March 29, 2017

Modern Pterosaur in an Old Photograph

By the extant-pterosaur expert Jonathan D. Whitcomb


On January 14, 2017, Clifford Paiva (a physicist in California) and I spoke by phone and agreed that the following photo has an image of a real animal, with real wings. We stopped short of insisting that it must have been a species of Pteranodon, but it has obvious similarities with what would be expected in the head of that species, should one be extant.

Ptp Pteranodon photo from 19th century
Figure-1: Ptp shows an apparent Pteranodon

What we now call "Ptp" has been around for a long time, with some persons reporting that they saw it in a mid-20th-century book, possibly a Ripley's "Believe it or Not."

Do not Confuse Photographs

One well-known skeptic of reports of extant pterosaurs published a long online page that included, for years, a small image of the Ptp photo. It said, "the photo has since been exposed as a hoax—a promotional stunt for a Fox television series." Unfortunately, this has misled readers, for that statement refers to a different photo, NOT this one.

The Newer Photo (not Ptp) is a Hoax

Notice that the following is a different photograph, NOT Ptp:

hoax photo made by Haxan Films
Figure-2: Hoax photograph by Haxan Films

Compare the hoax with the original photo. Notice the vagueness of the "animal" in the fake photo and how little can be distinguished in it, compared with the apparent Pteranodon in Ptp.

Obviously one of them was made to imitate the other, and it's not hard to find out which is which. The Haxan hoax photo was created around the year 2000, and people remember Ptp from around 1950-1975. Yet we have direct evidence that Ptp is very old; we don't need to rely on people's memory of seeing it in an old book.

Figure-3: A branch was used as a prop

Prior to about 1870, props were often used to help persons to remain motionless during the photographic exposures. In the mid-19th century, photography still required many seconds of stillness to avoid blurring.

Notice the tree branch in Figure-3. This was used to keep a soldier's foot steady as he held it on the beak of that animal. This was discovered by the physicist Clifford Paiva, in early 2017. It shows us that this is indeed an old photograph.

In addition, Paiva found that the shadow under this shoe of this soldier is consistent with nearby shadows on the animal, repudiating accusations of paste-on hoaxing. Photoshop was not used in the Ptp photograph, nor was any physical paste-on hoaxing done.

Paiva also found evidence of blood effusion from at least two places on the animal shown in Ptp. These would be expected in the context that this is a genuine photograph with a real animal.

He also found evidence for muscle structure in the neck of the animal in Ptp. What a big difference between that kind of detail and the vague canvass-like "animal" in the Haxan-Films hoax photo!


Books About Living Pterosaurs
As the cryptozoology nonfiction Modern Pterosaurs nears publication, it seems a good time to list some of the books about these extraordinary cryptids of the air . . .

Pterosaur in a Civil War photograph
Now we delve into a little-known realm of cryptozoology: investigations into sightings of apparent pterosaurs, meaning living flying creatures that appear to be “pterodactyls.”

Pteranodon photograph, Civil War
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, possibly without the long tail that ropens are seen to have.

Civil War pterosaur photo
Notice that the important subjects of the photo, the strange winged animal and the soldiers—all of them are in reasonably good focus, a characteristic of Civil War photography. Now look more closely at the head. It has a number of similarities to what we might expect of a Pteranodon head.


June 13, 2015

A Flying Creature Called "Ropen"

The ropen flies within the confinement of cryptozoology, at least theoretically. But for those eyewitnesses whose lives have been changed by encountering this flying creature, it is hardly confined to theory, for it is real.

What do we know about the ropen? It is not confined to Papua New Guinea, which makes sense when we consider that the largest ones have wingspans greater than twenty feet. Flying creatures similar to the ropen of the southwest Pacific have been reported in Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. In fact, many of the sightings have been reported in the United States.

So what qualifies a flying creature to be labeled "ropen?" It is featherless, according to many eyewitnesses, and has a long tail that ends with a structure that has been called a "diamond" or a "spade" or a "triangle" (although other labels have been attached to the end of the tail). Some persons describe a pointed horn-like appendage at the back of the head. In other words, it appears to be an unusual kind of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

A Bioluminescent Flying Creature

One thing sets the ropen apart from most other flying creatures is the glow. Sometimes, when it flies overhead at night, it glows with what some cryptozoologists call "intrinsic bioluminescence." That means it can control the glow that it produces, turning it on and off at will.

Could some sightings of large glowing flying creatures at night be birds rather than pterosaurs? Of course they could, in theory. But examinations of specific sightings reports—those have mostly suggested something other than any known bird, at least classified by Western science.

Some barn owls (Tyto alba) have been reported to glow with what an Australia researcher believes is intrinsic bioluminescence. Fred Silcock has studied reports of "Min min" lights for many years, and has documented instances in which an observer got close enough to see that the flying glowing object was indeed a large owl.

But some eyewitnesses in Papua New Guinea have gotten close looks at a large glowing object that flies around at night, and part of the description includes a long tail. That eliminates barn owls from those particular sightings.


Big Flying Creature in Utah
Three children, including Devon Roberts and his brother Dallin, saw something huge flying overhead, at about 11 p.m., around the fall of 2001, something very unlike any bird. Devon estimated the flying creature had a wingspan of 15-20 feet.
Apparent Living Pterosaurs
. . . right in front of us 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.
Glowing Ropen Reported in Papua New Guinea
Paul Nation, of Granbury, Texas, videotaped the lights one night, in November, 2006, in a remote mountainous area of the mainland of Papua New Guinea. Here, the natives call the creature "indava," but explorers call it by the name used on Umboi Island: "ropen."
Ropen of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea
The ropen sighting involved seven boys. They ran home in terror after this sighting. Wesley, the brother of Gideon, described the ropen to me and I was able to videotape his answers. Likewise, another of the witnesses, Mesa, told me that he saw the ropen at that time.
The Ropen of Papua New Guinea
I believe that Josh Gates did very well in the limited time his team had in their ropen search. The team was successful in videotaping what most other adventurers had failed to videotape.

June 18, 2013

Griffith Park Pterosaur Sightings

Two eyewitnesses have reported to me their sightings near Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The encounters were just a little east of that park, and over the same freeway.

I investigated the possibility that these two young ladies might have been playing a coordinated hoax, but the more I looked into the matter, the more it became apparent that it was only a coincidence that they were both young adult females driving north on the I-5 freeway in the first few months of 2013.

The similarities in the reports are as follows:
  • Gliding rather than flapping
  • Not bird misidentification
  • Over the Interstate-5
  • Just east of Griffith Park
  • Near the Los Angeles River
  • Reported to me as possible pterosaurs
  • Seen in reasonable lighting conditions (daylight)

The differences include the following:
  • Three "dragons" vs. one "pterosaur"
  • Long tails vs. unnoticed
  • Coloring somewhat different
  • Unnoticed vs. head crest
  • 6:10 a.m. vs. about 4:00 p.m.
  • Gliding in different directions
Related Pterosaur Sightings in Southern California

Until just a few weeks ago, I did not see many related sighting locations in California, no clear proximity in location. The two sightings near Griffith Park were followed by a contact telling me about a second sighting at the Lakewood backyard, two years before the June-2012 encounter.

It now seems obvious that these apparent ropens do return to the same places, at least on occasion. The sightings continue to be mostly in daylight, when humans can see much better. I am still convinced that these modern pterosaurs are nocturnal, rarely coming out in daylight. But there are enough of the creatures (and plenty of humans) to make impressive appearances when they make rare flights in daylight. And a few of the shocked eyewitnesses have the courage and common sense to contact me with their reports of encounters in California. I'll keep praying that people will keep sending me their reports.

Dragons or Pterosaurs Over Interstate-5
Right between the Los Angeles River and Griffith Park—that’s where the three “dragons” were flying on March 3, 2013, at 6:10 a.m., but another driver on the I-5 Freeway saw one “pterosaur” ten weeks later, just a little over a mile south of the first sighting location.

Pterosaurs East of Griffith Park
Two pterosaur sightings in Los Angeles, in 2013, have caused a stir, being ten weeks apart and the second one being just a mile and a half south of the first one.


January 17, 2013

Alabama Flying Creature

From an eyewitness in Dekalb County, Alabama:
Ok so me and my buddy were outside on the porch . . . this thing flys over tree top level . . . the moon was out and bright tonight and his flood light was on which lit up the belly of this creature. . . . this thing [had] a bat-like shape with the break in the wings like bats have. . . . the belly [was] . . . whitish in color . . . [It had] no feathers . . . more like hair.

There was two [flying creatures]. . . . We heard a call from the other [one], out of sight. The sound these things made was like nothing I have ever heard. It's hard to explain how it sounded really, not a bird-like call . . . kind of a long rumbling growling.

. . . I am positive this thing had no tail feathers on it. . . . sky was clear and moon was bright; the outline was easily seen. . . . The body shape was too elongated to be a owl; it had none of its characteristics. . . . I . . . know the birds very well . . . but I know what it was not and am very sure of what I seen, and I was not the only [eyewitness] so that tells me something.
. . . the wings were solid: no feather points coming off them, just the break I associated with a bat wing, but very big in size . . .

. . . it was not a crane. I am familiar with them as I seen them when fishing all the time. I also know their calls . . . they are very large but none of the features . . . this animal had relates to a crane, neither does the sound . . .
The above was reported on the site "Above Top Secret," beginning on October 28, 2009, from the person labeled "OpTiMuS_PrImE."

Pterosaurs in Georgia
For years people in Georgia have seen flying things unlike birds, sometimes creatures with long tails and no feathers and too big to be a bat.
Manta Ray Different From Pterosaur
A Manta ray fish, of an ocean or sea, may jump as high as ten feet above the surface, perhaps. But all those jumping fish fall back into the sea, demonstrating that they are not strange featherless flying creatures.
Pterosaur Encountered in Alabama
"My husband and I saw one in Alabama a few years ago. . . . I have no doubt this is what it was. My husband and I said it looked like a dinosaur. It was flying in front of our car across an open highway. Its wingspan was probably between 8-10 feet."

December 29, 2012

Did a Bird Grab a Baby?

Can a large bird of prey pick up a human baby? It may depend on not just the size of the bird but the size of the baby. All such speculations may appear irrelevant, however, regarding the Youtube video titled "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid." That video was created by students at a design college in Montreal, Canada.

The pedestrian at upper right pays no attention to the "attack"
Before the announcement, by students of Centre NaD, that the video was an animation project, skeptics began looking for signs of a hoax. It didn't take many days to find clues.

In one frame, part of the bird's wing is missing; in another, the bird's shadow is missing. After a number of days, I had found many clues myself, most critical being the gross differences in shadow angle within a short distance in the meadow.

Other indications of hoax involve the actions or inactions of persons shown. One person walking by the scene of the apparent attack pays no attention except to look in the direction of the videographer. The mother does not even notice the large bird as it shoots towards her and her baby. Only after the bird has lifted the toddler off the ground and has begun to fly away does the mother even turn her head.

Baby is being carried away to the eagle's nest. Why is Mommy so slow?

Mommy is far away; so why does the eagle drop the baby?
As the woman calmly jogs in the direction of the apparent bird and apparent baby, she does not scream. No sound comes out of her mouth, at least not loud enough to be picked up on the video. Why then does the bird drop the child?

When the bird seems to have lost its grip on the baby, they are at least six feet off the ground, possibly eight feet. If this were an actual event, the bird would have had a firm grip on that child by the time it was over four feet above the ground. Look at some eagle talons.

Eagle talons pierce the bodies of prey

The talons of eagles are built to grab into the flesh of its victims. Any bird large enough to have carried away a toddler as large as the one shown at the end of this video---that would have been a bird larger than the one depicted, especially considering how quickly the baby seems to have been lifted well up into the air. But even if that were not the case, the talons would have been large enough to have pierced the body of the child.

How is it that the apparent eagle lost its grip? The mother was nowhere near the bird and was jogging rather slowly and did not scream. If the grip of the talons were only in the clothing, then the child might have fallen out of his clothes; but that was not depicted: Both toddler and clothing fell out of the talons of the apparent bird. There is no explanation for that except that strange things do happen on rare occasions. The problem with that apparent reasoning is this: Too many strange things happen within a few second in this video.

Why Look so Deeply When the Hoax was Admitted?

One day after the Youtube video was uploaded, animation students admitted they had created the whole thing, using 3D computer models. So why look so deeply into the video, finding signs that show that it was a hoax? We have reasons.

Within a few days, "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid" had been seen by forty million youtube viewers. I had put up a number of comments, my observations about inconsistancies in shadow directions. One Youtube fan sent me the message, "Who cares it's common knowledge that it's a hoax, move on with your life! Admitted CGI!" But that is part of the problem. We need to do more thinking; we need to look more carefully; we need to listen to other opinions.

There may still be a million persons who saw the video and believed it, yet have not yet been informed that it is a hoax. Perhaps more than a few preschoolers and babies will miss outings to city parks this holiday season. Perhaps some people will needlessly worry about birds. Perhaps somebody will shoot a Golden Eagle. I will "move on" but it will be to continue to promote the truth.

The problems are far more than just missing outings to parks, or becoming mildly paranoid about large birds, or shooting an eagle. We need to think more carefully.

We need to better understand human reasoning. Why do some persons make rash judgements and then do more than just dismiss a different opinion: They dismiss another person as an "idiot."

On Youtube, I wrote the following rather vague comment about shadows of trees:
Shadows of trees show this is a video tampered with.

On December 19th I received the following comment on Youtube:
"You're an idiot, 0:11 shadow is apparent from the tree in front. Also the ground is very uneven, shadows will be distorted."

"0:11" is less vague, but I don't know what he means, for many still images exist for this one second of video. Within that one second I see many shadows of trees, some of them proving the video was indeed tampered with. I will not respond to that person by parroting the word "idiot," to judge him, regardless of what he was looking at in that one second of video, but I made my own video to be more specific:

"Eagle Snatch or Not"

(Jonathan Whitcomb's humorous look at the Youtube video)

We need to think more clearly and judge others' more carefully than we have done. I will try to be more specific in the future, rather than use just one short sentence. But I'm not alone in being in need of improvement.

Fake Bird Attacks Fake Baby
More telling is the behavior of what seems to be the mother. She seems to see nothing as the bird flies to her baby, picking it up off the ground.

She saw, in Arkansas, a Pterosaur Soar
In the summer of 1977, at about one or two in the afternoon, the sighting involved a close encounter with an apparent pterosaur (albeit labeled "teradactyl") that had a large head and a wingspan of about eight feet.