By the investigative journalist Jonathan Whitcomb
[Updated Nov 14 & 21, 2018; the book was published on Nov 8th]
To the potential giver of a gift for a young reader (birthday, Christmas, etc):
I wrote the nonfiction book The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur for several purposes. As a gift giver for a child or teenager, you need to know what benefits it can give to the young reader. I recommend it for readers between about the ages of eight and fourteen; for some ten-year-olds (and eleven and twelve) it will be exceptionally delightful: easy to understand yet stimulating.
The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur can help a young developing mind to think critically and objectively, which can help to prepare that young person for a possible future as a great scientist. This book is not, however, for a reader who simply wants to sit inside the same box forever, never to become an important leader in science. It’s not a book that indoctrinates the reader, telling her or him what to think. The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur helps the young person to examine what people actually experience in the real world and what it might mean, in spite of the potential shocking consequences.
In other words, if you the gift-giver and the young reader want only to be told the same old tale about universal extinctions of all dinosaurs and pterosaurs, then this book is not for you. The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur does not indoctrinate with ideas from the late 1700’s and the 1800’s, like so many nonfiction science books do. It explains why scientists from old times could have been mistaken about universal pterosaur extinction. What a treasure this short book can be!
This is not about dinosaurs in the usual sense but about pterosaurs, commonly called by many English-speaking Westerners “pterodactyls” or “dinosaur birds” or “flying dinosaurs.” Some people, in the past and in the present, have called them “dragons.”
It’s not about how they all died many millions of years ago or about why they all died. It’s more like a true-life adventure, getting into eyewitness testimonies from men, women, teenagers, and children, common people from two continents. This book explores what they actually saw, or at least what they tell us that they saw, and why we can learn from the many similarities in the reports: what the animals look like, or at least what they’re reported to look like.
This book explores why people did not believe eyewitnesses at first and why people are beginning to believe them in recent years. Indeed, some cryptozoologists are completely convinced that many eyewitnesses have given us reports that deserve serious scientific investigation. I am one of those cryptozoologists: I believe what many eyewitnesses have told me. Again, the reader can decide what to think.
The nonfiction book that can open minds to new possibilities
Unlike almost all nonfiction books on dinosaurs and pterosaurs, this one does not indoctrinate readers into what to think. It reports what three eyewitnesses said about flying creatures in Cuba (1965 and 1971) and compares those accounts with others: four eyewitness accounts from Los Angeles County in the 21st century and seven eyewitness accounts from Papua New Guinea.
The book explains, in simple English, the three most important points about what a person tells us and then explains the credibility of the reports mentioned:
- The person is telling the truth and is not mistaken
- The person is telling the truth but is mistaken
- The person is telling a lie
The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur reports human experiences. It allows the reader to decide what to believe: The final statement on the title page says, “You, the reader, decide what you want to believe.”
Please do not misunderstand what this book suggests. From the many species of pterosaurs that are now known to many scientists through fossils, it is obvious that countless species of this flying creatures have lived in the past. The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur suggests that one long-tailed species has survived and that this uncommon nocturnal animal has avoided official scientific discovery partly because it rarely appears in daylight. Unfortunately for eyewitnesses, when such an animal is reported and described, almost nobody believes it . . . until recently.
Here are brief quotations from this book for kids and teens:
From first chapter
. . . One day in 1965, a few children were walking near some tall grass in eastern Cuba. Patty was about six years old and was with her little brother. Suddenly an animal stuck its head up above the grass, about thirty feet away from Patty.
As the children looked at the animal, nobody moved. Not just the head but the upper part of the wings were showing. It looked confused, like it had just woken up and was looking around to see what was happening.
After about five seconds, the creature jumped up and flew away. It had a leathery brown coloring, with no sign of any feathers. The end of its long tail was diamond shaped.
From second chapter
Six years after Patty saw the flying “dinosaur,” a United States Marine saw two “pterodactyls” at Guantanamo Bay. Most people did not believe him. It’s not just children that have that problem, for many people believe that all of those flying creatures became extinct many millions of years ago.
. . . The two pterosaurs flew together, slowly flapping their wings. They were not far from Eskin and maybe 100 feet high. He described their wing flapping: “graceful.” He had a clear view, as they flew from the sea, going inland.
Wingspan is the distance from one wingtip to the other. Eskin thought the two pterosaurs each had a wingspan of about ten feet, but he said that it could have been as small as eight feet or as large as twelve feet. It’s hard to tell how big something is if it’s up in the air and you have never seen anything like that before.
This sketch was drawn by the eyewitness Patty Carson
Two pterosaur sightings in Cuba
I would here be writing mostly about those interviews in 2004, except that I’ve just started a new nonfiction cryptozoology book for children: The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur. That’s why I need to concentrate on two pterosaur sightings in Cuba . . .
People who see “flying dinosaurs” (pterosaurs)
The “flying dinosaur” of Papua New Guinea is often called ‘ropen.’ It seems to be a large Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, far larger than any of the fossils of those long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoids known, at least into the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Missing children and living pterosaurs
I don’t accuse all ropens for all the disappearances of children who go missing in North America. But the reported sizes of some of these flying creatures makes it possible for a small number of them to go bad in the worst way, like a few mountain lions and a few bears that we have heard of over the decades.
Cryptozoology book on pterosaurs
Since the time of Darwin, many scientists have assumed that some general types of animals became extinct long ago. One of the assumptions is that all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs died off before any humans existed.
Children who saw a modern pterosaur
Wesley Koro, Gideon’s brother, was one of seven boys who saw the ropen fly over a crater lake on Umboi Island (about 1994).
. . . some of the nonfiction books are entirely about these featherless flying creatures and others include cryptids of other types or even are mostly about paranormal events in general . . .
Kids see a pterosaur in England
. . . last weekend two of my children were playing in the garden . . . around 10 a.m. [and] my son of 13 years came running in to me saying he saw a giant big brown bird with giant wings. . . .