Living Pterosaurs in England

By the modern-pterosaur researcher Jonathan Whitcomb

My investigation, over the past fourteen years, of reports of apparent living pterosaurs verifies what other researchers have learned: These extraordinary flying creatures are nocturnal, at least most of them and for most of the time. Let’s now look at one of those apparent exceptions.

Pterosaur Sighting in Shropshire, England

This is not a rumor I found on the internet or a third-hand account related to me by one of my cryptozoology associates. The lady sent me an email, just last week, and here is a small part of what she said (I’ve made some changes in punctuation, etc):

First let me introduce myself, my name is _____. I am a mother of four and I am 32 years old. I live in Britain on the Welsh border in an area called Whitchurch, Shropshire. I may now add that I am in the best of health mentally, I do not take any form of narcotics nor prescription pills and I do not drink. . . .

With that out the way, I will now tell you what I have seen and the reason as to why I have contacted you. Two weeks ago . .  [mid-morning] I went into the garden to play with my cat, a usual occurrence for me as I love my cats. Anyway, we live near a wildlife reserve which has an abundance of birds and wildlife, including eagles and hawks, heron, geese, swans etc. its usual for them to fly overhead and I see them flying . . .

I saw two pterodactyls, side by side, flying past the tree. . . . [with at least one of them she noticed] a giant-sized beak and the wings had no feathers. . . . [The two flying creatures were] grey in colour . . .

She was stunned. After devoting some time to research all the birds she could find, birds in England and elsewhere, apparently nothing seemed to fit what she had seen. But the most impressive difference, to her, was the sound of the screech of the two apparent pterosaurs that had flown through that area of Shropshire in September of 2017. No bird call was close to that sound.

I suggest that these two flying creatures may be related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea: a large Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur. Like the ropen, the two seen in daylight in Shropshire may actually be mostly nocturnal. Perhaps they were disturbed in daylight and so flew into the air when they would normally be sleeping.

landscape photo - Shropshire, England

A lovely rural area of Shropshire, England

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Other “Pterodactyl” Sightings in England

The blog post linked above appears to have been published online before October 21 of 2012. I’ll summarize two of those reports of apparent pterosaurs:

Near the town of Glossop, Paul Bennet  saw something like a bird, but it had leathery
wings. He mentioned the word pterodactyl in his 1982 report.  At about the same time, Jean Scofield reported, from about 35 miles to the north, in the town of Yeadon, a huge “bird” and estimated the wingspan to be about ten feet.

Could These Flying Creatures be From Africa (Kongamato)?

I can see how some cryptozoologists might speculate that these “pterodactyls,” what some would call “dinosaur birds,” are like the kongamato of Africa and might even be from that continent. I would suspect, however, that such speculation would include the assumption that large flying creatures like these could not have been living in England for centuries without being discovered by scientists. That’s another subject entirely.

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Live pterosaur in Africa

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 noticed, on the roof of his uncle’s house, a strange winged creature. It was about four to five feet tall as it perched, and only about ten feet from a light bulb . . .

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Discovery of a 19th Century Living Pterosaur

In January of 2017, the physicist Clifford Paiva and I talked by phone and agreed that the photograph now called “Ptp” has an authentic image of a modern pterosaur.

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Living pterosaur on Umboi Island

. . . our investigations of apparent nocturnal Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea! . . . Gideon Koro related how he was terrified at the sight of the giant ropen that flew over Lake Pung (around 1994). He and his friends were only children (or in their early teens) when they had climbed up to the crater lake on Siasi (Umboi) Island, Papua New Guinea.

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Dinosaur Birds

The pterosaur is known by several names in the United States: “dinosaur bird,” “flying dinosaur,” and perhaps the most popular “pterodactyl.” In Papua New Guinea, it is known by many names: “ropen,” “duwas,” “indava,” and “kor.” But what shocks many Americans and Europeans are eyewitness reports that these supposedly “ancient” and “extinct” flying creatures are alive . . .

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Kongamato of Africa

Introduction to reports of living pterosaurs in Africa

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Flying Creature

You have seen a flying creature unlike any bird or bat. It’s more like a pterosaur but alive, a “flying dinosaur.” What do you do?

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Dragon Seen by Christopher Schorerum

I won’t give the URL, but one web site combines the words “stupid,” “lies,” and “dinosaur,” referring to those who promote the idea that some dinosaurs and pterosaurs have lived in human times (perhaps that critic uses “stupid” to refer to humans who believe in living dinosaurs and living pterosaurs and “lies” to refer to those who promote the concept). On one page, the critic mentions the name “Christopher Schorerum” in one of the writings of David Woetzel, who explored on Umboi Island, just a few weeks after my own expedition in 2004, searching for living pterosaurs, as I had done. (Schorerum lived in the 17th century.)

But first we’ll consider what Woetzel himself quoted on the dragon reported by Christopher Schorerum in Europe long ago:

Dragons in History

“On a warm night in 1619, while contemplating the serenity of the heavens, I saw a shining dragon of great size in front of Mt. Pilatus [Switzerland] . . .  seen flying . . . It was of a large size, with a long tail, a long neck, a reptile’s head, and ferocious gaping jaws. As it flew it was like iron struck in a forge when pressed together that scatters sparks. . . .”

Critic of the Dragon Account

The critic who disparages Woetzels’ writing, however, does not give any direct reason for disbelieving the historical record. The critic says, “. . . is claimed to be true, but it’s not. No pterosaur ever glow, sparkle, and illuminate in the night sky.” Where does that critic get such an idea? No evidence is given for the impossibility of pterosaur bioluminescence. That critic says much about wild dragon tales and strange things in old writings, but nothing more about that particular account. It seems that the skeptic avoids any more direct reference to the sighting by Christopher Schorerum because there is no direct evidence to contradict that eyewitness’s account.

Not everyone who disagrees with a popular idea of Western culture is stupid; not everyone who promotes such an idea is telling lies. To use those words in the URL of ones web site suggests the possibility of bulverism. A deeper examination is needed. I suggest the April 6, 2010, post on the blog Live Pterosaur (not this WordPress blog but another by this same name).

Extant Pterosaurs and Bulverism

Regarding the honesty of Creationists who have explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for living pterosaurs, can truth be uncovered by ignoring their findings, accusing them all of fabricating falsehoods, and then dropping the subject? No, accusing everyone who might have the label “creationist” with “liar,” a beggarly excuse for reasoning, covers up the truth. How much better to examine what the investigators have said and done!

Now consider two sightings of flying lights in the twentieth century:

Ropen Sighting by Cottingham

On Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea (by Cottingham):

My sighting occurred at night near Lab Lab on the southern tip of Umboi. The light lasted for four to five seconds, and until reading your reports now, have never been able to explain the sighting.

On the Papua New Guinea mainland (by Evelyn Cheesman):

The flash lasted “about four or five seconds, but that flash had been a little distance away from the first. Flashes continued at intervals. . . . a most intriguing mystery; because by no possibility could there be human beings out there using flash-lamps at intervals . . .”

The 17th-century sighting by Christopher Schorerum is hardly an isolated report, isolated in earlier European history. It harmonizes quite well with the modern hypothesis that modern pterosaurs, in at least some species, use bioluminescence. It blends in with and complements pterosaur sightings in the 20th and 21st centuries.