A typical American would visualize a short-tailed pterosaur from the phrase "giant pterodactyl." But most American eyewitnesses who have encountered an apparent living pterosaur describe a long tail, and the tail is often said to end with a "diamond shape" or some other-described enlargement at or near the end of the tail.
So what is surprising about long-tailed pterosaurs, aside from the declarations that they are not really all extinct? From what I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have learned over years of interviewing, the ratio in those eyewitness sightings is at least four-to-one, meaning at least 80% of the flying creatures are apparent Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs, and that brings up two surprises: Popular modern scientific models include the idea that Rhamphorhynchoids became extinct before their short-tailed cousins, and the long-tailed pterosaurs have been thought much smaller, on the average, than the short-tailed ones.
Whitcomb's most recent nonfiction cryptozoology book, the second edition of Live Pterosaurs in America, explains why these things are not as shocking as they first appear, even though most Americans find the idea of living pterosaurs shocking in itself. The revised edition of the book will be published around the end of November, 2010.