Civil War Soldiers and Monster Photo

On April 9, 2013, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Update, January 24, 2017

*The original post, below the double pound (##) sign, was written in April of 2013. In early 2017, however, this old photo was declared to have a genuine image of a modern pterosaur. Please take that in context, for research continues and significant discoveries continue to be made in this remarkable photograph.

To learn about the new book on the “Ptp” photograph, see “Is Modern Pterosaurs a Creationist Book?


I know that an old photograph of Civil War soldiers next to an apparent giant dead Pteranodon (pterosaur) only indirectly relates to the Bible and Christian values, but it does relate to sightings of pterosaurs in North America. Just don’t confuse this photo with a hoax-photo that imitates it.

To begin, I do not present Photo #1 as overwhelming *evidence for the existence of a huge modern living pterosaur that has a head suggesting a Pteranodon; I interview eyewitnesses, and some of them report sighting details that have convinced me that huge pterosaurs live in this modern world of ours (rare and nocturnal as they may be; sometimes called “flying dinosaur” or “pterodactyl”). But for now, let’s examine this apparently very old photograph.

Is this a hoax of some kind? It shows six Union soldiers standing by a dead Pteranodon pterosaur or something at least similar in appearance

Hoax or Genuine? It’s controversial.

It seems that some people remember the above photograph in a book published around the middle of the twentieth century, many years before the first version of Photoshop was released in 1990. I believe I myself was one of those readers of a paranormal book with this photo. Regardless of our memories and regardless of whether or not those Union soldiers were playing an elaborate prank, there are problems with Photoshop hypotheses and I have found reasons to believe the above photo may be genuine, even though I still have doubts.

Before getting into details, note the photo below, which is unquestionably a hoax:

Hoax photo created for an episode of the Freakylinks television series

Hoax and imitation of the top photo

The Haxan production company made an imitation photo for one of their Freakylinks episodes, or to promote the episodes in general, around the late 1990’s; it looks like the top photo because it’s an imitation. Click for a closer look at the above image and notice two clues of a hoax:

  1. The “soldier” on the left is heavy-set enough to need to unbutton his shirt: a clue that we are looking at Civil War reenacting (20th century actors), for at that time a common soldier (not a general or a colonel) was rarely heavy set.
  2. The “creature” on the ground appears rather vague in features and the wings look like limp cloth: hardly a convincing giant flying creature.

Of course the ultimate prove that the second photo is a hoax is in the disclosure of the television production origin. In that context, it’s easy to see that it was imitating the older photo.

Return to Photo #1 – Must it be a Photoshop Hoax?

One blog writer (I’ll not mention his name) has been a skeptic, for some time, of reports of modern living dinosaurs and pterosaurs. On one of his posts, he provides what he assumes is valid evidence for Photoshop fakery (in what we here call “photo #1”). He makes no mention of the possibility that some persons say that they have seen this photo around the 1960’s (long before Photoshop existed); I have no idea if the blog writer is ignorant of that critical factor, but let’s look at his evidence.

But he points out apparent Photoshop manipulation, including the following:

One eskeptic points out what he thinks is a "halo" from a Photoshop hoax

I agree with this blog writer on this: It does appear, at first glance, that an unnatural lighter area is just above the head of soldier #6 (the man on the far right of Photo #1), and that this kind of appearance can indicate Photoshop manipulation. But let’s look deeper.

Assume for the moment that everybody who thought they remembered this photo from the mid-twentieth century is wrong in their memories. Assume that this photograph did not exist before the first release of Photoshop in 1990 (for the Mackintosh). Now look at the whole picture, all of Photo #1, and keep in mind the following:

Why would a Photoshop hoaxer paste an image of a Civil War soldier onto a background of tree branches? Would a hoaxer try to convince us that tree branches existed during the Civil War? Does anybody doubt that trees and Union soldiers lived at the same time, in the 1860’s? Why go to the trouble of cutting out an image of a soldier and pasting it onto a photo of trees? Why be distracted from the point of the photograph? How critical is the huge winged creature!

Now look again at this same magnified view of soldier number six.

A green arrow shows a clear separation between the head of the soldier and an apparent while line

A closer look reveals a separation from an apparent straight line and the man’s head. This light-colored line is somewhat similar to the horizontal line above the man’s head but it’s obviously not a Photoshop “halo” from a cut and paste manipulation. Actually this background has many light-colored tree limbs, appearing as white lines pointing in all directions. The line above the soldier’s head is probably just another of those branches.

But the critical point remains: A hoaxer would have little, if any, reason to paste an image of a soldier only a background of tree branches. Much more likely he would just paste an image of a monster onto a photograph of soldiers.

I am not declaring that the version of the photo that I have taken from the internet has no evidence of Photoshop manipulations. I do suggest that some of those have other explanations and that this apparent Civil War photograph needs to be researched more deeply.

What’s the Problem Regarding Civil War Pterodactyls?

Photo #2, above, can easily be found in online searches, too easily, and web surfers can easily be led to believe that any reference to a Civil War pterodactyl photograph is this hoax for Freakylinks. Few persons know about the differences between the two photographs and the weaknesses in the Photoshop hypotheses regarding Photo #1, for it takes an open mind and real work to gain greater knowledge and understanding.


Civil War Photo or Photoshop Hoax?

I read on one web site that many people had seen this photograph in one or more publications “between the 1950-ies and 1960-ies,” but the subject now is Photoshop hoaxes, for it seems that most of the recent skeptics offer that explanation for this photo. Is this a genuine image of an actual pose of Civil War soldiers with a giant recently-deceased pterosaur?

Civil War Pteranodon Photo

I read a comment somewhere, on some forum thread, about this photo. Somebody said that if some soldiers really had seen a giant pterosaur then it would have gotten into the newspapers. I disagree. Back then, newspaper editors would not take hold of a monster story when there were so many war stories to write about. Some huge bird would not have been nearly as interesting as how the latest battle had gone.


dinosaur Scutosaurus

Carbon-14 Dating and Dinosaurs (the shocking truth)


cover of nonfiction cryptozoology book "Live Pterosaurs in America"

Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition) nonfiction

Part of a review for the second edition (third edition is improved and expanded):

This is an updated review of the book and I am changing my rating to 5 stars. This book has been on my shelf for almost a year now. I pick it up every now and then and a part of me becomes more impressed by the book every time. . . .  I highly recommend this. You may find yourself almost believing in it, although that is not even the authors intent! Whitcomb painstakingly reviews every account for credibility and reason. This man is not a crank. He tries to weed out would be hoaxes and miss-identification. This is not a guy looking to create evidence to confirm his own beliefs. . . .

If you are interested in reading about this subject, this is definitely the book to get . . . This is well written and very hard to put down.

[Amazon review of 2nd edition, by “stevie” on October 23, 2011]

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