I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have completely withdrawn my support for the concept that the Ptp image (also known with titles like “pterodactyl photo” and “Civil War Pteranodon photo”) is a genuine photograph recorded during the American Civil War. It now appears that part of an episode of Walking With Dinosaurs has a wing, on an animated pterosaur, that is extremely close to the left wing in Ptp.
I apologize. I should have waited for some evidence of provenance before jumping into looking for evidence for the authenticity of this image. I take full responsibility for my blunder.
I want to be objective about this photo that appears to have come from around the time of the American Civil War, and it looks like it has a dead Pteranodon on the ground. If I’ve missed something important, please contact me. [Update: As of early November, 2018, I have stopped supporting Ptp.]
The official name for the photograph is Ptp, but it’s also known as the “Civil War pterodactyl photo.” A rumor includes a reference to Vicksburg, Mississippi, a city I once lived in, and a word for the animal: “monster.”
Don’t confuse it with the Haxan Films fake photo, which was contrived to look like Ptp but is a manipulated image from about the year 2000. Even just a casual glance at the two photos, side-by-side, reveals those are completely different in origin, meaning that one of them was not manipulated to create the other. They are related, however, for the Haxan hoax was made with Ptp as its model, and that has caused confusion, for people don’t always get the opportunity to see the two photos together. Many persons probably assume there’s only one photo, if they know anything about it.
The original Civil War pterosaur photo
People seem to remember Ptp from one or more books, from around the 1950’s or 1960’s, perhaps the 1970’s. At any rate, it seems to have existed from before Photoshop existed. Tom Payne, something of an expert on canoes, told me that he remembers this photo from before the existence of Photoshop. He also told me that the apparent wings of the animal are not halves of a canoe.
That’s when I fell out of the canoe conjecture. For years, perhaps decades, I had a feeling that those wings looked like some kind of canoe. In 2013, I looked deeper, testing to see if the canoe idea would hold water. I found it difficult to keep my balance in that kind of apparent boat, for no canoe in North America seemed like what I saw in that photo. The canoe expert Tom Payne, early in 2017, knocked me completely out of that boat idea.
Then I saw the astonishing conclusion: If this is not a photo of men standing around a model “pterodacyl,” what else could this be than a Civil War pterosaur photo? That’s when I phoned my friend in California, the physicist Cliff Paiva. He confirmed to me his findings: This is a genuine image with a real animal.
Paiva suggested I write a small book on our evidences of authenticity in the photo. I then wrote Modern Pterosaurs. I really have tried to be objective, but the skeptical criticisms of Ptp have completely failed to explain away this photo. Whether a monster or a pterosaur, the animal is real.
Copyright 2017, 2018 Jonathan D. Whitcomb
Extant, not extinct
This is not the nonfiction Modern Pterosaurs but the new nonfiction The Girl who saw a Flying Dinosaur.
Modern Pterosaurs [printing has been suspended]