Archive for the ‘Paranormal’ category

Modern Pteranodon in a Photo

March 24th, 2017

By Jonathan D. Whitcomb, nonfiction-cryptozoology author

I’ve known about this photograph for a long time. This may be what I saw in a book in a public library in Pasadena, California, in the 1960’s, although I can’t be sure of my memory on that. Others have reported seeing this photo at about the same time, perhaps in a Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” book between the 1950’s and the 1970’s. I call this photo “Ptp.”

19th century photo with an apparent Pteranodon

“Ptp” – declared to be a genuine photograph (click to compare it with a hoax photo)

I examined Ptp in 2013, and found that the skeptical comments that had been written about it were unjustified. I wrote about the possibility that this could be a genuine photograph of a modern pterosaur, but was far from certain about its authenticity at that time.

In January of 2017, I took a closer look and found this old photo to be more credible than I had thought. I talked with the missile defense physicist Clifford Paiva, on January 14th, and we agreed that this has a genuine image of a modern pterosaur, although we stopped short of insisting that it must have been a species of Pteranodon.

Why did it take so long?

If this photograph had been around since before 1870, why did it take so long for it to be proclaimed authentic by two scientists? That’s a long story, but it’s answered in the upcoming nonfiction cryptozoology book Modern Pterosaurs (to be published around mid-April of 2017).

Part of the problem has been in recent years, when the Ptp photograph has often been confused with a newer image, a hoax-photo created for a television show.

recent hoax, made in imitation of Ptp

Hoax photo made for a TV show (“Freakylinks”)

That fake photo was made with men dressed like Civil War soldiers (but it was really around the year 2000) and posed in a similar way to the men in the original Ptp photograph.

Some people, including Glen Kuban, became confused, assuming that Ptp was the photo that was created for the TV show. In fact, as recently as March 23, 2017, Kuban’s long online publication “Living Pterodactyls?” still had that photo (and text that included “hoax”) showing Ptp next to a paragraph that included, “a promotional stunt for a Fox television series” (meaning the Freakylinks TV show, apparently). By the way, I have found “Living Pterodactyls,” by Kuban, to be a severely one-sided and non-objective attempt to convince people to disbelieve in extant pterosaurs.


Pre-1870 prop technique used

Branch-prop was used to steady a soldier’s foot during photographic exposure


Evidences of authenticity in Ptp

The following are some of the evidences that Cliff Paiva and I have found in support of the interpretation that the Ptp photograph has a genuine image of a modern pterosaur:

  1. One or two branches were used as props, similar to pre-1870 photographic techniques
  2. The shadow under one shoe corresponds to shadows on the animal
  3. Belt buckle sizes correlate with the distances expected from camera to soldiers
  4. Drag mark shows where the animal was dragged into the clearing
  5. Small sapling tree was broken down to allow for that dragging
  6. Paiva found evidence of blood effusion in at least two areas on the animal
  7. White areas of wings have both biological symmetry and differences


copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


Genuine Photograph of an Extant Pterosaur

This is a study in cryptozoology, with an apparent “living fossil” that appears to have been a Pterodactyloid pterosaur. Paiva and Whitcomb stopped short of insisting that the animal was a species of Pteranodon, but they have pointed out the obvious similarities in appearance between this image and what is known from Pteranodon fossils.

Living Pterosaurs

Throughout human history, and more recently, come fascinating reports of what may have been living pterosaurs. From “fiery flying serpents” of the Bible ages ago, to strange flying creatures called “dragons” in England and other European countries a few centuries ago, to a huge pterosaur flying across a country highway in South Carolina in 1989, descriptions of these “flying dinosaurs,” commonly called “pterodactyls,” make if obvious that they are non-fictional and non-extinct.

Photograph of a modern pterosaur

What nonfiction book in history has come as such a shock as this? Not only have skeptical dismissals of the Ptp photograph been answered in scientific details but independent evidence is offered to back it up.

Civil War pterosaur photo

The photo shown here, recently given the label of “Ptp,” has been declared to have a genuine image of a modern pterosaur. The proclamation was given by the physicist Clifford Paiva and the cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb on January 14, 2017.


Bioluminescent Pterosaur and Humboldt Squid

August 22nd, 2013

The living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb has compared the bioluminescence of a large squid to the mysterious Marfa Lights of Texas. Nobody doubts that the Humboldt squid is real, a glowing predator of the eastern Pacific Ocean. But Whitcomb seems to have only a comparatively few followers in his belief that the flying lights of southwest Texas are bioluminescent pterosaurs.

He uses passages from the book Hunting Marfa Lights, by James Bunnell, in promoting the concept of nocturnal flying predators, but Bunnell makes no mention of that idea in his book.

Maybe the best point in Whitcomb’s favor is that no scientist, not even Mr. Bunnell, seems to have come up with a better explanation for the strangest types of Marfa Lights, the ones that sometimes split up into two lights, separate, and later reunite. Local residents around Marfa, Texas, often mention the intelligence that those lights seem to possess, another point in Whitcomb’s favor.

He brings up the huge squid as an example of how a group of intelligent glowing predators can use their brightness to catch prey. He also brings up eyewitness reports from citizens of Texas who send him emails about apparent pterosaurs flying overhead.

But until somebody captures a pterodactyl in a desert of southwest Texas, the idea that a group of glowing predators are swooping out of the sky at night, to catch bats and rabbits, may be a theory that flies too far out of reach for most people to believe, at least for city people who have never seen those flying lights.

Marfa Lights and Bioluminescence

Only about 3% of unusual lights around Marfa, Texas, are truly mysterious. But those rare lights—how extraordinary!

Marfa Lights

A new explanation for the mysterious flying Marfa Lights comes from a strange source: a cryptozoologist in California, who writes nonfiction books about modern living pterosaurs. Jonathan Whitcomb, of Long Beach, CA, wrote a press release.

Hollywood Pterodactyls, for Real?

June 20th, 2013

In a Jurassic Park film, we expect to see dinosaurs and pterodactyls alive, but a few miles east of Hollywood? The two eyewitnesses did not actually use the word “dinosaur” or “pterodactyl,” but one of them said “dragons” and the other, “pterosaur.”

Griffith Park Pterosaurs

The lady driving northbound on the I-5, at 6:10 a.m. on March 3, 2013, was not sure that the three flying creatures gliding over the freeway had no feathers (the sighting was too quick), but she was sure that they were not birds. Each of the three had a distinct narrow neck between head and body. She also reported that “their tails had triangular points.” She was positive that the proportions between head, body, and tail were “certainly not that of a bird.” The sighting was on the east side of Griffith Park.

Ten weeks later, Devin Rhodriquez was driving northbound on the I-5, at about 4:00 p.m., on May 13, 2013, when she saw something that reminded her of a pterosaur. She was so caught up in the strange head that she did not notice if the creature had a tail or not. It was the head crest and lack of feathers that shocked her. She reported, “I’m almost positive what I saw fly over the freeway in Los Angeles WAS NOT a bird of any kind.” That sighting was also on the east side of Griffith Park.

A bit of the rugged terrain in Griffith Park - Los Angeles, California - photograph by Kilgub

Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California – One of the largest city parks in North America


Pterosaur Sightings East of Griffith Park

In two separate sightings, two eyewitnesses in Los Angeles, California, reported flying creatures described like pterosaurs. The sightings were a little over a mile apart, both from drivers on the northbound Interstate-5 Freeway, just east of Griffith Park, near Glendale.

Dragons or Pterosaurs Over Interstate-5

The March 3rd eyewitness was given a survey form with the silhouettes of dozens of winged creatures, from modern birds and bats to pterosaurs of different species. She choose #13, which was the Sordes Pilosus, a Rhamphorhynchoidea type of pterosaur.

Perching Pterosaur, not Woodpecker

It relates to the May 13th sighting this year, a little southeast of Griffith Park. The animal was called a pterosaur by the eyewitness and she said that it had no feathers but it did have a head crest.


Live Pterodactyl April Fool’s Joke?

April 1st, 2013

A press release dated March 30, 2013 (Saturday) would be expected to be noticed on Monday, April 1, 2013. With a title of “Modern Pterodactyls and Religion,” it looks like it may be an April Fool’s joke. Look again. It’s one of many news releases published over several years, about living pterosaurs, and the release dates are scattered over the calendar, not just around April 1st.

Pterosaur sighting research is still not as popular as investigating of Bigfoot encounters, but it’s catching up. The following is just a sampling of press releases related to pterosaur sightings:

Two Dragon Hunters in Southern California

Recounts the expeditions of two residents of California: Garth Guessman and Jonathan Whitcomb, who have been searching for modern pterosaurs and interviewing eyewitnesses for ten years

Not all Biology Professors Fight Modern Flying Dinosaurs

It seems most biology professors prefer to keep out of a fight, but a very few of them almost take sides with what non-professors might call “flying dinosaurs” – This release deserves a quotation:

A recent survey of biology professors in the USA reveals not all of them are completely convinced that all species of pterosaurs became extinct by 65 million years ago. Although less than 2% of the professors replied to the survey, the response to the question of the possibility of modern living pterosaurs ranged from 0% to 5%, averaging 1.5%.

Live Pterosaur in Georgia

Jonathan Whitcomb reports pterosaur sightings in Winder, Georgia, and in Towns County of that state and compares the flying creatures to the one reported to have been observed in Cuba many years ago, at Guantanamo Bay.

Pterosaurs Alive in Australia

This release includes a brief account of a lady in Queensland, Australia, who was with her thirteen-year-old daughter when they encountered a huge flying creature.


Pterosaur Sightings in Arkansas and Missouri

My father and I saw a Huge, featherless bird in Arkansas . . . We were sitting on big rocks at a cliff about 300 foot above the river when it flew out just under us and we watched it all the way down toward the river . . . [It had a] wing span of maybe 8 ft and had a large head.

Do Jumping Fish Look Like Flying Pterosaurs?

November 1st, 2012

A critic has suggested that many stories of extant pterosaurs flying overhead come from misidentifications of large Manta ray fishes that are jumping out of the sea. In other words, it would be a leap of fish that causes us to believe in living pterosaurs. I refuse to take that bait.

Most reports of sighting of flying pterosaurs are far from the sea. That alone repudiates the jumping Manta ray speculation. But even those reports that have a flying creature near the seashore have, in addition, a powerful detail against the flying fish. The flying creatures often fly over land.

What about the 1965 sighting by Patty Carson? This was close to the sea, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But the “dinosaur” that Patty and her brother watched on one particular day was sitting upright in tall grass before it flapped its wings and flew away. Manta ray fish don’t do that. If that were not enough, Patty saw clearly a long pointed head crest that was in opposition to a long narrow beak that had teeth. Check out her sketch below.

Patty Carson's sketch of the long-tailed pterosaur of Cuba

I don’t know about all the strange fish that some people have seen or imagined, but this drawing, by the eyewitness herself, looks nothing remotely like what any Manta ray fish could look like, even if a giant fish could sit up in tall grass and look around before flapping its wings and flying off over some trees and vegetation.

Manta Rays and Modern Pterosaurs

Hodgkinson and his army buddy, in 1944, were nowhere near the seashore, when they stopped in a small jungle clearing well inland.

Modern Pterosaur in Cuba

All of us froze for about five seconds, then it leaned to its left and took off with a fwap fwap fwap sound . . . and flew to its left and disappeared behind trees and terrain.

Pterodactyls in Australia

September 13th, 2012

According to a newly published ebook, the ropen of Papua New Guinea is not restricted to flying over the tropical islands of that country. “Pterodactyls” have also been reported flying over Australia.

From the 7th chapter of the e-book Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, “Other Sightings in Australia”:

“After many misgivings about going ‘public’ as it were, I have decided to contact you with my experience of sighting what I believe to have been a Pterodactyl. . . . I cannot be sure of the year of the sighting now as I put it out of my mind for fear of being labelled a nut but I think it would have been around the late 1990’s.


“What I saw was what I first thought was a pelican flying about 3000 feet high but realised pelicans at that height did not look as large as this.


“I was standing outside about nine o’clock one night. It was full moon and very bright with a cloud bank to the south east extending to and over the Ranges. . . . I glanced to the south and something caught my attention. It was something flying that appeared to be at the height of light planes that fly around here . . . This thing was at least as large as a light plane, say a Cesna.


“It was about 5 klms away and was lazily flapping it’s wings, flying to the east in, at that point, a clear sky. It appeared to be lit up by the moonlight and shining as if it had no feathers. . . .”

Pterosaurs in Australia

My American associates and I have explored remote jungles in Papua New Guinea, searching for living pterosaurs and interviewing native eyewitnesses. Most expeditions were led by one or two Americans, with one or two native interpreters.

Tale of the Pterosaur Tail

June 30th, 2012

Contrary to what some paleontologists believe, the orientation of the tail vane, in the “basal” pterosaurs, now appears to be horizontal. Two eyewitnesses, both living in California, have made this clear: Patty Carson, of Riverside; and an anonymous eyewitness living in Lakewood. Each had her own clear daylight sighting of a living pterosaur at close range.

Rhamphorhynchoid (“basal”) Pterosaur in Cuba

Carson observed a long-tailed featherless flying creature at the Guantanamo Bay military installation in Cuba, in 1965, and was able to concentrate on the appearance of the “dinosaur” for many seconds. Here is her sketch of the head:

Patty Carson's sketch of the long-tailed pterosaur of Cuba

Why show a sketch of the head, when the tail vane is in question? This lays aside any doubt about misidentification. It was no featherless bird or long-tailed bat with a long head crest that was observed in Cuba by Patty Carson.

Carson watched the creature for a short while before it flew away, revealing its long tail and the vane at tail-end. Carson saw the orientation, a structure that could have been seen well from above or below the creature but not nearly as well from the side.

Southern California Sighting

In the second sighting, a lady was sitting in her back yard, typing on her computer, when she heard a strange noise. The dog had been barking for awhile, but that usually did not mean anything special, for many animals like rats and possums creap around the neighborhood, coming from the nearby storm channel, which was directly behind the lady’s back yard.

She finally became upset at the dog’s barking and the strange noises and walked out from under the gazebo, talking loudly to the dog. That is when she say what caused the barking. Only about twenty feet above her head, a large creature sat on the telephone line. It was facing away from the lady, whose loud talking scared it into flying off to a tree on another street.

The lady was able to see the tail, which she estimated was at least four feet long, and the orientation of the tail vane. It was horizontal.

Pterosaur or Ropen Living in Lakewood, California

On June 19, 2012, over a storm drain in Lakewood, California, in clear daylight at about noon, a long-tailed featherless creature sat on a telephone line.

Pterosaur Tail Vane Orientation

How is the Rhamphorhynchoid tail vane oriented, horizontally or vertically? According to at least a couple of key eyewitnesses, it is horizontal.

What is a Basal Pterosaur?

The word “basal,” when referring to a general type of pterosaur, relies on the popular belief in the basics of Darwin’s idea of evolution. For those who believe that long-tailed pterosaurs evolves into the Pterodactyloid type, this refers to the idea that the Rhamphorhynchoid type was mostly earlier and that one or more species of the long-tailed types had descendents that evolved into that short-tailed pterosaur. “Basal” relates to the word “base,” meaning foundational.

Statistics Show no Hoax in Pterosaur Sightings

March 5th, 2012

Recent statistical analysis of ninety-eight sighting reports of apparent living pterosaurs shows that there could have been no major involvement from hoaxes. Wingspan estimates were given by fifty-seven eyewitnesses, with the data showing no reasonable possibility that hoaxes accounted for any more than a maximum of 20% of those sightings, and probably much less.

In addition, the degree of certainty of the featherless appearance of the flying creatures independently indicated no hoax or combination of hoaxes could have created that data, provided it was obtained from those who had made sighting reports.

Why a Hoax Fails

What about tail-length in relation to wingspan? Many sightings include descriptions of long tails that suggest Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs, and those long-tailed species are believed to have been much smaller, according to fossil records. But the estimates shown above, for wingspan, shows nothing even remotely like any peak related to those fossils.

Modern Pterosaurs in Southern U.S.

February 27th, 2012

The big pterodactyl-sighting year, at least in Texas, was probably 1976, when many newspapers covered the strange encounters. Some of these are compiled in the cryptozoology book by Ken Gerhard: Big Bird. Other pterosaur encounters are reported in other states: Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, in particular.

Pterosaurs in Georgia

She had driven less than ten miles, just leaving an area of pasture, entering an area of thick woods, around a mild downhill curve, with high banks and brush on each side of the road, when an animal suddenly flew from the right, just over the front of her car. . . .

On the Track of Pterodactyls

“Jonathan Whitcomb is actually based in Long Beach, where as a cryptozoology author he offers an explanation of the mystery lights of Marfa, Texas, and Papua New Guinea. Human inhabitants in both places have observed in the sky balls of light . . .”

Pterosaur in South Carolina

From the book Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition: “Susan Wooten was driving east on Highway 20, to the town of Florence, on a clear mid-afternoon in the fall of about 1989 . . . Where the road was surrounded by woods and swamps, Wooten saw something flying from her left, then passing in front of her . . . ‘It swooped down over the highway and back up gracefully over the pines,’ but its appearance was shocking: ‘It looked as big as any car . . . NO feathers, not like a huge crane or egret, but like a humongous bat.'”

A Different Kind of Pterodactyl Attack

February 23rd, 2012

It was not an eyewitness being attacked by a large flying creature in the dark of night. The victim was a cryptozoologist—Jonathan Whitcomb—who was attacked in the words of an online forum discussion. Whitcomb believes the words of eyewitnesses of living “pterodactyls,” and that seems to upset skeptics. The point is this: Is Jonathan Whitcomb a pterodactyl expert?

Paleontologists have long assumed that all species of pterosaurs, both Rhamphorhynchoids and Pterodactyloids, have been extinct for many millions of years. Whitcomb has proclaimed, in his nonfiction books and in his blog posts, that both long-tailed and short-tailed pterosaurs still live in different areas of the world, although he believes that they are mostly nocturnal. This annoys skeptics.

Attack on the “Pterodactyl Expert”

In the sense of being a paleontologist, I am not a pterosaur expert; but many paleontologists do not seem to even consider the possibility that any pterosaurs are extant. “Ape man” seems to rebel against any idea involving any modern living pterosaur. But in that sense—some living pterosaurs (AKA “pterodactyls”)—I am probably one of the leading “pterodactyl experts” in the world.

Pterodactyl Expert

He is a cryptozoologist who interviews eyewitnesses of what many call “pterodactyls,” which is simply the name many non-paleontologists use for “pterosaur.”