Modern pterosaurs, those featherless flying creatures reported around the world, cannot easily be dismissed when the more credible sighting reports are examined. Indeed, the misidentification conjecture falls flat under closer examination.
Pterosaur Eyewitness in Florida
From the upcoming nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, a sighting by a professor in Florida will include:
“Today, I was blessed with a sight that will never be forgotten. It was 11:45 a.m. . . . solid grey dim overcast- about 60 degrees out—Wednesday November 14 2012—Crestview, Florida.
“. . . a huge Rhamphorhynchus-like flying entity . . . was flying west to northeast close enough it could’ve been shot down. I . . . ran to the door . . . wingspan of 8-12 feet and a tail as long as its torso with a large bulb or lump at the tail very diamond shaped, no feathers and all colored the same whitish-grey color with a pointed beak.
“After that I’ve been looking up every kind of flying anything, to see if there might be any explanation… So far the other world sightings allow me to know what was seen actually was … well, what was actually seen. Thank you for your time.” [from Professor Steven Watters]
. . .
Q: Did it have a neck? (if so, was it short, medium-length, or long?)
A: The neck was not very long, so between short to medium length . . .
. . .
I then said, “Some skeptics mention the possibility of misidentification regarding the oceanic Frigate bird. I have no doubt that you saw a ropen, but could you look on this web page . . . tell me how the photos compare with what you saw on Wednesday? I would very much appreciate it. . . .”
He replied, “What I saw has no comparison to those pictures or any others during my own personal research. I appreciate your thorough and just approach.
“Sincerely my sighting’s appearance was featherless, mid-length neck (especially if the frigate bird is what was meant by short neck; to me the frigate bird has no neck- just to clear that up from the previous question) and the color/hue of it was entirely greyish white with a true substantial large beak unlike the narrow miniscule frigate’s. . . .“
Skeptics and Modern Pterosaurs
How often have skeptics mentioned questionable reports from earlier centuries and then speculated about modern reports! In February of 2014, Sharon Hill wrote a post for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, mentioning a report from 1873. She also mentioned a sighting by Ivan T. Sanderson, and again assumed it was an encounter with a fruit bat.
Hill uses the Frigate bird as an explanation for ropen sightings in Papua New Guinea, yet fails to mention even one of the critical sightings that have caused Americans to explore the jungles of the southwest Pacific, searching for living pterosaurs:
- 1944 Hodgkinson “pterodactyl” near Finschhafen
- 1971 Hennessy sighting on Bougainville Island
- 1994 Lake Pung sighting on Umboi Island
I suggest avoiding vague speculations on generalizations about misidentified birds or bats. Look at the critical sighting reports and notice that those flying creatures could not have been any known bird or bat. The details in those descriptions strongly suggest some species of modern pterosaur.
In the first sighting, three creatures were seen to have long tails with a structure at the tail end; no head crest was visible, probably because of a poor viewing angle for such. In the second sighting, one creature was seen with a head crest; no tail was noticed, probably because the eyewitness was concentrating on the head.