Dragons and Flying Snakes

By cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb

I sometimes encounter the word dragon, in my communications with eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs, but rarely encounter or use the phrase “flying snake,” unless it’s in reference to the fiery flying serpent in the Bible or in the Book of Mormon. We now look at a chapter in the book Strange & Unexplained Happenings, Volume 3, by Jerome Clark and Nancy Pear, with subtitle “When Nature Breaks the Rules of Science” (International Thompson Publishing, 1995).

paranormal book by Jerome Clark and Nancy Pear

Third volume of the paranormal book by Clark and Pear

The first section of the chapter “Folklore in the Flesh” has a number of references to old sightings, at least some of which could have been encounters with non-extinct pterosaurs. The title of this section, for pages 447-452, is “Flying Dragons and Other Sky Serpents,” and it begins by quoting from Historia Anglorum by Henry of Huntingdon (c. 1088 to c. 1157):

Red signs appeared in the sky after sunset, and horrid serpents were seen in Sudsexe*, with great amazement. . . . [19 years later] exceptional flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air . . .

*”Sudsexe” is the ancient word for Sussex in England.

Yet glowing dragons and reports of flying snakes are not confined to English folk tales and legends from many centuries ago. We also find, in Strange & Unexplained Happenings, an account of a strange flying creature in what is now southern Namibia, and this was investigated by Marjorie Courtney-Latimer (sometimes with the spelling Courtenay), famous for her discovery of the living coelacanth in the early 20th century.

A farmer sent his 16-year-old son to investigate why he heard reports of a large flying snake in nearby mountains, for native shepherds had gone on strike because of it. The boy not only had his own encounter with the creature but was rendered unconscious as he noticed a strong odor after the huge flying “snake” had landed. I suspect he encountered a large ropen, what my associates and I believe is a long-tailed modern Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

In 2011, I communicated with a man who reported recently observing an apparent living pterosaur in Windhoek, Namibia. It appeared to be about half the size of a private airplane and seemed to be devoid of the primary feathers which are commonly seen on the ends of the wings of large birds.

A few years ago, I received a number of sighting reports from Southern California, and the following words and phrases were sometimes used:

  • dragon-pterodactyl
  • dragons

The descriptions of the flying creatures led me to believe that they had seen living pterosaurs, even when some of the sightings were in populated cities in Southern California. These animals are not at all confined to ancient legends or in remote wildernesses where people rarely venture. They fly whenever and wherever they chose to fly, although they are generally mostly nocturnal.

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Are Dragons Pterosaurs?

Both grandmothers and wolves are actual living beings of this world, even though the story “Little Red Riding Hood” is a fictional story. In a similar way, old legends need not be 100% fictional.

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Living Pterosaurs in North Carolina

People in North Carolina, and in other states of the USA, need to know that these sightings are taking place.

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Fiery flying serpent

The Bible mentions fiery flying “serpents” as real animals, causing death to many of the people of Israel in the desert many centuries ago.

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Living pterosaur in Namibia

I recently received an email from a man in Windhoek, Namibia (southwestern Africa). A few weeks ago, just after breakfast, at about 10:00 a.m., while sitting in his garden, he saw what he . . . later thought [was] more like a “prehistoric animal.”

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“Pterodactyls” in California

Over many years of research and interviewing eyewitnesses, I’ve often encountered reports of pterosaur sightings in California, flying creatures that many Americans would call “pterodactyls.”

 

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More “Pterodactyls” in North Carolina

By living-pterosaur expert Jonathan D. Whitcomb

This answers some of what is found in two newspaper articles published online, both of which reported, in mid-January of 2018, sightings of apparent living pterosaurs, or “pterodactyls,” in North Carolina. They also commented on my writings on these flying creatures. Because of mistakes and weaknesses in these two newspaper stories, I don’t want to make them too dominating in search engine results: I won’t provide links here, but both articles should be easy enough to find.

“Are there flying dinosaurs in NC? One woman says she’s seen them 3 times in Raleigh” — in the News & Observer, January 11, 2018 (N&O)

“Flying Dinosaurs Sightings Are On The Rise in North Carolina” — in Charlotte Stories, January 12, 2018 (CS)

I don’t mean that publishing those two news articles did more harm than good, not at all. People in North Carolina, and in other states of the USA, need to know that these sightings are taking place. It’s just that accuracy and fairness were far from perfect.

Definition of “Cryptozoology”

I’ll give my own definition:

Cryptozoology is a collection of human activities, each of which involves some degree of positive thinking about the possibility that a potentially real animal, one that has not yet been accepted as real by Western scientists in general, is a real animal.

I suggest that the above definition is more accurate than many others, especially the one on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the writers of the N&O news article chose to use something like the Wikipedia definition.

Using the above definition, however, can help people to understand that cryptozoology is not pseudoscience, not unscientific, and is not a branch of zoology. The Wikipedia article is not 100% wrong, yet it is far from accurate and completely wrong in saying “it does not follow the scientific method.” It could be more accurate to say that scientists do not follow the scientific method in their common daily routines.

In reality, any cryptozoologist can use the scientific method as much or as little as he or she chooses. For example, I have used wingspan estimates from a compilation of sighting reports and came to conclusions based upon the shape of that overall numeric data. That was only one step in a process, however, for the scientific method involves a number of processes. The final stage came to this: the overall data from the 128 more-credible sighting reports points to these encounters being with real animals, and most of the sightings, if not all of them, were most likely of modern living pterosaurs.

wingspan estimates for modern pterosaurs

Seventy-four of the eyewitnesses made estimates for wingspan

From the book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (cryptozoology book)

Am I (along with my Associates) Crazy?

The News & Observer article may not be far off when it says, “Dismissed as lunacy by paleontologists and other academics, Whitcomb’s work . . .” In reality, however, only a tiny fraction of the paleontologists of the world, or even in the United States, are likely aware of my work. Among those limited numbers who know about my living-pterosaur investigations, a few have been vocal in criticizing my work and writings or ridiculing the religious beliefs of me and my associates. In reality, only a tiny fraction of my writings have been about religion, and the critics have usually written as if they knew my religious beliefs. In other words, they write about what they imagine I believe rather than about what I have actually written or about what I actually believe.

Why do I mention that kind of belief here? Many of the scientists who criticize the ideas of me and my associates often write about our religious beliefs, something even mentioning religion more than they mention anything scientific.

If my associates and I are in the minority, among Western scientists and researchers, regarding religious belief in scriptures (like those about the Flood of Noah in the Bible) that does not make us crazy. It may, however, make us resemble Sir Isaac Newton much more than our critics resemble him, in terms of belief in the Bible.

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Smoky Mountains of North Carolina

Smoky Mountains in North Carolina

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4th edition, front cover: Searching for Ropens and Finding God

Fourth edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God, by Whitcomb

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Pterodactyl sighting in Raleigh, North Carolina

Universal extinction is the assumption, in Western culture, regarding pterosaurs, so when somebody reports a pterosaur sighting in Raleigh, North Carolina, we can expect objections from skeptics.

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Apparent Living Pterosaurs in North Carolina

Where do these flying creatures appear? They have been reported in Raleigh, Durham, Asheville, Wilmington, and in other areas of N.C.

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Talk-show interview of Whitcomb early in 2018

Whitcomb wrote nine editions of four nonfiction books, one scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal of science, and over a thousand web pages and blog posts on sighting reports of featherless flying creatures described like pterosaurs.

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Living Pterosaurs

Glen Kuban (GK) and I have a few things in common. We’ve both been writing about reports of apparent extant pterosaurs (or those who believe in them) for a long time, and we’ve written a lot. I started late in 2003; and GK, in 2004. We differ, however, in how we interpret those reports.

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Living Pterosaurs Declaration on “Clear Thinking”

The second part of PLP goes into more details, regarding encounters with apparent extant pterosaurs, compared with DLP, and there is limited overlapping of what sightings are covered.

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Living Pterosaur in South Carolina

I may have included the following eyewitness report of a living pterosaur in one of my nonfiction books, but it seems that I have not previously published the account online, so here it is . . .

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Statistics on Living Pterosaur Sightings in the USA

By nonfiction-cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb

This morning I published a news release:

Living Pterosaurs in the United States (abbreviated title)

Expect a revision of the list in 2018, so the map may look different after additional sighting reports are added. Why publish a press release now, when the sighting list is not yet complete? It will never be complete, for people continue to encounter these featherless flying creatures in the USA, but the public needs to know what is flying overhead in North America and in Hawaii, and they need to know it now.

The list itself is not in that press release but it was written based upon what I discovered  from comparing the number of sightings with state populations.

These 161 reports are only a tiny fraction of the actual encounters American have had with apparent living pterosaurs over the past few decades. The actual number could be a thousand times that many. In other words, this sample may be too small to draw many conclusions about where in the USA non-extinct “pterodactyls” are more common. It may give us a hint about human nature, however.

map of the USA - sighting reports of living pterosaurs

The statistical figure for Hawaii (not shown) is 44.1

The top eight states, in relation to human populations, for reported pterosaur sightings are as follows, with actual number of sightings in parenthesis. The numbers on the right are reports per six-million human residents or the equivalent in ratio.

Hawaii (ten) = 44.1

Utah (nine) = 19.5

Oklahoma (seven) = 11.2

Kansas (four) = 8.4

Arkansas (four) = 8.3

Virginia (ten) = 7.5

Georgia (twelve) = 7.4

West Virginia (two) = 6.5

Clarification of Pterosaur Reports and Human Population

The numbers on the right are for comparing the number of reported sightings per six million persons. Since the populations of Virginia and Georgia are more than six million each, the number of reports are greater than the numbers on the right. In other words, if six million people lived in Virginia, then the number of reports would have been seven or eight (7.5). The actual number of reports from Virginia, however, is ten, for the actual number of people living in Virginia is over eight million.

Why are Sightings Reported so Frequently in Hawaii?

I offer the following possible reasons why so many reports are from Hawaii:

  • People stay out of doors a lot there, all through the year
  • The climate may better support modern pterosaurs
  • People may be more open to believing in what they see in HI

I’ve noticed, over the years, that some reported sightings of flying “pterodactyls” come from eyewitnesses who seem to spend more time outdoors than the average person. It could be when they’re driving or riding as a passenger in a car. Some of the other eyewitnesses were watching the stars at night or just enjoying a beautiful outdoor scene. Hawaii is a perfect place to look around outside, so we should not be shocked that sighting reports are more numerous from that state.

Pterosaurs may actually thrive in this tropical paradise, and people may instinctively recognize that possibility. That makes the third point more likely: When someone sees an apparent pterosaur flying over an island of Hawaii, he or she will probably be more likely to accept that what was apparently seen was actually what it appeared to be.

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Pterosaurs living in Hawaii

Last night I got a phone call from Les Kouke, who now lives in Colorado Springs. He had sent me an email, a few years ago . . . was living on the isand of Oahu, Hawaii, when he was twelve years old. It was around 1970 when he saw the creature flying about a hundred feet high . . .

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Pterosaur sighting in Utah

Where was that flying thing [looking like a dragon] flying? Over Stansbury Island, which is in the Great Salt Lake of Utah.

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Pterodactyl flying in Oklahoma

. . . my friend that was with me immediately said “Is that a dragon!?” It had a long tail, pointed wings straight to the side, short head. I thought it was a giant bat, but it would have to be the largest bat in the world.

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Living pterosaur in Kansas

Sightings in the following states of the USA:

  • California
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Kansas
  • Texas
  • Florida

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Pterodactyl seen in Arkansas

“It was probably 1982 when me and my older brother were sitting in our carport [in Texarkana, Arkansas] It was getting dark but there was plenty of light in the sky when we saw what we believe to be a [pterodactyl]”

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Featherless flying creature in Virginia

. . . the bird (?) I saw was much bigger and looked like a pterodactyl.

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Large creature or dragon flying in Georgia

It now seems plausible that a species of ropen lives in Georgia [USA]. David Schroder has allowed me to reveal his real name.

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Living Pterosaur in Georgia, USA

By living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

A few days ago, I received an email from a lady who wants to remain anonymous:

I saw this flying creature in the winter of 1999 in Roswell, GA while I was walking out to my car in my apartment complex. I saw a shadow, looked up and it was gigantic and my mind had a hard time making sense of it. The closest thing I could compare it to in that split second was a pelican but it’s face was shaped differently and it was absolutely enormous. Years later I casually mentioned it in front of my boss and her husband and her husband looked weird all of a sudden and asked where I had seen it and I said Roswell, GA and his wife said that he had see one there in the same town and then the husband changed the subject.

She later sent me another email:

I remember that after the face threw me off, as not being one of the closest animals I could compare it to, a pelican, it’s face was longer and not as gentle looking, and I also noticed that it’s feet had claws or talons and I knew that they did not look like pelican feet. I did not notice a tail at all. But it all happened so quickly. The apartments where I was living at the time were brand new and they were near wooded areas but the strange thing is that when I saw the shadow on the asphalt I though it had to be a low flying plane or something because the shadow was so large but then when I looked up and saw it I was truly shocked . . .

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How Many Americans Have Seen a Living Pterosaur?

. . . between 50,000 and 4,000,000 Americans have seen an obvious pterosaur at some time in their human lifespans.

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Pterosaur Declaration

We also invite people to become aware that at least three scientific papers have been published on the subject of modern pterosaurs.

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Missing Children Found in Caves

This two-and-a-half-year-old boy was found in a cave in New South Wales, Australia, in May of 1954, after he became missing from the family’s front yard the previous day. I learned about this case from the book Missing 411 The Devil’s in the Detail, by David Paulides.

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How can Modern Pterosaurs Remain Hidden?

It was a fledgling mocking bird, not yet able to fly. It was trying to hide in the flower garden near the front door of a family child care facility. Strange to tell, that baby bird was seen by only one person that week, although many parents and children had walked past that part of the flower garden, countless times missing the fledgling; the bird was only inches from people who overlooked it. And it was not a large flower garden, by any means.

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Long-tailed flying creature in Georgia

As it lept 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.

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Living pterosaurs in Georgia

For years people in Georgia have seen flying things unlike birds, sometimes creatures with long tails and no feathers and too big to be a bat. Sometimes a person will notice something like a head crest at the back of the creature’s head . . .

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Recent Sightings of Modern Pterosaurs

By the living-pterosaur cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb

For several months, I have been busy studying and writing about the Ptp photograph (which was apparently recorded before about 1870; I’ve recently written a book about it: Modern Pterosaurs), but I continue to receive eyewitness reports of apparent pterosaurs, especially from the USA. Just yesterday (June 1, 2017) a lady from North Carolina sent me an email, including the following:

I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. I just left . . . when I saw the shadow of big wings on the ground, so I looked up and I saw a winged, brown, species of [pterosaur] flying in the sky in the afternoon around 6 pm while me and a guy was standing at the bus stop.

It was pretty big! It was flying away from us, it had a long tail with a crest on its head that resembled a Rhino-horn-Bill bird. I’m in shock!!

I replied:

Thank you . . . for telling me about this. Could you give an estimate for how far away it was from you?

She answered:

. . . it was probably between 80-100 feet off the ground. I stand at that bus stop almost everyday so if I see it again, I will get my phone out! It was gliding slowly while slightly flapping its wings. My life has been changed forever. I hope I see it at again, I was a skeptic at first, but not now. [her mother and uncle had reported something similar, when they were children, but their mother did not believe them.]

I asked:

You mentioned a long tail. Did you notice [any] detail in it?

She answered:

Yes, the tail looked like it was in the shape of a lions tail, or a (paint brush) if you know what I mean? The tail was brown, long, and at the end of it; there was a diamond shaped bulb. . . . The crest was long enough that it matched the length of its beak.

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Whitcomb photo of the Los Angeles River

Los Angeles River, a little east of Griffith Park (photo by Jonathan Whitcomb)

Pterosaur Sighting North of Los Angeles

I got an email in mid-May of 2017 regarding an apparent pterosaur seen in the San Fernando Valley of California. Here is part of it:

I had the weirdest sighting just recently, maybe 10 days ago approx. . . . saw it when driving towards Encino, somewhere between 134 and 101 [freeways]. I’m a perfectly sane 31 [year-old] man.

I was VERY fond of dinosaurs when I was a kid and . . . know a lot of the
subject. However, I could’ve never expected to see a pterosaur flying
over Los Angeles…. I’m from [northern Europe] and live partly (about half the year) in LA. It was a clear day. I know it was not a bird. Contact me
in my mail, I’ll give you a full story! Thanks . . .

I replied:

Thank you very much for telling me. . . . Yes, I would very much like to know about your sighting, thank you.

He continued:

Maybe May 8th or 9th I was driving on 134 towards Ventura and 101. It was a perfectly clear and sunny weather and the traffic was heavy at maybe approx 10-12 am. The traffic was slow, creeping speed at the point where I was, and I kinda was just lookin around in my car when I saw something oddly large flying in my left corner of the eye. When I looked directly to it,
the very first thing that came in to my mind was that it was not a bird.

It was quite large, bigger than ie. an eagle. Its head and neck resembled
clearly that of a pterosaur more than a bird, and the most remarkable thing that I noticed right away and saw very clearly, is that it had a tail of
some sort. The tail was quite long and seemed to have some sort of wider
part at the end of it.

It moved very differently than a bird would. It just glided through the air effortlessly but in a very straight line at first. It looked like it was moving slow, but then suddenly it was already way ahead of me and i was looking at it from behind. It may have moved quite fast actually.

It flew across 134 heading somewhat to the same direction with the freeway and then I saw it flap it’s wings; the movement of the wings looked somehow different than when birds flap their wings. It was
kinda slower, but maybe because of the size of the wings. The movement was different. I don’t know the words to describe it well enough since English is not my mother language.

. . . The traffic started moving and I had to start paying attention to driving and I lost sight of it. At no point did I start to reach for my phone to take a picture, since I was driving and also I felt it would be futile to try and capture it from such a long distance, keeping a steady hand and operating the car at the same time in the freeway traffic where it’s stopping and moving constantly.

. . . I must say that I’ve never thought that there could be pterosaurs still living, it never occurred to my mind. . . . Never thought of it. But this sighting made me google “pterosaur sightings Los Angeles” to see if anyone else had had this type of weird experience around this city. And to my greatest surprise I found some similar sightings, and to my even greater surprise, in the very same area, near Griffith [Park]! . . .

I replied:

Thank you very much for the many details that you provided. You are
correct about sightings in California, for we do have many there,
including many in Los Angeles County. I’ll pass along this sighting to my associates.

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Modern Pterosaur in North Carolina

Universal extinction is the assumption, in Western culture, regarding pterosaurs, so when somebody reports a pterosaur sighting in Raleigh, North Carolina, we can expect objections from skeptics.

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Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

It seems that either confirmation bias or belief perseverance (or both) has played a role in how some persons have interpreted [and then wrongfully rejected] the photograph.

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Pterosaur sighting in San Fernando Valley

A report of a large flying creature in Sherman Oaks, California, suggests similarities to the ropen of Papua New Guinea. A man reported the creature after he and his girlfriend observed it while taking a walk at about 10:30 p.m., on September 21, 2009.

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Pterosaur Sightings near Griffith Park (Los Angeles), California

The most recent California pterosaur sighting report that I have received is from a flyover of Interstate-5, on May 13, 2013, just southeast of Griffith Park. It was south of Los Feliz (at the I-5), in Los Angeles, just a mile and a half south of where another eyewitness observed three “dragons” flying over the same freeway, two months earlier.

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“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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