Lack of Pterosaur Evidence?

On September 8, 2010, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

The living-pterosaur critic Paul Pursglove has said that ” . . . there are some reports that cannot be resolved due to lack of evidence.” He avoids details, preferring brief phrases that seem to destroy confidence in the possibility of extant modern pterosaurs, so we are left to guess which reports he may have considered and what level of evidence he might consider would be adequate.

How rarely critics mention the names “Duane Hodgkinson” and “Brian Hennessy!” Those are two of the most credible eyewitnesses, so why do critics concentrate on hypothetical eyewitnesses or on questionable accounts? Two possibilities pop up: Critics are ignorant of those important eyewitness testimonies or critics want to avoid an objective evaluation. Rather than repeat details about those two reports (many web pages cover that), let’s consider the nature of evidence itself and how it relates to cryptozoology.

Since critics seem to object to eyewitness evidence of living pterosaurs (humans are imperfect), what would be adequate evidence? What evidence would be perfect? If every zoo in the world had living pterosaurs, if every museum in the world had recently-preserved specimens (instead of just fossils), if every biology textbook had many references to modern pterosaurs, would that in itself be perfect evidence for living pterosaurs? No. It would all be worthless without the eyewitness testimonies of imperfect humans. People must watch animals or examine preserved specimens or read textbooks; reporting what we have experienced is important, too, but direct human experience is critical.

Cryptozoology and scientific examinations both involve human observation, so what is the difference? It is in the degrees of repeatability and quality in the observations. I have interviewed a number of eyewitnesses whose testimonies include details that make “pterosaur” obvious; but those high-quality observations have appeared difficult to repeat (in those precise locations), to say the least. I have written about the repeated observations of mysterious flying lights in Papua New Guinea, and there is little difficulty with repeatability; but those numerous observations have mostly been vague forms, rarely revealing themselves as glowing flying creatures. What does all that mean? Living-pterosaur investigations are still within the realm of cryptozoology, not biology; nevertheless, the overall evidence of extant pterosaurs is quite adequate, and it cries out for investigations by professors of science, by universities, by government-funded organizations: Examine the eyewitness testimonies, for no non-pterosaur explanation (for these strange flying creatures) comes close to the reasonableness of the interpretation of “pterosaur.”

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