1891 California Newspaper: Pterodactyls

On May 15, 2014, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

The Morning Call of San Francisco published “Pterodactyls and others” on Wednesday, August 5, 1891, a brief report of two “pterodactyls” flying near Fresno. Most of the article, however, was about why the writer thought it was almost impossible for anybody to have seen what was reported. The following is but a small part of the newspaper article:

There is no limit to the products of Fresno County. It can grow finer raisin grapes than any other spot in the world . . . figs, bigger walnuts, sweeter peaches . . . but it has lately gone into the business of raising wild animals, and in this, as in everything else, it bids fair to defy competition. Its latest achievement, according to the report of reliable citizens, is the production of a pair of pterodactyls, which are flying round with the desolate freedom of the wild bird, ravaging henroosts . . .

. . . There never was a fossil of that order found in the eocene, or the pliocene, or the miocene, or the pleistocene. The curious creature, half bird half reptile, which was generally about the size of a small bat, but which occasionally grew to such dimensions that the tips of its wings were twenty feet apart, perished in the convulsions which preceded the tertiary deposits. It had ceased to catch small fish in salt marshes long before Fresno rose up out of the bowels of the sea.

. . . There is no more chance of finding at the present day a living member of the vast reptile family which flourished in the cretaceous age than there is of Noah’s Ark coming into port and anchoring off Meiggs Wharf. . . .

Read more from old newspaper articles in the nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God. For the moment, consider the extreme position taken by the writer of this 1891 newspaper article. How dogmatic! How much better to admit that we don’t know everything that happened during the past few millions of years or so!

The following is a brief excerpt from the book:

“I was about 14 years old, 1973, walking in the woods in Placerville, CA., it was then I too saw a ‘pterodactyl.’ The bird landed high in a tree but there was no mistake in what it was. Because of my age nobody believed me. It must have been a young ‘pterodactyl’ for it was only about four feet tall. I wish it had been one of those giant eight footers or bigger like others are seeing. . . .”

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