Credibility of a Pterodactyl Sighting

By Jonathan David Whitcomb

Let’s examine an individual sighting report and its credibility: an account of an apparent living pterosaur in Spain. (I’ve already written much about the overall honesty-credibility of the reports, so we’ll here concentrate on this individual account.) This brief examination is for identity credibility, to assess how likely this was an encounter with a pterosaur. In other words, was it a ropen or was it a bird or a bat?

The following comes from the fourth edition of my nonfiction paperback book Searching for Ropens and Finding God:

Now let’s travel with an Englishman to a music concert in Spain. I received the email in April of 2008. The sighting was in mid-2007: “I hope you are the Jonathan Whitcomb who has been investigating pterodactyl like animals in Papua New Guinea? I’m not sure who to tell this to, as it’s a bit strange, but I was researching ‘modern pterodactyls’ on the internet, following something I saw a bit closer to home in Spain, and your name cropped up quite a lot, so thought you might be interested in what I saw . . .

“Firstly, I assure you I am NOT LYING—I’ve got literally no interest in making something like this up. Apart from the two people with me at the time, I haven’t mentioned this to anyone (bar yourself now), simply because I realise it sounds odd, and can’t be bothered to have to defend myself on this. However, I firmly believe that anyone seeing something generally considered unbelievable should mention it to people who are actively researching the field . . .

“. . . last summer, some friends and I drove from England (where I live) to [Benicassim] (in East Spain—near [Desert de les Palmes] I think) for a music festival. One night, whilst sitting on the ground by the tents . . . I saw what I at first assumed was an owl gliding over the campsite (I assumed that because it was night time, and obviously no other birds would be out—bar things like nightjars which this was not!) – it passed right over us, probably about 30-40 ft high, and as I watched it, I realised it was definitely no owl I’d ever seen before.

“. . . looked like the same sort of texture as suede (i.e. no feathers), had a long thin tail, and didn’t flap once. I only saw it for a few seconds (as the campsite was lit up, illuminating it from beneath), but it fairly quickly passed into the dark, out of the reach of the light. It wasn’t as big as the ones you describe from Papua New Guinea, but was 100% not a bird.

“I entertained the notion it could have been a fruit bat (despite there being none in the Spanish ecosystem it would seem), but I haven’t been able to find any species of fruit bat ANYWHERE that has a long, straight tail, and I’m sure I’d recognise a fruit bat if I saw one.

“The animal didn’t have a crest or anything as far as I can tell, though it flew directly over us, so if it did have a crest, it may have been obscured by the head and underside of it—like I said, it was suede/sand/skin sort of colour, wingspan I’d estimate to be only 2-3 feet tip to tip, and was gliding for the whole time I saw it.

“The impression I got was a lot more bat-like than bird, except it had a beak—and I realise that owls have flat faces, and bats obviously don’t have beaks.

“The tail must have been close to a foot I guess, but tapered to a point, and I didn’t see a flare at the end as per actual pterodactyls—but I wasn’t expecting to see this animal, so didn’t have time to study every aspect of it (wish I had!).”

Could it Have Been an Owl?

Consider the following points about this sighting:

  • “It had a long thin tail”
  • It had a beak and was unlike the flat face of an owl

One of the above two points might be the result of a sighting error but not likely both of them. An owl-interpretation is eliminated as a likely possibility.

Was it a Bird Other Than an Owl?

Not many bird candidates jump out of us that appear to have no feathers, glide (with no wing flapping) at night, and have long thin tails.

Could it Have Been a Bat?

The above two points also make it very unlikely to have been an encounter with a large bat. In addition, the eyewitness reported that he would have recognized that it was a fruit bat if that is what was seen, but differed too greatly from that kind of bat.

Conclusion

It was more likely a ropen than anything else: The eyewitness probably saw a small ropen in Spain on that night near Desert de les Palmes, in the summer of 2007.

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Pterodactyl Sightings in the United States

Pterosaur seen: Utah, Virginia, Mississippi, Maryland

Book Searching for Ropens and Finding God

Not every flying creature in Searching for Ropens and Finding God appears to be the same species. Most of the sighting reports suggest a Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed) pterosaur . . .

Ropen Sightings in Papua New Guinea

Peter Beach and Milt Marcy, both of the Portland area of Oregon, led an expedition in Papua New Guinea, in March and April of 2015, searching for a living pterosaur that previous American explorers had failed to see clearly. This time Americans did see, in daylight, the form and features of an apparent pterosaur.

Apparent Ropen-Pterosaur in Canada

A family saw an apparent pterosaur flying over the city of Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) recently, and the flying creature appeared to have been a ropen.

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Ropen Observed in Alberta, Canada

A family saw an apparent pterosaur flying over the city of Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) recently, and the flying creature appeared to have been a ropen. According to the mother of the children (who were with her in their backyard):

I looked up to see a creature just slowly flying over the strip mall directly behind my house. I was so stunned . . . [It was] flapping pretty slowly . . . very short feet . . . I was so focused on its tail! Long and skinny with a spade shape on the end!!!

Visibility was good, and it was only flying a bit higher than the power lines so 2-3 stores in the air. It was around 8 p.m. so plenty of light . . . It was in a very populated area. It flew right over a McDonalds that is a few houses down from me.

I can’t have been the only person to have seen it. I know what I saw and am very certain it was no bird. I searched online after my sighting and this ropen and living pterosaur must be what I saw.

The nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition, reports the following eyewitness account from Canada:

On a November morning [probably in 2004] in Brampton, Ontario, he [Kevin Meixner] and his mother saw a “strange bird-like creature” fly about twenty feet from their car. The apparent “pterodactyl” had a wingspan of about four feet and a gray color, appearing featherless.

. . . he says that the flying creature they saw “had a long skinny pointed tail extended straight behind it that had sort of a diamond shape at the tip.”

South of Canada, in the Lower Forty-Eight

Many more eyewitness reports come from the Continental United States than from Canada. The following is from the third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America:

In July of 2008, I received a phone call from a man who reported a very large flying creature, seen one year earlier, in Orange County, less than one mile north of the University of California at Irvine. He described the dark gray or black animal as 30 feet long, with 15-16 feet of that being a tail. He saw the creature fly “at low altitude,” in front of his car, over the road (Campus Drive), into the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, in daylight.

He noticed that during the creature’s flight the tail was straight, as if it was “stretched out to be measured.” A flange, close to the end of the tail, he described as “triangle-shaped.” . . . The wings had “wrinkles” on the underside, showing absence of feathers.

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Giant Ropen

A lady describes how the glowing ropen flew over Lab Lab Village (Umboi Island, PNG), one night. (Interview by Carl Baugh, about 1994)

Three Ropen Eyewitnesses on Umboi Island

Last week’s “Flying Monsters” episode of MonsterQuest had major problems. For one thing, the producers included almost no detail on the eyewitness sightings.

Women may be Attacked in British Columbia, Canada

I recently got some news from Gerald McIsaac, my associate who has been searching for modern pterosaurs in northern British Columbia, Canada, for many years and gathering eyewitness reports.

Ropen Flying Creature

What is a ropen? It’s no longer considered confined to Papua New Guinea or Australia or even the southwest Pacific. Those cryptozoologists who specialize in this cryptid believe it lives, in one or more species, in many areas of the world, including North America.

Ropen Expedition in Papua New Guinea

My interpreter Luke Paina and I were there to  videotape or photograph a ropen. Discovering a living pterosaur proved more difficult than I had hoped . . .

Disappearances of Two-Year-Olds

1. Why do so many of these disappearances involve two-year-olds?
2. Why are persons or their bodies found so many miles away?
3. Why do tracking dogs have so much trouble tracking?
4. Why is a small child sometimes found in a cave?
5. Why is a shoe or some clothing separated from a person?

Ropen With Rhamphorhynchoid Characteristics

. . . it has a long tail and is featherless, appearing to be a descendent of pterosaurs  related to those known from fossils of those flying creatures.

The Fiery Flying Serpent or the Ropen

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

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Dinosaurs Dated by Carbon-14 Testing

How do modern non-bat featherless flying creatures relate to dating dinosaur bones? Both pterosaurs and dinosaurs were supposed to have become extinct many millions of years ago, at least according to popular models in Western cultures. Recent sightings of living pterosaurs fit with the concept that dinosaurs also lived much more recently.

How do we know that dinosaurs lived much more recently than many millions of years ago? It’s in carbon dating, testing which shows that a number of species lived only tens of thousands of years ago, yes dinosaur species.

Censorship Against a Valid Scientific Discovery

From August 13-17 of 2012, the Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting was held in Singapore. It was a conference of the American Geophysical Union and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society and included a lecture given by the Paleochronology researchers. Nobody seems to have raised any negative comment at the lecture, but later their abstract of the presentation was removed from the official web site. It was deleted without explanation.

Lecture number five deleted from web site

Notice the absence of abstract number five, the lecture about carbon-14 dating of dinosaur fossils that were excavated in North America. Two chairpersons decided to censor that abstract by cutting out the whole thing. As of February 25, 2015, that censored page still shows the order of abstracts as 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 . . .

Of course censorship need not always be unjust or unethical. But look at some details about this particular deletion:

  • No advance warning was given to the Paleochronology group
  • No particular research mistake was pointed out by the chairpersons
  • No explanation for deletion was given except as follows:

“The interpretation which you present in your abstract is that the age of various dinosaurs, previously interpreted as being Mesozoic in age, are less than ~50,000 years. Your report that these ages were calculated using C-14 methods. There is obviously an error in these data. The abstract was apparently not reviewed properly and was accepted in error. For this reason we have exercised our authority as program chairs and rescinded the abstract. The abstract will no longer appear on the AOGS web site.” [letter from two chairpersons (Minhan Dai and Peter Swart), in reply to Paleochronology’s inquiry about the deletion of their abstract]

In reply to “There is obviously an error. . .,” the only obvious error I see is the English error in the previous sentence, written by those two chairpersons. From the online research I have done, I see no further explanation from Minhan Dai or Peter Swart. Unless and until those two men come forward with some detail of some kind of reasonable explanation, their act of censorship must be viewed with suspicion. It resembles the censorship of Galileo’s writings that supported the concept that the earth is not the center of the universe.

Let’s now examine a criticism of the carbon-14 dating of dinosaur remains:

“Is it a problem with radiometric dating that carbon 14 is found in materials dated to millions of years old?”

This article, on a physics web site, has errors of fact and apparently one or more careless statements. The following are point-by-point responses:

Critic:

“The preferred method of dating dinosaur fossils is with the radiometric dating method . . . [dinosaurs thus being dated] to around 68 million years old.”

Whitcomb responses:

The statement that dinosaur fossils are “around 68 million years old” is an error of fact. Many of them are considered to have lived over a hundred million years ago; some of them over two hundred million years ago, and those are ideas common among paleontologists, geologists, and biologists.

When the critic says “preferred method of dating,” he seems to refer to radiometric dating like the potassium-argon method. But that is controversial and is never dating the fossils themselves but strata that surround the layers in which fossils are found. The critic appears to be ignorant of the following: “radiometric dating” is a general phrase that includes carbon-14 dating. He seems to use the phrase as if C14 methods are not included.

Critic:

“Dinosaurs are not dated with Carbon-14”

Whitcomb:

What a surprising error of fact! The reason the critic wrote this article is that some persons have had dinosaurs dated using the carbon-14 method. If those persons had not done that C14 dating, the critic would never have written this article as a rebuttal.

Of course this critic may have just been careless in omitting a phrase like “not generally dated” or “not commonly dated,” but this is no place for carelessness. A careless reader of his article could easily be led to believe that nobody has dated dinosaur fossils using the radiometric method of carbon-14 testing, and that is false.

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Dinosaur Fossils Carbon Dated

This was a joint event of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS). It appears that the researchers approached the matter with considerable professionalism, including taking great pains to eliminate contamination with modern carbon as a source of the 14C signal in the bones.

The Logic of Modern Dinosaurs

Over several years, a group called Paleochronology obtained pieces of dinosaur bones (or fossils) from several locations in North America and sent them to laboratories for radiocarbon dating. . . . Those dinosaurs were living only tens of thousands of years ago rather than many millions of years ago.

Scientific Dating and Young Dinosaurs

So how many millions of years old are those [dinosaur] fossils? Well, they’re not actually that old, apparently, dated at tens of thousands of years old, according to carbon-14 testing.

Radioactive carbon 14 dating and earth age

Laboratories will not [commonly or knowingly] carbon date dinosaur bones (even frozen ones which could easily be carbon dated) because dinosaurs are supposed to have lived 70 million years ago . . .

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sauropod dinosaur

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Missing Persons and Unidentified Flying Creatures

I’ve finished reading the nonfiction Missing 411 Western United States & Canada, by David Paulides, an extraordinary book that brings up many questions. I have found one answer from the eleven years of my own investigation of sighting reports of unidentified flying creatures worldwide. Consider the following questions:

  1. Why do so many of these disappearances involve two-year-olds?
  2. Why are persons or their bodies found so many miles away?
  3. Why do tracking dogs have so much trouble tracking?
  4. Why is a small child sometimes found in a cave?
  5. Why is a shoe or some clothing separated from a person?
  6. Why are found children so often asleep or unconscious?
  7. Why do found adults so often have unclear memories?
  8. Why are people so often found at a higher elevation?
  9. Why do found children often have scratches?

The basic answer to all of the above is this: On rare occasions, an unidentified flying creature  (UFC) attacks a human instead of its normal prey. This usually happens in or near a remote wilderness. That’s the general model, but we need to consider details.

Model of an Attack From a UFC

This pertains especially to North American, in particular to Canada and the contiguous 48 states of the USA, but it may be relevant to other areas of the planet. Please be aware that the following model is my own concept, not from the book by Mr. Paulides. Here is the ideal attack, from the perspective of the flying predator.

  • At night, the UFC finds a prey animal small enough to carry away
  • The UFC slowly glides down, approaching it from its rear
  • The talons of the UFC grab the prey’s head or neck
  • The UFC directs a debilitating mist into the prey’s face
  • The talons are released and the UFC flies back up into the air
  • The UFC turns around to again approach the prey
  • Prey appears affected (after inhaling the noxious mist)
  • UFC dives at higher speed and picks up the prey
  • UFC carries away prey at low to medium height above ground
  • Prey is carried to a higher elevation, for privacy
  • Prey is consumed in a safe location, ideally in a nearby cave

From my own perspective, people of all ages have gone missing in ways that suggest an unidentified flying predator may have been involved. Using the above model as an attack from a large predatory flying creature, let’s consider the following.

Who are so many two-year-old humans involved?

In the book Missing 411 Western United States & Canada, I found 219 cases in which the age of the victim was listed. This book is not about ordinary cases of disappearances but the most bizarre ones. A significant portion of these have circumstantial evidence that a large flying predator was involved, and with one exception nothing very strange appears to relate to human age.

About 10% of these 219 cases are of missing two-year-olds (21). Only two were less than 24 months old and missing children older than two seem to have something like a limited immunity, at least compared with two-year-olds. Why?

An average toddler feels a growing need to explore the world. By about twenty-four months of age, walking ability has improved and mothers allow the little one more freedom to get around outside. In these 21 cases of missing two-year-olds, about half of them went missing from a yard of a house.

These are rural areas, some of them being near wildernesses in the USA and Canada. In most cases, no sound of alarm was heard by the parent. Often the two-year-old was out of sight for only a moment or for a very few minutes.

When the child or the body is found, how far away would you suppose it would be? Remember that two-year-olds cannot walk very far on their own through rough wilderness areas. The average distance from the missing location to the found location is 7.2 miles.

Remember, a two-year-old will not wander uphill in a wilderness for many miles, especially not by climbing over fences and crossing cold mountain streams. And if a two-year-old were able to wander 15 miles in a limited number of hours over flat land, he would not likely discover a cave and crawl into it, a cave that the grownups did not previously know existed.

Kids older than two years

Children older than two learn to do more than just walk. They can run faster and change direction quicker. They can also get around without looking at their feet so much, which allows them to observe their surroundings while they run around. This makes it more difficult for a flying predator to grab an older child before the parent is alerted.

Older preschoolers also would appear more challenging to a flying predator, especially if the UFC was only average in size or smaller. The larger the human or prey animal the fewer the UFCs that would consider a predatory attack.

1971 sketch of the two "pterodactyls" observed by the Marine Eskin Kuhn

Two very large “pterodactyls” observed by Eskin Kuhn in Cuba in 1971

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Grabbing Hold of an Unidentified Flying Creature, by Whatever Name

What is a UFC? That’s what I call an unidentified flying creature; yet I use that phrase because of a weakness in western cultural mentality, not because of any doubt that I may have about modern pterosaurs.

Missing Persons in USA

Much of what I have learned so far has been from the nonfiction book Missing 411 – Western United States & Canada (by David Paulides) and from what I have learned from some reports of apparent pterosaurs.

Debilitating Mist Used in Attacks on Humans

I would say the substance ejaculated from the mouth or head of the pterosaur is a mist, described by one eyewitness as a “smoke.” This very well could be part of the origin of old legends of fire-breathing dragons.

Strange Flying Creatures – Who Believes?

Your belief depends a great deal on where you lived your childhood: in a village like Gomlongon on Umboi Island or in a western country like the United States. The fourth edition of the nonfiction book “Searching for Ropens and Finding God,” published on October 31, 2014, explains why religion has limited relevance to belief in the ropen.

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