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.



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.”


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.



New Book on Living Pterodactyls

Searching for Ropens and Finding God says little about religion but a lot about how persons of various faiths have contributed to the early stages of a wonderful scientific discovery: modern non-extinct pterosaurs. The Introduction of the book explains, “Yet this is not mainly about religion, not in the usual sense. It’s less likely to take you to church than into the lives of ordinary persons who have encountered extraordinary flying creatures, and into the lives of Christians who have risked their health, even their lives, in searching for living pterosaurs.”

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


Nonfiction book by Jonathan Whitcomb (fourth edition)


Part of the Book Description (subject to revision after April 17, 2014)

Fly above common true-life adventures as you dive into what may become the most unsettling scientific  discovery since Copernicus and Galileo: Living pterosaurs of the modern world—what a discovery!

It soars above disputes about religion, revealing why an official discovery of an extraordinary animal has been delayed for so long. Above all, this explores human experiences—of eyewitnesses and those who interviewed them. People have become connected by common encounters; persons of various faiths, with various levels of education, from various countries and cultures, have seen a living pterosaur, commonly called “pterodactyl.”

Notwithstanding the delay in the official scientific discovery, eyewitnesses from around the world continue to encounter these flying creatures: featherless, long-tailed, often larger than any known bird.

A few Americans explored a few islands in the southwest Pacific, in brief expeditions scattered between 1993 and 2007, looking for a modern pterosaur. “Creationist” each man was labeled, yet many of those following them carried no religious purpose.

Eyewitnesses of “Pterodactyls”

The first paragraph of the first chapter explains where the author got the idea of extant “pterodactyls.”

It looked like a dead pterodactyl: not fossil bones but with skin, like it had died recently. Could those creatures, non-extinct, still fly? Although I could not verify the photo was genuine, the idea within that image in a soon-forgotten book would be awakened four decades later, to plunge me into the most dramatic adventure of my life: exploring a remote tropical island, searching for giant living pterosaurs.

The book includes the sighting report by a World War II veteran: Duane Hodgkinson

I was stationed in Finschhafen, New Guinea, with the U.S. military. While there, I made several trips into some of the surrounding native villages with a friend of mine and a native guide (provided by the Australian government). On this one particular trip, we had the wonderful opportunity to witness a pterodactyl take off from the ground and then circle back overhead and to the side, giving us a perfect side view which clearly showed the long beak and appendage protruding from the back of its head . . .

Basic Book Information

List Price: $17.50
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
360 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1502865526
ISBN-10: 1502865521
BISAC: Religion / Religion & Science

Fourth edition (first two titles were “Searching for Ropens”)



A different book:

New Cryptozoology Book: Pterosaurs in Australia [not the above; a different book, in Kindle digital format]

FREE online download of a pdf book

Honest Skepticism Regarding Live Pterosaur Reports

Finding a skeptic has written about the improbability of a modern pterosaur—that does not surprise me. But I do find it refreshing to read something written by a skeptic who accepts that possibility with hope that it is true. How far afield is the negative skeptic who writes with zeal to persuade everybody possible that a modern pterosaur is impossible! What a difference! Quoting from “A Whole New Level of Weirdness” –  a book review of Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition:

I want to believe in big flying dinosaurs roaming the skies, but experience and common sense argue against it. So far I have never been chased by one as I wander through town. . . . First surprise is technically they were not dinosaurs at all . . .  Secondly there were incredibly diverse, and many of them looked nothing like the beasties I think of when I hear the word “Pterosaur.”

The reviewer then relates what he found online, that pterosaurs were “definitely extinct,” many millions of years ago. The point I enjoyed reading was about what he did after reading that oft-repeated obituary: He searched for accounts of people who had been “chased by pterodactyls!” That is when he learned about the “’Living Pterosaur’ research community, a fringe even within cryptozoology.” That is when he discovered, ordered, and read Live Pterosaurs in America.

This long book review is more positive than negative (see the link below: “A Whole New . . .”). The reader took a critical look, reading both my writings and those of critics of living-pterosaur investigations. Rather than write more about this book review, I quote from my book:

Introduction to Book

. . . We need to understand why we believe what we believe. When I first began researching these . . . sightings, years ago, I mentioned a word to a kindergartner: “pterosaurs;” he said, “A comet.” Years later, while writing this book, I mentioned my work to a second-grader; she said, “Who will buy your book? Crazy people?” I think better of you. And I think, because of what she and many others have told me, that we must understand indoctrination, for it influences our beliefs . . .

Chapter Two – California Sightings

When I returned from Papua New Guinea, in 2004, I knew almost nothing about reports of apparent pterosaurs, or “dragons,” in California. I was convinced of the reality of long-tailed ropens of the southwest Pacific, but assumed they live there because of the vast tropical wildernesses, providing them warmth, food, and seclusion. I also assumed that the few reports that I had read—apparent pterosaurs in some of the 48 States—were of a few stragglers from Central America. But after publishing many web pages about living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, I received emails and phone calls from eyewitnesses: sightings in California, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland-Virginia border, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Washington State. I became a believer in American pterosaurs.

The greatest danger facing innovators, rebels, and those who search for living pterosaurs—that’s a newspaper. National newspapers ignored the success of the Wright brothers (their December, 1903, successful powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina). News reporters and editors, many of them, assumed that the controlled powered-flight of two bicycle mechanics was a lie, that it never happened. Even as late as 1908, many newspaper professionals thought the Wright brothers “better liars than flyers.” After all, a well-funded government-sponsored flying machine had crashed only a few days before the Wright brothers were said to have first flown. But lack of news reporting and abundance of lie-insinuations can relate to both flying machines and flying pterosaurs, even those called “dragons.”


cover of cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America


Pterosaur Sightings in U.S.A

Modern pterosaur eyewitnesses often report a structure at the end of the long tail of the flying creature, with different witnesses using different words for the structure . . .

A Whole New Level of Weirdness

I vaguely recall having a book as a child in which there was a picture, daguerreotype style, of some cowboys  holding a shot pterodactyl by a barn. Actually I soon found out, chatting about with friends on Facebook, that I may have be suffering from a False Memory . . .

Pterosaur Sightings in Florida

“A huge Rhamphorhynchus-like flying entity . . . grabbed my attention . . . flying . . . close enough it could’ve been shot down. I had ran to the door and about . . . lost my breath in disbelief. Had an estimated wingspan of 8-12 feet and a tail . . . with a large bulb or lump at the tail very diamond shaped. . .”

New Cryptozoology Book: Pterosaurs in Australia

My latest book, Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, is now published on Amazon as a Kindle ebook:

cover of e-book on pterosaurs in southwest Pacific - still living creatures

No paper version is available–save those trees.

A Few Details:

About 20,000 words: a medium-length book, smaller than the largest Kindle Singles ebooks

Published September, 2012

Author and publisher: Jonathan David Whitcomb

Images: one (cover image on first page)

Table of Contents (internal linking):

How can Pterosaurs be Alive?
The Finschhafen Pterodactyl
The Bougainville Creature
The Lake Pung Encounter
Another Expedition on Umboi Island
The Perth Creature
Other Sightings in Australia
Expedition of 2006
Other Sightings in Papua New Guinea

To quote part of the Introduction:

What is a Pterosaur?

We must begin with the basics: What is a pterosaur? It’s not really a type of dinosaur, although it’s associated with them. The flying creature is called “pterodactyl” by many non-scientists; some Americans call those featherless fliers “dinosaur birds” or “prehistoric birds.”

Most pterosaur fossils fit into one of two types: long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid or shorter-tailed Pterodactyloid. Those two types differ in other ways, not just tail length, but that’s a subject for a book on pterosaur fossils.

In modern eyewitness reports, long-tailed pterosaurs outnumber short-tails, at least four-to-one. Standard models of extinction make this ratio appear strange, for the long-tailed variety were thought to have dwindled before the short-tailed pterosaurs became dominant, at least that’s the theory. Nevertheless, the ratio is significant in modern sightings, appearing consistent regardless of the culture or beliefs or education of the eyewitness.

Introduction, page-1, of e-book "Live Pterosaurs in Australia . . ."

Book Featured on Live Pterosaur Blog

I can’t remember why our vehicle had stopped. Maybe we had to wait for another vehicle to pass us. I don’t know. But I can still hear that slow flapping sound in the stillness of an early tropical morn, on the road from Panguna down to Loloho on Bougainville Island in 1971.

For those who order on Amazon-UK, purchase this ebook through Amazon here: UK Kindle

For those who purchase Kindle books on the French-language Amazon site, this book (in English) is here: FR-Amazon

Nonfiction cryptozoology books (paper versions) specializing in modern pterosaurs include Live Pterosaurs in America and Searching for Ropens.

Live Pterosaurs in America – Third Edition

cryptozoology book about reports of living pterosaurs in the United States

The expanded third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America is now available on Amazon. Most of the expansion has been the addition of a critical sighting by Patty Carson, a report that supports Eskin Kuhn’s account of a long-tailed pterosaur at Guantanamo Bay in the mid-twentieth century. Here is an excerpt of this eyewitness report (from the appendix of the book):

“I was only a child when I saw it . . . around six years old. . . . We were walking from the boat yards toward home . . . There were some stagnant pools here and there, a few inches deep, in the area. . . . Suddenly it sat up, as if it had been eating something or resting. The head and upper part of its body, about a third of the wings at the joint (tips still held down) showed.

” . . . in front of us about thirty feet away. All of us froze for about five seconds, then it leaned to its left and took off with a fwap fwap fwap sound, in a big hurry, more of a scramble, and flew to its left and disappeared behind trees and terrain . . . The skin was a leathery, brownish reddish color. It had little [small] teeth, a LOT of them. The eye was smallish and dark . . .

“We went home and I was ALL excited to tell my family I had seen a dinosaur, but they all poo poo’d me and started to tell me it was a pelican or frigate bird. NO WAY! It was as tall as a man when it stood up on its haunches. It was close. It froze for a few seconds so I got a good look. . . .”

From the blog Modern Pterosaurs: (from the title page of the book)

How are sightings in the United States related to those in the southwest Pacific? How do some apparent nocturnal pterosaurs pertain to bats, and how are bats irrelevant? How could modern living pterosaurs have escaped scientific notice? These mysteries have slept in the dark, beyond the knowledge of almost all Americans, even beyond our wildest dreams (although the reality of some pterosaurs is a living nightmare to some bats). These mysteries have slept . . . until now.

Live Pterosaurs in America and Standard-Model Paleontology

This book was not intended to tear down generations of work in paleontology nor to ridicule the intelligence of paleontologists. It give more of a hint of axiomatic conflict, generations of conflict between standard models in Western society (namely Neo-Darwism and strict naturalism), but little is said about it outside the appendix, the conflict between “creationism and Dawinism.”

Cryptozoology Book by William Gibbons

Many wonderful eyewitess accounts fill this cryptozoology book: Missionaries and Monsters. The cryptozoologist-explorer William J. Gibbons has done a fine job with it. I found the report of the Orang-bati (a large humanoid-like flying creature in Indonesia) particularly interesting:

In 1987, Tyson Hughes, . . . [missionary] arrived on the island of Ceram . . . [He gained] the trust of the Moluccan tribespeople. . . . [He] began to hear stories about a fearsome flying creature called the Orang-bati . . . this terrifying creature of the night is . . . up to five feet in height, and possesses huge, leathery wings . . .

Details about the pterosaur-like creatures flying in Papua New Guinea, however, I found at least somewhat outdated. Gomlongon Village (southwest of Mount Bel) is on Umboi Island, not on the mainland. In addition, “Duah” is probably a distorted version of the correct word: “duwas,” and “ropen” and “duwas” do not refer to different sizes or types of flying creatures but to different languages used by various villages and groups in Papua New Guinea.

Nevertheless, I am delighted to have my own copy of Missionaries and Monsters, for those many eyewitness reports of living dinosaurs and pterosaurs (or apparent ones: not every report need be of a genuine dinosaur or of a genuine pterosaur; it takes only one living dinosaur or one living pterosaur to disprove the universal extinction dogma) thrill the imagination.

See also Cryptozoology Books (by Whitcomb and Gerhard)