Posts Tagged ‘pterosaur’

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.


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.

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.”

Pterodactyls in San Diego

January 23rd, 2012

According to one of the two eyewitnesses of the large flying creatures, they had long tails and wingspans around 20-30 feet, as they flew only about a hundred feet above San Diego, California, in November of 2011. The tails were long and straight. The first creature was flying only about 30-40 yards high. No sound was heard from the creatures but the sighting may have been too near a freeway for the eyewitnesses to have heard anything from the two apparent pterodactyls.

Two Pterosaurs in San Diego

The men first noticed just one long-tailed creature, as it came gliding in from the direction of the ocean, but it was soon met by another one. . . . Although the moon helped light up the creatures, it was not possible to be sure whether or not they had feathers. The color was like golden brown, where color was discernable.

On the Track of Pterodactyls

November 28th, 2011

Continuing on the subject of still-breathing pterosaurs, commonly called “pterodactyls,” we have something from the Orange County Weekly, by way of KSN News:

Tracking 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 that seem to split into two, fly away from each other and then turn around and fly back together.


“Such sights have produced legends about dancing devils or ghosts and scientific explanations involving lightning or earthlights. Whitcomb has a far different explanation: bioluminescent predators flying together until they notice an increased presence of insects.


“The pterodactyls–which are actually known as pterosaurs–then split up because their meal of choice–big brown bats–feed on insects. When the brown bats, known as Eptesicus fuscus, start feeding on the insects, the pterosaurses bear down on the bats from opposite sides. . . .”

Paleontologist Comments on Pterosaurs

. . . “Is it possible that at least a few of those thousands of discovered pterosaur fossils actually prevented the strata from being dated as post-Cretaceous?” . . . inadvertant circular reasoning in this assumption that all pterosaur fossils have been from ancient life?


The problem with getting an objective evaluation of this fossil dating is in the deeply-entrenched assumption of pterosaur extinction and the assumption that they only lived many millions of years ago. That could have influenced the dating of some of the strata from which the pterosaur fossils were taken, invalidating the claim that all those fossils had been proven to be ancient.

New Report of Modern Pterosaur in Cuba (Guantanamo Bay)

May 20th, 2011

An eyewitness of a long-tailed featherless flying creature has recently come forward: Patty Carson of Southern California. She witnessed the “Gitmo Pterosaur” when she was a child, on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, in 1965. Jonathan Whitcomb, the cryptozoologist who interviewed her, believes the flying creature is related to the kongamato of Africa.

Patty Carson described the encounter:

I was only a child when I saw it. . . . around six years old. My brother George was with me, but he was only around four. We were walking down near the boat yards, headed home. We lived . . . by the radio tower. . . . Where it was sandy . . . scrub vegetation around four feet tall . . . There were some stagnant pools here and there, a few inches deep . . . We were walking through that scrub area, and 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 . . . showed. . . . 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 . . . and flew to its left and disappeared behind trees and terrain. . . . It did have a tail and it had a diamond shaped tip . . . The skin was a leathery, brownish reddish color. It had little teeth, a LOT of them.


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 it haunches. It was close. It froze for a few seconds so I got a good look. When we were kids we lived in Arlington (dad worked in the Pentagon) and we would often go
to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and when I saw it I knew exactly that it was a pterodactyl, and even named it as such to my family. They didn’t believe me. I know what I saw. I know exactly what I saw.

Carson’s report resembles the one by a U. S. Marine, Eskin C. Kuhn, who watched two similar creatures fly by at Guantanamo Bay, six years after Carson’s sighting:

Pterosaurs in Cuba

“I saw two pterosaurs . . . flying together . . . perhaps 100 feet [high], very close in range from where I was standing, so that I had a perfectly clear view of them. . . . ”


Mr. Kuhn had assumed that the two long-tailed pterosaurs he observed were exceptional cases and that short tails were what would be expected of modern living pterosaurs. That was before his 2010 interview with cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb. Most sightings do involve long tails.

Kongamato Pterodactyl

Before considering the origin of the word “kongamato,” we need to evaluate what witnesses have seem to have seen, regardless of what they call the flying creature. How can two freshwater stingrays fly slowly, directly over ones head? They cannot. It is possible for one stingray to jump out of a river, however uncommon that may be, but never two overhead, flying slowly. How can a freshwater stingray have a head that looks like “an elongated snout of a dog?” It cannot. But a pterosaur, called by some people “pterodactyl,” may appear as described by J. P. F. Brown, according to his report, regardless of whether or not someone else had once seen a freshwater stingray and called it “kongamato.”

Dinosaur Bird

Of course “dinosaur bird” is incorrect in a scientific sense, for a pterosaur is neither dinosaur nor bird. But an eyewitness like Patty Carson probably said something similar when she, as a child who had just seen a  live pterosaur in Cuba, reported her encounter to her family. In more recent years, a man in Richmond, Virginia, reported a “dinosaur bird” after he looked through a telescope.

Mysterious Marfa Lights of Texas

April 25th, 2011

Circumstantial evidence seems to be mounting for the possibility that bioluminescent flying predators may be responsible for sightings of Mara Lights in southwest Texas.

According to the research of James Bunnell, author of the nonfiction book Hunting Marfa Lights, those truly mysterious flying lights do not appear at the same location in this remote high desert area except on consecutive nights. This fits well with the hypothesis of glowing flying creatures that are predators.

Analysis of some of the detailed data accumulated by Bunnell shows that the truly strange Marfa Lights appear more often on warmer or more moderate nights, rather than on colder nights. This supports the idea that they are a group of intelligent flying predators that hunt as a pack.

Are Marfa Lights Glowing Pterosaurs?

Now a cryptozoologist from California has explained the dancing lights of Marfa. Tales of spooks may hold a spark of truth, for recent research implies intelligence directs the lights: Bioluminescent flying predators may be hunting at night and catching a few unlucky Big Brown Bats: Eptesicus fuscus.

. . . Although Whitcomb admits that Marfa Lights may come from an unknown bioluminescent bird or bat, he says, “It is more likely than not from a creature similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea, and my associates and I are sure about the ropen: It is a pterosaur.”

Marfa Lights, What Causes Them

“Soon after dark we saw two strange lights on a compass-bearing almost due south [from us]. These lights pulsed independently and seemed to follow a randomly timed sequence that, in most cases, went from dark to relatively dim, flared to a higher level of brightness, then dimmed and eventually went out. Sometimes both lights would be on at the same time.”

Although the author of Hunting Marfa Lights, James Bunnell, does not write about the flying-predator possibility, many of the sighting reports in his book led Jonathan Whitcomb, the author of Live Pterosaurs in America (second edition) to believe flying predators are the answer.

Live Pterosaur in North Carolina?

February 7th, 2011

After this anonymous eyewitness read about a report of a sighting of an apparent pterosaur flying over St. Louis, she realized it may have been similar to what she had seen in October of 2010. This was an apparent pterosaur in North Carolina. She reported:

I was driving home from dropping a friend off at school.  When I was almost home (passed the Food Lion on Commerce Rd, going towards Country Club Rd in Jacksonville, NC), I saw something HUGE above me in the sky.  It looked like a pale greenish white and smooth-skinned. It didn’t appear to have any feathers, and it had the tail with the diamond shape on the end.

Knowable News had previously reported a sighting of a possible pterosaur in South Carolina:

I saw a pterosaur in Clinton, SC when I was 15 or 16 while at a soccer camp at Presbyterian College in 1994 or 1995. . . . It was huge, as big as a plane . . . I saw a huge pterodactyl-looking creature, flying very high in the sky. The strangest thing . . . how slow the wings were flapping and how high it was flying . . .