkable insight into wingspan estimates, remarkable for several reasons.
To properly understand the great range of estimates and the overall evenness, I suggest considering the following perspective:
- Several species of pterosaurs live in various parts of the world (maybe different sizes)
- Eyewitnesses have various abilities at estimating wingspans
- Conditions during sightings may cause various estimate errors
- Some sightings may be of juvenile pterosaurs
- In at least one species, individuals may grow throughout their life spans
Seventy-four sighting reports included numeric wingspan estimates
Graph of Pterosaur Wingspan Estimates
The graph above shows 74 wingspan estimates (out of 128 sighting reports), with the vertical showing the number of sightings and the horizontal showing the size estimates. What is remarkable? Note the following:
- Hoaxers could not have had any major influence if they had emphasized giant sizes, for the wingspan estimates show a fairly gradual decline in numbers of sightings as the wingspan increases, beginning with a size similar to that of large birds.
- Hoaxers could also not have had any major influence if they had emphasized scientific knowledge of Rhamphorhynchoid fossil sizes, for the wingspan estimates peak at around 6-11 feet, which is too big for such a hoax concept.
- The graph shows a general decline which is perfectly consistent with what my associate Garth Guessman and I have believed concerning the physical growth of modern pterosaurs: They continue to grow as they get older (like crocodilians).
- The overall range is enormous, from less than two feet to over forty feet, with no statistical outlier.
Out of all the sightings, about 24% involved the observation of a head crest. Only 2% of the eyewitnesses specifically mentioned the absence of a head crest.
I found that the larger data now available supports the earlier conclusion that a hoax or hoaxes played no significant part in the reports. [This conclusion is supported by data gather later, from sighting reports received in 2012.]
I interviewed a young man who reported a long-tailed flying creature . . . on a hot summer day in Antwerp, Ohio. . . . “It was huge. . . . About 4.5 ft tall, 10 ft from head to end of tail. Long skinny tail with a spade about 3-4 [inches] from end of tail. It had a wing span of I would say 8-10 ft. . . . catching sparrows . . .”
A few years ago, a man from Africa sent me an email about his encounter one night in July of 1988, when he was a boy in Sudan. . . . [He saw] a strange winged creature. It was about four to five feet tall as it perched, and only about ten feet from a light bulb that illuminated the patio.
“Dinosaur Found Alive” November 17, 2012Posted by Jonathan David Whitcomb in Papua New Guinea.
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Few newspaper professionals are willing to stand up for an idea that many readers would find unbelievable: modern living pterosaurs. But Terence Aym has done just that, with an article in the Salem-News (August 12, 2010): “Dinosaurs Found Alive.” I am grateful for his support of these investigations in cryptozoology.
But I found a number of problems in his article, serious inaccuracies.
Regarding Jim Blume and David Woetzel, Mr. Aym said, “both men have personally witnessed the soaring creatures—and Woetzel even shot some video footage of one.” Actually neither Blume nor Woetzel saw any form or features of anything that directly suggested a living pterosaur, and Woetzel never videotaped a ropen, not even the glowing object that he saw flying towards Lake Pung on Umboi Island.
I am grateful that Mr. Aym put a link to my web page on David Woetzel’s 2004 sighting of a ropen light. But I don’t know how he misunderstood the reference to video. Mr. Aym wrote that Woetzel “recorded images with his video camera.” But my web page (that he uses as a reference for his declaration) says, “My sighting was so quick that it was impossible to get a video . . .” That’s a quotation, the words that David Woetzel used to explain why he was UNABLE to get a video.
I appreciate Mr. Aym’s enthusiasm, but he seems to have gotten carried away with his desires for our success.
Refering to those who explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for the ropen and interviewing eyewitnesses (I am one of those cryptozoologists, although I am not mentioned in the article), Mr. Aym wrote, “they have seen them firsthand.” Well, most of the American explorers have seen what we call a “ropen light,” that is true, but what American or Australian has seen the form and features of a ropen? At least up until recently, not those who were searching for ropens.
In general, it’s those Americans or Australians who were just fortunate enough to witness one of them because they happened to be at the right place at the right time. Searching for ropens for two or three weeks has not yet rewarded us with the clear sightings, those encounters that make it obvious that the ropen is a pterosaur.
If you want to witness a clear sighting of a living pterosaur, spend most of your time outdoors, watching for them, for the rest of your life, near where you live. That will make it more likely you’ll see a ropen than if you travel to Papua New Guinea to search for them for two or three weeks.
Of course there is a quicker way to encounter living pterosaurs. Consider eyewitness reports, with an open mind, for of the billions of humans on this planet, a tiny portion of them have both witnessed an obvious pterosaur and reported it to a cryptozoologist, and that portion of our species makes a significant number of reports.
The misidentification of a Manta ray oceanic fish does not adequately explain any significant pterosaur sighting . . . The skeptic implies that Mr. Kuhn was mistaken about almost everything, but that he was correct about the general shape of the wings. How unscientific!
I am grateful that some news professionals have written and published some details of living-pterosaur investigations. Whether in a prodigious newspaper like the Houston Chronicle or a small weekly community paper like the Antwerp Bee-Argus . . .
A Smithsonian blog post (Oct 16, 2010) by Brian Switek dismisses both the ropen of Papua New Guinea and any hope for any living dinosaur or pterosaur. He does so with the phrase “ropen myth,” ignoring all major evidences that favor a living animal.