Pterodactyl — Extinct or Alive?

“Pterosaur” is the correct name for what is called “pterodactyl,” but we will here use the common, albeit inaccurate, word. The controversay of recent years involves assumptions about extinctions (yes, the plural of “extinction,” for these magnificent feather-less flying creatures are of many species, not one). This extinction assumption itself deserves thoughtful scrutiny.

Extinction of all pterodactyls has been assumed for generations, at least in Western societies, so why doubt that these flying creatures are all extinct? Look at the history of fossil discoveries and find the answer: Early searchers and researchers assumed that the strange fossils were of animals that no longer live. Why? Those particular discoverers (few they were in numbers) had no knowledge of living creatures that were like those pterodactyl fossils.

But why believe that pterodactyls still live? It is the eyewitnesses, common persons from many countries and many cultures. Those eyewitnesses have reported large flying creatures, featherless but different from bats. Most reports are of long-tailed creatures, obviously not bats.

Let’s look at one of those eyewitnesses, Eskin Kuhn, who was a United States Marine in 1971, when he was stationed at the Guantanamo military base in Cuba. Let’s consider some of his own words.

 I was looking in the direction of the ocean when I saw an incredible sight . . .  I saw 2 Pterosaurs (or Pterodactyls…what’s in a name?) flying together at low altitude, perhaps 100 feet, very close in range . . . I had a perfectly clear view of them.

Pterodactyls have been reported alive for many generations, although they used to be called “flying dragons.” Trusting human experience more than human imagination, we must admit the possibility that at least one or two species of pterodactyls may still be living.

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Are reports of living pterosaurs anecdotes?

“A short account of a particular incident”—that is one definition of “anecdote.” But the connotation includes more than “short,” for “anecdote” is the word more appropriate when an event is witnessed by only one or a few and the report is second hand at best. Regarding eyewitness accounts of living pterosaurs, I have found that “anecdote” has been eliminated as a valid word for some of the reports. Consider what some critics have said and observe how the word is proven inappropriate. Those critics’ dismissals are themselves dismissed.

Things that eliminate the appropriateness of “anecdote”

  1. A written account was recorded by the eyewitness soon afterwards
  2. A sketch was drawn by the eyewitness soon afterwards
  3. An investigator or researcher examined the first-hand eyewitness testimony and wrote about it, quoting the eyewitness

Other things make “anecdote” less appropriate, for example, when two or more eyewitnesses describe the same thing, with details of similarity recorded. But any one of the above three points eliminates the appropriateness of the word “anecdote.” Consider some examples.

A critic of the report by Eskin Kuhn (two pterosaurs in Cuba)

In part, the critic said in his blog, “I had been planning on writing a post called ‘Thoughts on Eskin Kuhn’s Pterosaur Sighting’ . . . an American soldier named Eskin Kuhn saw a pterosaur while stationed in Cuba. The claim is a hoax. I no longer have the patience for dealing with creationist-related debunkings and I have no intention of actually writing up one for this topic.”

The problem with that short blog posting soon became obvious, for the writer used the name of a real person and wrote “The claim is a hoax,” without any explanation except that the eyewitness report is supposed (according to him, apparently) to be supported by persons labeled “creationists.” (His meaning of “debunkings” is unclear, unless he means that creationists attemp to debunk ideas contrary to Biblical Creation.)  The eyewitness himself replied to the blog, with no uncertain disdain for the one who tied his name to the word “hoax.”

The critic replied, “Relax, bro, I said I was not going to do a debunking of your alleged sighting. Anyway, obtain a specimen and you’ll convert me to belief in living pterosaurs lickety split. Until then, all you have is an unlikely anecdote.”

The critic tried to step away from his previous stand about a hoax. How? By trying to shove onto the shoulders of the Marine the responsibility of making what could be one of the most dramatic biological discoveries in history: Obtain the body of a modern pterosaur and prove its authenticity to the world.

That critic has written many postings, apparently (I’ve read only a little of very few of them), but has he any inkling of the implications of his position? He makes no personal claim of any earth-shaking scientific discovery. Does that mean we can dismiss his words? Are all of his postings of no account, because his has not astonished the world with a scientific discovery? But I’m getting off topic.

That critic labeled the eyewitness report of Eskin Kuhn “an unlikely anecdote.” But the link that he gives in his original posting is to a site with at least twenty-nine short paragraphs about the sighting; that alone makes the word “anecdote” questionable. And all of those paragraphs were quotations of the eyewitness, Eskin Kuhn; that shoots down the word “anecdote.” And Kuhn drew a detailed sketch of the two pterosaurs soon after the sighting; that buries the word “anecdote.” I interviewed Kuhn, verifying his credibility, sealing the tomb on the word “anecdote.” And both his sketch and his words have been compared with other eyewitness sighting reports, obliterating any evidence for the burial location of that word.

See also: pterosaur sighting by Eskin Kuhn

And: Pterodactyl in Cuba

And: Marine Sees Two Pterosaurs at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Sketch by Eskin Kuhn

Peer-reviewed scientific paper on live pterosaurs

Creation Research Society Quarterly scientific article on live pterosaursEyewitness sightings in “Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific,” include the sighting by Duane Hodgkinson, the World War II veteran. This excerpt is from Volume 45, Number 3, of the Creation Research Society Quarterly (Winter issue, 2009).

Other eyewitness testimonies are included in this scientific paper; in fact testimonies are divided into “Western” and “Native.”

Western eyewitnesses: Hodgkinson, Hennessy, an Australian couple (anonymous), Woetzel, and Nation. Native eyewitnesses: Kepas, Gideon, Wesley, Mesa, Jonah, and Jonathan. Parts of the Hodgkinson section are as follows:

In 2004 I interviewed Duane Hodgkinson, of Montana . . . He was then videotaped by Guessman in 2005. He and an army friend were in a jungle clearing west of Finschhafen . . . in 1944 . . . when something “huge” took off into the air from the far side of the clearing. The creature ran to their left, taking six to ten steps to get airborne and ascended at an angle of about 30 degrees . . . It then disappeared over the dense brush but soon returned and flew over the clearing, presenting a “perfect side view” of its features . . . .

. . . He estimated the legs to be 3–4 ft (1–1.2 m) long. The top of the back was 5–6 ft . . . above the ground just before takeoff. Although he did not notice details of the tail, he estimated it was “at least” 10–15 ft (3–4.6 m) long. He compared the wingspan to a Piper Tri-Pacer airplane (~29 ft or 9 m). The length of the head, not counting the appendage, was about 3–4 ft (1–1.2 m), similar to the length of the neck. An appendage protruding from the head, above the neck, was about half that length, and both the head and appendage were parallel to the neck . . . During flight, the feet were tucked up to the body. Hodgkinson was unsure of other features. The color was dark but not black. . . .

See also Ropen Pterodactyl American Eyewitness on Youtube (a videotaped interview with Duane Hodgkinson, with Garth Guessman conducting the 2005 interview; edited by Jonathan Whitcomb)

Resistance to Live Pterosaurs

It’s been almost seven years since I began investigating reports of living pterosaurs. Around early 2004, I first met resistance to what I had published on web pages: eyewitness accounts of flying creatures that “modern” science declares universally extinct millions of years ago. But resistance continues, in various forms. I classify the objections: cryptozoology, misidentification, native superstition, religion. But what seems to feed the objections is fear. Critics fear an apparent threat to their philosophy or fear trusting someone who appears different, someone who could be lying. Jealousy might sometimes play a part, but let’s consider the basic objections themselves.

Cryptozoology Objection

“Where is a dead body or a photograph of a pterosaur?” As of early 2010, living-pterosaur investigations have remained cryptozoological, for most of our evidence is still in eyewitness testimonies. I suggest that some critics have misunderstood cryptozoology; they recognize that our evidence is outside standard zoology, and they thereby assume that our declarations are without merit, as if we were trying to rewrite biology textbooks.

Those critics fail to appreciate the history of discovery, for example, the discovery of gorillas in Africa; early evidence was dismissed, perhaps because it was labeled “heresay.” But cryptozoology, when properly used, is like a prod for stubborn cattle that refuse to move. The cryptozoologist is not an insurgent trying to burn down principles of scientific inquiry but a motivator trying to motivate the zoologist to make official discoveries. I believe that my associates and I have used cryptozoology properly: to motivate biologists and others to search and research and discover. We hope that the creatures involved here, apparent living pterosaurs, will soon be officially discovered, graduating from cryptozoology to biology.

Misidentification Objection

“Eyewitnesses are seeing  ‘flying fox’ fruit bats or Frigate birds.” Nothing is easier than ignoring what passes through our hands, packing everything away while labeling the box with one word: “misidentification.” I suggest examining each eyewitness report. Duane Hodgkinson described a flying creature with a tail that was at least 10-15 feet long: obviously not any known bird or bat. Brian Hennessy described a beak that was indistinguishable from the rest of the head, a long tail, and no sign of feathers: not likely any bird or bat. Many eyewitnesses describe a bright glow from a nocturnal flying creature: not likely a fruit bat or a Frigate bird. How much better to examine descriptions rather than ignore them and only imagine what someone else has seen!

Native-Superstition Objection

“Natives who talk about the ropen are superstitious.” As explained in the second edition of my book Searching for Ropens, a superstition can be harbored by any culture or society, not just uncivilized natives. But the natives of Umboi Island who told me about their personal observations of the ropen–those islanders left out traditions and legends while telling me about their experiences. They understood that I only wanted to know what they had seen, and they complied. That makes all their unmentioned superstitions irrelevant, for they were not interpreting (as Westerners often do) what their experiences meant: only what they had experienced, what they had seen.

Religion Objection

“Live-pterosaur believers are creationists, so we can’t believe it.” What about Sir Isaac Newton? He may have spent more time studying, reasoning, and writing about Biblical scriptures than about science; does that force us to disbelieve in Calculus? Galileo believed that the Bible could “show us how to get to heaven” (but not “how the heavens should go”); does that force us to believe that the earth is the center of the universe? We don’t have to disbelieve in a mathematical or scientific achievement (or cryptozoological investigation) just because the scientists or investigators hold to different religious beliefs than we do.

Most of the explorers and investigators of living pterosaur reports have been labeled “creationists.” These individuals have held individual beliefs and approaches to communicating their beliefs. (I am one of them.) Our religious beliefs include concepts or perspectives on life-origin. Those who criticize us for those points of view often assume that we are significantly biased and unable to conduct our investigations objectively. But they fail to realize that every human has at least some potential for bias. The solution to the universal problem of human bias is to carefully examine the evidences and reasonings of investigators. Leave conjectures about bias-of-the-opponents to the post-mortem examination, should a hypothesis or theory prove itself dead.

At times, critics appear to accuse us of seeking to overthrow “science,” as if we were using cattle prods to force their pet cows into a slaughter house. I think of it more like opening the gate leading to a safer pasture and waving off cattle that are feeding on poisonous vegetation. But the conflict between strict Natusalism philosophy and belief in a creative God is a deep subject, too deep for treatment here.

Jonathan David Whitcomb

Live Pterosaur on WordPress.com

See also cryptozoology book and Marfa Lights attack and American ghost lights

See also Giant Pterosaur or Exaggeration? “Is that an example of scientific criticism? No. It seems to be based on one of two ideas: 1) There is nothing more to be discovered in zoology . . .”