Discovery of a 19th Century Living Pterosaur

By the living-pterosaur author Jonathan Whitcomb

In January of 2017, the physicist Clifford Paiva and I talked by phone and agreed that the photograph now called “Ptp” has an authentic image of a modern pterosaur. We then began deeply examining the photo, mostly independently but comparing our findings from time to time. Additional discoveries confirmed our initial conviction: Not only is the photo quite old, probably recorded before about 1870, but the animal shown is a real pterosaur.

Civil-War era photograph of a large modern pterosaur

The following is a partial list of resources, recent online publications on this wonderful discovery of a modern pterosaur (pages and posts published in 2017, mostly from February through mid-May).

Living Pterosaurs and the 1944 Sighting

Much of this blog post is about the sighting of a large ropen on the mainland of what is now Papua New Guinea, an encounter two American soldiers had with a living pterosaur in a jungle clearing in 1944.

It also has a section titled “Confirmation Bias and a Photograph of a Modern Pterosaur.” Here’s part of that section:

For many years, the critic had an image of Ptp on his online page. He declared that it was a hoax from a television show. I communicated with the critic, earlier this year (2017), and revealed to him his mistake: Two photographs are somewhat similar, but the other one came from a TV show, not the photograph he displayed.


Glen Kuban’s “Living Pterosaurs”

Much of this is a brief response to a critic of living-pterosaur investigations, including problems that skeptic has with confirmation bias and belief perseverance. It also mentions another skeptic, Dale Drinnon, who is reported to have had a problem with confirmation bias.

Yet a portion of this blog post gives details on “the old photograph that is now called ‘Ptp’.” It mentions that the photo is supported by two scientists.

Is it a Hoax, the Civil War Pterosaur Photo?

This includes the exciting discovery of a prop under the beak of the beak of the apparent Pteranodon, which is evidence that the photograph was taken before about the year 1870. The physicist Clifford Paiva, of central California, made that discovery in 2017.

That is direct evidence that the photograph was taken before about 1870, for one soldier’s shoe is resting on that beak, and people needed to be kept motionless during many seconds of exposure.

Pterosaur Hoax or Genuine?

It gives four evidences that the photograph Ptp is old, eight details that show the animal was a pterosaur, four points that disprove or at least mostly nullify the conjecture that Photoshop was used in making a hoax, and three responses to skeptics who say that Photoshop was involved.

The Civil War Pterosaur Photo in Context

This begins with a sighting report from a former police officer, William Lashomb, who witnessed an apparent pterosaur flying over a river in New York state: “A featherless light-greenish-gray creature was flying downstream, at first 15-20 feet above the surface of the Grass River but soon diving down to just a few feet above it, passing the officer.”

That sighting, around the summer of 2004, demonstrate that modern extant pterosaurs did not live just up until the 19th century, when one of them appears to have been shot by apparent Civil War soldiers. These flying creatures are still flying.

This post has two important details that fit together:

  1. The folded (inverted) wings of the animal point to it being a pterosaur
  2. A prop under the beak points to the photograph being taken before about 1870

In other words, how did those soldiers, in the 19th century, know enough about pterosaur anatomy to construct a model of one, a model that had inverted wings? The answer is simple: They never made a model but were simply posing beside a real animal.

Real Pterodactyl in a Civil War Photo

What’s the real point of the Ptp photograph? Consider the following:

  1. Two scientists have shown that this is a real animal . .
  2. It looks like a Pteranodon, according to some opinions
  3. The Photoshop-hoax conjecture has been shot down . . .
  4. Criticisms of the . . . six soldiers have been answered
  5. Eyewitnesses, in the 20th and 21st centuries, have seen similar pterosaurs alive

It mentions that for many years skeptics have pointed out the lack of clear photographic evidence for a modern pterosaur. We now have that evidence.

“Monster” in a Civil War Photograph

The frightening appearance of that head on that winged animal—that can bring to your mind the word monster.

This deals with confirmation bias and one case of a lack of such bias regarding the photograph called Ptp. It includes my (Jonathan Whitcomb’s) experience over many years and about how my opinions have changed regarding that photo.

Research on Extant Pterosaurs

This appears to briefly deal with how modern pterosaurs may relate to evolution, yet it mainly involves evidences for the authenticity of the Ptp photograph. It mentions the problem of confusing Ptp with the Haxan Films Feakylinks TV-show hoax photo.

Photographie d’un ptérosaure moderne

In the French language, the two photos are compared (Freakylinks hoax and the genuine Ptp photograph). But this is mainly about the older one, the genuine Ptp.

A Civil War Monster Photograph

What a gruesome head! I don’t recall when I first saw the monster photo, perhaps as long ago as 1968, but that long beak and head appendage made me uneasy. I saw nothing wrong with the six soldiers, but those wings reminded me of a canoe. I wondered if American Civil War soldiers had cut a canoe in half to make a fake winged monster. Yet a creepy sensation never completely left me: It was the memory of that head.


copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


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“Ptp” Pteranodon Photo

By the modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb


Cliff Paiva and I do not proclaim that the animal seen in Ptp must have been a species of Pteranodon. We simply point out that similarities in the head suggest that it was a modern pterosaur at least similar to a Pteranodon.

Civil-War era photograph of a large modern pterosaur

Ptp photograph (do not confuse it with the Haxan Films hoax-photo)


I’ve recently been communicating, by emails, with a skeptic who has written much to persuade people to disbelieve in modern pterosaurs. Here’s part of what I told him in reply to a couple of his questions:

We have found significant evidence for the authenticity of Ptp in the past three months. I have a friend in California who has been looking at the photo much longer than I have, in greater detail, and he has much more experience in examining and analyzing photos than I have.

I pointed out to this person that he had put an image of Ptp onto his web page but that the text referring to it was about the Haxan Films “Freakylinks” TV show hoax photo, which resembles Ptp but which is a completely different photo.

You mentioned, “What evidence do you have that it is not a similar hoax, possible made by the same team?” That can be answered by rephrasing a question you asked a little later, although it requires looking a little deeper into what happened with the Haxan-Films hoax:

“Why would anyone go to the trouble of creating a fake photo just to imitate [another fake photo they had made]?” Nobody would do such a thing. That means the Ptp photo (which is older) was not a hoax made by people in (or closely associated with) Haxan Films.

Now to your exact question “why would anyone go to the trouble of creating a fake photo just to imitate a real photo of the same thing?”

First of all, how would the Haxan people know that Ptp was real? They’re in the business of making fake things, after all. Does it not seem likely that they would have assumed that it was fake?

You said, “why would anyone . . .” This is not just anyone. Haxan Films was in the business of making fictional things look real in their Freakylinks TV episodes and in things they did to promote the show. Big money seems to have been made, so it was no big deal to pay a few persons to act like they were Civil War soldiers and pay somebody else to make the photo, of those men, look old.

In other words, if a lot of money can be made by making things that are fake, some people will make fake things. But that kind of thinking does not cause people to search for scientific truth.

The Haxan people probably had no desire to find out about any truth in Ptp. They only wanted to make something that would promote their fictional TV shows. With no idea about copyright issues with Ptp, they just made their own photo, using Ptp as a model.

In other words, the Haxan people were in no frame of mind to learn about whether or not Ptp was a hoax or a genuine photo. They probably assumed it was a hoax like you did.

That brings up the subject of confirmation bias. Would you be willing to look into the possibility that you have been influenced by a confirmation bias?



copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

I remember seeing this photograph many year ago, perhaps even in the 1960’s. One of my earliest memories of it included my distaste for the wings. At first glance, they look like the ends of two canoes, or one canoe cut in half. I had little knowledge of canoes at the time, but in January of 2017, I got an email from a man who did know about them. . . . “Those aren’t halves of a canoe! . . . Too narrow, too shallow. And definitely not a dugout canoe!”

Civil War Pteranodon Photograph

The photograph now called “Ptp” has been around for a long time, possibly in one or more books in the mid-20th century, according to a number of persons who report remembering it. Very early in the 21st century, a stunt-photo was created, apparently imitating Ptp, for one or more episodes of the Freakylinks television series on the Fox network. . . . But that photo has an entirely different origin than what is now called “Ptp” . . .

Civil War pterosaur photo Ptp

It’s possible for two similar photos to both be fake. But when one of them was made to closely imitate the older one, it is at least a little suspicious.

Fake pterodactyl in Civil War photo

I believe it’s important that people not be deceived when viewing the image that Mr. Paiva and I have declared to be a genuine modern pterosaur. We are serious about our declaration that this photograph (Ptp) has a valid image of a real animal.

We also need to understand that a more-recent imitation photo is a hoax . . . created for a TV show.

Why a Hoax Does not Explain Sightings

There seems to be no end of refutations for the “hoax hypothesis,” as it has been called. Statistics from years of eyewitness sighting reports disprove any generalized hoax explanation, for the degree of certainty in descriptions of featherlessness (if “featherlessness” is a word) fly in the face of those skeptics who use the word “hoax.”


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New Cryptozoology Book “Modern Pterosaurs”

By Jonathan Whitcomb, nonfiction author

My newest book, Modern Pterosaurs, should be published in April of 2017, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book retailers. It differs from the other nonfiction cryptozoology books I’ve written:

  • Searching for Ropens and Finding God
  • Live Pterosaurs in America
  • Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea

The new book has a photograph of an extant pterosaur, verified by me and by the physicist Clifford Paiva. Like my previous books, however, it does contain eyewitness accounts of these amazing flying creatures.

New paperback cryptozoology book by Jonathan Whitcomb

Modern Pterosaurs, by Jonathan David Whitcomb

The following are brief excerpts from the book:

Title Page

On January 14, 2017, Clifford Paiva and I spoke by phone and agreed that a photograph we had been studying had a genuine image of a real animal. We did not insist that this must have been a species of Pteranodon killed during the American Civil War. . . . [however] details in the head suggest a pterosaur, at least related to a Pteranodon, very unlike any bird or any bat.


This book is too small to hold many of the eyewitness reports my associates and I have received over the past fourteen years [yet it does have some of those accounts, as well as a number of newer sighting reports]. It does have an analysis of an old photograph of a huge flying creature, with reasons for believing the photo is genuine evidence for a modern pterosaur.

Chapter 7: Photo of a pterosaur

I don’t know when I first saw the photo that we now call Ptp. It could have been around 1968, in the main branch of the public library in Pasadena, California. I know that some persons believe they saw it in a book, perhaps one of Ripley’s Believe it or Not books, around the 1950’s to the 1970’s.

. . . Consider this case like a civil lawsuit rather than like a criminal prosecution. Critics against the possibility of extant pterosaurs have already sealed that designation by insisting that a species of living pterosaur would not threaten standard ideas in geology or paleontology. We do see, in Ptp, only one apparent animal, meaning only one species is involved here. Claims against Darwin’s idea of common ancestry is another case. [Preponderance of evidence wins.]


copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

I’ve learned much more about this “Pteranodon photograph” . . . in recent days, especially from communicating with Clifford Paiva, a missile defense physicist.

Pterosaur photo – more evidence

Paiva has done a detailed analysis of the image. He found that the shadow under the boot of one soldier (he’s now known as “FS” for front-soldier) is consistent with shadows under and on the animal.

Photo of a pterosaur – introduction

Please bear with me, for this introduction is essential to understanding the value of photographic evidence for modern living pterosaurs. The credibility of an individual piece of evidence is one thing; overall credibility is something else.

Modern Pterosaurs

A nonfiction cryptozoology has “Scientific validation for the old photograph that was neglected for decades. This has now been declared to have a genuine photographic image of an extant pterosaur, with layers of evidence for authenticity.”


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Arkansas Pterosaur Sighting

I got a phone call today from a lady whom I will call DL. She looked out her window, about 40 minutes before sundown today and saw a ropen, for the long tail caught her attention.

Before its appearance swarms of black birds had been in some trees by her house. The ropen must have scared them off as it flew through those trees.

It was light gray and flapping as it went by. She saw the flange at the end of its tail but she did not see any long head crest on it. She told me that it looked like the sketches that had been drawn by Patty Carson and Eskin Kuhn (separate sightings in Cuba, many years ago).



Pterosaurs in Arkansas and in Texas

This sighting was in Texarkana, AR, around 1982.


Scientific validation for an old photograph

This has now been declared to have a genuine photographic image of an extant pterosaur, with layers of evidence for authenticity.


Arkansas Pterosaurs

In Arkansas, we have two sightings, separated by about five years. The 1977 sighting was in the early afternoon. The 1982 sighting was in the twilight evening.

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Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

By modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

I wrote about this old photograph here on Modern Pterosaur four years ago. I’ve learned much more about this “Pteranodon photograph,” however, in recent days, especially from communicating with Clifford Paiva, a missile defense physicist.

controversial photograph of what looks like six Union soldiers standing over the remains of a large Pteranodon

Figure-1: “Ptp” photograph examined by a physicist: Cliff Paiva

Do not confuse the above photo with a hoax made for Freakylinks (Fox network series that was on the air from 2000 to 2001.) The television hoax-photo has Civil War reenactors standing over a vague canvass-like thing on the ground, yet it was made in imitation of the above photo, even to the point of having a “soldier” put his boot on the crude head-like thing on the ground. The Ptp image shown above, in contrast, is much older and shows the head of an apparent Pteranodon. That head cries out for a closer look.


Photo enlarged, showing solar shadow zones - Clifford Paiva analysis

Figure-2: close-up of the beak and eye and the soldier’s boot

Notice the magnification in Figure-2, including the vertical-pupil of the eye. Some animals have that kind of eye, cats and crocodiles, for example. It allows them to see in both daylight and at night. Also important, the physicist found a correlation between a solar shadow under the boot of the soldier and ones on the animal.

In other words, the image is consistent with the idea that this is a photograph of an actual soldier that has his boot on the beak of an actual animal.

Skepticism of the Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

I remember seeing this photograph many year ago, perhaps even in the 1960’s. One of my earliest memories of it included my distaste for the wings. At first glance, they look like the ends of two canoes, or one canoe cut in half. I had little knowledge of canoes at the time, but in January of 2017, I got an email from a man who did know about them. Here is part of what he told me:

I’m 67 years old and remember this photo from when I was young. . . . I’ve canoed all my life. I’ve owned several of them. Those aren’t halves of a canoe! . . . Too narrow, too shallow. And definitely not a dugout canoe!

I suspect many skeptics have turned away from this photo for the same reason I did, thinking the wings looked like a canoe. Now the above comments from Tom Payne sinks that skepticism.

Have you ever seen the page “Living Pterodactyls?” by Glen Kuban? I have found many problems with that long online publication, but one applies especially here, his curt remark about the “Civil War pterosaur” (that I call “Ptp”) for which he includes a small image:

“Alas, the photo has since been exposed as a hoax–a promotional stunt for a Fox television series.”

Did you catch the problem with his dismissal? He displayed a cropped small image of the photo that is now declared genuine, but he confuses it with an entirely different photo: The known hoax from the Freakylinks television series that was once on the Fox network. In other words, his conclusion is entirely worthless regarding the image he has displayed. His mini-photo shows the old Ptp but his words refer to the newer hoax-photo.


We’re stilling discovering new things in the Ptp photograph, new evidence that this image of an apparent modern pterosaur is genuine. I have also been discovering that many old criticisms from skeptics are of little or no relevance or value. In other words, Ptp is coming to look more and more like a valid photo of a modern pterosaur.



Possible Pteranodon in a Civil War Photograph

Paiva has found new evidence that this has an image of a genuine modern pterosaur. The solar shadows tie the soldier’s boot to the animal, and a number of details in the head, neck, and other areas—those correlate well with the anatomy of a Pteranodon.

Skeptical Responses to Civil War Pteranodon Photo

The dead flying creature seen in the “Pteranodon photograph,” (Ptp) although it may be called a “pterodactyl” by some Americans and a “ropen” by others, could be a pterodactyloid pterosaur . . .

Civil War Photos

The War Between the States was the first large and prolonged conflict recorded by photography.

Civil War Pteranodon Photograph

Written by Jonathan Whitcomb in April of 2013, long before the detailed analysis that was revealed by the physicist Clifford Paiva (This needs to be taken in that context)


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The Big Picture of Modern Pterosaurs

Let’s begin with “A Brief Introduction to Living-Pterosaur Investigations:”

YouTube video produced by Jonathan David Whitcomb


Definition of “Modern Pterosaur”

From page 294 of the fourth edition of my nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, we can read the technical definition:

A featherless vertebrate two-winged creature, living within the past few thousand years, having an elongated digit-like bone on the leading edge of each wing and an absence of any bat-like wing-support involving bones that radiate into the wing membranes

For those who would prefer a simple definition:

A modern pterosaur is a non-extinct featherless flying creature often called “pterodactyl” or “flying dinosaur”

Cryptozoology Rather Than Standard Zoology

As of May 29, 2016, the modern pterosaur appears to fly only in cryptozoology, not yet landing on any page of a biology text book. I can be seen in the many eyewitness descriptions rather than in the zoo or in the biology laboratory.

Of course the same could once be said for other animals including gorillas in Africa. We now have no doubt in the existence of the gorilla, although it was once thought to swing from jungle trees only in the imaginations of gullible persons. Westerners once found it convenient to dismiss stories of gorillas as Boogeyman tales.

So what evidence do we now have that at least one species of pterosaur is presently living? It’s in the wide range of testimonies, from a great variety of eyewitnesses from around the world, describing flying creatures that have a remarkable consistency in details of description.

The Long-Tailed Ropen

If reports of non-extinct “pterodactyls” were not enough to shock people, many of the descriptions include a long tail. In fact, the ratio between the presence of a long tail and the absence of one, in the overall sighting reports, is about 20-to-1 (41% to 2%).

What’s so unusual about a dominance of long tails in modern pterosaurs? It’s the opposite of what we would expect if people were just playing hoaxes. Think of the last film or television science fiction show you saw that had “pterodactyls” in it. That movie or TV show probably was depicting short-tailed pterosaurs. Those Pterodactyloid short-tailed flying creatures were assumed by many scientists to have been the last ones to survive, after the long-tailed ones had mostly died off. Those are the pterosaurs often shown in science fiction films and on TV, yet it’s the long-tailed ones that dominate in actual human encounters with those flying creatures.

What is a ropen? It’s a long-tailed pterosaur, similar in some ways to Rhamphorhynchoid (“basal”) fossils. The end of the tail is often seen as having a structure described in various ways:

  • diamond-shaped
  • spade shape
  • triangle

Sightings Around the World

People see them in many parts of the planet. I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have received reports directly from eyewitnesses who report encountering living pterosaurs on five continents, as I have been available to communicate with those persons over the past 12+ years.

A recent sighting was in northwestern Arkansas, in the first week or two of May, 2016. Here is part of the report:

. . . saw a pterosaur come up out of the water and fly into the woods. It was grey and did not have feathers. . . . [wingspan] was from 15 to 19 feet! . . . grey leathery skin.

I had previously received several reports of pterosaur sightings in Arkansas as well as many in surrounding states. These included (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Missouri

Indeed, it’s easier to list the American states in which modern pterosaurs have not been reported than it is to list the ones in which they have been seen. The states shown above are listed because they surround Arkansas.



Cryptozoology and Pterodactyls

. . . the belief that all pterosaurs became extinct many millions of years ago is not based on sound objective evidence but on a number of assumptions.

What is this flying ropen?

How often we’ve been taught that all dinosaurs and pterosaurs became extinct . . . as if that were proven! But what if some are  still living? . . . consider the many eyewitness testimonies of those flying creatures.

The Ropen and Destination Truth

Adventure, danger, enlightenment—those I experienced half a year later, sitting in my living room, delighting in the ropen-episode of Destination Truth. I thought I remembered advising the production team “do not” enter a cave that might contain a ropen . . .

Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs and Ropens

The pterosaur suborder of Rhamphorhynchoidea, those long-tailed featherless flying creatures—they’re also called basal pterosaurs. For generations, many scientists have assumed that they became extinct . . .


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Reply to Misidentification Conjectures

By Jonathan David Whitcomb

Sometimes a person who is mostly ignorant of the overall eyewitness evidence of modern pterosaurs will speculate about misidentification. Many of those conjectures fall to one of the following two flying creatures:

  1. Frigate bird
  2. Flying fox fruit bat

Yet many of the speculators avoid details, in particular avoiding any reference to any one sighting. Perhaps the weight of generations of Westerner assumptions appears sufficient, allowing a critic to simply toss a feather of skepticism onto the subject, to crush the idea of modern pterosaurs. Before we get into any particular sighting, let’s examine how cultural assumptions play a role in our thinking.

Cultural Assumptions

Each culture encapsulates what other cultures may recognize as faulty assumptions. The nature of how cultural assumptions originate may lie within the fog of ancient history, but the result is clear: The great majority of those who have been raised in a particular culture have been blinded to the weaknesses of their cultural assumptions. They will sometimes go to war, even risking destruction, to protect their weak assumptions.

Westerners have become indoctrinated into the opinion that all species of certain general types of animals became extinct many millions of years ago. In reality, no paleontologist has witnessed even one extinction of even one species of dinosaur or pterosaur. Yet the indoctrination continues, as if all of their species must have died out by 65-million years ago. This indoctrination-influence problem deserves far more attention, but we need to move on for now.

Eskin Kuhn sketched Gitmo Pterosaur he saw

Sketch drawn by the eyewitness Eskin Kuhn (sighting in Cuba)

Misidentified . . . Whatever

I have sometimes been amazed at the imaginations of some skeptics. What an imaginative collection of speculated misidentifications! It’s not been confined to oceanic birds or large bats. It has also included leaping fish and woodpeckers. Some of this deserves a little attention, even though the ideas are ludicrous.

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have been criticized for publishing accounts of modern-pterosaur encounters, yet my critics usually ignore the following point: I have probably spent more time on living-pterosaur investigations than any other person now living on this planet. Even if I have made mistakes, those 10,000+ hours of searching, researching, interviewing, and writing may have uncovered some important truth.

If someone reports observing a potential living pterosaur and later retracts that original interpretation, it usually means we can safely classify that sighting as a misidentification. In reality, that rarely happens. To the best of my memory, I list the following cases in which a person could have changed his or her mind in that way (and these are restricted to eyewitnesses who clearly appeared to be honest):

  • Number of Frigate birds reported as pterosaurs: one
  • Number of fruit bats reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of leaping manta-ray fish reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of woodpeckers reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of Hornbill birds reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of mechanical flying models reported as pterosaurs: zero

The above does not imply that almost no such misidentifications have ever taken place. But those cases are so rare that I now recall only one of them, and that appeared to have been a Frigate bird seen by a man in Australia years ago.

Please be aware that I am not including the many YouTube videos that feature Frigate birds or mechanical models or 3D animations of apparent pterosaurs. Many of those can be resolved as hoaxes rather than honest misidentifications. I mostly refer to persons who have reported their sightings to me or to one of my associates. (An exception was the Frigate bird seen by an Australian; he reported his sighting to an online forum.)

Common Misidentifications Overlooked by Skeptics

Critics may be ignorant of the common types of actual misidentification:

  • Eyewitness first thought it must have been a weird bird
  • Eyewitness first considered it a strange big bat
  • Eyewitness first thought it was a perception problem

We have no room on a single blog post for all the sighting reports in which a person observed a flying creature that looked like a “dragon” or “pterodactyl” but that idea was immediately rejected. Those eyewitness pondered all the possibilities that it could have instead been some strange bird or bat. This is common with many Americans and other Westerners.

Often a person will doubt his or her ability to see properly or correctly perceive what was seen, because of the depth of Western indoctrination into extinction dogmas. In some of those sighting cases, the eyewitness will eventually come to realize that the flying creature was actually what it appeared to be. Those are the eyewitnesses that may eventually report their encounters to me.

That kind of misidentification seems to have been overlooked by the skeptics and critics. The important point about misidentification is this: When a person comes to correct an apparently wrong early interpretation—that case has a significant potential for being a misidentification, and the vast majority of such misidentifications are for actual modern pterosaurs that were at first thought to have been strange manifestations or misperceptions of other things. This calls for examples.

Paperback book Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition)

Page 28:

The two men [in Florida one night] had no time to recover when a second creature flew in the opposite direction, toward the neighbor’s backyard. . . . This one was not as clearly visible, but obviously very similar. DR said to his friend, “Was that what I think it was?” He replied, “Naa, it had to be something else.”

Page 32:

It’s common for an eyewitness to first assume that what is seen is a bird. In Kentucky, MR first assumed he was watching a “large bird.” In Wisconsin, EWED first assumed a “strange looking bird.” In Michigan, RT first assumed an ordinary “large dark colored bird.”

Pages 35-36 [Brownsville, Texas]

She was twelve years old, at most (around 1995), when she walked out into her backyard one morning to check on the dog . . . Next door, in the neighbor’s backyard, was what she first thought was a tall man; but he was about as tall as the house, too tall. He was “draped in a long black coat or cape,” facing away from her. “Dracula” came to mind as GR tried to understand what she was looking at. The “man” turned, and revealed a face that terrified the child: It was non-human.

Slowing the creature . . . unwrapped its bat-like wings, dark leathery wings.

Notice how eyewitnesses in the United States, in the above cases, initially searched for a non-pterosaur explanation for what was encountered. Only after careful consideration did they realize it may have been a pterosaur, an animal that they had been taught was extinct. Without that extinction indoctrination, it would have been immediately obvious to the eyewitnesses that they had observed a pterosaur.



Honesty Credibility in Pterodactyl Sightings

Let’s examine what’s been learned from sighting reports that are mostly from North America, with a critical eye on the overall honesty-credibility of eyewitnesses.

Ropens in Western USA

According to Cryptozoology News (online), two eyewitnesses in Nevada recently saw a “reptilian-like bird” fly up and over their vehicle on Interstate-80 at 11:00 p.m., and the description of the flying creature included “long thin tail,” a head crest, and “a long and thin neck.” That sounds like a ropen.

Living Pterosaurs? Not by Glen Kuban

. . .  the testimonies of Brian Hennessy and Duane Hodgkinson. Glen Kuban’s web page ignores those two witnesses entirely. . . . [sightings of] “prehistoric” looking flying creatures in daylight, at fairly close range, with locations being Bougainville Island and the Finschhafen area . . . [in] the nation of Papua New Guinea.

Figurines of Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs in Mexico

Where is the physical evidence for modern ropens, or extant long-tailed pterosaurs? It’s there to see, for those who are open-minded enough to look.

Misidentification Possibilities With Pterosaurs

Perhaps the oldest misidentification suggestion, for reports of living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, has been “Flying Fox fruit bat.” It seems to satisfy reports of large featherless flying creatures in the southwest Pacific, but there are problems with “misidentified bat.”


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Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs and Ropens

The pterosaur suborder of Rhamphorhynchoidea, those long-tailed featherless flying creatures—they’re also called basal pterosaurs. For generations, many scientists have assumed that they became extinct, at least for most of their species, before the last of the Pterodactyloid pterosaurs dominated the skies, many millions of years ago. At least that has been the assumption.

In other words, according to orthodox evolutionary ideas, a typical species of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur either became extinct or it evolved into another form before the short-tailed pterosaurs became the dominant type, long ago. That line of thinking also includes the idea that all species, of both suborders, had become extinct by about 65 million years ago. All of those ideas, to me (Jonathan Whitcomb) and to my associates, are like fairy tales. Both of those suborders are still living, represented by at least a few species worldwide.

Modern Rhamphorhynchoids we call ropens. Two differences emerge with some of the modern versions of this featherless flying creature:

  1. Some ropens can be much larger than a typical fossil
  2. Some of them have a prominent horn-like head crest

Sighting in Wetlands of Central California in 1994

From a report in Cryptozoology News, we learn of an encounter in California in which a mother and daughter saw an apparent pterosaur, one with a long tail.

A few miles south of Sacramento, California, thousands of acres of the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge are managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. On a clear spring day in 1994, the two eyewitnesses there saw a flying creature, apparently featherless, with long thin tail and a “pterodactyl-like head.” They were sure that it was living, not a kite. It circled overhead and then departed the area in its flight.

The eyewitness who reported the sighting said, “It had a long neck, long head and long pointed beak area. It had a large wingspan, bigger than a blue heron. It was gliding very high up, with very little flapping movement of its wings.” That woman, who is a avid bird watcher, also said, “What we saw was neither a crane nor a heron. We saw a real living animal that was not familiar to us and looked like it was straight out of Jurassic Park.”

Scott Norman’s Sighting in Central California

According to the cryptozooogist Chad Arment, Scott Norman had reported to him a sighting of an apparent pterosaur one night in mid-2007 in Central California (much further to the south of Sacramento):

. . . this animal came gliding just over the [nearby] shed . . . [It] had an 8-10 foot wingspan, the wings were bat-like in shape . . . The body was about 5-6 feet in length, the neck about 1-2 feet in length, the head was about four feet in length . . .

The flying creature had a head crest that the eyewitness estimated was about two feet long. Norman did not see a tail that night, but he told Arment that another eyewitness had seen an apparent pterosaur in that area in daylight, and the other man reported a long tail.

Sighting in Southern California

Moving further south, the 1994 sighting in wetlands near Sacramento brings to mind another sighting in wetlands, this one in Orange County in 2007, over a hundred miles south of Scott Norman’s sighting but in the same year. It was just northwest of the University of California, Irvine.

From the nonfiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition), we read about this apparent ropen:

[The eyewitness] had no view of any feet and no good view of the head. He noticed that during the creature’s flight the tail was straight, as if it was “stretched out to be measured.” A flange, close to the end of the tail, he described as “triangle-shaped.”

The anonymous eyewitness saw the featherless creature fly just above Campus Drive, which separates two marshy areas, and the length of that road tells us about the size of the apparent ropen. The flying creature was about as long as the width of that road, which is thirty feet. Half of that thirty feet was the approximate length of the tail.


Gitmo Pterosaur sketched by eyewitness Patty Carson

Eyewitness sketch of a featherless flying creature seen in Cuba in 1965




Gitmo Rhamphorhynchoid

I have also learned that Carson, later in childhood or adolescence, was inquisitive and sharp and recognized one or more images of pterosaurs at the Smithsonian, when her father worked in Washington D.C.

Ropen Observed in Alberta, Canada

A family saw an apparent pterosaur flying over the city of Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) recently, and the flying creature appeared to have been a ropen.

Rhamphorhynchoid Suborder of Pterosaurs

Before scientists created words like Rhamphorhynchoid for long-tailed pterosaurs, common folk used the word dragon for large destructive creatures, including those with long tails and wings but no feathers.

Recent Ropen Sightings

I’m not positive about what [I] and my 16 year old son saw flying across a major road in Richmond, Virginia . . . Its wing span was massive! It looked to be about 10 feet across and its tail was long with a triangle point! We were so flabbergasted looking at it that I nearly crashed!

Long Tails of Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs

How common is a long tail on a modern pterosaur! Of the 128 more-credible sighting reports compiled at the end of 2012, 41% reported a long tail.

Universal Pterosaur Extinction?

To be plain, extinction has two meanings, or distinct usages, so beware of anyone—even a paleontologist—who uses the word in a general sense but with an air, and only an air, of sounding specific.

Strange Flying Creatures in the United States

When I led a brief expedition in Papua New Guinea in 2004, I had no idea that many Americans had encountered, in the forty-eight contiguous states of the USA, flying creatures like the ropen.


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Ropens in Western USA

According to Cryptozoology News (online), two eyewitnesses in Nevada recently saw a “reptilian-like bird” fly up and over their vehicle on Interstate-80 at 11:00 p.m., and the description of the flying creature included “long thin tail,” a head crest, and “a long and thin neck.” That sounds like a ropen.

That was a rare sighting report, that apparent pterosaur in Nevada, for the many sightings in the western United States, up until then, were in states like Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Idaho. Nevada and Colorado had been slighted by those flying creatures, apparently. Now only Colorado seems left out.

I can understand how some readers might think that the ropen flies only in the imagination of a few radical believers, only in the realm of cryptozoology. But most eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs in the United States had no interest in cryptids before their sightings. Their belief in the long-tailed featherless ropen ignited the moment they saw the flying creature with their own eyes.

Ropen in California

The following is part of an email I got in mid-December of 2012:

I would like to report seeing a very strange creature flying above. I saw it around 9 a.m. this morning today. It was a giant black bird of some types. I live very close to San Fernando and Fletcher [Los Angeles area] . . . after the rain settled I saw this big black bird figure fly over an electrical post. . . . It was just huge. A big beautiful thing. It had a long tail but it was a different color than what was reported. It was black… I think it was a pterosaur.

Ropen in Oregon

Searching for Ropens and Finding God (4th edition of the nonfiction) says:

In May of 2010, a man and his wife were driving, at mid-day, on the I-84, by the Columbia Gorge in Oregon, when something flew across the highway. The man reported, “It was pretty good size and the thing that really stood out was that it had a long tail and unusually shaped wings, different from a bird because they seemed to be more curved.”

” . . . it was brown and appeared to have no feathers.” After searching online, he concluded that it was a ropen.

Ropen in Washington State

From the book Live Pterosaurs in America (3rd edition) we read:

“I was 15 yrs old [when] I saw two ropens together sitting on a fence. I was riding my bike home from a friend’s house around 5 pm in [a town in southwest Washington state]. I lived in the country with my parents on a . . . ranch.

” . . . on a wood plank fence were two of the biggest bird-like creatures I could ever imagine! I almost crashed my bike! . . .

” . . . the first thing I noticed was their heads, then I thought this can’t be! Could they be dinosaurs? . . .

“[Their] heads [were] . . . maybe 4 ft long with the beak. . . . a brown body color that looked like hair . . . the wings looked like black rubber. . . .”



Recent Ropen Sightings

Virginia (2015)

West Virginia (2015)

Nicaragua (2009)

Louisiana (2014)

Modern Pterosaurs in North America

The name for this featherless flying creature in North America does not mean it needs to be the same species of pterosaur as the glowing ropen in Papua New Guinea.

“Dinosaur Bird” in Nevada

[The pterosaur was] grey in color and had a long and thin neck. Its head, says Davis, was also thin and pointy with a long beak. He remembers it had a “crest” on the top of its head.

Ropen, a Still-Living Pterosaur

Although this apparent extant pterosaur on  Umboi Island does not seem to be much of a  threat to humans, there have been reports, in  other areas of Papua New Guinea, of attacks  on natives.

Reasons to Believe Eyewitnesses of the Ropen

Not only natives of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, have seen the long-tailed ropen but Westerners like the American Duane Hodgkinson and two Australians in Perth.

Ropen Searching

What is this flying creature called “ropen?”  Countless eyewitnesses, in many countries  across the planet, have pondered what it  was they had seen.

Giant Ropen in Papua New Guinea

Gideon Koro, of Umboi Island, was one of seven boys who encountered the huge ropen one day as it flew over a crater lake: a terrifiying ordeal for Gideon.

The Ropen as a Rhamphorhynchoid

Ropen is the local name of a nocturnal creature on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea that glows while flying, and which is held by many cryptozoologists as a possible living pterosaur.

Live Pterosaurs in America

So in conclusion, what do I think of the book? It’s not polished, it’s not gripping at least in style (though the accounts are fascinating and Whitcomb makes some clever arguments) and it’s all way beyond my boggle threshold: I’m slightly more inclined to believe in live pterosaurs in the USA now than before I read it . . .


Cover of the third edition of "Live Pterosaurs in America" by Whitcomb

Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition) by Whitcomb

From a reader of the previous (second) edition of this nonfiction book:

“I  couldn’t put this book down. It is absolutely  fascinating to read about eyewitness accounts of  the people who have seen these creatures. To learn  about these testimonies from such an open minded  perspective is refreshing in the extreme! . . .  I  highly recommend this book to anyone! People  should know the truth about what is going on. . . .”


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Dinosaurs Dated to Thousands of Years Old

How do dinosaur bones relate to long-tailed ropens that are reported to fly in North America? The ropen appears to be a huge Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, notwithstanding those flying creatures were supposed to have all fallen to the ground many millions of years ago, and recent dating of dinosaur bones tell us that those huge creatures of the earth lived only thousands of years ago.

Both dinosaurs and pterosaurs have been assumed, by many Americans, to have lived only millions of years ago, with their fossils bones somehow evidence for their ancient existence. Carbon-dating of dinosaur bones has now shown that assumption is false. No C-14 should exist in the remains of something that lived millions of years ago. But results of testing are consistent: A number of types of dinosaurs have been dating to recent ages, even to less than 60,000 years in age. Pterosaurs living in our modern world now make sense, in light of recent dinosaurs.

Human experience and scientific testing cannot be dismissed out of personal distaste for the religious beliefs of the persons that are involved or are assumed to be involved in the sightings and in the radiocarbon testing.

Radiocarbon in Dinosaur and Other Fossils

That’s the title of a scientific paper by Brian Thomas and Vance Nelson, published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 51, Number 4 (Spring of 2015). Here’s an excerpt from that article:

[page 303, after a paragraph on carbon-dating fossil wood]

Next, a whole hadrosaur caudal vertebra (ICR 021 Institute for Creation Research), minus its spinous process, was donated by Mr. Paul Koepp of Dallas, Texas. . . .

Abundant disarticulated hadrosaur and ceratopsian fossils occur on the Schmidt ranch, as at other Hell Creek Formation sites, mostly across Montana. . . .

The interior trabecular bone was plainly not infilled with sediment, and retains its in vivo spongy structure, albeit colored almost black . . . This fossil also yielded radiocarbon in amounts well within the detection threshold of the AMS technique at 20,850 +/- 90 BP for the interior trabecular portion, and 28,790 +/- 100 BP . . .


Carbon-14 dating of dinosaur fossils shows them to be only tens of thousands of years old (at most), and this is the only direct dating-measurements that have been done on such supposedly ancient bones. (Other radiometric dating methods had not been done directly on those fossils, and the interpretations depended on a number of assumptions.)

This is completely in harmony with the finding of soft tissue in T-Rex and other dinosaur bones. It also makes sense in light of the many sightings of pterosaurs that still fly overhead (though usually at night). Ropens are not extinct but still living.

Ridiculing a religious belief is no substitute for objective consideration of these many findings. And let the evidences be made known, not covered up.

Jonathan Whitcomb



Dinosaurs dated to be young

. . . dinosaur bone apatite had been successfully RC dated in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s and significant amounts of C-14 were detected and reported.

Neutron Capture in Carbon-Dated Dinosaur Bones?

Awkward Explanation for Carbon-14 Dated Dinosaurs

American Hammerhead Ropen

The American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb gave the name “American Hammerhead Ropen” to a type of apparent Rhamphorhynchoid that has been reported . . . to live in North America.

Pterosaur Sightings in the USA

Details are now available on ninety important sighting reports: apparent pterosaurs in the lower-48 states of the USA, with data compiled at the end of 2012.

Scientific Testing of Dinosaur Bones

“Not everybody embraces a dinosaur that is not yet completely decomposed.” . . . Carbon-14 methods cannot date anything older than a few tens of thousands of years old . . . Dating accuracy may be as high as 60,000 years, at best, but carbon-14 just does not last much longer.

Recent Sightings of Ropens

For the past eleven years, I (Jonathan Whitcomb) have interviewed eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs from various areas of the world. Many of those whom I have questioned report a flying creature resembling what my associates and I call ropens.

Dinosaur Bone Contains Radiocarbon

Scientists believing in deep time (i.e. millions of years) would not expect to find radiocarbon (C-14) in dinosaur bone. . . . they assume that the “terrible lizards” died out some 65 million years ago. . . . what happens if researchers actually test whether dinosaur fossils contain C-14? They find it.


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