“Monster” in a Civil War Photograph

By the extant-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

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.

Paiva and I have not made any statement supporting the idea that the photo was taken during the American Civil War or that it was in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We do maintain, however, that this is valid evidence for an extant pterosaur in the 19th century.

I can see how somebody would call the animal in Ptp a monster, for that head is indeed frightening, at least it was to me many years ago, before I started investigating the eyewitness accounts of apparent pterosaurs that appear worldwide.

possibly genuine photo of a 19th-century pterosaur

The Civil War “Monster” photograph Ptp, declared genuine by Paiva and Whitcomb

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Confirmation Bias and Modern Pterosaurs

A critic recently wrote that my writings exhibited significant amounts of confirmation bias, yet he gave no example, no evidence to support that. He did point out that I had once had my doubts about the authenticity of the Ptp photograph but that I had changed my stand in 2017. That looks to me like evidence of absence of confirmation bias on my part, since he wrote that in the middle of his paragraphs attacking the possibility that Ptp is genuine. In other words, on the subject of the Civil War pterosaur photo in question, I displayed a significant lack of confirmation bias.

How is that? It requires an introduction.

I saw the Ptp photograph many years ago, possibly as long ago as 1968 (although it was not known by the name of “Ptp” until early 2017). I began investigating eyewitness reports of apparent modern pterosaurs in 2003. Since then, I have written a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal of science (on the subject of reports of modern pterosaurs), four nonfiction books (in nine editions) on the subject, and well over a thousand relevant web pages and blog posts.

In other words, I was aware of Ptp during those many years of writing in support of the concept that some species of pterosaurs are still living. Yet I had doubts about Ptp, doubts that went back many years: I got the impression that those long pointed wings looked a bit like two canoes or a canoe that had been cut in half. That image was shot down, however, early in 2017, and the canoe idea no longer holds water.

How does that relate to confirmation bias? I wrote a few blog posts on Ptp, in 2013, expressing my feelings: I was in limbo, about halfway between believing it had a genuine image of an extant pterosaur and believing it was some kind of hoax. If I was subject to confirmation bias, during those many years in which I wrote in support of the reality of extant pterosaurs, surely that tendency would have caused me to find some little clue that Ptp was genuine, and I would have completely supported the idea. In reality, I came to change my mind only after a canoe expert had convinced me that the wings of the animal in Ptp are not halves of a canoe.

Did I immediately rush into a writing campaign in support of the idea that Ptp had an authentic image of a modern pterosaur? No. I contacted the physicist Clifford Paiva, who informed me of the research he had been doing, over a period of years, on that photo. Then I looked more carefully at the photograph, coming to my own conclusions before writing about my convictions that Ptp is not a hoax.

In other words, I was not at all acting under confirmation bias in coming to the conclusion that Ptp has an authentic image of an extant pterosaur. If I had no confirmation bias then, when did I have it? The critic gives no details, failing to provide even a clue that would support his idea that I have acted from confirmation bias.

Do an online search with “apparent pterosaur” (in quotes). Notice that hundreds of results come up with Google. The first few pages show blog posts and web pages over a period of years, almost all of which were written by me. Yet look deeper and you’ll see that the phrase “apparent pterosaur” is used by me when referring to eyewitness reports that I have received, over a period of years. In other words, when I get a report from a person who has seen what that person believes could have been a living “pterodactyl,” I keep an open mind, referring to it as an “apparent pterosaur.” That means I am not subject to confirmation bias in my investigations in general, for my work in living-pterosaur investigation relates largely to those sighting reports.

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Potential Bias in a Photograph of a Modern Pterosaur

. . . when my associates and I were beginning our research, even before our two ropen expeditions in 2004, we were acting from a larger set of eyewitness reports than a typical skeptic would have imagined. Whatever bias we may have had many years ago, the skeptics’ declarations about it were greatly exaggerated.

Monster or pterosaur in a Civil War photograph

The Ptp photo has been around for a long time, apparently long before Freakylinks episodes and decades before Photoshop existed. The physicist Clifford Paiva (California) has examined this older photo in detail, finding a number of clues that this was a real man with his foot on the beak of a real animal.

The Bible and the pterosaur photograph

Clifford Paiva, a scientist living in California, this past January suggested I write a small book about what we have discovered in an old photograph. I just finished writing the nonfiction Modern Pterosaurs, which supports a Biblical timetable regarding the Flood of Noah.

Six American Civil War Soldiers and a Pterosaur

For the past three months, I’ve been looking carefully at the old photo that we now call “Ptp,” which has what appears to be six Union soldiers from around the time of the American Civil War. More important, it also has what appears to be a recently-deceased Pteranodon, which is a type of Pterodactyloid pterosaur, supposedly extinct.

 

Don’t Shoot Down That Pterodactyl

For the past three months, I’ve been looking carefully at the old photo that we now call “Ptp,” which has what appears to be six Union soldiers from around the time of the American Civil War. More important, it also has what appears to be a recently-deceased Pteranodon, which is a type of Pterodactyloid pterosaur, supposedly extinct.

possibly genuine photo of a 19th-century pterosaur

“Ptp” photograph, now declared genuine

Don’t shoot down that photo yet, however, just because it shows what many Westerners assume is impossible. Also, don’t be distracted by those who make careless criticisms of the images of the soldiers, taking attention away from the animal. Even if those skeptics don’t intend to employ a magician’s trick (distraction), the result is the same. We need to first look at that apparent Pteranodon.

The head of that apparent pterosaur (what many Americans would call a “pterodactyl”) is indeed like what would be expected of a Pteranodon, although not exactly so in every detail. But why should it be 100% like what paleontologists know from Pteranodon fossils? There is no scientific reason that a 19th century pterosaur should be exactly like what is known from fossils, so why should any skeptic object?

Compare Ptp with the Haxan Films Hoax Photo

Now compare Ptp with the television-show fake photo:

fabricated photo - Civil War reinactment

“Freakylinks” hoax photo (imitating Ptp)

The television-show promotional photo is a hoax, made in imitation of Ptp. It was made to look old, probably with something like Photoshop, but the Haxan Films trick-photo actually originated around the year 2000.

Shadows Under the Shoe

One skeptic has said that the shoe (of the soldier standing in front of the animal) does not make any shadow on the beak. That is contradicted by the physicist Clifford Paiva, who has shown us quite clearly that the shoe does cast a shadow on that beak:

shadows in this photo show this is real

Shadows (especially shown by the lower arrows) in Ptp photograph

Yet that skeptical remark caused another web site to mention an apparent lack of a shadow under the shoe. The original non-shadow comment is totally false.

What also see, from magnifying that area of Ptp, evidence that the photograph is indeed old. Paiva noticed a tree branch under the animal’s beak, indicating it was used as a prop. When was that technique used in photography, to keep a person or object still? Before about the year 1870.

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A Shocking Discovery: Nonfiction Modern Pterosaurs

The scientist Clifford Paiva suggested, in January of 2017, that I write a little book about a photograph that has been around a long time. I wrote Modern Pterosaurs in a nonfiction-cryptozoology genre, although it supports a Biblical time-table . . . Yet religion is almost entirely in the background, with an emphasis on what some persons call the “Civil War pterodactyl photo.”

Credibility of a Photo of a Modern Pterosaur

Until four years ago, I had mostly avoided using the “Pteranodon photo” in my writings. Part of my reluctance was in thinking that it appeared too good to be true: After all, for this to be genuine, it would have to have been around since about the middle of the 19th century.

Book About the Pteranodon Photograph

Before getting into the new book, Modern Pterosaurs, about the Ptp photograph, let’s consider the hoax image that has caused confusion: The Freakylinks photo.

Glen Kuban, a critic of living-pterosaur investigators for years, made a mistake regarding Ptp in his long online publication “Living Pterodactyls.” (He also made many other errors in that page, so it will not here be linked to.) As recently as March 26, 2017, one paragraph includes, “Alas, the photo has since been exposed as a hoax—a promotional stunt for a Fox television series.” Alas, that paragraph is next to a small image of Ptp, the photograph that is NOT associated with that television series (Freakylinks).

Civil War pterodactyl or hoax

Someone looking for evidence of Civil War reenactment may have little difficulty noticing one or more problems with the photo on the right. That’s a hoax-photo, made to promote the Freakylinks TV series that aired on the Fox Network from 2000-2001. The photo on the left, however, is older, apparently seen by many readers of a book in the mid-20th century.

Pteranodon in an old photo

On January 14, 2017, Clifford Paiva (a physicist in California) and I spoke by phone and agreed that the following photo has an image of a real animal, with real wings. We stopped short of insisting that it must have been a species of Pteranodon, but it has obvious similarities . . .

Photographie d’un ptérosaure moderne

(in the French language): “Deux photos sont similaires. Un seul est une blague.”

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A Pteranodon in a Civil War photo

“Uncommon bits of information” certainly fits a 19th century photograph of a recently-deceased pterosaur. Long viewed as a paranormal image, the old photo has now become the subject of a book, a nonfiction publication at that: Modern Pterosaurs.

Was a Pterodactyl Shot During the American Civil War?

The [photo] on the left, labeled “Ptp,” has been declared by me and by the scientist Clifford Paiva to have an authentic image of a real animal. In other words, we proclaim that a real animal was photographed, notwithstanding the head greatly resembles that of a Pteranodon . . .

Modern Pterosaurs

Who am I to write about the overall credibility of sighting reports of living “pterodactyls?” After all, this kind of flying creature is said to have become extinct by many millions of years ago.

Live Pterodactyl

Modern living pterosaurs are not confined to remote jungles or wildernesses, although many sightings are reported in Papua New Guinea.

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Credibility of a Photo of a Modern Pterosaur

By the living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb (started this post about Jan 13, 2017)

Introduction

By about 2006, at least one or two skeptics had criticized our investigations with words that included this:

If it’s big and flies then it must be a pterosaur

Yet even when my associates and I were beginning our research, even before our two ropen expeditions in 2004, we were acting from a larger set of eyewitness reports than a typical skeptic would have imagined. Whatever bias we may have had many years ago, the skeptics’ declarations about it were greatly exaggerated.

Please bear with me, for this introduction is essential to understanding the value of photographic evidence for modern living pterosaurs. The credibility of an individual piece of evidence is one thing; overall credibility is something else. We’ll get to a photo of a non-extinct pterosaur soon enough.

After my Umboi Island expedition, I returned from Papua New Guinea with a determination to publicize what I had learned from the native eyewitnesses. I had always disbelieved in Darwin’s philosophy that life originated from evolution, yet my own perspective on eyewitness testimonies of apparent living pterosaurs—that did gradually evolve a bit. But that particular limited evolution was not toward overall doubt or belief: It was partly an increased awareness that I did not need to come any firm conclusion with every sighting report. I became completely convinced that some pterosaurs are still living on this planet, regardless of the credibility issues with new eyewitness reports.

I came to see the difference between the credibility of one eyewitness report and the overall evidence from all the reports. Early in 2013, I finished compiling much data from some of the more-credible sighting reports up until the end of 2012. Each eyewitness account I judged to be more than 50% likely to have come from an actual encounter with a modern pterosaur. That’s when I came to understand why I had become so firmly convinced of the reality of non-extinct pterosaurs: Those were 128 reports. Using my judgment that each report was more likely than not to have come from a valid sighting, the overall case was overwhelming. From a statistical perspective, it was practically impossible that none of those 128 sighting reports were from an actual living pterosaur. It’s basic math.

I know that a skeptic may attack my judgment regarding the value of individual reports. But this is cryptozoology, after all, not a biologist stooped over a laboratory table, measuring the wing of a recently-deceased Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

No matter how a skeptic may feel about it, I am one of the world’s leading experts on sighting reports of apparent pterosaurs. A skeptic may assume, consciously or not, that he or she is objective while ridiculing me, but I am the expert here. Along with all the skeptics, I am human. Yet I have spent over 10,000 hours, in the course of over thirteen years, investigating this controversial subject, with eyewitness reports coming to me from five continents, mostly in emails but with some significant phone conversations and face-to-face interviews.

With all that said, it’s now time for a photo.

A known hoax-photo: non-pterosaur

Let’s begin with what we know, practically for sure. The following image is from a television production, a staged performance that has been said to be an imitation of another, possibly much older, photograph.

fabricated photo - Civil War reinactment

A staged performance, NOT actual Civil War soldiers

Once we know that the men shown above are actors, it easier to see that the thing at their feet is not actually a dead animal but a cheap imitation of one. Details about the television-show episode have little relevance here, but the production decisions that caused this particular staging—that can be important: This appears to be an imitation of an older photograph. I may go into details in another post.

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possibly genuine photo of a 19th-century pterosaur

Photo of a possible 19th-century Pteranodon (although maybe labeled “monster”)

Until four years ago, I had mostly avoided using the “Pteranodon photo” in my writings. Part of my reluctance was in thinking that it appeared too good to be true: After all, for this to be genuine, it would have to have been around since about the middle of the 19th century. Most people in the United States appeared to still believe in ancient dinosaur extinctions, and pterodactyls are thought of as flying dinosaurs. If we got through all the 20th century still believing that way, despite this old photo, then how could this image be what it appears to be? How could it be genuine?

Then I started looking deeper, and guess what: The “Pteranodon photo” is actually far more credible as evidence for modern pterosaurs than we had assumed. It really does deserve a closer examination.

Skeptical Look at the “Civil War Soldiers and Flying Monster” Photograph

One skeptic mentioned a man who pointed out three evidences that this was manipulated using Photoshop. One big problem jumps out here: Some persons report that they remember seeing this photo in the 1960’s or 1970’s. That was long before anything like Photoshop existed.

But it’s the first “red flag” that especially caught my attention:

“. . . the lack of fingers grasping the rifle held by one alleged soldier” [spelling corrected]

Woops! That detail (appearing on the surface to damage the photo’s credibility) actually might shoot down all three of the red flags, indirectly strengthening the case for the authenticity of this photo. The skeptic accidentally shot himself in the foot.

If anyone wanted to create a realistic hoax, for whatever reason, that appeared to be a photograph of a modern pterosaur, what would be needed? Create a realistic-looking pterosaur. The people standing around a recently-deceased pterodactyl—they would be far less important, hardly worth any trouble.

Why would anyone paste an image of a rifle onto a photograph of Civil War soldiers? Those guys already had rifles. Look at the whole picture, noticing the six soldiers holding rifles. It shows eight hands grasping those six rifles. What is the best explanation for that one hand that apparently has no fingers in front of the rifle? Take your pick, but it’s definitely not from anybody trying to create a fake pterosaur.

Notice that this hand is by far the closest (of those eight hands) to an edge of the photo. Maybe the development process had not become completed near that edge. Maybe better photographic development would have allowed those fingers to show up. But we have other possible explanations.

Is it hard to imagine that one out of eight hands holding rifles would actually have no fingers going around a rifle? Maybe one soldier had a blister on one hand.

A skeptic has pointed to those missing fingers as if evidence that the whole photograph is a hoax. If it proves anything, it is more likely the opposite. But coming to a knowledge of the truth sometimes requires digging into the details, using “the little grey cells.”

Look again at the soldier on the far left. Why would any man hold his arm out like that, as if he had a rifle, if he did not have a rifle? It doesn’t matter if he’s a real Civil War soldier or an actor imitating one. The man obviously had a gun when the photo was taken, regardless of where he put his fingers.

The skeptic said that this apparent Civil War photograph had multiple red flags indicating the “almost certain work of photoshop.” The first “red flag” is that hand that does not show any fingers. Now consider why a person would manipulate a photograph in such a way that those fingers would accidentally go missing. The obvious purpose would be this: to remove those fingers from a genuine photo so that it could be made to look like a hoax photo.

The implication we get from the skeptic who mentioned that “red flag” is this: that the fingers were in an original photo but Photoshop manipulating accidentally made those fingers disappear. How does that work? Pasting a rifle onto the image. Why would the careless Photoshop hoaxer ever paste a rifle onto a photograph that had a man holding out his arm? Because a rifle was missing and needed to be put there artificially. And that brings us back to the critical question: Why would any soldier ever put his hand out to his side and only pretend that he was holding a rifle?

When the impossible has been eliminated, what is left, however improbable, is the truth. What appears at a casual glance to be damning evidence of a fraud is, in reality, evidence of shallow thinking, and the most impressive case against the authenticity of this photograph of an apparent Pteranodon—that skeptic’s case—falls apart.

Those men, appearing very much like Civil War soldiers, and their rifles—those are genuine, with no significant doubt. But it brings up something else, a double-agent sort of counter-hoax possibility.

If Photoshop was used to tamper with this photo, it was most likely done to make the genuine photo look like is was tampered with. In other words, a genuine photo was messed with in a way to allow a person to “disprove” it by showing that Photoshop was used. I am not saying this is what happened, but it shows how weak is the skeptic’s “red flag” and that he should have thought about this more carefully. If he continues to insist that Photoshop was used with those missing fingers, then he may find himself becoming a suspect in a different kind of hoax: Messing with a genuine photo of a modern pterosaur to try to deceive people into disbelieving the photo.

So how does shooting down the first of three “red flags” shoot down the other two? The first shell was explosive, not blowing off human fingers but decimating the credibility of the skeptic. The other two “red flags” have their own problems, but that has been covered in one or two of my previous posts.

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Pterosaur Sightings and Photos of . . . Whatever

A critical support for the concept of modern living pterosaurs is the accumulation of sighting reports of those flying creatures. Direct eyewitness testimony of a pterosaur sighting is essential, even if we have to wait many years for photographic evidence.

Pterosaurs Alive

The account in the book continues, “I know what it was. It wasn’t a heron; it wasn’t a vulture; it wasn’t an albatross.” The eyewitness was shocked to see that the creature had both a head crest (common in Pterodactyloids) and a long tail with a “diamond tip” (common in Rhamphorhynchoids).

Ropen Sightings

  • The Big Picture of Modern Pterosaurs
  • Reply to Misidentification Conjectures
  • Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs and Ropens
  • Ropens in Western USA
  • Big Flying Creature in Utah
  • Recent Ropen Sightings
  • Non-Ropen Pterosaur Sighting in Papua New Guinea
  • Van Meter Flying Creature

The Fiery Flying Serpent and Living Pterosaurs

. . . How does all that relate to “The fiery flying serpent and the geologic column?” It’s the dogmatic assertion that all species of pterosaurs should have become extinct many millions of years ago. If the problem were with only one paleontologist, I would not delve into the matter. But the problem is much deeper.

Introduction to Living Pterosaurs

Jonathan Whitcomb introduces basic concepts in living-pterosaur investigations

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When a Child Sees a Pterosaur

I got the following email early in May of 2016 (quoting most of it here, with only a very few spelling corrections):

Mr. Whitcomb,

Three of my children, [up to age eight] are quite sure that they observed a pterosaur above our home in Pottstown, PA, today, mid-afternoon. . . .

Today, while I was at work, my wife contacted me about this. She said that she heard the kids suddenly start screaming in the back yard, and rushed out to see what it was. She is accustomed to the kids playing loudly and such, but said that this was very different–that there was a mix of sincere terror and excitement which was not playing. They were screaming that they just saw a pterosaur. My wife did not see it.

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.

When my wife first told me, my first thought was that this was probably a heron. I’m concerned that cryptozoology be credible, and I don’t want to gullibly believe every report just because I want to believe it. But as I interacted with my kids about this, I grew to suspect that they may really have seen something unexpected.

I know that perspective in the sky is very uncertain, but I wanted to get my kids’ impressions of size nevertheless:
They guess that the body was “about as long as a lion.” They guess that the wingspan was “one and a half of our
bathrooms…maybe a little less.” Our bathroom is eight feet long. They guess that the tail was as long as “one and a half broomsticks.”

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. . . .

They agree that it was tan colored, and that it did not seem to have feathers. “Like elephant skin.” They say that the knob at the end of the tail may have had some kind of fur on it . . . it seemed different, but they weren’t sure what it was.

If they were imagining things, they probably would have mentioned a head crest, since they’re familiar with that image. But, interestingly, they all agree that they did not see any head crest. My oldest noted that it flew directly overhead, so he could not have seen a head crest if there were one. . . .

It was flying east. We live on the west outskirts of town, so presumably it flew over Pottstown.

My younger two saw it flap several times, then glide. My oldest did not see any flapping–he looked up a few seconds later than they did and only saw it glide overhead.

Anyway, the features which most impressed them were the “snout,” the long tail with a knob at the end, and the hands/feet besides the tail. They are very excited about these features. . . .

Thanks.

So what do you do when a child sees a pterosaur? For me, it’s the same as when an adult sees one: get the details like the following:

  • Where was the sighting?
  • When was the flying creature seen? (date and time)
  • Did it have a tail? (if so, was it long?)
  • Were there any feathers?
  • Did it have a head crest?
  • About how big was the wingspan?
  • How many persons were eyewitnesses to it?
  • What did the flying creature do? (flapping wings?)

In this sighting report, much of the information was given to me by the father, who provided many details from what he learned from questioning his children, so I had fewer questions to ask. According to the three eyewitnesses, we have the following:

  1. It was in Pottstown, Pennsylvania
  2. In the first week of May, 2016, mid-afternoon
  3. It had a long tail, maybe six feet long
  4. “It did not seem to have feathers” – maybe fur
  5. It flapped its wings a bit then glided

But should the testimonies of three children be summarily dismissed because of their young ages? Definitely not in this case, for we have three children who were interviewed soon after the sighting, by a father who carefully questioned them. I feel that this father was objective in trying to determine what the children saw.

I believe that they saw a ropen, a long-tailed pterosaur, and I’ll be looking for others to come forward with what they saw flying overhead in the Pottstown, Pennsylvania, area in the first week of May.

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Pterosaur Sightings in the United States of America

On a pleasant day in June of 2012, I walked into the Sheriff station in Lakewood, California, two miles northeast of my home in Long Beach. I knew better than to tell a police officer of my concerns about the safety of family pets now that pterodactyls had invaded the community. . . .

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Duane Hodgkinson saw a "pterodactyl"

YouTube video: interview of a World War II veteran (eyewitness of a pterosaur)

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Mysterious Ropen Lights

Another report of flying lights has surfaced, this one from a wilderness area of Oregon. It seems that the mysterious lights that have been reported to fly over the Yakima River in the state of Washington—those are also seen to fly over a river in Oregon, reported by two cryptozoologists from the Portland area.

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Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs in Acambaro

Where is the physical evidence for modern ropens, or extant long-tailed pterosaurs? It’s there to see, for those who are open-minded enough to look. But let’s now examine the bigger picture: non-extinct dinosaurs, at least in some species and at least at some time in human history. Let’s look at Acambaro, Mexico.

The Julsrud Figurine Collection

In 1945, the German merchant Waldemar Julsrud (an immigrant) discovered a clay figurine at the foot of El Toro mountain, near Acambaro, Mexico. He already owned an extensive collection of ancient art and recognized the importance of the new discovery. He agreed to pay a local man, Odilon Tinajero, one peso for each similar figurine that could be recovered without too much damage. Jurlsrud gave no guarantee of any payment for broken pieces, especially not for pieces that appeared impossible or impractical to try to put together.

Julsrud eventually collected about 32,000 figurines (Mystery in Acambaro, by Hapgood). That number is significantly absent in skeptical articles that declare the works of art to be recent fakes. Who in the world would participate in such an extraordinary endeavor when the whole thing was a hoax? Probably nobody. So this huge collection of figurines is in fact genuine, at least with most pieces, but we have much more evidence that just this number: 32,000.

One of the leading experts in recent years, Dr. Dennis Swift, has said that the collection at one time numbered 33,500, at the time that the collection was at its largest. Only a small portion of them represent dinosaurs.

The people who created and collected the figurines are of the Chupicuaro culture, which existed many centuries ago. It’s important to note that there are many styles of art represented in these figurines, and the Chupicuaro people may have collected art from diverse sources and supported artists who had a variety of skills and styles.

Julsrud owned tens of thousands of ancient figurines, for many years. During all that time, he never sold one of the pieces of art, with one exception: One figurine was sold to someone for scientific examination and testing. This is an important point when we examine the possibility of hoaxes: Why would anybody pay one peso each for tens of thousands of ceramic figurines, when almost none of them were ever sold? Indeed, Julsrud made it a rule to refuse to sell any of those works of art.

Don Patton has been an active field investigator for years, including work in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, and Canada (dinosaur excavations) and in Cambodia (he examined an apparent Stegosaurus image on an ancient temple wall). He was introduced to the Acambaro figurines collection by Charles Hapgood, who investigating the many thousands of art pieces with the help of Erle Stanley Gardner. Both Hapgood and Gardner became convinced that the figurines were genuine ancient works of art.

Although very few pieces may appear to be obvious ropens, we can see some evidence for living pterosaurs in this vast collection.

ancient dinosaur art, Acambaro, Mexico

Ancient figurines that seem to represent dinosaurs (Acambaro, Mexico)

Answers to Skeptics

The following relate to criticisms by skeptics. Charles C. Di Peso concluded that the figurines were fakes (a), so we’ll start with the opinions of Di Peso, an American archaeologist. A major credibility problem with this man comes from the time he spent in the home of Waldemar Julsrud: Di Peso studied the vast collection not in months or in weeks or in days but only in four hours.

  1. Di Peso had samples of one or more of the figurines tested and found no evidence of any recent origin (b). This detail is absent in the Acambaro page of Wikipedia (a).
  2. Di Peso said that the surfaces of the figurines “displayed no signs of age [probably referring to patina]; no dirt was packed into their crevices” (a). But Dr. J. Antonio Villia Hennejon said that the figurines “were encrusted with dirt and other materials [patina].” In addition, “during Easter week of 1951 [Dr. Hennejon] spent two days with Julsrud cleaning the dirt and patina off recently excavated ceramic pieces” (b).
  3. Di Peso said that “though some figurines were broken, no pieces were missing” (a), but “Tinajero [the man doing much of the excavations] was very careful with the excavation process so as not to break the pieces, and the broken ones were cemented together before being brought to Julsrud” (b). In addition, it would have taken at least several days to carefully unpack all the boxes and more days to give them even a cursory examination. Yet Di Peso was in the Jurlsrud home for only four hours. In reality there were many broken pieces (b).
  4. One skeptic said that the collection was so vast that the many thousands of figurines would have to be hoaxes. Perhaps this non-scientist was thinking that great discoveries in archaeology cannot be made without quick acceptance from many scientists or that it’s impossible for anyone to find any vast number of ancient artifacts even if many years are spent in the endeavor, no matter where the discovery is made. That non-expert apparently was ignorant of the absence of any ceramic home (or in other) industry in this part of Mexico, in modern history (only anciently). He was probably also ignorant of a number of investigations in Mexico, official government investigations included. Those found that there was no manufacturing of ceramics anywhere in that area in recent history (b).

(a) Wikipedia page “Acambaro Figures”

(b) “The Dinosaur Figurines Of Acambaro, Mexico” (Bible.ca/tracks . . .)

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Apparent Ropens in the USA

I had no idea that many Americans had encountered, in the forty-eight contiguous states of the USA, flying creatures like the ropen.

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Dinosaurs in Acambaro, Mexico

Many people assume dinosaurs never lived at the same time as humans. Not so, for some ancient human cultures were in contact with dinosaurs, shown in their art.

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Dinosaur Figurines of Acambaro

The same modern ideas [about the appearances of dinosaurs] are reflected in clay figurines from the Pre-classical Chupicuaro Culture (800 B.C. to 200 A.D.) found near Acambaro, Guanajuato, Mexico.

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Images of Clay Dinosaurs of Acambaro, Mexico

Fascinating ancient art depicting living dinosaurs

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Coexistence of Humans and Dinosaurs at Acambaro

Now, Professor Hapgood is an interesting individual. He is essentially fair-minded, well-balanced, and not given to hasty decisions . . .

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Ten Years Ago on Umboi Island

According to Blume, in a wide area of Papua New Guinea, many nationals give similar descriptions: bat-like wings, long body, tail with a flange, pelican-like bill, and a “comb” (more rounded than horn-like) on the back of the head.

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Carbon Dating Dinosaur Bones and Acambaro

. . . many thousands of artistic representations of apparent dinosaurs are found on the Acambaro figurines of Mexico. Detailed analysis, in recent years, demonstrates that the anatomy and stances of some of these dinosaurs fit more neatly within recent scientific ideas about those dinosaurs that appear to be represented.

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Dinosaurs Living With Humans

. . . why does [Wikipedia] say there “are several thousand” of those figurines [in Acambaro, Mexico] when one of the leading experts in the world, Dr. Dennis Swift, says over 37,000 were discovered?

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Dinosaur Fossils Dated With Carbon-14

Direct Radiometric Dating of Dinosaur Bones

Dinosaurs and pterosaurs, we have long been taught, became extinct many millions of years ago . . . or did they? The discovery that bones from an Acrocanthosaurus and a Triceratops, not to mention several other types, were alive and part of living dinosaurs only tens of thousands of years ago—that astonishing discovery was met with immediate . . . censorship.

The carbon-14 dating research (C-14 or radiocarbon dating) was done over a period of years, with many samples from bones of several types, including:

Allosaurus (excavated in Colorado)

Hadrosaurus (Alaska and Montana)

Apatosaurus (Colorado)

Acrocanthosaurus (Texas)

Triceratops (Montana)

Blatant Censor Instead of Correction

If some scientist giving a lecture in a science conference makes a mistake, why not correct that mistake? Conference leaders may add an addendum to the official website, after the oral presentations are completed, with details about why the conclusions of that speaker may have been in error. Specific details can be included in that addendum, with future responses possible for the one who gave the lecture and was later corrected. Open discussion, with details, makes for an atmosphere where the truth may come into open view.

So why did two chairmen of the 2012 Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore delete one of the oral-presentation reports from their official website? They gave no warning to the Paleochronology group. The whole report was just deleted from public view, with no online explanation.

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scientific conference report censored

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Notice the absence of report number five in the above image from the official conference web site. The Paleochronology group asked for an explanation; they were given the following:

blunt explanation for censorship

Notice this: “There is obviously an error in these data.” So where is the error and what exactly is that error? No explanation is given by these two chairmen. Science, meaning real science, thrives in details. The details given in the conference lecture itself included explanations for how contamination was avoided in the bone samples sent to the carbon-14 testing laboratory and much more.

Raw censorship in this deletion of an abstract—that deserves an investigation. Here are some clues for why the report was censored (unfortunately no pterosaur fossils were tested, only dinosaurs):

Carbon-14 Dating Results for Dinosaurs (BP=before present)

Acrocanthosaurus (Texas, five samples): 23,760 to 32,400+ years BP

Allosaurus (Colorado, one sample): 31,360 years BP (+/- 100 years)

Apatosaurus (Colorado, one sample): 38,250 years BP (+/- 160 years)

Hadrosaurus #1 (Alaska, two samples): 31,050 to 36,480 years BP

Hadrosaurus #2 (Montana, five samples): 22,380 to 25,670 years BP

Hadrosaurus #3 (Colorado, one sample): 37,660 years BP (+/- 160)

Triceratops #1 (Montana, three samples): 24,340 to 33,830 years BP

Triceratops #2 (Montana, two samples): 30,110 to 39,230 years BP

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Typical error potential listed for the above C-14 testing is only a few centuries but sometimes even less than one century. Notice how greatly the above data vary from the millions-of-years figures commonly proclaimed in Western media and textbooks.

Radiocarbon dating of dinosaur fossils has generally not been done until recent years, for the great majority of scientists had assumed such testing would be pointless. Carbon-14 should not exist in dinosaur bones, for it should have decayed away millions of years ago. But that idea comes from the assumption that those creatures actually lived millions of years ago, an assumption now challenged by other scientists.

Those astonishing data give a clue why the research report was censored: It was revolutionary in a way that those two chairmen did not like.

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dinosaur with mouth openDinosaurs have been carbon-14 dated to much more recently

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Carbon-14 Dating and Dinosaurs

Radiocarbon dating is the most accurate and most verifiable of the radiometric dating systems. . . . Sad to report: 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.

Radiometric Dating of Recent Dinosaur Bones—Censored

It now appears obvious that both kinds of animals [dinosaurs and pterosaurs] lived together much more recently, although two supposedly scientific authorities have censored this discovery, in my opinion, preventing public viewing. Decide for yourself if this is a case of censorship.

Radiocarbon Dating of Dinosaur Fossils

Carbon-14 dating was recently performed on dinosaur fossils,1 and the results were presented at the Western Geophysics Meeting in Singapore, August 2012, a gathering of approximately two thousand scientists. . . . Compared to the conventional theory of dinosaurs’ being at minimum 65 million years old, the time it would take soft tissue to degrade and the < 50,000 year ages reported from carbon-14 dating are less than 1 tenth of 1 percent of the expected age for the dinosaur fossils.

Radiocarbon Dating Acrocanthosaurus and Triceratops

Radiocarbon dating is the most accurate, most studied, most verified of all the radiometric dating schemes. One of the chief reasons for this is that absolute dates for carbon material can be absolutely independently verified for certain parts of its useful range.

Dinosaur Bones Have Radiocarbon (C-14)

. . . they gave 14C [carbon-14] dating results from many bone samples from eight dinosaur specimens. All gave dates ranging from 22,000 to 39,000 years . . . But if dinosaurs really were millions of years old, there should not be one atom of 14C left in them.

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Are Modern Pterosaurs “Pseudo-Dragons?”

This is a reply to the post “The Pseudo-Dragons of Genesis Park, Part 13” by Owosso Harpist. For the most part, it’s a scathing attack on the online writings of my associate David Woetzel. Yet it refers to living-pterosaur investigations in general and accuses me and my associates of being not only delusional but potentially dishonest, so I must respond.

I am not replying to the whole post, for it is long, but certain mistakes need correcting. I point out these errors, not to imply that everything that Owosso Harpist has written is faulty, but simply to put as much truth as I can before as many online readers as possible.

To the best of my knowledge, Owosso Harpist (a pen name) is an amateur harpist who works part time as a janitor. I do not relate this to ridicule O.H., for I myself worked as a janitor in my younger years. In addition, as a young adult I once played a wind instrument in a duet, for a wedding prelude, in which my sister played a harp similar to the one now played by O.H.; I respect this musical instrument and those who seek to master its use. I relate these things because that’s about all that I know about this person except for the critical writings that include this post “Pseudo-Dragons . . .”

Point by Point Reply to Part of the Post by O.H.

Q: Are creationists deluded, thinking any large flying creature is a pterosaur?

A: Do an online search with apparent pterosaur. Notice that the vast majority of pages are either written by me, Jonathan Whitcomb, or are about one of my books about modern pterosaurs. I often use the phrase “apparent pterosaur” because I recognize that an individual sighting may have come about from something other than a pterosaur.

I have also noticed that some of my associates have also shown caution in their conclusions about individual sighting reports, at least sometimes. I don’t know where O.H. got this idea about extreme bias among creationists, but it appears this critic has not done enough research, at least not with an open mind to the possibility that my associates and I might not always be entirely wrong.

Q: Do “details” in reports indicate sightings are of NON-pterosaurs?

A: O.H. mentions no details, in the first part of her post, but I will do so now: Patty Carson saw a featherless winged creature at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in or around 1965. That flying creature had teeth and a long head crest. It also had a flange at the end of its long tail. Here is the sketch she drew of what she encountered:

sketch by Patty Carson: long-tailed featherless flying creature

If this critic uses the word pterosaur only for precise species known from fossils, I can understand why she might think that eyewitness report details differ from what we know from fossils. But I and my associates use the word pterosaur in a more general sense, meaning we include those modern flying creatures that appear to be descended from pterosaurs that were related to the ones that left fossils that paleontologists have already discovered.

Q: Is “every” report of a living pterosaur “without proof of evidence?”

A: Eyewitness testimony is a form of evidence. In fact there would be no science or scientist without testimonies of human experience. What O.H. may have been thinking about is physical evidence to accompany testimonies.

Yet even there, this critic seems to be thinking only in a narrow sense: a dead or living pterosaur or an egg, perhaps. But the greatest weakness in this critic’s statement about “every” report is this: Owosso Harpist probably has very limited knowledge of the actual sighting reports. Why did she fail to mention the name of Patty Carson or the following names?

  • Brian Hennessy
  • Jacob Kepas
  • Sandra Paradise
  • Eskin Kuhn
  • Peter Beach
  • Evelyn Cheesman
  • Sherry Cooper
  • Professor Steven Watters

Q: Is “every” report “likely” to be from a native who is plagued by superstition?

A: Where does O.H. get that idea? Has that critic observed and listened to my videotaped interviews with natives on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea? I see nothing on this particular post (Pseudo-Dragons . . . Part 13) that supports that possibility. I learned about native superstitions in some villages of Umboi Island. I interviewed natives in three villages, including Gomlongon and Opai. Almost without exception, those witnesses reported details to me that were not part of their superstitions. They simply told me what they had seen.

Q: Have natives “likely” been paid by creationists to give a particular kind of report, in other words “false reports?”

A: Where is the evidence? Where did O.H. get that idea? That may be not far from the worst possible form of bulverism.

Q: Were natives “likely” “coerced” into giving a particular kind of testimony?

A: This speculation has the same weakness as the previous accusation and deserves to be dismissed.

Accuracy in the Duane Hodgkinson Report

Owosso Harpist does point out a real weakness in one of David Woetzel’s web pages. My associate quotes from a book by James B. Sweeney, A Pictorial History of Sea Monsters (1972), which has many mistakes that are not immediately corrected by Woetzel. (See the above link.) But even with all of those mistakes, a person is more likely to learn the truth from those words than from much of what I have seen in the post written by O.H.: “The Pseudo-Dragons of Genesis Park, Part 13.”

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Are Pterosaurs “Still Dead?”

I consider much of these criticisms to be bulverism, which involves changing the subject by trying to point out another person’s weakness. I would be happy to write only about the concept of modern pterosaurs, but the accusations against me need to be addressed.

Dr. Donald Prothero and “Fake Pterosaurs”

For those who go to that link in question, it may become obvious that I was not trying to deceive anybody concerning reports of modern living pterosaurs, including the flying creature called ropen; for those who read only that post by Prothero, however, it can seem like I’ve tried to deceive people about the ropen and that I did so almost single-handedly. Let us look deeper.

A Modern Pterosaur

Countless eyewitnesses, in many countries  across the planet, have pondered what it  was they had seen. But ropens continue to  fly overhead, continuing to shock humans  who had assumed that all pterosaurs had  become extinct millions of years ago.

Ten Year Anniversary of a Ropen Expedition

A few weeks after my expedition on Umboi Island, David Woetzel and Garth Guessman arrived in Papua New Guinea. It’s now been ten years since our two expeditions in 2004, but what we learned from interviewing natives—that still needs more publicity, for few Americans have heard about our discoveries in cryptozoology.

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