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.

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.

Jonathan Whitcomb and Clifford Paiva declared that this is a genuine image of a modern pterosaur

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 Jonathan D. Whitcomb


Civil War pterosaur photo

It’s possible for two similar photos to both be fake. But when one of them was made to closely imitate the older one, it is at least a little suspicious. A counterfeit bill is most likely to be made in imitation of a genuine bill, not another counterfeit. We don’t have an exact correlation between that and the two Civil War pterosaur photos, but there’s enough of a relationship to now deserve our attention.

Dinosaur and Pterosaur Extinction

Consider the following direct evidence for the authenticity of the “pterodactyl photograph” and its significance. Earlier this year (2017), the physicist Cliff Paiva and I independently examined belt buckles on those soldiers in Ptp. We both came to the same conclusion: The soldier that appears to be standing in front of the animal is indeed closer to the camera than the other soldiers.

Pterosaur Photo

About the book Modern Pterosaurs


Nonfiction book in harmony with the Biblical Flood of Noah

Purchase your own copy of Modern Pterosaurs


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Is “Modern Pterosaurs” a Creationist Book?

On March 23, 2017, in Old Testament, by Jonathan Whitcomb

The nonfiction cryptozoology book Modern Pterosaurs should be published well before the end of April, 2017 [update: it was on April 2]. The front cover gives no hint that it supports a Biblical Old Testament point of view, but the back cover clearly does:

A scientific discovery in harmony with the Flood of Noah in the book of Genesis, in support of the Bible

In addition, the copyright page says, “A scientific discovery in harmony with the Bible.” And one paragraph in the introduction of the book makes it clear:

Many of those who’ve searched for extant pterosaurs, and interviewed eyewitnesses, believe in the Bible, and that includes belief in the literal Flood as recorded in Genesis. We see modern species of pterosaurs as being in perfect harmony with the Flood of Noah. Until the announcement on January 14, 2017, our evidences for non-extinct pterosaurs was mostly in testimonies of eyewitnesses. Now we have a photograph to back up sighting reports and support belief in the Flood.

After that, however, only three other pages in the book mention either the Bible or the Flood of Noah. So if you’re looking for a new book about Biblical Creation in general, this might not satisfy you. What about the greatest scientific discovery of recent decades, one that supports the literal Flood of Genesis? That’s another story, and it’s in this nonfiction book.


Nonfiction book in harmony with the Biblical Flood of Noah

Modern Pterosaurs, Human encounters with living “pterodactyls”


Evolution and Religion

A big problem with many statements about evolution is that the word is used as if it were precise when, in reality, it has more than one meaning, regarding biology, and many of those who use the word are unaware of the distinctions.

Compare it to the following statement:

Taking a bath can be safer than a shower when a thunderstorm is approaching. Why? During the storm, a bath inside your home gives you more privacy than taking advantage of that shower.

Can a discussion about evolution really be that ludicrous? Precisely. Take three major ideas about biological evolution:

  1. Inherent genetic diversity
  2. Mutational changes in bacteria
  3. Common ancestry (Darwin)

How can evidence for one of those three support belief in another one? Those three concepts are separate, with the first two giving no real credibility to the third.

Several paragraphs in the book explain the “Evolutionary Boundary” experiment that proves that Darwin’s natural selection actually prevents any of the changes he imagined. In other words, real natural selection makes universal common ancestry impossible. Explaining that in detail, however, would take a book in itself.


The nonfiction Modern Pterosaurs is in complete harmony with the concept that the Flood of Genesis was a literal worldwide flood, although detailed explanations of exactly how extant pterosaurs are related to it are lacking. Let’s consider that here:

Pterosaurs survived the Flood because they were sheltered on the Ark. Whether many pterosaurs became extinct before the Flood or after it, some of them are still living.


Copyright 2017 Jonathan D. Whitcomb (“Is Modern Pterosaurs a Creationist Book?”)



New Cryptozoology Book Modern Pterosaurs

The new book has a photograph of an extant pterosaur, verified by me and by the physicist Clifford Paiva. Like my previous books, however, it does contain eyewitness accounts of these amazing flying creatures.


Religious Bias and the Ropen

I was asked about the possibility of religious bias in the thinking of those who believe the eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs. I replied that bias is not restricted to those who are religious. Why should Christians be singled out for potential bias? Any person of any philosophy may well be biased about particular ideas.


Civil War Pteranodon Photograph

On January 14, 2017, the physicist Clifford Paiva, of California, and I (Jonathan Whitcomb) jointly agreed that the image of an apparent pterosaur in this photograph is in fact a valid recording of a modern pterosaur.


The Flood of Genesis, dinosaurs, and pterosaurs

The combination of a head crest and a Rhamphorhynchoid tail is uncommon in pterosaur fossils (but not totally absent from all types); yet that combination is common in eyewitness reports in the past 100 years. For some reason, long-tailed ropens (like Rhamphorhynchoids but sometimes much larger than fossils) may account for more than 60% of all modern pterosaurs, perhaps much more.


Old Civil War Pteranodon Photograph

If you had asked me about this old photograph, of an apparent pterosaur, 25 years ago, I would have said that it’s probably a hoax. How much I have learned in recent years!


new non-fiction book about non-extinct pterosaurs

In the genre of nonfiction cryptozoology, the background is this: Biblical creation is real

Purchase your own copy of the new book Modern Pterosaurs.

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The following nonfiction cryptozoology books were found, on Amazon, to each have at least one chapter on large flying creatures that have appeared to eyewitnesses in modern times. These paperbacks are ranked according to Amazon popularity, with smaller numbers indicating more sales recently. (As in golf, authors want the lowest number-rankings possible on Amazon.)

Rankings and price offers were noted on April 15, 2015, between 7:20 a.m. and 7:38 a.m., U.S. Mountain time. Keep in mind that many millions of books are sold on Amazon, so a ranking of a million means that a book is selling better than most books.


front cover of the fourth edition of this nonfiction book


On tax day, this is the best-selling Amazon nonfiction on modern pterosaurs: Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition, by Jonathan David Whitcomb. It has been called “the Bible of modern pterosaurs.”

  • Amazon rank: #102,171
  • Published in 2014
  • 360 pages
  • $16.19



Thunderbirds - America's Living Legends of Giant Birds


The second best-ranked book is Thunderbirds – America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, by Mark A. Hall. One thing sets this one apart from the others: the apparent general perspective that large flying creatures are giant birds. In fact, from what little I have read (using the Amazon “Look Inside” feature), the author appears to be hiding the identity of one flying creature, at least inadvertently. It was the one reported by Allison Jornlin about a man who witnessed something huge flying outside a window of the Elmbrook Memorial Hospital in Brookfield, Wisconsin. In that sighting, the witness could not make out any feathers and reported that it looked bat-like. Mr. Hall says nothing about that detail, at least in that part of his book about “giant birds.”

  • Amazon rank: #112,461
  • Published in 2004
  • 208 pages
  • $16.99



"Missionaries and Monsters" by William Gibbons


The Amazon page for Missionaries and Monsters (nonfiction by William J. Gibbons) says, “Clues to undiscovered species have been left by missionaries and pastors throughout the world, and explorer Bill Gibbons is hot on their trail.”

  • Amazon rank: #179,127
  • Published in 2006
  • 104 pages
  • $9.95



cover of nonfiction cryptozoology book "Live Pterosaurs in America"


The cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition, by Whitcomb, sometimes is the Amazon best-selling nonfiction in this narrow genre, but not on this particular day. It is not written primarily to convince readers that pterosaurs fly over the USA, but mostly documents eyewitness accounts. Unlike Searching for Ropens and Finding God, this is in pure cryptozoology genre.

  • Amazon rank: #407,839
  • Published in 2011
  • 154 pages
  • $10.92



Ken Gerhard's nonfiction "Big Bird"


Big Bird, by Ken Gerhard, is subtitled “Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters.” This is mostly about the author’s personal experiences in tracking down eyewitnesses in Texas and what those witnesses told him about their encounters.

  • Amazon Rank: #965,331
  • Published in 2007
  • 108 pages
  • $11.51



"Bird From Hell" by Gerald McIsaac


This is the third edition of Bird From Hell, by Gerald McIssac, of Canada. Not all of the book is about this particular cryptid that terrorizes local people in northern British Columbia. It also covers the hairy elephant, rubber-faced bear, dire wolf, and a lake monster.

  • Amazon Rank: #2,792,324
  • Published in 2012
  • 184 pages
  • $13.64



Fiery Flying Serpent

Searching for  Ropens and Finding God is a nonfiction about pterosaurs  with long tails, apparently real animals that live in our modern  world.

Nonfiction Books That Mention Non-Extinct Pterosaurs

Not all books that include a sighting of an apparent living pterosaur are in the cryptozoology genre. Let’s begin with a translation of an ancient writing by the Jewish historian Josephus . . .

Sense of Truth

This nonfiction paperback should be published before the beginning of summer, 2015, and one chapter is devoted to the concept of modern living pterosaurs.

Religion and Science in the New Ropen Book

How much religion and science are found in the nonfiction Searching for Ropens and Finding God? It depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s quantities of Biblical quotes or complex scientific concepts that prove the Bible is true, this nonfiction would compete poorly with at least two books available on Amazon. But for true-life adventures of Christian explorers who live their faith by getting actively involved, Searching for Ropens and Finding God may be a step above any other book in the religion/science-and-religion genre.


nonfiction spiritual/cryptozoology paperback by Whitcomb

Cryptozoology/true-life adventure/spiritual quest – Searching for Ropens and Finding God – fourth edition, by Jonathan David Whitcomb, with 360 pages, handles a number of issues regarding worldwide sightings, including questions about misidentification potential. Indeed this nonfiction paperback deserves being called “the Bible of Modern Pterosaurs.”

Subtitled “The quest for discovering modern pterosaurs (‘flying dinosaurs’)”

From the Acknowledgements near the beginning of the book:

What more could we ask of the U.S. Marine Eskin Kuhn and the little girl Patty Carson, two eyewitnesses of “pterodactyls” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the middle of the twentieth century? They carefully observed those flying creatures and later drew detailed sketches that defy any misidentification conjecture that any skeptic might throw at them.

Special thanks to Paul Nation, Garth Guessman, and David Woetzel for research, advice, and the use of photographs and other images. Clifford A. Paiva, of BSM Associates, California City, CA, assisted by Harold S. Slusher, University of Texas at El Paso, Physics Department, wrote “Results of Investigations Concerning Pterosaur Sightings in Papua New Guinea.” We also acknowledge a report by the late Scott Norman, who encounter with an apparent pterosaur encouraged us to continue searching for large bioluminescent flying creatures in North America.


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Bioluminescent Glow of the Flying Creature

I sometimes get a report of a large glowing creature, a shocking animal seen at night, even in the United States. The latest one was about two miles from Point Pleasant West Virginia, on the night of October 20, 2014. An eyewitness may search online for a similar sighting in the same general area where he/she witnessed the flying creature. This may result in disappointment, for reported sightings may be in other areas of the country but not near that person’s area. Please be aware of two factors:

  1. These large ropens (or other glowing flying creatures) can travel long distances
  2. They do not always glow and are not always noticed at night

Please also be aware that more than one species may be involved and that the ropen may be only one of two general types of modern pterosaur, both of which may have bioluminescent capabilities, at least in some species. Much scientific research needs to be done on this, even thought it now lives within cryptozoology, not yet acknowledged commonly by many scientists.

What one Book Reports About the Ropen Light

Two chapters of Searching for Ropens and Finding God cover this strange attribute of at least some ropens, this ability to glow with a bright light:

From page 41: How radical is the glow of a modern dragon or non-extinct pterosaur! Yet a fire-breathing dragon, to people in old times, was thought to be a real animal. Why should old stories all be completely fictional?

As I reviewed the videotaped interviews of natives on Umboi Island, early in 2004, my imagination was fired by a conviction: Old stories may contain truth. The fiction of Bilbo’s encounter with Smaug, the great dragon who burned up a town with his fiery breath, left an impression (like dieing embers) too dim to fire up my resolve to fly away to Papua New Guinea; but older ideas about dragons let in just enough light to spark my imagination: I believed native testimonies of a glowing creature flying over a remote tropical island.

Bioluminescence is more common than most Americans would imagine, as I would see for myself later that year. Could old stories of fiery dragons include some truth? Could that kind of glow have lead away our early ancestors into imaginative fiction: dragons burning down towns with fiery breath? . . .

From page 277: The sighting of a glowing “dragon” in England, around 1987, could be dismissed, for it was just a ten-year-old girl watching the stars, and that’s just one story. The two sightings of huge glowing flying creatures in the San Fernando Valley could be dismissed, for they were near Hollywood (the land of fictional creations), and that’s just two stories. The glowing creatures flying in the Caribbean could be dismissed, for they appear like nothing in any biology textbook, and that’s just two sightings. But scan the landscape of sighting reports and see what few other humans have seen for the past two centuries: Trees connected by underground roots, revealing the edge of a forest. How many eyewitnesses there must be who never contacted me about appearances of glowing flying creatures!


front cover of the fourth edition of this nonfiction book

Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition, by Whitcomb

This religious/spiritual cryptozoology book should be published in the fourth edition before the end of October, 2014. Please see the latest posts of this blog.

From the title page of this nonfiction book:

This overshadows common true-life adventures, revealing the early stages of what may become the most unsettling scientific discovery since Galileo and Copernicus. It soars above disputes about religion, revealing why an official discovery of an extraordinary animal was delayed for so long. Above all, this explores human experiences—of eyewitnesses and those who interviewed them. People have become connected by common encounters: Persons of various faiths, with various levels of education, from various countries and cultures, have seen a living pterosaur.



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Free Book on Modern Pterosaurs

On August 28, 2014, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Think of a friend who needs to be informed about sightings of modern pterosaurs. Perhaps think of yourself, too. The nonfiction digital book Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea is now available FOR FREE, no strings attached, to let the world know about these astonishing nocturnal flying creatures.

This short book says little about the Bible, so why is it promoted on The Bible and Modern Pterosaurs? Here is what it says:

Expeditions and Bible-Believers

Who could organize any expedition to search for living pterosaurs? Only an official discovery could awaken Western scientists so they could search for extant pterosaurs, but discovery normally comes after searching, not before. Looking back at this problem, from the time of Darwin until 1990 it appears to have been an almost hopeless atmosphere for a discovery. But a solution eventually appeared . . . from an unexpected source.

It was only a partial solution, to be sure: only cryptozoological. But in the 1990’s a few American Biblical creationists began intermittent light expeditions in Papua New Guinea, investigating reports of possible living pterosaurs. This led to more expeditions, from 2002 to 2007, by cryptozoologists who were better prepared and who had more success with interviews and observations.

But why Biblical creationists? For the moment, lay aside any judgment of any concept of earth-age; look only at the recent history of expeditions in Papua New Guinea. Who would be more likely to search for living pterosaurs, those who believed in a major extinction event 65 million years ago or those who believed in many pterosaurs living 6,000 years ago? How much easier to organize an expedition when the organizers are convinced of the recent existence of what is being sought!

Before considering what those Biblical creationists discovered, we need to go back into history a bit more. How deeply extinction ideas had been ingrained into Western culture!

The above does not directly relate to evidence that the Bible is true; these few paragraphs only briefly explain why Biblical creationists became involved. Yet the book as a whole does suggest that the world should listen to what these few American explorers, Christian men, discovered for themselves, even though their first discoveries were limited to within the realm of cryptozoology.

Consider the following excerpts.

Preface (second paragraph)

I believe in living pterosaurs and hope they will soon be officially discovered. More important, I believe in you, that you can soar above dogmatic assumptions about extinctions. I hope that you already understand that we are more than a by-product of culture: Our existence transcends the boundaries of the human cultural assumptions that have shaped our beliefs.

What is a Pterosaur (from the Introduction)

We must begin with the basics: What is a pterosaur? It’s not really a type of dinosaur, although it’s associated with them. The flying creature is called “pterodactyl” by many non-scientists; some Americans call those featherless fliers “dinosaur birds” or “prehistoric birds.”


Now consider excerpts from a much larger book, in print format.

Searching for Ropens and Finding God (third edition)

We live in a world in which modern Westerners, at least many respectable or respected ones, have believed all magical dragons to be only legendary and all pterosaurs to be extinct and even more ancient; also in this world, many natives, whom we had assumed more primitive or less gifted than us, have believed all dragons to be real and either magical or spiritually gifted. In some areas, they believe dragons to be both ancient and modern. What if all of us have been only partially correct? What if flying dragons are not so much ancient as modern, not so much magical as physically gifted, not so much legendary as real? [From Introduction]

The existence of life I credited to God, from childhood choosing to respect the Bible as nonfiction. When I was ten, my father, psychologist for the San Bernardino School District in California, showed me the largest collection of bird eggs in the Western United States, in the museum in our own little town of Bloomington. The variety of eggs and birds, all dead, fascinated me. Then I read the labels. Non-birds becoming birds discomforted me, for each type of life appeared to have a role in its own basic form. [first page of the first chapter]

Jim Blume, a missionary in Papua New Guinea for thirty years, had interviewed about seventy nationals (we call them “natives”) who had seen the creatures in many coastal areas, and the eyewitnesses gave similar descriptions. I obtained an audio recording of Blume himself being interviewed: astonishing details from Garth Guessman questioning him by telephone. Within a year, Garth would become an associate of mine and a treasured friend.

The wingspan is said to be twenty feet, on the mainland and on some islands, according to natives who spoke with Blume, but only three to four feet around Manus Island. They have “hands” about halfway up their bat-like wings and tails having flanges that are “almost eel-like.” The bill is somewhat like a pelican’s, and a comb-like structure on the head has been described like a rooster’s comb, “only stiffer.” Flying at night, it glows. [from second chapter]

Apparently, those estimating how much gasoline we would need to take were unaware of the significant difference between nine passengers and the usual three to five. I was ten pounds lighter than I was two weeks earlier, and my luggage was only half as heavy, for I left many things in Gomlongon (or ate them), but it was insufficient: The boat was still low in the water, which took more fuel.

We were only a few hundred meters from the shore of Umboi Island, so what was the problem? I thought we could get to land somehow and hike through the jungle up to the main trail that leads to Lab Lab. The natives knew better.

For one thing, this coast is a mangrove swamp. Should we abandon the boat, it would be a horrible trek to trudge through the muck, inching toward the main road—a poor option. Soon, we would be in the swamp but for a different reason. [from Chapter 14]


Live Pterosaurs in Australia E-Book

This digital book is now ready for you to easily download FREE, to promote worldwide public awareness of modern living pterosaurs. You are free to download and read the book, with no obligations, but consider telling a friend about this free book, at least one or two friends and relatives, so that others may know the wonderful truth about modern living pterosaurs.

Modern Pterosaurs and Suicide Prevention

Like many others, I was sad to learn of the passing of Robin Williams. Yet I suggest we each now focus on someone, among the billions of persons now living, who can benefit from something we can do or say positively. My own part may seem especially weak and indirect to some skeptics, perhaps, but I’ll be satisfied if only one person will benefit.

Evidence for Pterosaurs and Honesty

I’ll answer your last question first, but I feel it needs to be taken in context: There is no physical evidence for the universal extinction of all pterosaurs. In addition, there is no eyewitness evidence for their complete extinction. In other words, there is NO EVIDENCE, of any kind, that all species of pterosaurs became extinct.


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Modern Pterosaurs and Suicide Prevention

On August 12, 2014, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

The complexities of depression and human despair—those should not be taken lightly, nor shoved aside with a simplistic poem or cute phrase of advice. And the best response to suicide is not to grab onto an impulsive and severe judgment of those who have chosen to throw away their lives. With all the lonely suffering in this world, however, we can each find some way to bring something positive into the life of another person, however small our lone attempt may appear on the surface, in this big world of ours.

Like many others, I was sad to learn of the passing of Robin Williams. Yet I suggest we each now focus on someone, among the billions of persons now living, who can benefit from something we can do or say positively. My own part may seem especially weak and indirect to some skeptics, perhaps, but I’ll be satisfied if only one person will benefit.

Living pterosaurs—what a discovery! Not in a biology textbook do we now see them but in the words of eyewitnesses of different races, religions, and languages. How many millions of years ago were they all supposed to have gone extinct? Look to the future, not to an imaginary past, for those flying creatures can be seen by almost anyone, almost anywhere on this big wonderful planet that we share with them. With few exceptions, they live in the shadows of nocturnal flight, with only the reported sightings being rare, not the nightly sorties of featherless wonders. They fly overhead every night.

Consider now what is written about suicide, and also about hope, in the book Searching for Ropens and Finding God:

After reading this book, if one person finds a reason to live and abandons thoughts of suicide, what a reward for all of us involved! This is not a textbook for preventing suicide, yet I suggest each of us can find ways to bring meaning into the lives of persons around us, motivating all of us to keep living and learning. [second paragraph of the introduction]

I remember an earlier shock from suicide. My sister Cindy came home from junior high upset about what happened with the science teacher. I tried to imagine what tragedy could have lead to such despair. He had appeared full of life. . . .

I would not mention any of that here, except to emphasize what we all need. It was far more than adventure, the hope that my associates and I shared, a hope that carried us to a remote tropical island to search for a living creature that almost all scientists had set aside as if dead for millions of years. How dearly we all need the mother of that little hope: a sense of a worthy purpose to live!

What did I hope to accomplish? What was that little hope that I shared with a few other Americans who were about to explore a remote tropical island? How dearly we need good news! The discovery of a living pterosaur—wonderful news to a zoologist—could spark somebody to abandon despair and grasp the hand of hope, to be sure. How worthy a purpose, even if only one human life is saved!

If anyone might be lifted out of some degree of depression, even if only with a little lifting, I would be willing to send that person a free copy of my book, as long as I have the ability to do so (my finances have been stretched, with very few sales of late). Please contact me.


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