The Old Pteranodon Photograph

On March 27, 2017, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Let’s consider the kinds of comments made by skeptics of the photograph we now call “Ptp,” with answers taken from the upcoming cryptozoology book Modern Pterosaurs.

Criticism: It’s obviously a fake, probably made with Photoshop.

Answer from page 100, from Tom Payne, who remembers the Ptp photo from a book he saw in the 1970’s:

I have a degree in Computer Science. I can tell you that technology [Photoshop] wasn’t available to modify a photo like this before about 1980.

Criticism: The soldier on the far left has missing fingers, showing evidence of a Photoshop hoax.

Answer from page 80 (caption under Figure-11):

The apparently missing fingers and thumb of this soldier can be explained without any reference to a hoax using Photoshop. In fact, such digital image manipulation makes no sense, if the purpose had been to make an image that looked like men standing near a recently killed pterosaur.

Answer from page 81:

But how could digital manipulation cause those fingers to disappear? How else except in pasting a rifle-image onto an image of a soldier holding his arm to one side? . . . Why would any hoaxer search for some old Civil War photo that might have a soldier holding out his arm as if holding a rifle but without the rifle? Why would any American Civil War soldier stand for a photograph while holding out his arm as if holding onto his rifle but without the rifle? How could any soldier in military history be so foolish as to hold out his arm, as if holding his rifle, when he had forgotten to bring the rifle for the photograph?

Criticism: This photo is a hoax, made for a television show.

Answer from page 73:

. . . we need to be clear about another photograph. A hoax was created, around the year 2000, apparently made in imitation of what we now call Ptp. Beware of falling into the trap that others have: confusing the two.


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

The photograph called “Ptp” (not to be confused with a recent photo made for a TV show)



What may appear, on the surface, to be damning evidence that Ptp is a hoax is, in reality, easily answered. Not only does the apparent evidence for a fraud fall apart, under close examination, but we actually have direct and indirect evidence that this old photograph, with apparent Civil War soldiers, actually comes from that period of history, and those men are probably actual American soldiers.



Book About the Pteranodon Photograph

Glen Kuban, a critic of living-pterosaur investigators for years, made a mistake regarding Ptp in his long online publication “Living Pterodactyls.” (He also made many other errors in that page, so it will not here be linked to.) [He confused two different photos.]


Is “Modern Pterosaurs” a Creationist Book?

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


American Civil War Pteranodon photograph

This is not about the hoax-photograph, with Civil War reenactors, done for the Freakylinks TV series that was on the Fox Network from 2000-2001. . . . The photograph we’re examining here is called “Ptp” and has been around much longer. It was surely used, by the producers of Freakylinks, as a model for their crude imitation.


Modern-Pterosaur photograph

The ultimate shocking nonfiction [book]: Scientific validation for the old photograph that was neglected for decades. This has now been declared to have a genuine photographic image of an extant pterosaur, with layers of evidence for authenticity.


Photo of a modern pterosaur

A skeptic may assume, consciously or not, that he or she is objective while ridiculing me, but I am the expert here. Along with all the skeptics, I am human. Yet I have spent over 10,000 hours, in the course of over thirteen years, investigating this controversial subject, with eyewitness reports coming to me from five continents, mostly in emails but with some significant phone conversations and face-to-face interviews.


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Religious “Bias” and the Ropen

On April 22, 2016, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

A few years ago, I was the guest on a radio or podcast talk show of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. The two hosts were polite and appeared to be fair, even though my declarations about modern pterosaurs surely would have had few believers among the listeners of the broadcast. Ropens would not likely be given much belief from those who would listen to such a radio or podcast broadcast.

One point I remember clearly. 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.

Is it reasonable to assume that someone coming up with a revolutionary idea, not yet proven, must be thinking unclearly? Must a person with a strange-sounding new idea be wrong? Of course not.

Bias Against Albert Einstein

Remember the plight of Albert Einstein soon after the end of World War II. How might we have reacted, if we were citizens of England at that time? Many of our friends and family members could have been dead from the bullets and bombs and poisonous gas from German soldiers. Now some obscure German Jew is telling the world that the great English scientist Isaac Newton was wrong about how the universe behaves? How could Einstein have responded to that bias?

Are Eyewitnesses Biased?

Those who have seen featherless flying creatures that were obviously not bats—those persons live in various countries, come from various backgrounds, believe in various religious or irreligious ideologies, and have grown up in various cultures and family backgrounds. I dare any skeptic to proclaim that all of those eyewitnesses are plagued by bias related to Christian young-earth creation ideas. I have interviewed persons from five continents, and their answers sometimes reveal the obvious: Most of the eyewitnesses did not have any special attraction toward young-earth-creation ideology, when they saw a flying creature that looked like a “dinosaur bird” or “pterodactyl” or “flying dinosaur.”

Yet the descriptions are strikingly similar:

  1. Long tails on the flying creatures (41%=yes and only 2%=no)
  2. Lack of feathers (21%=positive on featherlessness and 25%=probably no feathers)
  3. Tail flange suggesting a Rhamphorhynchoid (28.5% reported a tail flange)
  4. Long neck (shooting down the Frigate bird conjecture)
  5. Head crest (24%=head crest seen and only 3.5%=not seen)
  6. Many sightings are of flying creatures larger than birds

By the way, the great majority of apparent pterosaurs are not the ones commonly portrayed in science fiction movies and television programs. They are not short tailed Pteranodons but long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoids, what my associates and I call ropens.



YouTube Video Introduces Viewers to the Ropen

This video begins with images of farm animals, and the sound is a combination of those farm animals and an orchestration of the old piano piece by Robert Schumman: “The Happy Farmer.”

Are Religious People More Biased?

How often have I encountered the objections of critics who would dismiss the work of creationist living-pterosaur investigators because of assumed bias! The critics assume that belief in the Bible causes bias. Why not look more carefully?

Ropen on Creation Wiki

An old online page on the modern long-tailed pterosaur:

According to the recent investigators David Woetzel, Garth Guessman, and Jonathan Whitcomb, over 90% of the sightings of the ropen on Umboi Island are of the “ropen light.” Whitcomb’s book (Searching for Ropens) suggests that most of these sightings are of one giant creature that sleeps in the island interior during the day; at night it feeds on reefs (at least on the northern and southern coasts where the three investigators explored). The two expeditions of 2004 independently interviewed eyewitnesses who reported that the bright glow of the ropen lasts for about five to six seconds.

Ropen of Umboi Island

This island appears ideal for the species and large  ropens may claim the interior mountains of some  similar islands. The nocturnal creatures may do better when they can sleep in daylight in secure nesting areas on mountains close to the reefs of the coastlines.

Eyewitnesses of the Ropen

Reasons to believe eyewitnesses who claim  to have seen a giant ropen and describe it in terms suggesting a pterosaur


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Flying Creature Identification

On November 28, 2012, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, Uncategorized, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I’ve been writing about modern-pterosaur sightings, regarding misidentification potential, for years, with new critics bringing up old objections. Let’s now consider the words of a skeptic who calls himself “Mullerornis.”

“Most pterosaur sightings turned out to be ducks or bats.

“Indeed, many reports fail spectacularly at pterosaur biology. Pterosaurs didn’t had bat-like leathery wings, for starters.”


I have over a hundred sighting reports compiled in a data base that includes many details (wingspan estimate, surety of featherlessness, location of sighting, time of day, presence or absence of tail, etc); it is still expanding, now with year-2012 reports being entered. Let’s consider the skeptic’s remark about ducks, using the data base, since he gives no examples of any particular sightings.

How many sighting reports were kept out of the data base because they “turned out” to have been misidentified ducks? I believe that number is “zero.” How many entries in the data base “turned out” later to have been misidentified ducks? I believe that number is also “zero.” How many reported sightings does this skeptic give to us, that is . . . specific sightings? Zero. The value of his speculation about ducks that look like pterosaurs? You be the judge.

But I found this critic’s addition of “ducks” to the misidentification possibilities interesting. I did communicate, earlier this year, with a man who had a skull of something that appeared to have teeth (he wondered if it might be the remains of a pterosaur). I eventually concluded it was probably the skull of a duck, after careful investigation and many emails between me and the owner of the skull (the photo reminded me of the pseudo-teeth of some ducks). But there was no sighting associated with that skull. In addition, little (if anything) was written about it in cryptozoology blogs. So why did the critic mention “duck?” It must have been something else.

I remembered the nineteenth century newspaper account of a tunnel out of which a strange winged creature was said to have escaped from stone—the French word for “duck” was included in that newspaper article—but that’s irrelevant, for the story was surely a hoax.

I then remembered a sighting in the United States, in which the flying creature dived down to a pond and caught a duck (or other water fowl) in its mouth before flying off with it. But the flying creature that preyed upon that bird was not itself duck-like, so that sighting is also irrelevant. What are we left with, other than the word of a person who calls himself “Mullerornis,” who insinuates that he might know something about some undisclosed sightings in which ducks looked like pterosaurs?


How outdated that generalization! Even the Monsterquest television episode “Flying Monsters” (2009) was caught in that intellectual trap, as the producers attempted to pin “bat” on flying-creature sightings that serious investigators know could not have been from any bats. They included the account of the “pterodactyl” seen by the American World War II soldier Duane Hodgkinson; but they failed to disclose his estimate of the length of the tail on that flying creature: “at least” ten or fifteen feet long. [sighting in Papua New Guinea]

“Mullerornis” gives us no particular sighting report, not even a hint of anything specific. His credibility fails to impress me enough to continue writing about the “bat” misidentification speculation. Read any of my three nonfiction books on modern pterosaurs.

Did Pterosaurs Have Bat-Like Leathery Wings?

The skeptic seems to have made the same mistake that I encountered from a paleontologist with whom I was communicating. Beware of the paleontologist who steps outside his field of expertise to speculate about eyewitness accounts. Let’s look into this.

Most flying creatures larger than butterflies we call “birds.” When an eyewitness of an apparent living pterosaur describes it, the word “bat” sometimes comes out. Closer examination, if the skeptic “Mullerornis” had looked closer, reveals why an eyewitness would say “bat-like.” The flying creature appeared to have no feathers. That’s it.

In general, when an eyewitness says something like “bat-like,” details in the description make it obvious that the creature was no bat. But the person viewing the apparent pterosaur did not notice details in the bones in the wings and use the word “bat” because of the fanning out of bat “fingers” in the wings. With few, if any, exceptions, the point is this: lack of feathers. We usually associate that with bats, when the subject is flying creatures (larger than butterflies) living today, so large featherless flyers remind us of bats.

When the word “leather” is used by an eyewitness, we need to remember what happened. The person did not examine a flying creature in a laboratory, like a paleontologist would do with a fossil. It was an observation at a distance, for most sightings involved being more than twenty feet away (on occasion, closer). The combination of lack of feathers and a general color similar to leather could easily cause an eyewitness to say “leathery.” The precise nature of pterosaur skin is irrelevant.

It’s that simple. The proclamations of this critic have no foundation.


Flying Creature

So who do you call? I hope you’ll contact me, Jonathan Whitcomb. As far as I know, I am the only person on earth who has devoted anything like a full-time effort, over years, to interview eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs and promote the concept that these flying creatures are not extinct . . .

Pterosaur Flying Creatures

. . . to document, then analyze, eyewitness accounts of living pterosaurs or pterosaur-like creatures and to support expeditions and investigations . . .

Pterodactyl Hoax

The French railway-tunnel pterodactyl of 1856 is finally getting its obituary, albeit The Illustrated London News has no such obituary. [The report appears to have been a hoax.]

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Blind Spots

On March 9, 2012, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Have you noticed your two blind spots while driving? Unless you ride a motorcycle or drive a car with no windshield or constantly rock your head forward and back, those blind spots (side-supports for the windshield) follow you everywhere. I’m usually careful pulling forward from a stop sign at a particular intersection near my house, for a car is almost always parked on my right. The other day, I pulled forward, fortunately with usual care, and noticed a car, slowly coming from my right, almost obscured by my right blind spot. The other driver acknowledged my second stop and passed safely in front of me. We were never close to having a collision, but it brought those blind spots into my view.

The point? Professors who teach the universal extinction of all species of pterosaurs—those professors never ride motorcycles . . . something like that. But everybody has blind spots, of course, not just paleontologists; the danger is in living as if we had none.

Over the past eight years, I have encountered critics who assume that my associates and I have a serious bias: a religious blind spot caused by our need to support our beliefs through the idea that pterosaurs are modern rather than extinct. Those critics fail to realize that Garth Guessman, David Woetzel, Paul Nation, and I have differences in religious beliefs: Aside from being Bible-believing Christians, we probably have at least somewhat different interpretations of some parts of Genesis.

But those critics are seriously mistaken about our need for living pterosaurs. We would have been quite happy in our faith in Jesus Christ even were all species of pterosaurs to be extinct. Humans are known to be the major cause of extinctions in recent centuries and humans were probably the cause for many extinctions in the more distant past. Turning over the coin, a serious bias is not restricted to those holding a less-popular opinion. What about those critics?

Over the past eight years, I have interviewed eyewitnesses from various countries, of various religious beliefs, with various educational backgrounds, under various cultural influences. As far as I know, I have communicated with more apparent-pterosaur eyewitnesses than any other cryptozoologist in the world. What do the eyewitnesses have in common? Each one has seen a winged creature whose description suggests a living pterosaur more than it suggests any bird or bat. Human experience deserves our attention, even if that common experience from around the world contradicts an assumption popular with one or more of the world’s cultures. Critics appear to have failed to read far enough to notice that critical detail.

Western culture has a blind spot (at least one) that blocks communication with eyewitnesses of pterosaurs. We need to listen to eyewitnesses, and we need to move our head forward a few inches to see past the blind spot . . . something like that.

In the introduction to the third edition of my book Live Pterosaurs in America, I wrote:

. . . please consider the feelings of those who have revealed to us their encounters with what seem to be live pterosaurs, for some of them have suffered more than discomfort. I intend to comfort those innocent victims who have been ridiculed or ostracized because of a cultural weakness, for each has seen something unaccepted by their society.

On page 95 I wrote:

Now compare those reactions to those of natives in Papua New Guinea. My experience interviewing natives and reviewing interviews done by other explorers—that suggests it’s easier to catch a giant ropen in a fishing net than to find a native eyewitness who disbelieves personal experience because of what American professors assume. Eyewitnesses in a culture that dogmatically teaches pterosaur extinction—they sometimes have problems dealing with an experience that they feel should not have been experienced; native eyewitnesses in New Guinea have no problem.

On page 96 I wrote:

What has a beak and a long tail, and flies with no feathers? . . . Some would reply, “Living or extinct?” But why not just answer that question? Of course it is a Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed) pterosaur, called by many non-scientists “pterodactyl,” a layman’s term for any reptilian-like “prehistoric” featherless flying creature. The point? What’s wrong with simply accepting an eyewitness report of a long-tailed featherless flying creature? Why believe that all pterosaur species must be extinct? Without the idea of universal Rhamphorhynchoid extinction, we conclude that the eyewitness saw a pterosaur. Non-extinction, as an alternative, now appears.

Pterodactyl Expert

I’m responding to a forum thread that attacks not any particular sighting report or analysis of any sighting: It attacks me. I will not attack the critics in retaliation but feel it better to answer a few of their comments.

non-fiction book cover - Live Pterosaurs in America - third edition - with sketches

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Pterodactyl Expert

On February 22, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I’m responding to a forum thread that attacks not any particular sighting report or analysis of any sighting: It attacks me. I will not attack the critics in retaliation but feel it better to answer a few of their comments. The original forum thread title was “Jonathan Whitcomb: Pterodactyl Expert.” (I did not participate on that forum discussion.)

#1 From “ape man”

Do you know what Johnathon Whitcomb’s solitary expert qualifications are? The expert qualifications listed in his book and on every creationist website? Here you go:

Jonathan D. Whitcomb, certified court videographer

#1 Reply

My lack of qualifications in paleontology is irrelevant in cryptozoology. I do not examine fossils of pterodactyls, I examine eyewitness testimony. Many other interviewers (police officers, FBI agents, military specialists) may be better qualified to interview eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs, but none of them seem to have become involved in this special field of cryptozoology. One qualification I have acquired is the ability to get in touch with the eyewitnesses and to communicate with them in a way that they do not feel threatened. I doubt if my critics, those who accuse me of lies, would make those eyewitnesses feel as comfortable.

#2 from “ape man”

“His invented monster is different than any known pterosaur”

#2 Reply

What “invented monster” is “ape man” referring to? My overall conclusion, after more than eight years of research, is that there are a number of species of pterosaurs living in various parts of the world, with various differences in appearance. What do the important sightings have in common? Descriptions of the flying creatures (often called “pterodactyls”) suggest a modern pterosaur far more than they suggest any misidentification or hallucination or hoax.

Religion is the Issue

The critics who attack me are upset because of my writings on the Biblical relationship with modern pterosaurs. Just a quote or two will make this clear:

“He is really nothing more than a flag bearing creationist leading a charge against evolution on the back of a flying reptile. His quest makes Don Quixote look like a paradigm of sanity.”

This strikes me as interesting (I have no bruises from those remarks), for over 90% of my writings (up to early 2012, at least) make no mention of the religious aspects of the existence of modern living pterosaurs. For those eyewitness accounts that I have found more credible, I write more often. On occasion I write about misidentifications, for example, what sightings are very likely Frigate Birds. I invite those who want to know the truth to read my books and blog posts and peer-reviewed scientific paper (“Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific”), before assuming that I must be afflicted with the worst possible case of insanity.

Pterodactyl Expert” on Modern Pterosaur

. . . Whitcomb is nothing like a paleontologist. He probably could not tell the species of a fossil of one if he dug it up himself. He is a cryptozoologist who interviews eyewitnesses of what many call “pterodactyls,” which is simply the name many non-paleontologists use for “pterosaur.” He searches for the eyewitnesses who think that they have seen modern pterosaurs, and he tries to figure out if they misidentified a bird or a bat or if they saw what they think that they did.

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Modern-Pterosaur Critics

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

Before quoting critics of modern-pterosaur investigations, I would like to characterize some of those criticisms, acknowledging that this is just my own general characterization, and that it does not apply to all critics. (Below, I’ve taken liberties with an old scriptural text.)

Say the critics: “A modern pterosaur!? A living pterosaur!? We’ve got extinction; we’ve got fossils, and there cannot be any more pterosaur.” But those who believe in the Bible say, “How foolish! They shall have their fossils, and many fossils came from discoverers, old encounters that scientists had with fossils. Are critics thankful to those who make discoveries? What do the critics mean? Do they remember the work of old scientists, and their diligence in bringing those fossils to us?”

“Oh critics, have you remembered the old scientists, Newton and Galileo? No. You have condemned the religious beliefs they had and hated their Bible. But those who believe in the Bible have not forgotten the old scientists.”

“How foolish to say, ‘we have got fossils, and we need no live pterosaurs.’ Have you obtained pterosaur fossils except from those who make observations? Don’t you know that paleontologists are not the only ones who make observations?

Indeed, eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs deserve our attention. Along with that, sightings of such flying creatures are not trumped by dogmatic assertions of professors, for no human has witnessed any extinction of any species of pterosaur, let alone all species.

The paleontologist Darren Naish has said, “Fossil evidence demonstrates overwhelmingly that pterosaurs did not survive beyond the end of the Cretaceous.” He fails to realize that no group of fossils can overwhelmingly demonstrate the extinction of any species in any time frame, let alone all species of a general type. That is not what fossils can prove, even if paleontologists were able to recover all fossils that were ever formed. But we have only a small sampling of fossils, and they represent only a tiny fraction of the organisms that have lived on this earth. All the fossils in all the museums and universities in the world cannot prove even the extinction of one species, even if the dating methods were always objective, (they are not).

Naish has also said, “sightings of pterosaur-like animals that have been reported appear to be a combination of hoaxes and misidentification of large birds and bats.” But why does he seem to always avoid those critical sighting reports that clearly demonstrate the existence of modern living pterosaurs, the sightings by Brian Hennessy and Duane Hodgkinson, for example? Why does he say nothing about the two expedition of 2004 (to Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea), the Whitcomb expedition and the Woetzel expedition? They involved many professionally conducted interviews with many eyewitnesses.

Does Naish expect everybody to believe that the flying creature seen by Hodgkinson was a fruit bat (mainland of New Guinea, 1944)? The American World War II veteran estimated the tail to be “at least” ten to fifteen feet long. Does Naish believe that it was actually a flying fox bat with a tail one inch long?

A red flag jumps up at me when I see generalizations that involve a number of explanations. Naish mentions three explanations ( hoax, bird-misidentification, bat-misidentification), but gives not even one detail about even one published sighting report. If there were any real problem with any sighting report that I have published in a book (two books I have written: Searching for Ropens; Live Pterosaurs in America), why has Naish failed to mention even one of those reports?

If I may modify Isaiah 8:20:

To the law of fair reasoning and to the testimony of eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

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