Manta Ray Comes Back to Surface

On November 2, 2012, in philosophy, sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Eighteen months ago I wrote, on this blog, about the “Manta ray and Modern Pterosaur” conjecture. A few days ago, the Manta ray came back to the surface, again attempting to get into the air and to imitate a living pterosaur. Again that poor fish is shot down. We now concentrate on the recent blog post by Dale Drinnon.

I will not link to that post, for it can easily be found by a serious researcher and those who are less serious about diving into the truth may be led astray by the mistakes that are found therein. Now for details.

Sighting in the Philippines

Drinnon’s attention seems to have gotten caught up with my October 23, 2012, post on the blog Live Pterosaur (“Pterosaurs Across the Pacific”), probably because of its brief reference to a fisherman who reported something that he thought was the same or similar to what was observed by the principal eyewitness. Let’s examine critical details about the principle sighting.

  1. We need to understand that my post of October 23rd had a brief excerpt of a sighting report in the Philippines. Drinnon apparently had no knowledge of critical details that could have been found only with serious online research.
  2. Since my October post included a brief reference to a fisherman, Drinnon seems to have seen an opportunity to promote the Manta ray interpretation of pterosaur sightings; but all details about the fisherman are absent, so that’s of little relevance.
  3. The critical sighting details (not in that post) included the following:

“I saw them clearly: the SHAPE, their BAT-LIKE WINGS, a LONG NECK and . . . I dunno if it is a horn behind their heads. They have a long beak.  I even saw their claws between their wings. They don’t have any feathers; their body really looks like a bat. They seldom flap their wings, about  every 3-4 sec.; thats why I knew it is not just a big bat. . . .”

We need to remember that these details were apparently not read by Mr. Drinnon, so I don’t criticize him for being ignorant of them when he wrote his recent post. But in a response to my comment on his post, he revealed “The Philippines sighting in specific lends itself to the Manta ray hypothesis most readily.” In other words, to the best of his knowledge at the time he wrote his recent post, that sighting was the best example  that appeared to fit a misidentification of a Manta ray fish jumping out of the water. Well, we all should now understand that the jumping fish conjecture, for this sighting, is ludicrous when we consider the following critical details:

Long neck, slow flapping, claws

Some sighting reports of apparent living pterosaurs include a description of a long neck. That alone destroys the Manta ray hypothesis for those sightings, including this encounter in the Philippines.

A slow flapping of wings over a period of time also shoots down the jumping fish, including this encounter with a flying creature that flapped its wings only once every three or four seconds or so.

In addition, claws associated with the wings tear apart Mr. Dinnon’s conjecture for this sighting.

In addition, the critical sighting (by the young man who sent me an email a few years ago) seems to have been two living pterosaurs flying over a city, NOT one creature jumping out of the sea.

Religion, Philosophy, and Science

Volumes can be written about origin philosophy as it relates to cryptozoology and Western teachings about the General Theory of Evolution. Drinnon writes little, if anything, on how this relates to reports of modern living pterosaurs (from what I have read of his writings) but too much confidence in standard-model dogmas and assumptions can cause people, even college graduates in science, to be led seriously astray.

Drinnon makes a revealing statement: “Once again, the last Pterosaurs around did not have tails and the biggest Pterosaurs did not have tails.” That seems to me overly simplistic, but it reveals his perspective. Apparently he believes that knowledge gained from paleontologists who examine pterosaur fossils can trump human experience with modern living creatures. If all paleontologists were omnipotent, knowing everything about every subject of science and about everything else, that perspective might be valid. But when consistant human experience contradicts a centuries-old scientific assumption, we need to be reminded of the truth: Humans are human, even highly educated paleontologists. We need to spend more time considering human experiences from around the world and we need to spend less time buried under a pile of dusty bones in a laboratory.

Seriously Astray

How many humans on this planet would see a large Manta ray fish jump out of the sea and become convinced that they had witnessed the flight of a living pterosaur? With all the billions of humans on this planet, countless millions have at least looked out onto a sea or ocean, at least on occasion; some have spent their lives in fishing on large bodies of water. So how many of them have come to believe in living pterosaurs (or dragons) because they had mistaken a fish jumping out of the water for a flying creature? Almost nobody, and among those few NONE of them would be living in modern times and have access to a computer and also send me an email reporting that they had seen a pterosaur flying OVER LAND.

I don’t know why Mr. Drinnon believes that many reports of modern living pterosaurs involve a flight over water or very near the sea. I suspect that reports that have some reference or implication of relevance to the sea attract his attention. The vaste majority of sighting reports that have been sent to me do not involve a flight over a sea or ocean, however. This fact appears to have been overlooked by Mr. Drinnon.

Flight Over the Sea

Let’s consider now an exception, apparent pterosaurs flying over a sea.

In 2009, on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas cruise ship, a lady and her daughter witnessed two “flourescent birds” that looked like “flying dinosaurs.” They flew over the sea but could not have been jumping Manta rays, for they flew back and forth for fifteen minutes. That would be too much of a leap of fish. Even the largest and jumpingest Manta ray could not stay in the air for more than about two seconds.

Gitmo Pterosaur of Cuba - eyewitness and artist Patty Carson

“Gitmo Pterosaur” seen by Patty Carson in Cuba in 1965


Pterosaurs Look Unlike Manta Rays

Many details repudiate the Manta ray misidentification interpretation: head, head crest, neck, leg-like structures, feet-like structures, tail vane (Rhamphorhynchoid-like). . . . But now we get to more serious problems with the fish idea. . . .

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