I don’t accuse anybody of telling a lie or promoting somebody else’s lie through carelessness, and I don’t mention here the name of any critic of the literal, obvious interpretation of sightings of live pterosaurs; but something has been published recently, something that would make eyewitnesses appear like fools, and I will not stand by in silence. The misidentification of a Manta ray oceanic fish does not adequately explain any significant pterosaur sighting, not even one sighting that I have analyzed.
On the subject of sightings of extant pterosaurs (often called “pterodactyls” or “dinosaur birds” or “flying dinosaurs”) I have written more than any other author, to the best of my knowledge: three nonfiction books, a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal of science (CRSQ), and over a thousand blog posts and web pages. Please consider the following.
I realize that I am one of countless nonfiction authors who write on countless subjects, and that I appear to some skeptics (in Western society) to be foolish in promoting modern pterosaurs. But I have probably had more access to recent reports from the eyewitnesses (worldwide), over the past nine years, than any other person on this planet.
The writer who suggested a leaping Manta ray fish as an explanation for “many” sightings appears to write from desperation. I know from experience that some sightings of apparent pterosaurs flying over the sea have been misidentifications of Frigate birds. But leaping fish? No!
Imagine yourself as an eyewitness. You are on an island, near the coast but not on the beach. You see two apparent pterodactyls flying inland from the direction of the sea. They are flying in close formation, with slow flapping of wings, about 40-100 feet above the land. You make a quick sketch, being a talented artist, and look over the image. It shows two long-tailed pterosaurs with moderately long necks, pointed head crests, and pointed beaks. Each tail has a structure at the end, with something like hair at the tail end. Each wing has a leg-like structure with something like claws resembling feet at the end of each leg. Good! It resembles what you had observed, to the best of your memory.
Sketch by eyewitness Eskin Kuhn, a U. S. Marine in 1971
But somebody notices a similarity between the wing shape and the general shape of the Manta ray fish. You are then hit by the words of a skeptic who dismisses your sighting as a misidentification of a fish jumping out of the water. How insulting! Nonetheless, how easy it is to repudiate the skeptic’s words!
The critic says nothing about the end of the tail or any other characteristic of the sketch, except what may have some correlation to something on a Manta ray. The general wing shape is emphasized, but the skeptic’s reasoning is left naked to examination; critical illness cannot be hidden by sophistry.
Before proceeding with the postmortem of the Manta ray conjecture, let’s consider the sighting above, by the real person Eskin C. Kuhn, who has submitted his real name to be attached to his sketch. He observed the two flying creatures, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on a clear day in 1971, as they were flying together. It was not one fish jumping out of the water; it was two “pterodactyls” flying inland. It was not a Manta ray leaping five to ten feet out of the water; it was two flying creatures flying 40-100 feet high, from the direction of the sea.
Now for the post mortem:
The unnamed critic who imagines leaping Manta rays is aware of Kuhn’s sketch. In fact he uses that sketch as if evidence for his jumping fish conjecture. So why become fixated on one aspect of the sketch: the general similarity in shape to a Manta ray?
What other explanation is there than the following? 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! How narrow the focus! How blind to the obvious! It would be must more reasonable to imagine that the general wing shape (resembling in some way the shape of a Manta ray) is incorrect but that at least one aspect of the “pterodactyl” appearance is correct.
To put this in a different setting, consider this: Could the Challenger Shuttle disaster of 1986 have been a misunderstanding? Could it have been just from some spectators watching a fireworks display in Jacksonville, Florida? Why pretend that the mission control center never existed? Why pretend that those astronauts were unreal? Why pretend that almost everything in reports of live pterosaurs is a misunderstanding, that the only thing correct about the reports are those few details that might resemble something about a Manta ray?
How desperate the position of any critic who would suggest a Manta ray jumping into the air as an explanation for the countless worldwide sightings of living pterosaurs! We need more clear thinking with reports of apparent living pterosaurs. How we need clear thinking!
Fear not the occasional shock of revolutionary scientific discovery. We have no need for desperation in protecting old axioms, including the extinction dogma tied to a particular origin philosophy. But that’s another subject.
Drinnon tries to squeeze the general shape of the Manta ray’s body into sighting reports of pterosaurs. There is where the leaping fish falls flat.
It is one thing to single out a particular sighting that may have been a Hornbill misidentification, then point out that it was not a living pterosaur. It is quite another, however, to fail to single out any particular sighting, then speculate that sightings in general are misidentifications.
. . . the sighting of two apparent pterosaurs was in a CITY, not in a boat. And he saw two of the creatures flying together. That eliminates that sighting regarding Manta rays that leap out of the sea . . .