Old Biologist; New Pterosaur Insight

Evelyn Cheesman was no cryptozoologist. She explored remote jungles in New Guinea to discover new species of insects or new species of amphibians, not modern pterosaurs. This British biologist was respected in the scientific community; here is part of what Wikipedia says:

” . . . unable to train for a career as a veterinary surgeon due to restrictions on women’s education . . . she studied entomology, and was the first woman to be hired as a curator at Regent’s Park Zoo, in London. In 1924 she was invited to join a zoological expedition to the Marquesas and Galapagos Islands. She spent approximately twelve years on similar expeditions, travelling to New Guinea, the New Hebrides and other islands in the Pacific Ocean. In New Guinea she made a collecting expedition . . . collecting insects.

If my information is correct, it was in the early 1930’s when Cheesman was baffled by flying lights just below the top of a nearby ridge deep in the mainland of New Guinea. She wrote about the mysterious lights in her book The Two Roads of Papua; the publishing date was 1935.

The lights could not reasonably be explained away as coming from the locals, for they were glowing in a somewhat horizontal formation, inexplicable as human-caused. But in more recent decades, a number of explorers have searched in Papua New Guinea for flying creatures that are reported to be bioluminescent. The flying creatures have names like “duwas,” “ropen,” “seklo-bali,” and “indava.” They are said, by natives, to glow as they fly at night. This seems to be what Cheesman saw many years ago. She would have been shocked at the suggestion that she had been observing living pterosaurs.

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Freakish Frigate Bird

Tales of pterosaurs are one thing; photos and videos of Frigate birds are another. The confusion between the two has become common enough to elicit a response here, for there is little actual resemblance. I now list web pages that are enlightening in this regard.

How Absurd! A Frigate Bird!

… the beginning of that video shows an obvious Frigate Bird soaring as Frigate Birds will soar. I’ve lost count of how many times I have responded to that video footage, explaining that it does not show any ropen but only a common ocean-going bird.

Living-Pterosaur Email Newsletter

 I realize that some believers in ropens know little or nothing about Frigate birds. Please note that when something is soaring, in daylight, over a beach or school of fish, and the wings resemble the wings of a Frigate bird, then we need to consider it a Frigate bird, unless there is something noteworthy that makes it differ from ANY kind of Frigate bird.

Frigate Birds Are Not Pterosaurs

 One video is so obvious that it brings up a question: “Why did the person who put up the video not realize the obvious?” The bird has the white throat-chest common for some Frigate Birds and it has the wing-shape of a Frigate Bird.

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Another Modern Pterosaur

It’s not that I have nothing original to say today. There now seems to be so much written, online, about reports of living pterosaurs, that another quote seems in order. This one is from another page with the title “Modern Pterosaur.”

The eyewitnesses come from a number of countries and they have various beliefs and backgrounds, yet most of them have seen at least somewhat similar creatures. Common descriptions include a large or giant size, featherlessness, and long tail, and a head crest. It matters not whether the eyewitness is a supposedly superstitious native of Papua New Guinea or an airplane pilot, the creatures observed are described like pterosaurs, not any bird or bat.

. . . over a period of years, circular reasoning has become involved in discrediting the cryptozoologists who have investigated sightings of apparent living pterosaurs: Investigators are criticized by rejecting popular ideas about extinction, and those investigators are then dismissed by ridiculing their intelligence or integrity, thereby causing others to disregard the possibility of modern living pterosaurs because of the “reputation” of those who promote the idea. Let’s dispense with personal attacks and communicate through reasoning, please.

On the subject of “not any bird or bat,” I refer to another page: Flying Foxes of the Southwest Pacific. Part of it is an overview about this large fruit bat, but there is also reference to sightings of apparent pterosaurs in that part of the world:

For many years, reports of “pterodactyls” in Papua New Guinea were dismissed as misidentifications of Flying Fox fruit bats. Recent investigations on Umboi Island, however, bring to light an astonishing possibility: The creature called “ropen” does not hang upside down from a branch but holds itself upright on tree trunks. In addition, the ropen does not eat fruit but fish that it catches on reefs by using a bioluminescent glow as it flies at night, over the water.

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Bulverism and Pterosaurs

I’ve touched on the subject of bulverism previously, but I feel it deserves more attention. Since other blog pages contain more about this I’ll focus on one of them.

Bulverism and Extant Pterosaurs

C. S. Lewis, in the mid-20th Century, noticed an unfortunate trend becoming popular: Avoid reasoning, on whatever subject, by talking about how your opponent is silly in a mistake. . . . Lewis gave this habit a name: “bulverism.”

Some critics of the idea of extant pterosaurs have stooped to the lowest form of bulverism. . . . the remark by a commentor that information about the Kor of Papua New Guinea ”comes from a creationist blog (though they hide it quite well) so we need to take everything on it with a truck load of salt. Creaionists [read Creationists] will fabricate all kinds of rubbish to back up their fairy tales.”

How many ropen expeditions have creationists (by whatever definition of that label) led in Papua New Guinea over the past 17 years! How often has a creationist trudged along a jungle trail, hoping to learn about (or even see) a living pterosaur! Yet when did one of us report observing the clear form of a living pterosaur in Papua New Guinea during those 17 years? Never. We had too little time, too little money, and too few resources to mount any major expedition. The point? If even just one of us had any desire to deceive, how easy it would have been to lie about observing a living pterosaur!

Accusing ones opponents of fabricating “all kinds of rubbish to back up their fairy tales” appears to me to be the worst form of bulverism, for it insinuates that a whole group of investigators lie. Perhaps an evidence against that accusation becomes obvious when the accuser has ample opportunity to give specifics and then gives . . . nothing.

Truly it is sad when blog commenters reject everything from persons they disagree with, then label those with whom they disagree “liar.” What a sad state of human affairs!

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Fossils and Pterosaurs

Much has been written, in blog posts and in direct comments, about this page by Darren Naish: “Pterosaurs alive in, like, the modern day.” I will not give any more attention to his one-sided coverage of the issue, for he is a well-known paleontologist and has received attention enough. Most of his page involves the straw-man argument, for serious researchers use recent eyewitness account-testimony rather than most of the old reports Naish has listed and blasted.

I bring up a point he and other paleontologists have avoided or have been oblivious to: If an absence of pterosaur fossils in certain strata (or apparent absence, depending on origins philosophy) seems to say, “No pterosaurs are expected to be presently living,” what about the absence of fossils of ancestors of pterosaurs? That absence would have to say, “No pterosaur ancestors preceded the pterosaurs that left fossils.” Would Naish deny that there is an apparent lack of fossils of pterosaur ancestors? Compared to how many fossils we have of pterosaurs, how rare the fossil fragments that might have been from a pterosaur ancestor and shows evidence for being so!

I bring up that point because there are serious weaknesses in the idea that fossils can be used as evidence for widespread extinctions of general classes of organisms. Why not choose the less-popular road, and think reasonably and openly about real possibilities, rather than ridicule old reports of living pterosaurs and ignore the recent reports?

One way to support at least one of the investigations is to purchase the non-fiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America. This deserved public attention.

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Two Modern Pterosaurs in State of Washington

The eyewitness described a pair of long-tailed “ropens” in Southwest Washington state, in a rural area that he desires to keep secret. Here is part of his testimony, and more is expected in the upcoming second-edition of the book Live Pterosaurs in America.

I was riding my bike home from a friends house around 5 pm . . . I heard a strange noise . . . looked to my left, and on a wood plank fence were two of the biggest bird like creatures I could ever imagine! . . . the first thing I noticed was their heads . . . could they be dinasours? . . . They were Huge! There ft wrapped around a 2″x6″ plank . . . they’re heads I would have to say it was maybe 4ft long with the beak.

Additional information is available from a source of whom I have complete confidence (I don’t refer to the eyewitness himself, although he seems OK). What follows, I believe, is a secondary sighting of the same two flying creatures, in the same general area, by the same eyewitness, some time later.

When they took flight they both still kept an eye back onto me. They only flew far enough to where I wouldn’t see them.  They have slow head movements, as if they were rotating there heads with the heads in the downwards position.

Dinosaur bird (by name) or “flying creature”

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Flying Creature Like a Dinosaur Bird

It seems that some eyewitnesses of modern pterosaurs have another problem besides risking their reputations by telling others about what they saw: How do you spell “pterosaur?” Some eyewitnesses may search on Google with “flying creature” or “dinosaur bird.” That is unfortunate, for those searches, with those words, will bring up many irrelevant pages, not likely pages of the cryptozoology researchers who have specialized in modern living pterosaurs.

[Please note: I tried “Dinosaur Bird” with Google early in the morning of August 9, 2010; other than the page you are now reading, nothing else came up, on the first 10 pages of Google, relevant to living pterosaur cryptozoological investigations.]

I would like to suggest some pages that are most informative and interesting and relevant to the research that has been going on for the past 6-12 years.

Are Reports of Living Pterosaurs Anecdotes?

“A short account of a particular incident”—that is one definition of “anecdote.” But the connotation includes more than “short,” for “anecdote” is the word more appropriate when an event is witnessed by only one or a few and the report is second hand at best. Regarding eyewitness accounts of living pterosaurs, I have found that ”anecdote” has been eliminated as a valid word for some of the reports.

American Ghost Lights

. . . Some of these owls can turn on a glow on their underside. In fact, the whiteness of some of their feathers is explained by this intrinsic glowing capability: White feathers allow light to pass through.

So how do glowing owls relate to reports of live pterodactyls? In Papua New Guinea, the ropen is seen usually from a distance at night. How is it seen? It glows, sometimes brightly, as it flies. How can anyone conclude that it is a pterosaur? When it is seen up close, it is seen to be one.

Monsterquest “Flying Monsters” Television Episode

. . . the MonsterQuest expedition on New Britain Island, in early 2009, was not itself a serious living-pterosaur investigation . . . video footage from previous expeditions was shown with little mention of those expeditions. Nevertheless, this episode introduced many Americans to the possibility of extant pterosaurs. In that sense, it was a success.

For those using a search engine like Google, I suggest using “modern pterosaur” or something similar (like “living pterosaur”) rather than “dinosaur bird.”

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Critics of Modern-Pterosaur Research

A blog post by the well-known cryptozoologist Loren Coleman was aimed at creationists who support modern-pterosaur research, but the post was focused on the modern-pterosaur researcher Jonathan Whitcomb, probably because this researcher is so vocal. There are problems with Mr. Coleman’s reasoning, which I would like to explain.

Loren Coleman has said, “Cryptozoology used in the support of extreme, unsupportable theories of creationism is unscientific and, perhaps, worse.” But Coleman fails to consider critical details, and that failure seems to have severely clouded his vision or visa versa.

Look at this particular researcher mentioned by Coleman: Jonathan Whitcomb. Those who have read his books know that he is not a Young Earth Creationist, at least he believes in a universe much older than the 6,000 years supported by many YEC’s. Perhaps Coleman did not look deeply enough, failing to do his own thorough research, before passing judgement. Also, Coleman seems to stray far afield from the subject: eyewitness sightings of modern living pterosaurs.

“Cryptozoology used in the support of . . .” seems to imply that some cryptozoologists are objective and others, having personal agendas, are biased. Has Coleman forgotten the ageless truth that humans are, by their nature, imperfect and subject to personal bias? Has he considered that everything each of us does or says is influenced by deep motivations based on our unique characteristics, and that improper use of anything is not restricted to those whose philosophical beliefs differ from our own?

When Coleman says, “unsupportable theories of creationism,” I really begin to wonder what he has read by Whitcomb. Searching for Ropens, the first book written by Whitcomb, does support belief in God and belief in the Bible as the word of God; but the theories mentioned in that book are mostly related to the General Theory of Evolution. He even gives mathematical evidence to discredit Darwin’s Common Ancestry concept. Whitcomb does not propose any theory of creationism nearly as much as he points out problems with Darwin’s theory. To top it off, why does Coleman say “unsupportable theories,” when Whitcomb explains the mathematical basis for doubting Darwin? Mathematical concepts can be checked out and tested; microbes evolving into humans over many millions of years cannot be tested.

Coleman seems to have fallen into the trap of bulverism: pointing out supposed faults in the person with whom one disagrees, rather than becoming involved in reasoning. “Bulverism” is a word invented by C. S. Lewis long ago, but that subject is a bit off topic. Use Google with: bulverism pterosaurs.

Before condemning creationists or rejecting outright their scientific or cryptozoological research, remember the accomplishements of Sir Isaac Newton. Also remember that he may have spent more time studying the Bible than working in science. He believed in literal interpretations of Biblical scripture, and his judgement seems to have been none the worse for his Christian faith. Remember that.

Flying Creatures and Flailing Paleontologists” and bulverism

Cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America by Jonathan Whitcomb

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Flying Creature in San Fernando Valley

A report of a large flying creature in Sherman Oaks, California, suggests similarities to the ropen of Papua New Guinea. A man reported the creature after he and his girlfriend observed it while taking a walk at about 10:30 p.m., on September 21, 2009. He reported, “It was a very large, winged creature that was gliding maybe 100 yards above us. . . . it beat its wings, once, before going out of view.” His girlfriend had a better view (she has better vision) and saw a glow or reflection on the wings.

The man estimated the wingspan: ten to fifteen feet; the girlfriend estimated twenty feet. The wings appeared more like those of bats than birds, with a greater depth from leading-edge to trailing edge. The sighting lasted ten to twenty seconds.

Pterosaur in Southern California: “I interviewed the two eyewitnesses separately, by phone . . . the creature they saw flying about 300 feet above them . . . was too big to be a bird. . . . I found the two eyewitnesses of the Sep 21st sighting quite credible. . . .”

Flying Creature in South Carolina: “The strange creature flew gracefully over the highway, right in front of the car Susan Wooten was driving to Florence, South Carolina. . . . ‘It looked as big as any car, and had NO feathers . . .”

Cryptozoology Book Live Pterosaurs in America: “From California to Maine, from Washington state to Florida, apparent living pterosaurs appear to be able to hide in any or all of the 48 connected states of the United States.”

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UFO Reports Suggesting Non-Alien Intelligence

A new study of strange lights in Texas suggests bioluminescent predators, rather than extra-terrestrial UFO’s, explain the intelligent behavior that has puzzled scientists for many years. Sometimes the lights near Marfa (southwest Texas) seem to dance or to coordinate their movements in strange ways. One light may divide into two, then they will separate and fly away from each other, only to turn back and fly towards each other.

James Bunnell, author of the nonfiction book Hunting Marfa Lights, has long assumed that they are caused by some kind of energy that may relate to the geology of the area. The problem with that approach is the apparent intelligent behavior of the lights.

Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America, has suggested the lights are caused by large nocturnal predators, probably similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea. Of course “live pterosaur” seems the most outrageous explanation. But alternatives seem even less likely, including the idea that Marfa Lights are caused by intelligent beings from another world.

What’s wrong with extra-terrestrial UFO’s, meaning space crafts “manned” by intelligent aliens? Nothing, except that Marfa Lights might appear for one night or two nights in a row, then leave, not to came back for several weeks or so; it is the coming back that is critical: Aliens that fly over bushes near Marfa, Texas, and returning every few weeks, would be anything but intelligent; there is nothing much there but bushes.

But Whitcomb’s cryptozoology idea, weird though it may seem, does explain the intelligence of the lights. He speculates that the splitting of one light into two is actually just a kind of illusion. There were always two objects, but one of the glowing predators was joined by a non-glowing predator that soon started to glow; the two separate and fly away, then turn around and fly back together.

Why would two (apparently bioluminescent) predators fly away from each other for awhile, then turn and fly back to each other? Whitcomb suggests ropen-like creatures are attracting insects while they glow in one area. As the two fly away, Big Brown Bats are attracted to the swarm of insects. Just as the bat or bats fly into that air space, the two larger predators are flying back, ready to intercept and eat the bat or bats.

I know, glowing pterosaurs seems far fetched, but nothing else seems to come close to a reasonable overall explanation for the Marfa Lights of Texas.

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