Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Marfa Light Madness?

One commenter on a recent blog post responded briefly to my two long comments with, "Dude, you are a certified whack job. Pterodactyls? Fie and pshaw!" He then sarcastically referred to "glow-goblins" as the cause of Marfa Lights. (Houston Press blog post by Richard Connelly, Dec 7, 2010; comment by "Doc")

A timely note before proceeding: Sarcasm is not satire.

Leaning heavily on sarcasm does more than guarantee a writer's work will be forgotten. It puts the writer's opinion in doubt, for reasoning should come first. The person who wrote the above critism may have had something worthwhile in mind, before writing; but the comment itself throws the possibility of deep thinking into doubt.

One definition of "whack job" is this: "an extremely erratic or irrational person." In my two lengthy comments (over fifty lines of comment, much longer than the blog post by Richard Connelly) I said much about Marfa Lights and the work of the scientist James Bunnell. I said little about pterosaurs. But for those who have read much of my writings, it is obvious that I rely on eyewitnesses, for I have never seen anything like a living pterosaur (although I hope and pray to see one before leaving this world). If the writer of sarcasm really believes me to be insane because I believe in the words of persons who declare that they have seen living pterosaurs, what about Brian Hennessy?

Several years ago, this Australian reported to me his 1971 sighting of a "prehistoric" looking flying creature. It had no sign of feathers but a long tail. The long beak and long tail made it very unlike any bat; the lack of feathers made it very unlike any bird. If I am insane for believing him, what about Hennessy? Why believe he is mentally healthy? The problem with labeling this Australian with "whack job" is that Brian Hennessy is a professional psychologist.

See also "Those Mysterious Marfa Lights."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Can Satire Backfire?

According to Wikipedia, "satire is primarily a literary genre or form" in which "vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement." I suspect that some writers enjoy using satire to be humorous; also, some writers want to make a point without actually reasoning on the point, by using bulverism (whether or not they know the meaning of that word). Although satirical writing is common, satire about new scientific ideas is uncommon.

A recent use of satire in Texas, however, may have backfired, with potential consequences unforseen by the blog writer. Prompted by a press release about a new interpretation of the Marfa Lights of Texas, and the publication of a nonfiction cryptozoology book with a chapter devoted to those strange ghost lights, the blogger ridiculed the idea that the source of those lights are bioluminescent flying predators that may even be living pterosaurs. I wrote both the press release and the book it promotes.

On that blog post by Richard Connelly, I replied with two comments, neither of which referred to bulverism or satire. My comments mostly emphasized the error of assuming there are no strange lights around Marfa (Connelly had assumed car headlights account for all reports of strange lights there). I used that bloggers two links, demonstrating that careful reading of his references result in meanings different from what he had assumed: Those two scientific studies do not support Connelly's assumption.

I said little about pterosaurs in those two comments. After writing books on the subject of living pterosaurs, I have given up on the possibility that even the best-formulated comment or the most thoughtfully prepared article can, by itself, convince all readers that their culture has wrongfully indoctrinated them into the assumption of universal extinctions of dinosaurs and pterosaurs. My best hope is that a single comment or article will awaken most of the readers to the possibility of modern pterosaurs, and Connelly's blog post seems to have done something similar, contrary to his intention.

I am grateful that comments were allowed for that post. I believe that some readers notice the comments, and in this case I have an audience that I would not have had without Connelly's remarks.

For those interested, the blog post of Richard Connelly is not itself the best example of bulverism (it is, however, a clear example of satire); the third comment, by "Doc," is a better example: Referring to me, he said, "Dude, you are a certified whack job." Of course, that commenter's idea is hardly original: that I am a hopeless lunatic; it seems to be a common misconception. But for those who desire to reason on a subject, I suggest actual reasoning, not bulverism.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pterosaur Extinction . . . or Non-Extinction

How often are we exposed to the word "extinction" when dinosaurs or pterosaurs are mentioned! Extinction is declared as if it were a scientific fact. Facing into the wind of those declarations, look for yourself at the possibility that pterosaurs, in at least a few species, are still living (dinosaurs set aside for the moment).

There is no scientific evidence for universal extinction of all species of pterosaurs. Not a speck of evidence. Consider only a few eyewitness reports, then decide if you would like to investigate further, looking more deeply into those sightings and other similar sightings. I have been investigating pterosaur sightings for over ten years, and the evidence continues to accumulate, both in quantity and quality. I believe the credible eyewitnesses.

I do not set myself up to be more intelligent than the paleontologists who disagree with me. But investigating reports of living pterosaurs is outside the speciality of paleontology, and I have probably spent more hours on this obscure branch of cryptozoology than all the paleontologists in the world combined. Please, if you doubt that any species of pterosaur could be now living, at least consider the length of my experience, before dismissing this idea outright, and look at the eyewitness accounts that I have analyzed.

We could start with Duane Hodgkinson, but his report has been written about and analyzed for years, so let's just take a brief look here (see other blogs and web pages for more information). Hodgkinson was not drinking---he has never been a drinker---when he saw the giant long-tailed "pterodactyl" in a jungle clearing just west of Finschhafen, New Guinea (now the nation of Papua New Guinea). He was not alone, for his army buddy was with him. It was not an indistinct vision in the dark of night, for it was the middle of the day. It was not too brief to be sure, for the two men saw the creature take off into the air before flying away, and it flew back over that same clearing, allowing the two soldiers to get a second clear view of it. It was not far away, for they were in the same clearing as the creature that took off into the air and that clearing was less than 150 feet across. It was not a bird, for there was no sign of feathers. It was not a fruit bat, for the tail was "at least ten to fifteen feet" long. That creature was a clearly observed Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, notwithstanding it was a giant size and the fossils we now have of Rhamphorhynchoids are much smaller.

Consider excerpts from the second edition of my second nonfiction book, Live Pterosaurs in America [to be published within the next few weeks, probably before Thanksgiving]
“I was 15 yrs old [when] I saw two ropens together sitting on a fence. . . . on a wood plank fence were two of the biggest bird-like creatures I could ever imagine! I almost crashed my bike! They were about 50 ft from me; the first thing I noticed was their heads . . . I would have to say it [the head] was maybe 4 ft long with the beak . . . the wings looked like black rubber. . . . their wing span was about 20 ft tip to tip . . ." [Washington state]
“Hello, my name is [RA] and I live in central N.M.. Fourteen years ago, in [Socorro], N.M., me and a close friend, who now has a masters in biology, were hiking during the midday sun at [a] box canyon and something blocked the sun for a moment. . . . “It had a 20-30 foot wingspan and was about the same length long. It had a long tail with [a] seeming spike at the end. Its head was very pterodactyl shape . . ." [New Mexico]
So consider this: When a flying creature is clearly seen to resemble a pterosaur, maybe it is a pterosaur.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Flying Fox Misidentifications? No!

How often, during the past twenty years, has somebody suggested that Flying Fox fruit bats are the cause of live-pterosaur sighting reports! But many details shoot down that fruit-bat idea, and one detail is a long tail.

Both the Australian Brian Hennessy and the American Duane Hodgkinson describe a long tail on the large flying creatures that they observed in New Guinea (the country is now independent and is called "Papua New Guinea). Hodgkinson said that the tail on the "pterodactyl" that he saw was "at least" 10-15 feet long; Hennessy described the tail on the "prehistoric" flying creature as long. Both eyewitnesses seem to have observed the same type of creature, possibly the same species.

I have interviewed both eyewitnesses, giving both of them survey forms to choose the sketches that best correlate with the creatures that they had seen. The composite sketches of the head show striking similarities, completely different from any flying fox fruit bat, completely pterosaur-like, with a thin pointed head crest.

Why then have critics suggested the flying fox for sightings of living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea? It seems that those critics may be completely ignorant of the details in critical eyewitness sighting reports.

See New Guinea Ropen

See also Marfa Lights

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Worldwide Sightings of Live Pterosaurs

Woetzel's Ropen Sighting in Papua New Guinea
David Woetzel led the second ropen expedition on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, late in 2004, accompanied by fellow-American cryptozoologist Garth Guessman. One night . . . Woetzel saw a strange light flying towards the mountains near Lake Pung. Consider this excerpt from my interview with him in 2005:“My sighting was so quick that it was impossible to get a video  . . . [The flying light was] almost golden and shimmering around the edges. . . . There was no [meteor tail] and it was flying horizontal from Mt. Barik toward Mt. Tolo [Lake Pung area] . . . The size, color and speed made it immediately stand out as unlike any other thing I’ve ever seen in the sky.”
Near Collision Over Indonesia
The pilot of a small plane reported a large flying creature . . . about 150 miles southeast of Bali, Indonesia, at 6500 feet. Immediately after the near collision, both the pilot and co-pilot said, "pterodactyl!" They are both former navy pilots . . . without any sign of a hoax and without any sign of a predisposition to promote the concept of living pterosaurs. They do not seem inclined to either disparage or promote our investigations. . . . the size of the creature (at first the pilot thought it was another plane) and altitude seem inconsistent with common birds or bats in the southwest Pacific. It could have been a ropen.
See also: Pterodactyl Flies Over Military Ship (It may have been around Indonesia.)
Live Pterosaurs in the Western United States
(Eyewitness was 16 years old)
"I saw two ropens together sitting on a fence. I was riding my bike home [in Washington State] . . . on a wood plank fence were two of the biggest bird-like creatures I could ever imagine! . . . I noticed . . . their heads, then I thought this can’t be! Could they be dinosaurs? . . . They were huge! . . . [Their] heads I would have to say it was maybe 4 ft long with the beak. . . . Their tails were . . . maybe 6 ft long . . . I told my mom and she saw them too . . . if I would have had someone other [than] my mother to talk to about them we would have mentioned it. But my mother was worried no one would believe it. I can tell you I believe their wing span was about 20 ft tip to tip."
Pterosaurs in Georgia and South Carolina
I live in a small town in northeast Georgia . . . On August 27, [2008] I woke up very early in the morning . . . I had driven less than ten miles . . . and suddenly an animal flew out from my right . . . it flew directly in front of my car . . . the shape of the tail . . .  was very long with a shape on the end. . . . head that was curved, like a hammer; the head had a crest on the top that was solid, not feathery at all . . . [from the book Live Pterosaurs in America]
[South Carolina sighting] It was huge, as big as a plane . . . a huge pterodactyl looking creature, flying very high in the sky. The strangest thing about the sighting was how slow the wings were flapping and how high it was flying.
Two Pterosaurs Observed in Cuba
As a member of the United States Marine Corps, [Eskin Kuhn] was stationed at Guantanamo, with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment (reinforced), H&S Co., 106mm recoiless rifle platoon. . . . The  two creatures were very unlike any bird, for they had no feathers. They could have been strange bats except that the heads were completely wrong and they had long tails. Their flight, the flapping of their wings, was described as graceful.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pterodactyls in Texas

Why not? With mammals the size of houses diving deep under the surface of the oceans, with not-quite-so-large mammals having noses many feet long, with birds that can swim, with spiders that catch small birds, with so many wonderful forms of life on this earth, why not pterodactyls in Texas? After all, we believe in whales, elephants, penguins, bird spiders (big tarantulas), humans.

Getting specific, what some particular eyewitnesses have observed in Texas are not fossils, and the correct general name for the flying creature is "pterosaur," not "pterodactyl," but why could they not live in Texas? With plenty of space to hide in the day, nocturnal flying predators could roam the skies at night, rarely seen by humans, even if the creatures are not extremely rare. But some Texans have seen pterosaurs, and some of the descriptions cannot reasonably be much else except modern living pterosaurs.

Texas Pterosaur in Marion County
. . . he was only eight years old . . . He reported his sighting to me in 2009 (I interviewed him in January, 2010), and that throws light on the reliability of his experience. Why? Childish imaginings do not usually remain misunderstood after a person grows into adulthood; even what is vividly imagined will normally become revealed as imagination as a person matures. My communications with Mr. Tullock revealed no symptom of any abnormality related to potential hallucination or delusion, and I have had adequate experience with those with that kind of problem. I believe that Mr. Tullock observed a flying creature with features basically the same or similar to those that he described to me.
Marfa Lights of Texas
The flying light appeared to have “on and off states as well as occasional bursts to brightness.” He concluded that it had “the appearance of chemical combustion including at least two re-ignitions and step changes in brightness.”
All day, the men searched along the base of the Chinati Mountains . . . where the lights had been. They found no evidence that Indians had been anywhere in the area. No tracks, no doused campfires, no nothing. But the next night and the next after that, they again saw the strange lights. Cowboys kept seeing the lights night after night, week after week, and year after year.
Balls of light sitting in a chico bush, atop a small pile of rocks or on the foundation of a removed radio antenna spitting streamers and shifting color from yellow to purple and red, a few flashes of yellow streamers and the light blinks out. . . . One I really enjoyed watching moved straight up a cliff face and then rested on top of the mountain changing from bright yellow to a dim red then blinked a couple times and was gone.
Marfa Lights, New Insights
. . . one of the lights [was] many miles away . . . flying around in the same general area . . . This light lasted for well over an hour . . . during which time several other lights [closer] appeared to the left. The group of lights here behaved somewhat differently, seeming . . . to interact with each other . . .
Pterosaurs and Texas
What does Texas have to do with extant pterosaurs? A lot. Not only do eyewitnesses report apparent living pterosaurs in Texas, but two Texans are pioneers in this cryptozoological investigation. . . . Recent investigations suggest that some living pterosaurs eat bats and/or birds at night. Pterosaur extinction is for the birds.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flying Dinosaurs (Actually Pterosaurs)

Those wonderful featherless flying creatures, sometimes called "flying dinosaurs," were actually not dinosaurs; they were pterosaurs. And, contrary to what has often been taught to Western students, not all species of flying dinosaurs (excuse, me: pterosaurs) are extinct.

Let's consider two examples, sighting reports of flying dino . . . pterosaurs.

Flying Creature in San Fernando Valley, California
" . . . flying creature in Sherman Oaks, California, suggests similarities to the ropen of Papua New Guinea. . . . at about 10:30 p.m., on September 21, 2009 . . . very large, winged creature that was gliding maybe 100 yards [above the two eyewitnesses] . . . the wingspan: ten to fifteen feet; the girlfriend estimated twenty feet. The wings appeared more like those of bats than birds, with a greater depth from leading-edge to trailing edge."
Living Pterosaur in Ohio
“A young man was reported to have seen something strange flying over the Maumee River in the summer of 2003.; he described it like a pterosaur, according to a recently-published book, Live Pterosaurs in America. It was reported to be chasing sparrows as it flew over the Route 49 bridge near Antwerp, Ohio.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Living Pterosaurs, Not Extinct

How many critics have assumed that eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs must be either mistaken or dishonest! How dogmatic the teachings of universal extinctions! How long we have been indoctrinated! Why have an open mind to someone who talks about seeing a living pterosaur? It is a human experience.

I have interviewed eyewitnesses from many countries, including the United States, England, the Netherlands, Sudan, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia. Many of them describe a large flying creature with a long tail; many descriptions include words like "featherless," "head crest," "diamond at the end of the tail," "huge." These people come from different cultures, different native languages, different religious beliefs; yet about 80% or more of the sightings, in any particular part of the world, include "long tail" with a description of a strange flying creature. Consider now that long tail; what does it mean?

A few critics have ridiculed sighting reports as hoaxes because they have mixtures of descriptions that do not coorelate with any particular pterosaur fossil. Those critics, however, fail to take into account a number of important details. Many of the more-credible sightings (true eyewitnesses sometimes report directly to a cryptozoologist who specializes in living pterosaurs; I am one of those investigators) include the same unusual combinations: large size, long tail, head crest. Random hoaxes would not create such a consistant set of descriptions; and why should a modern pterosaur not have those characteristics? Those consistencies would not come from hoaxes; for example, in the United States, decades of movies and television have conditioned any potential hoaxer to think Pterodactyloid rather than Rhamphorhynchoid, but American eyewitnesses, like those in other countries often describe a long tail.

Misidentifications of a giant bat---that is another common criticism. But how do critics explain the long tail, often seen with a Rhamphorhynchoid flange at the end? And how do they explain the behavior of ropens at Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea? There the creature has been seen to hold itself upright on a tree trunk (not upside down like a bat), and to catch fish on the reefs, and to glow with bright bioluminescence. Some eyewitnesses of the ropen give a sure witness of a pointed head crest.

Generalized criticisms of eyewitnesses are also shot down. How can we say "crazy" when one of the eyewitnesses is a psychologist? How can we say "vision problems" when one of the eyewitnesses is a flight instructor (with many thousands of hours of flight experience)? How can we say "unscientific observers" when one of the eyewitnesses is a scientist?

Why assume that all the eyewitnesses must be wrong, as if human experience were secondary to the dogmatic proclamations of fossil experts? Living pterosaurs, not extinct pterosaurs---those are what eyewitnesses see.


Cryptozoology book on living pterosaurs in the United States (non-fiction)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Pterodactyl" Flies Over Military Ship

With a fellow cryptozoologist, some time ago, I interviewed a man who had been a sailor on the U.S.S. Jouett (guided missle cruiser), CG-29. He told us about the night when he was surprised by an excited shipmate who summoned him out of his bunk. Many sailors had just witnessed a giant "pterodactyl" that had flown directly over the ship. The sailor who went up top to see for himself was too late, for the creature had already flown out of sight. Nevertheless, he was impressed by the sincerity of those sailors who had seen it for themselves.

If anyone has information on this, please send me an email: info [at-sign] livepterosaur.com

Thank you.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Comparing a Paleontologist to a Fox

In the July 14, 2010, posting on the Live Pterosaur blog, the paleontologist is compared with a fox.
One Monsterquest episode involved an expedition to New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea. On the surface, it appeared to be a search for giant nocturnal flying creatures that some cryptozoologists believe are modern living pterosaurs (in reality, it was a dramatic production project to make an intertaining show; it was not a scientific investigation). Of all the potential explorers to take with them, Monsterquest chose a paleontologist. What’s wrong with that? It’s like inviting a fox to inspect an electric-fence security system for a chicken yard; you know that the fox will advise you to immediately stop wasting electricity on the worthless contraption. Likewise a paleontologist will be totally predictable, regardless of eyewitness evidence that a cryptid is a “living fossil.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Living Fossils" in Africa

Contrary to what one critic said on his web page, I have never led a group of creationists on an expedition in Africa; I went alone to Papua New Guinea (southwest Pacific). But other explorers have searched remote swamps of central Africa, and reports of living dinosaurs and living pterosaurs deserve attention.

David Woetzel in Africa

One of my living-pterosaur-investigator associates, David Woetzel, has explored in part of a tropical wilderness in Cameroon, Africa, searching for an apparent dinosaur. According to one blog post, "David Woetzel, explorer and cryptozoologist:"
Late in 2000, he accompanied the explorer William Gibbons into Cameroon, Africa, where they interviewed many natives. A creature called “li’kela-bembe” is greatly feared in the Likouala swamp region; exploreres believe it is similar or the same animal that is called “Mokele-mbembe,” a large sauropod dinosaur. The swamp itself is huge, about 55,000 square miles, the largest swamp in the world . . .
Although Woetzel did not, apparently, specifically investigate reports of living pterosaurs in central Africa, he did so in 2004, on Umboi Island in Papua New Guinea (a few weeks after my own expedition there).

Pterosaurs, "flying snakes," and bird watching in Africa

Another blog post is about the kongamato and similar flying creatures (apparent pterosaurs) in Africa, "Modern Pterosaurs in Africa:"
. . . perched on the edge of the roof, the creature appeared to be four-to-five feet tall, olive brown, and leathery (no feathers). A “long bone looking thing” stuck out the back of its head . . . [Sudan, Africa]
In 1942, a flying snake like animal swooped down from a cave in the vicinity of a farm near Kirris West sixty miles east of Keetmanshoop, in south-west Namibia. The flying snake, or whatever it was, frightened Michael Esterhuise, a farm hand . . . ["'Flying Snakes' and Pterosaurs"]
The Wikipedia post for “kongamato” includes “the area concerned is advertised as a prime birdwatching site,” bringing up the question of why birdwatchers do not report living pterosaurs in Africa. . . . [but] birdwatchers are watching in daylight, when they can see. The point? . . . living long-tailed pterosaurs . . . fly at night. ["Bird watching sans pterosaurs"]
Read about living pterosaurs sited in two countried in Europe, the Philippines, and Indonesia

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two Pterosaurs Observed in Cuba, in Daylight

How grateful I am for the privilige of interviewing Eskin Kuhn, by telephone, early in 2010! How delightful that he is a credible eyewitness, passing the test of responding to my surprise call and questions. His sighting was decades ago: 1971.

As a Marine, he was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when he happened to be looking in the right direction one hot day. He is a talented artist, with a sharp eye for grasing the details of what he sees. Here is part of his report.
I saw Two Pterosaurs . . . flying together at low altitude, perhaps 100 feet, very close . . . from where I was standing . . . I had a perfectly clear view of them. The rythym of their large wings was very graceful, slow . . . yet they were flying and not merely gliding . . . The structure and the texture of the wings appeared to be very similar to that of bats . . . the struts of the wings emanated from a "hand" as fingers would, except that a couple of the fingers were short (as for grasping) and the other ran out to the tip of the wing, others back to the trailing edge of the wing to stretch the wing membrane as a kite would. . . . they had a long tail trailing behind . . . The head was disproportionately large, with a long crest at the back, long bill, long neck with a crook in it.
Read more about the live pterosaurs seen by Eskin Kuhn

Read about how the pterosaurs in Cuba may be similar to a Texas pterosaur

The "Giant Bat" of Papua New Guinea is not really a bat

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nonfiction Cryptozoology Book on Pterosaurs

Live "pterodactyls!" In the United States of America? Prepare for a shock if you thought all pterosaurs (called "flying dinosaurs") died many millions of years ago. In California, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and many other states, eyewitnesses have been shocked by featherless creatures flying overhead. Many of these living pterosaurs are much larger than any bat; Many have long tails; many have head crests (bats do not). . . . Rare and nocturnal, these strange flying creatures have always lived here, but something other than the darkness of night has hidden them. Enter now the realm of a new branch of cryptozoology, a struggling branch hampered by the dogma of universal extinction. Please consider the words of these ordinary Americans who fear ridicule but have still come forward with their extraordinary experiences: encounters with apparent living pterosaurs.

Purchase your own copy of the new second third edition of this nonfiction book on Amazon.com

Read more about the book on modern pterodactyls in the United States

Read more about this nonfiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hodgkinson-Hennessy Ropen

The cryptid seen in New Guinea, by Duane Hodgkinson in 1944 and by Brian Hennessy in 1971, I have named "Hodgkinson-Hennessy Ropen." Similarities between the descriptions given to me by these two eyewitnesses struck me as too much for coincidence. In each of our interviews (in different years), they both responded to my visual survey-forms, resulting in composite images of the heads of the creatures observed.

Top: Hennessy's sighting; bottom: Hodgkinson's.

As I mentioned in my scientific paper (in The Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 45, Number 3, "Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific"), these different lengths of head crest I believe fall within the range of eyewitness error. In other words, the creatures observed by these two men could very well have had the same length of head crest (relative to the size of the head). In addition, I believe that in at least some species of pterosaurs, according to fossil evidence, the head crest grows faster than the rest of the head. Since the crest length is the primary difference between these two sketches, it seems likely that the species is the same for the 1944 and 1971 sightings.

Why would there ever be any question about ropen sightings being of the same species? David Woetzel wrote a scientific paper in The Creation Research Society Quarterly three years before my own paper. (My fellow ropen-seeking cryptozoologist explored Umboi Island, with Garth Guessman and Jacob Kepas, a few weeks after my 2004 expedition) Woetzel concluded that the ropen of Umboi Island is a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur similar to the Dimorphodon, even though two eyewitnesses that he and Guessman had interviewed chose a sketch of a Sordes Pilosus (when shown many silhouettes of pterosaurs, bats, and birds). Although I have much doubt about a Dimorphodon-interpretation of the overall reports from Umboi Island, I admit the possibility that two different species of Rhamphorhynchoids may live in Papua New Guinea. But the creatures seen by Hodgkinson and Hennessy seem very likely to have been of the same species, so I have named this cryptid "Hodgkinson-Hennessy Ropen."

Please support this investigation by purchasing a copy of the nonfiction book "Live Pterosaurs in America" (on Amazon.com, from late-2009 through early 2010, the best-selling nonfiction book on sightings of living pterosaurs).

See also: David Woetzel's scientific paper on living pterosaurs and the "fiery flying serpent." (The Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 42, Number 4, March, 2006)

See also: Home page of Live Pterosaurs in America. Thank you for supporting the investigations. To contact me, Jonathan Whitcomb, use the Live Pterosaur email form.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Objectiveness in Cheesman Sightings

(This use of "objectiveness" in the title is unrelated to the site "objectiveministries," which seems to be an elaborate farce, probably meant to ridicule creationist living-pterosaur investigations. This cryptozoology site has no relationship with "objectiveministries.")

Evelyn Cheesman, a British entomologist (1881-1969) known for her many years of collecting-expeditions in the South Pacific, was the first woman to be hired as a curator at Regent's Park Zoo, in London. She is less well-known as an observer of strange lights on the mainland of New Guinea. Those lights, in recent years, have been ascribed to the bioluminescent glow of an animal known as "ropen."

Cheesman became puzzled, in the early 1930's, by lights on a ridge near Mondo, New Guinea (the area is now part of what is called the "mainland" of Papua New Guinea). In her book, The Two Roads of Papua, she said that the flash lasted "about four or five seconds, but that flash had been a little distance away from the first. Flashes continued at intervals. . . . a most intriguing mystery; because by no possibility could there be human beings out there using flash-lamps at intervals . . ."

Several explorers, in more recent years, (I am neither the first nor the last of them) have searched for the creatures that we believe create these strange lights. Explorers have included Paul Nation, Garth Guessman, David Woetzel. In addition, James Blume (a missionary for decades in Papua New Guinea) has interviewed many native eyewitnesses over many years. We believe the creatures are bioluminescent pterosaurs.

Where does "objectiveness" come in? Up until a few years ago, two criticisms related to living-pterosaur accounts: the possibility of native superstitions, and bias of religious explorers or cryptozoologists--both were suggested as improperly influencing the reports related to living pterosaurs. Evelyn Cheesman was a scientist, apparently not affiliated with any relevant religious cause, and she was English. Although she may have never learned about the "pterosaur interpretation" possibility of the lights that she observed, she was convinced that they were not created by any human agency. The detailed report of her observations indirectly give credence to the hypothesis that these lights are caused by nocturnal bioluminescent creatures.

See also Pterosaur Interpretation of Cheesman Sightings

See also Searching For Live Pterosaurs (expedition by Jonathan Whitcomb)

See also Objective Ministries NOT (a page of objectiveness.com)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Living Pterosaurs in the United States?

In recent years, two reality television series (rather paranormal: Destination Truth and Monsterquest) have included living-pterosaur investigation in Papua New Guinea. But flying creatures described like the long-tailed ropen---they are hardly restricted to remote tropical wildernesses. Many Americans have reported apparent pterosaurs in many states: California, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, Washington State, and other states. Since the two ropen expeditions of 2004, in Papua New Guinea, many reports have drawn our attention to our own country.

How easy for us who live in cities to forget: Most of the United States is uninhabited or sparsely inhabited by people. Rare nocturnal flying creatures that live in caves and hunt bats---they can often avoid human detection. And when somebody, in the United States, sees something like a bat, but that something is bigger than a bat, what can be done? Report a pterodactyl to the police? Report a pterodactyl to the newspaper? Report a pterodactyl to a university biology professor? An eyewitnesses can wait for the story to break, searching the newspaper for something about the creature; but there is no newspaper story. Why? The answer becomes obvious when the eyewitness considers why she herself did not report anything to that newspaper. Who wants to be labeled "crazy?"

Have you ever read a critic's ridicule of the living-pterosaur investigations? It may be something like, "If pterosaurs were still living, they would be obvious; why do we not see them?" A critic may say, "Where are the newspaper headlines?" Sometimes a critic might mention the word "crazy" in regard to those who believe in the eyewitnesses, the cryptozoologists. Regarding the eyewitnesses, when "foolishness" or "insanity" is unmentioned, it is often implied. How destructive is that approach to objective reasoning! It resembles dirty politics more than scientific discussion.

I suggest that we examine the eyewitness accounts of apparent pterosaurs in the United States and compare them with other accounts from around the world. This extraordinary phenomenon deserves an objective examination.

See also Live Pterosaurs in America, the cryptozoology book

See also a book review and comments on Hunting Marfa Lights

See also 1400 American Eyewitnesses of Pterosaurs

See also the unusual "Radar Criticism" of Live Pterosaurs

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tunnel Pterodactyl of 1856

Apparently, the Illustrated London News carried an article about a "pterodactyl" that workmen discovered while laboring in a tunnel for a railway line, between Saint-Dizier and Nancy, France. The large creature (some readers assumed a pterosaur) was said to have stumbled out from the limestone, fluttered its wings, made a croaking noise, and dropped dead. I have not myself seen this article, but if my information is correct the story is in the February 9, 1856 issue, page 166.

Much has been made of the obvious signs that this was only a hoax; I agree, it looks like a hoax. But some critics of living-pterosaur investigations have tried to use that to dispute eyewitness sightings in the 20th and 21st Centuries. How shabby that reasoning! Would they propose abolishing all modern governments in the Western Hemisphere because of the 19th Century behavior of Napoleon Bonaparte?

I've seen no name for either an interviewer or eyewitness in the Illustrated London News report. But I have myself interviewed many eyewitnesses of creatures described like living pterosaurs, eyewitnesses from around the world, and I have found much evidence against any hoax-explanation for those accounts as a whole.

Let us give up any idea of a post mortem examination of the "tunnel pterodactyl." Instead, examine the reports that continue to come in, recent reports of living creatures. Let us also set aside the mocking croaks of critics who would bury any eyewitness evidence that might contradict standard dogma about universal pterosaur-extinction. Let recently-opened cases remain open until we have examined them, for only then can we be sure, one way or the other.

British biologist observed strange flying glowing objects (ropen lights)

Nineteenth Century Hoax (Pterosaur)
I don’t say that everything that Kuban says about reports of modern pterosaurs is wrong, but that he may do more harm than good by trying to convince people that pterosaurs all became extinct long ago. And one thing he probably does not understand, and this relates to that old London newspaper story, is that nineteenth century newspapers, when they carried joke-articles, may have been influenced by true stories that were not mentioned in the hoax-story articles.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Searching For Live Pterosaurs

Dreams and Reality

As a teenager, I once daydreamed of exploring a remote jungle to discover a creature like the giant dinosaur said to inhabit the Congo area of Africa (I later learned the name for that cryptid: Mokele-Mbembe). OK, that was my fantasy more than once, for Ivan T. Sanderson's books, nonfiction, about his adventurous expeditions, thrilled me. Even though he was often only on the brink of a discovery, never completely fulfilled, he would keep exploring. Oh, that I could go on a jungle expedition! How I longed to discover a living dinosaur! But I had many unrealistic fantasies; this appeared to be just another daydream.

My passion for jungle exploration was replaced by my zeal for chess competition: tournament after tournament of U.S.C.F. rated events in Southern California in the late 1960's. But by 1971 the reality became undeniable: I lacked the mental talent to ever become a grandmaster; even master level appeared a little out of reach. I needed to be realistic, to be responsible and earn a living.

By 1978, I had accumulated a variety of work experiences: potatoe man at a McDonald's, custodian at a Methodist church, sprinkler-repair assitant on the grounds of California State University at Long Beach. I married a wonderful young lady from Chile, learning a little Spanish while teaching her a lot of English. I soon became a custodian at the university.

In the 1980's my wife and I began to raise our three children. My daydream as a teenager became a shadowy memory; for being a responsible provider for a family does not mix with being a live-dinosaur discoverer . . . not usually. But my cleaning assignment at the old University Theater allowed me to take my breaks at the nearby library (exploring libraries, for me, has been a life-long adventure). Some of the books I checked out would now be labeled "paranormal," although at that time, I would have found that label distasteful: The word might suggest that I myself was rather abnormal. That was when I could still pretend to be normal.

In 1997 I quit work at the university to start my own video production business. By early 2003 I was beginning to become established as a forensic videographer in Southern California, specializing in day-in-the-life and settlement documentaries for attorney firms. I also helped my wife with her childcare business. (I had given up professional wedding videography, although I was grateful for the experience it gave me: thinking on my feet while videotaping events.) My work became centered in videotaping accident victims and in interviewing their care providers while videotaping. I never dreamed how my skills from these experiences would soon be put to use.

Rediscovering Cryptozoology

By mid-2003, I began rediscovering cryptozoological reports, in particular accounts of apparent dinosaurs. Fascinating accounts! The first-hand account by Edward Brian McCleary appeared hard to dismiss, for four of his teenaged friends had died from an attack by a sea monster on March 24, 1962, off Pensacola, Florida.

But eyewitness accounts of apparent living pterosaurs especially fascinated me. I sent an email to a missionary in Venezuala, who confirmed a report of a deep-seated belief that natives had about a "giant bat" that had terrorized their people in the past. In the fall of 2003, I got a phone call from Paul Nation of Texas. He had been informed of my inquiries about expeditions in Papua New Guinea, for he was one of those who had searched for an animal that the natives of Umboi Island call "ropen."

Paul told me about their interviews with native eyewitnesses who described an animal that seemed to be a living pterosaur. I was astonished at the content of the videos Paul soon mailed me, for the eyewitness credibility was convincing: I recognized that the islanders were telling the truth about their experiences. How astonished would be the members of a jury should these witnesses testify in court!

What is a Ropen?

The ropen has been seen by many islanders of Papua New Guinea. Most sightings have been from a distance at night, for it glows brightly while flying, brighter than a thousand fireflies. I realized that the nasty reputation the creature has for robbing human graves gives us something in return: evidence that this is a creature unclassified or unacknowledged by Western science, for nothing in a textbook describes a bioluminescent flying creature that is large enough to carry away a human body. Fireflies are a world apart.

But the appearance of the ropen, its size and description---that came from only a few native eyewitnesses, including a boy named Gideon. During his videotaped interview, he was asked about the size of the creature he had seen flying over Lake Pung; he described the size in terms of a nearby house.

As an expert in the credibility of witnesses being videotaped, I was struck by the way the teenager responded to the interview questions. He was still afraid of what he had seen, still afraid even just to talk about the encounter. It soon became obvious to me that the boy could not have seen a fruit bat flying over a lake: Natives catch this common bat to eat; they do not run from it for fear of being captured and eaten.

Apparently the existence of the ropen had been hidden from the Western world by several factors, including the assumption that natives are talking about superstitions or describing the giant fruit bat called "flying fox."

Active Involvement

Before the end of 2003, I had edited much of the video footage, for Paul and I hoped that we could sell the resulting mini-documentary "Searching for Ropen" to help fund the upcoming expedition in 2004. Sales were disappointing but we kept up hope.

Two other Americans were planning to go to Papua New Guinea with Paul. They would take cameras and much equipment, determined to find at least one ropen.

By early 2004, I began to hope for something that appeared almost too good to imagine. The ideal team on Umboi Island would be made up of two teams, perhaps starting from different sides of the island and meeting later on one of the mountains to continue searching; but two equal teams could mean two-plus-two, and Paul Nation plus David Woetzel plus Garth Guessman equaled only three. In addition, if a critical need was quality video recording, who would be better qualified than a professional videographer? The possibility of videotaping a living pterosaur enfused my imagination. How thrilling!

Paul was willing for me to join the team, but a mid-2004 expedition to Papua New Guinea became unrealistic for him. It was just as well, for I later found that half a year's preparations was barely sufficient for me.

The First Disappointment

But within a few months Paul found that any expedition was out of reach for him in 2004. By that time, I had set my heart on searching for ropens on Umboi Island, but I found another setback. Woetzel had never met me and he was now leading the one expedition; their plans were set and I had no part in them.

Devastating! How close I had been to a wonderful opportunity of discovery! I pondered how I might assist the expedition team through keeping in touch with them during their expedition, for they had a satellite phone. Still, that volunteer desk job appeared to mock fate. How could this be? I was a professional camera operator enthused with a drive to explore Umboi Island and find what has terrified natives and defied modern scientific assumptions. I knew that I had the skills to learn the Tok Pisin language and communicate with the natives. And by this time I was almost sure that the ropen was a living pterosaur.

A Solitary Solution

It was always staring back at me from the mirror, although it appeared at first unthinkable: the solution of going on my own expedition, alone. It appeared, at first, too impractical. I gradually leaked out the idea to Paul Nation, during our email correspondance; he saw nothing insurmountable. I saw unending potential problems, but nothing impossible to solve, for my ignorance was balanced by Paul's knowledge. And my experiences and personality now bolstered my confidence.

For about half a year, Paul sent me detailed instructions while I gathered supplies, filled my mind with facts about Papua New Guinea, and exercised my body. I learned as much of the Tok Pisin language as I could. As I learned more about the reports of eyewitnesses of the ropen, one danger (so I then thought) remained: What if natives accounts were the result of some anomaly related to native thinking? I now had to consider the previously unthinkable: the possibility that previous expeditions had been in vain, caused by some terrible, not-yet-discernable mistake.

Doubt Flees

Fortunately, three non-natives came to my rescue. Duane Hodgkinson, a World War II veteran, told us of his sighting of a "pterodactyl" near Finschhafen (in what was then called "New Guinea") in 1944. I interviewed him by phone (he now lives in Montana) and email and mailed him a questionnaire. His credibility convinced me that we had been correct in believing the natives. He and his army buddy had seen the creature take off into the air on the far side of a clearing.

I also communicated with an Australian couple who saw a giant creature that had flown over Perth, Australia, in 1997. Their answers to my questions convinced me that they also were telling the truth. Like Hodgkinson, they were sure that a giant flying creature had a very long tail.

Giant flying creatures described like Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs---they were seen by Americans and Australians just as well as by natives of Papua New Guinea. With different cultures of eyewitnesses who reported the same creatures, the case for living pterosaurs appeared irrefutable, like a clear chess combination: unstoppable. I was convinced that the ropen was a living pterosaur.

Final Preparations and the Imminent Danger

In my final preparations for the September, 2004, expedition, I learned how dangerous it can be to search for this kind of cryptid in Papua New Guinea. It's not so much the malaria that Paul Nation caught during one of his expeditions; I was determined to take malaria-prevention pills regularly and to use insect repellent. It was not the reports of a few natives who had been killed by large flying creatures in Papua New Guinea; I was determined to avoid getting too close to a ropen. It was not the alarming crime rate in the city of Lae; the hotel (nice but too expensive) is surrounded by a tall fence with barbed wire. For me, it was the imminent danger: finding a way to explain everything to my wife.

Fortunately my wife is a faithful Christian, so I was able to be at peace and leave my family for one month: She understands "Thou shalt not kill." Nevertheless, at a time like this your whole life can flash before your eyes.

My 2004 Expedition

Somehow I survived the most dangerous part of the adventure and prepared to fly to Papua New Guinea. I knew that it could take one week to reach Umboi Island; I would leave California on a Sunday and arrive at Lab Lab, Siasi (Umboi) on the following Sunday. My adventures were many and varied; for details see Whitcomb's ropen expedition.

In brief, I arrived on Umboi with an interpreter, Luke, whom I had found on the mainland. I was still assuming that at least 10-20 ropens live on the island. I also assumed that I would be able to spend adequate time on a mountain and be able to videotape at least one of the creatures. But my assumptions came to resemble those of General Lee's at Gettysburg: Almost everything appeared to go wrong.

At first, our excursion into the jungle was delayed because of a funeral procession that was soon expected; the funeral itself was delayed. When we did leave Gomlongon Village, to head for Lake Pung, we entered the forest before getting permission from village leaders in Tarawe, the recognized land owners; two days later we had to leave, with angry Tarawe villagers refusing us permission to remain in that area and with a rumor that armed bandits were bragging about coming up to get us. Eventually we had a sighting of a ropen from a distance: My interpreter and a local leader saw it briefly one night . . . one hour after I had retired to sleep. After two weeks, I ran out of money and time (the same thing) and had to leave Umboi Island. After interviewing many eyewitnesses, I concluded that only one large ropen lives in the interior of Umboi Island.

I was able to interview many eyewitnesses of the ropen, expecially those who had seen the glow as it flew at night. But three of the eyewitnesses I interviewed had seen the giant creature in daylight. These were three of seven boys (now young men) who had been terrified at the sight of a ropen flying over Lake Pung around 1994; their testimonies and deportment harmonized in a way strongly suggesting that they were telling me the truth.

One man, Mesa Augustin, was still scared to talk about the experience, ten years later; it was obvious that a daylight encounter with a giant ropen can leave a lasting impression on a human. Another man, Gideon, was the same witness I had seen in Paul Nation's video. But now he appeared to be at ease while I questioned him about the ropen. There had been a misunderstanding in the earlier videotaped interview, for Gideon made it clear to me that he had seen only one ropen; I later realized that when the boy had, in the earlier interview, responded to a question that included "ten to twenty," his positive reply was probably in terms of size, not number of creatures (he was sure the tail was seven meters long). My use of Tok Pisin, limited though it was, did help.

I left Papua New Guinea and returned to the United States, having failed to see a living pterosaur. But the reality of the ropen, the truth of its existence, had become deeply impressed on my consciousness. The terror in the face of Mesa Augustin (as he told me about what he had seen in daylight), the sincerity in the face David of Opai (as he told me about the bright flash of light over his head one night), and the credibility of many other eyewitnesses whom I had interviewed---all combined to prove to me that this usually-nocturnal flying creature is not confined to stories: It flies around Umboi Island, from mountain to mountain and to-and-from the reefs surrounding Umboi. (And I was able to videotape the islanders while interviewing them.)

Personal Success

My dream of discovering an amazing creature appeared, at first, to have evaporated, for I took home no video footage of any living pterosaur. The ropen remained a cryptid, living deeply entrenched in the memories of eyewitnesses. But their convictions emerged from their souls, becaming part of my own experience; through them I've seen the ropen.

Since returning home, in October of 2004, I have tried to encourage others to explore Papua New Guinea; I have also tried to inspire those who choose to learn by reading. I have since written countless web pages on the ropen and other similar creatures seen around the world; from 2005 to 2009 I wrote two books on living pterosaurs. I have been interviewed on a few radio talk shows. Two television production companies interviewed me before they undertook their own expeditions in Papua New Guinea, resulting in two entertaining (and sometimes enlightening) episodes. Excerpts from my videotaped interviews of eyewitnesses on Umboi I put onto Youtube. I continue to help my wife with her childcare business, with a new source of material for telling the children dragon stories.

It appears that my dream of becoming like Ivan T. Sanderson, continuously exploring jungles, will remain unfulfilled; the adventure of writing about jungle expeditions, however, I share with him, for I continue to write about those who are still exploring and searching for living pterosaurs. I now dream that something that I have written might inspire someone to stay awake when the interpreter sees a ropen, videotape the clear image of a living pterosaur, and carry this nocturnal creature into the daylight of official discovery.

Whatever part you may play, let me know, please, how I might help you.


Live Pterosaurs in America

To help support this research into living pterosaurs, please consider purchasing the nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America (Book on cryptozoology), which gives many details about the many eyewitness sightings reported in North America for many years.

We have appreciated the donations which helped with two of the expeditions in Papua New Guinea. At this time, it seems that the best way to help is through many purchases of Live Pterosaurs in America, which allows for continued research and for spreading the word.

See also:

New Mokele-mbembe Expedition

Objection to Live Pterosaurs