April 8, 2010

Monsterquest and Flying Monsters

My thoughts about the pterosaur-or-bat Monsterquest episode I put into the first edition of my book Live Pterosaurs in America, taking up six pages of the appendix. (This episode of Monsterquest was broadcast on June 3, 2009. Much of the content of this television pseudo-mini-documentary came from footage shot during their early-2009 expedition in Papua New Guinea.) Concerning these "flying monsters," here is one paragraph from the book:
"Some viewers of this episode may have become convinced that evidence for living pterosaurs is scarce. Why? The eyewitness testimonies, scarcely covered, were overshadowed by a fossil-expert’s declaration about ancient extinctions and his personal disbelief in extant pterosaurs. Truth would have been better served with more coverage of the eyewitness evidence, rather than the overemphasized personal doubts of that man."
It's not that production values were to blame; it was a fine, entertaining show. But the producers (or editor) appeared to force a bat-interpretation into the conclusion. Who would have guessed, after watching this "Demon Flyer" episode, that one of the eyewitnesses mentioned (Duane Hodgkinson) described the tail of the "pterodactyl" as "at least" ten to fifteen feet long? Who would have guessed that at least nine expeditions, over fifteen years, preceded the Monsterquest expedition? Who would have guessed that a professional paleontologist would be unqualified to make both a pre-judgement and post-judgement of the cryptozoological investigations? Who would have guessed that most living-pterosaur investigations have been done by creationists?

I am happy that this episode was produced and aired for many Americans to see. I just hope that they can see much more of the truth about the serious investigations, for the producers of Monsterquest were not serious about conducting any scientific research. They successfully produced an entertaining show.

Live Pterosaurs in America (nonfiction by Jonathan Whitcomb) is in the pure genre of a cryptozoology book.

Pterosaur eyewitness Gideon Koro, of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, described the ropen.

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