Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More on Manta Ray Misidentification

Modern Pterosaurs need not exist with precise characteristics predicted by any particular cryptozoologist and with no other characteristics. Neither must those flying creatures exist according to precise rules established by any particular paleontologist. Whatever animals now live on this planet, they live regardless of human dogmas about what they "should" be like. The key to knowing about what life is like is in human experience with those animals; that means eyewitness experience.

Manta Ray Fish Revisited

Mr. Dale Drinnon has again brought up the idea that sightings of live pterosaurs, "many" of them, come from misidentifications of Manta rays jumping out of the water. He usually gives no precise example from any precise sighting, but generalizes. Here are some of the problems with insisting on the jumping-Manta-ray conjecture:
  1. The example given by Drinnon, in his recent post, was a sighting in the Philippines. He said, "The Philippines sighting in specific lends itself to the Manta ray hypothesis most readily." But when he wrote that article he had very limited information on it. Critical details then came forward, which showed clearly that the sighting was not of a Manta ray fish jumping out of the water (two flying creatures over a city; claws between the wings; flapping frequency of once every three to four seconds, etc.)
  2. Modern pterosaurs need not be precisely the same as pterosaurs known from fossils. How many species of pterosaurs might have existed without leaving any fossils that have been discovered by paleontologists!
  3. If "many" sightings of modern pterosaurs are misidentifications of leaping Manta rays, why has Mr. Drinnon not given us many examples?
  4. Has Mr. Drinnon had a scientific paper published, in a peer-reviewed journal of science, on this subject? (Scientific papers supporting the existence of modern pterosaurs have been published.)
  5. How could any person see a Manta ray jump out of the water and come to believe it was an extant pterosaur? I have read nothing written by Mr. Drinnon that explains how such an incredible mistake could have taken place (generalities aside).
  6. He mentions the lack of a "fin" at the end of the tail, regarding the Philippines sighting, but he says nothing about the many descriptions of a Rhamphorhynchoid-like tail vane in many sightings from around the world. Why ignore that critical detail? Why mention its lack in one sighting while mentioning nothing about the many sightings when it is present?
Road to Discovery

When the first gorilla in Africa was officially acknowledged scientifically, was it because eyewitness descriptions matched what paleontologists told us should be still living? Did a fossil expert, in the nineteenth century, tell explorers in Africa that there must be a primate of certain characteristics, thus allowing explorers to find gorillas?

Why not examine eyewitness descriptions with an open mind? Why should pterosaurs be treated drastically different from other kinds of animals? Human experience should prevail in the progress of science. Dogmatically holding onto ones imagined images can stifle scientific progress, if enough people choose to ignore human experience in favor of mutually-imagined phantoms.

Manta Ray Interpretation of Live Pterosaurs
The misidentification of a Manta ray oceanic fish does not adequately explain any significant pterosaur sighting, not even one sighting that I have analyzed.

Pterosaurs are not Manta Rays
No offense to cryptozoologists who might want to believe in the following interpretation of Manta rays, but those fish are nothing like what eyewitnesses see when they report flying creatures they call “pterodacyls.”
Response to Dale Drinnon
Don't confuse two sources of knowledge. The limited knowledge we have of pterosaurs from fossils is not at all the same knowledge that we have from eyewitness reports of modern pterosaurs.

Friday, October 19, 2012

News Media and Live Pterosaurs

In the Western world, the major problem with reporting a sighting of a living pterosaur to the news media remains the same since the time of Darwin: What news reporter or editor would take seriously a report of an "ancient" creature that is still living?

The more common practice, at least over the past century or so, seems to have been for news professionals to either ignore an eyewitness account of a live pterosaur or to treat it with humor. But there have been some exceptions.

Antwerp, Ohio, Sightings

The Antwerp Bee-Argus community newspaper, a few years ago, reported a pterosaur sighting. The editor used my interview-findings to report what the anonymous eyewitness encountered in northwestern Ohio:
. . . 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.

. . . The animal appeared to be ten feet long, including a long tail. Whitcomb asked [the eyewitness] about feathers, but he replied, "absolutely no feathers." But something else made it different from any bird: It had teeth.

. . . About 80% of the reports of apparent pterosaurs in the U.S. involve a description of a long tail. The book refers to this as one of three evidences of the honesty of the eyewitnesses in general . . .
Travel Section of the Press-Telegram, Long Beach, CA
On October 15 [2004], I returned to Long Beach after spending two weeks on Umboi Island in Papua New Guinea. . . . to investigate reports of a large, nocturnal flying creature that the local people call ropen. I came back with notes and video from interviewing about 17 eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen this elusive creature that is the subject of many island legends.

Houston Chronicle Covers Marfa Lights

Live Pterosaur Press Releases
Two large long-tailed flying creatures, apparent pterosaurs, caught the Marine’s attention. He later reported that they were “flying together at low altitude, perhaps 100 feet, very close in range from where I was standing, so that I had a perfectly clear view of them.”

Pterosaurs on Canadian Television
Canadian radio-television host Richard Syrett interviewed cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb for an upcoming television episode . . .

"Pterodactyl" Hoax in France, 1800's
Much has been made of the obvious signs that this was only a hoax; I agree, it looks like a hoax.

San Fernando Valley, California, and Antwerp, Ohio

Under the heading of "Flying Dinosaurs," this refers to a few sightings in CA and OH.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Cryptozoology Book in Kindle Format

Earlier this month, I published my first digital (ebook) book in Kindle format: Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea. I was happy to see it ranked number one yesterday, among Amazon Kindle nonfiction books on cryptozoology.

Many cryptozoology ebooks are about cryptids in general, others about a particular cryptid in a particular U. S. state, others about Bigfoot. My new book may be the only one about sightings of live pterosaurs in the southwest Pacific.

I quote from the Introduction:
We must begin with the basics: What is a pterosaur? It's not really a type of dinosaur, although it's associated with them. The flying creature is called "pterodactyl" by many non-scientists; some Americans call those featherless fliers "dinosaur birds" or "prehistoric birds." . . .

In modern eyewitness reports, long-tailed pterosaurs outnumber short-tails, at least four-to-one. Standard models of extinction make this ratio appear strange, for the long-tailed variety were thought to have dwindled before the short-tailed pterosaurs became dominant, at least that's the theory. Nevertheless, the ratio is significant in modern sightings, appearing consistent regardless of the culture or beliefs or education of the eyewitness. . . .

About "prehistoric" creatures, consider all that you have read in textbooks, all that you have seen in documentaries, all that you have heard from teachers. How often was the possibility of a modern dinosaur or pterosaur mentioned? Never? Western indoctrination into universal extinctions---that subject may deserve a book of its own; we'll cover it only in part, mostly in the first chapter.

More About the New Pterosaur Book
Although much in the new book is similar to some of the eyewitness accounts in the older Searching for Ropens, other sightings are new and quite interesting to compare.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Santa Fe Springs, California, Sightings

Please get in touch with me (Jonathan Whitcomb) if you have had a pterosaur sighting in Southern California (or anywhere else), whether or not it was in or near Santa Fe Springs.

Strange Long-Tailed Flying Creature, 2006

The eyewitness told me that he was on True Avenue, looking east towards the San Gabriel River and the 605 Freeway, when he saw the long-tailed "pterodactyl" flying in an irregular way, unlike any bird flight that the eyewitness had seen. At the end of the tail was a furry or hairy ball or similar structure; the distance prevented him from observing more details. The sighting was at night, but the "pterodactyl" was not too far away, maybe near Greenvale Avenue or between that street and the San Gabriel River.

In or near the city of Santa Fe Springs, California, (Los Angeles County) - sighting location

Santa Fe Springs Sighting of 2005
Early in 2005, I received a report of a "pterodactyl" in the Santa Fe Springs area. The creature was described as being about the size of a Cesna airplane. According to the report, "Its flapping caused a sound like a military chopper, only at a much slower pace."

There have been other sightings, over the years, in Los Angeles County.

Live Dragon in Los Angeles
In June of this year, in a peaceful residential neighborhood in Lakewood, northeast of Long Beach, a lady was shocked to see a featherless creature with a wingspan of at least six feet and a long tail. The end of that tail made the lady think it looked like a dragon, for it was triangular.

Third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America, by Jonathan David Whitcomb

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reptilian Flying Creature near Long Beach?

In June of 2012, from a residential neighborhood of Lakewood, California, comes a report of a "dragon" or "pterodactyl," that was seen by a 38-year-old woman in her backyard, at about noon. The reptilian flying creature was described as featherless, with a wingspan of about six feet, and with a tail about four feet long.

The tail was described as having a structure at the end, a "triangle" that reminded the eyewitness of what she would expect at the end of the tail of a "dragon." The apparent Rhamphorhynchoid tail vane was held horizontally, meaning it could be seen better from above or below the creature rather than from the side.

The woman was only about twenty feet away from the apparent ropen when she saw it, as the creature was sitting on the lowest line of a telephone cable at the back of her backyard. The featherless flyer was almost over the edge of the storm channel that runs through the neighborhood.

No wonder the possums that used to commonly run along that same phone cable have disappeared over the last 12-18 months.

Storm channel in Long Beach, California, south of the neighborhood of the sighting

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, interviewed the anonymous eyewitness, with her husband, soon after the sighting, finding her credibility high and the possibility of a misidentification low. I believe this apparent ropen is related to the one reported five years ago near the university in Irvine, California, perhaps even the same species.

The Lakewood ropen was reported over a storm drain; the Orange County ropen was reported near a drainage system. The mouths of both systems empty into the Pacific Ocean and those channel mouths are only 17 miles apart. It's possible that ropens have come up the coast from Mexico, over the past few years, although sighting reports of "dragons" in California go back more than a hundred years.

Ropens in California
How can living Rhamphorhynchoid (“basal”) pterosaurs fly in California, in modern times? In the United States, we have been taught since early childhood that all such creatures became extinct many millions of years ago. Rather than delve into speculations about fossils, let’s now consider eyewitness testimonies.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Live Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs on Canadian Television

On May 5, 2012, Canadian radio-television host Richard Syrett interviewed cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb for an upcoming television episode of "The Conspiracy Show."

Whitcomb & Syrett listen to producer's instructions

Whitcomb explained his conjecture about the source of the more mysterious of the Marfa Lights in southwest Texas. He believes that they might be similar to the ropen lights of Papua New Guinea: large nocturnal flying creatures that are bioluminescent. Whitcomb described how two lights sometimes separate in a way to indirectly attract Big Brown Bats that catch insects.

He also told Syrett a little about his interview with Gideon Koro, a native living on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, who encountered the giant ropen in daylight at a remote crater lake. Koro told Whitcomb that the tail of the ropen was seven meters long.

On May 4, Syrett had interviewed Garth Guessman, another Southern Californian cryptozoologist who had explored Umboi Island in Papua New Guinea searching for living pterosaurs. Syrett has also interviewed William Gibbons, who had explored in Africa, searching for living dinosaurs.

The talk show is scheduled to be aired in Canada around October.

Two Ropen Cryptozoologists Interviewed for Television
Richard, some of those skeptics who were really shocked were actually witnesses themselves. . . . Some of those witnesses . . . are shocked at what they have seen and . . . relieved to know that there are actually others who’ve seen something similar.
Whitcomb Opposes Shooting Pterosaurs
Richard Syrett, host of “The Conspiracy Show” in Canada, asked me, Jonathan Whitcomb, about my opinion on proving the existence of living pterosaurs by shooting one of them. I made it clear that I oppose killing a modern pterosaur for that purpose.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why a Hoax Fails

Why does a combination of hoaxes fail to explain the many sighting reports that have come up since the 1990's? Several things practically eliminate a hoaxes as an overall explanation for pterosaur sightings. Consider the data compiled from ninety-eight sightings, the more credible reports of apparent pterosaurs that I have encountered over the past eight years.

Wingspan Estimates
When we look at the wingspan estimates (58% of the sighting reports include it), we see
no dramatic peek above any valley, as we would expect from any major hoax-involvement:

2, 2, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 11, 11, 12, 12, 12.5,
13, 13, 13, 13, 15, 16, 16, 17, 17, 17, 18, 20, 20, 20, 20, 21, 21.5, 22, 24, 25, 25, 27,
29, 30, 30, 33, 33, 35, 40, 46

The five-number summary is: 2, 7.5, 13, 21.25, 46
Using Grubbs' test, there are no outliers here: a natural set of data.

Regarding hoax potential, perhaps the most obvious refutation of a combination of practical jokes is this: American hoaxers would most likely emphasize very large wingspan, to avoid any possibility of suggestions of misidentification of a large bird. But the data shows many estimates within the range of medium-to-large bird wingspans.

What about tail-length in relation to wingspan? Many sightings include descriptions of long tails that suggest Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs, and those long-tailed species are believed to have been much smaller, according to fossil records. But the estimates shown above, for wingspan, show nothing even remotely like any peak related to those fossils. Someone making a hoax on the basis of known sizes of those fossils would (when reporting a long tail) give a wingspan estimate less than about seven feet. The data shows something very different: Most estimates over seven feet. There was no major hoax involvement.

The data on wingspan estimates is consistant with what we would expect from the following combination of conditions:
  1. Eyewitnesses had various capabilities in giving size estimates
  2. A number of species of pterosaurs were observed
  3. A number of ages of pterosaurs were observed (different sizes)
  4. Sightings were under various conditions
  5. Very few (if any) hoaxes were involved
Much could be said about the degree of certainty of lack of feathers; I'll summarize: For those who gave some indication of how certain they were about lack of feathers, most admitted that they were not sure about no-feathers, and that is not at all what we would expect for data contaminated with any significant number of hoaxes: Hoaxers would report a certainty of featherless appearance. The actual data shows the opposite: More eyewitnesses report probably-no-feathers than those who report definitely-no-feathers.

Skeptics are probably unaware that the sightings that I have publicized over the years have been the more-credible accounts, NOT the more-incredible ones. In general, when a report suggests something may be wrong with the eyewitness, I keep it on file for reference, but I do not publicize it. Probable-hoaxes were kept out, and are not among the ninety-eight reports that have been analyzed.

All of that, however, is not to say that not one of those ninety-eight reports was a hoax: only that there could not have been many hoaxes, far less than 20% maximum, and that would be stretching it. In the end, for at least one species of pterosaur to still be living, it only takes one of those many sightings to have been valid, to prove modern living pterosaurs.

Pterosaur Sightings From Hoaxes?

I have been interviewing eyewitnesses for eight years now, ordinary persons who encountered extraordinary flying creatures: apparent pterosaurs. For the most part, these eyewitnesses seem to be credible, with no apparent reason to play a hoax.

Tunnel Pterodactyl of 1856

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! 

No Hoax With Pterosaur Sightings
Evelyn Cheesman was a biologist who searched for insects and small animals in remote areas, including New Guinea, in the 1920′s and 1930′s. . . . Nobody suggests Cheesman ever played a hoax.

Hoax or Pterosaur?
. . . the experiences of the U. S. Marine Eskin C. Kuhn, whose sighting has been called a ”hoax.” I gave him a surprise phone call, a few years ago, and found him to be highly credible, answering my questions as a valid eyewitness would respond, not as a hoaxer would respond. He has stood by his sighting account for four decades, in spite of accusations that his experience never happened.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Expert in Pterodactyls

This relates to an online discussion with the title "Jonathan Whitcomb: Pterodactyl Expert." I did not participate in that discussion and had no knowledge of it for many months, until it became prominent in a search engine result with similar key words. I do not link to that forum thread, for it has at least one libelous comment (about "lies" in my book).

Not everything was negative on that cryptozoology forum discussion; most of it, however, was ridicule (or worse) of me, Jonathan Whitcomb, as a person and ridicule of my writings, although I was not quoted. But for now I will concentrate more on the positive.

Words of "Adder"
. . . it is because by pure chance alone I happened upon his book and fell into this whole field called cryptozoology . . . I only like him because of the chance he gave me [to discover cryptozoology]
This seems an appropriate time to quote from my book Live Pterosaurs in America (Introduction in the third edition):

This book might make a few Americans uneasy to walk alone at night; my intention, however, is not to frighten but to enlighten as many readers as possible to know about live-pterosaur investigations. Those who’ve been shocked at the sight of a flying creature that “should” be extinct—those eyewitnesses, more numerous than most Americans would guess, need no longer be afraid that everyone will think them crazy, and no longer need they feel alone. Those of us who’ve listened to the American eyewitnesses, we who have interviewed them, we now believe. So, if you will, consider the experiences of these ordinary persons (I’ve interviewed most of them myself) and accept whatever enlightenment you may.