A critic of living-pterosaur investigations has recently published a blog post suggesting jumping ray fish may cause people to think that they have seen something very different. One of the problems with that suggestion is this: No example is given that meets the conditions related to a Manta ray fish jumping out of the water.
The blogger (who will not be named here) had come up with a similar misidentification conjecture some months earlier, suggesting that sightings of pterosaurs in Africa may come from stingrays jumping out of the water. But let’s consider details in the sightings themselves, rather than imagine sightings, as this blogger seems to have done.
Sudan, Africa, Sighting
A native boy was carrying a tray of food one night, as he walked outdoors between two huts. He was surprised to see a strange animal sitting on the roof of his uncle’s hut. The creature unfurled its wings and flew over the boy, causing him to drop the tray of food in shock.
That was no Manta ray or stingray fish that had been sitting on the roof of a hut. This is no imagined sighting, for the eyewitness, after he had grown up and gained access to a computer, reported the sighting to me by email.
Sightings in North America
One critical point that the vast majority of North America sighting share is this: an apparent pterosaur is flying over land. Manta ray fish rarely fly over land. In addition, some of the sightings last for quite a few seconds, with no indication that the pterosaur is falling or even descending.
If even just one sighting were a possible misidentification of a Manta ray fish, we could consider it. But the critic who wrote that blog post did not seem to have any such sighting in mind, at least not any sighting that had enough detail to analyze reasonably. The one exception was a sighting in the Philippines, in which an eyewitness saw two apparent pterosaurs. But the blogger failed to realize that the sighting was in a city, not over the sea. The blogger was, apparently, just imagining sighting details, not analyzing details in reports.
. . . nobody is suggesting that those fish can fly miles from the sea, over jungle canopy.
Most reports of sighting of flying pterosaurs are far from the sea. That alone repudiates the jumping Manta ray speculation.