Yesterday I noticed a post by a skeptic who wrote about the legend of the Van Meter creature of 1903, a reportedly winged monster that frightened citizens in a small town in Iowa. (Actually, it appears there was more than one of the creatures.) I will not mention the pen name of the skeptic here, but she had previously written about me, assuming that I had been deceiving people about the ropen or living pterosaurs. She grouped me with those whom she proclaims are “deceiving people to undermine science.”
So perhaps I am not without bias when I first encounter any post by this woman, but I took notice that she again attacked the possibility of a modern pterosaur. Let’s look deeper than this outspoken skeptic appears to have looked. We’ll consider how bioluminescence might explain the strange reports from a century ago.
If the town of Van Meter, Iowa, stood alone with a series of sightings in the early 20th century, what about recent sightings? What about reported encounters with pterosaur-like animals in recent times, in the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Missouri? I doubt that Van Meter really stands alone.
Please consider what I wrote on page 31 of the third edition of my nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America:
Later I received an email from a man in Wisconsin.
” . . . wanted to tell someone about a sighting I had back in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. I grew up on a farm and picked cucumbers to make money as a kid. All of my sisters and brother did also. Anyways one late afternoon, I had just brought out the tractor to pick up the bags of cucumbers when I noticed a strange looking bird in the sky. . . . it looked like something straight out of the dinosaurs era. It scared the . . . out of me right away. I knew it was not a sand hill crane, which we have a few hundred migrating thru. What stood out was the long pointed head and the fact that there was a very long tail between the legs and with a ball shaped on the end of it. . . .”
On page 228 of the fourth edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God, I wrote about a sighting in Missouri:
On the afternoon of January 2, 2013, a U.S. Marine, who is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, saw something strange overhead. He told me, “I could not believe my eyes. It appeared to be several feet long, and had a very large wing span, perhaps 10 feet or more. It was gliding for the most part . . .”
It had a long head with a “cone protruding from behind its head.” He also told me it had “a very long tail with what I can only describe as a diamond shape at the end.”
In spite of the protest of one skeptic, the Van Meter flying creatures may have been nocturnal pterosaurs, related to others that have been reported more recently across the United States. If it’s not the same species, it may still be related, and bioluminescence may be the correct explanation for its glow.
“It was late in the evening almost dark . . . I was walking from my car to my house [in Sun Valley] and something in the sky caught my eye. My girlfriend also looked up and right away said is that a bat . . . What caught my eye was the bright radiation like light coming from the belly of this Pterodactyl looking animal . . .”
“The Van Meter Visitor” is a large paperback with 238 pages, on a subject whose main points could easily be summed up in a medium-length article, if no photos or sketches were included. This book has a generous selection of photos and other images, many of which are directly or indirectly related to the winged creature.
I don’t recommend The Van Meter Visitor for those who are ignorant of live-pterosaur investigations, for this book may keep those readers ignorant of the best explanation for the strange winged creature seen in Van Meter, Iowa, in 1903. But this book may nevertheless be useful for the reader open to the possibility that the authors of this paranormal book are themselves ignorant of the plausibility of live pterosaurs.
Fourth edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God
From the back cover:
“Settle into a comfortable chair and prepare for what may become the most unsettling scientific discovery since Copernicus and Galileo.”