A pterosaur sighting need not be in a remote tropical rain forest. According to a recent analysis, by cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb, of 128 sighting reports, 75% of the reported encounters with apparent pterosaurs were in the United States of America, and 5% were in Papua New Guinea. This does not mean that many more of the flying creatures live in the USA; many more Americans have easy access to the internet and email, and are proficient in English, compared with third-world countries like Papua New Guinea.
Long Tails Wipe Away the Competition
The same analysis reveals how much long-tailed pterosaurs seem to dominate reports. Of those eyewitnesses who reported a long tail or the lack thereof, the ratio was 95% to 5% in favor of long tails, suggesting most of the creatures are basal, or Rhamphorhynchoid, pterosaurs. This is not restricted to any particular part of the world, but is common worldwide.
Sighting in Spain, 2007 (“a long thin tail”)
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 . . . simply because I realise it sounds odd, and can’t be bothered to have to defend myself on this. . . .
I’ll get to the point- last summer, some friends and I drove from England (where I live) to Benecassim (in East Spain-near los desert del palmas I think) for a music festival. One night, whilst sitting on the ground by the tents (a fair way from the noise and commotion of the festival), 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 30-40ft high, and as I watched it, I realised it was definitely no owl I’d ever seen before. It was the colour of suede/sand, looked like the same sort of texture as suede (i.e no feathers), had a long thin tail, and didn’t flap once. . . .
Sudan, Africa, 1988 (“Its tail . . . was very long”)
In Sudan, the classic house is one level, made of mud bricks and walls, 3-5 rooms . . . each room being a separate unit, but connected by a roofless hallway that leads to the patios.
One evening in July of 1988, we had some guest over . . . the guest were in the living room which was @ one end of the house, and my aunt was in the kitchen preparing the tea and cookies, which was @ the far end on the other side of the house. She asked me to bring the tray of tea, cookies, sugar & spoons to the guest. So I took the tray walked through the open hallway and proceeded to the living room.
When I got to the patio, I noticed something on the roof of my uncle’s room. Mind u it was night time but the patio has one of those long cylinder like light bulbs that light up the whole patio & the roof is only 10 feet or less from the ground. I was standing by the bathroom, about 10 feet away from it. It was perched about 5 feet from the light bulb. I seen it very clearly and got a good look @ it.
It was very large, about 4 or 5 feet in height . . . no feathers . . . leathery looking. It had a large long, wide beak & the classic appendage (the long bone looking thing sticking out the back of its head). it was perched on the edge of the roof . . . Its tail looked like a lions tail; it was very long & had a bushy or hairy tip.
Pterodactyl Sighting in Canada (“ long, skinny, pointed tail”)
. . . In Brampton, Ontario, Canada, while driving to work . . . with my mother at about 8:00 a.m. EST, my mother and I saw a strange bird-like creature flying low and close to the car about 20 feet away from us. . . . exactly like a miniature pterodactyl like you see in the movies like Jurassic Park . . . The only difference is that it was much smaller, having a wingspan of about four feet.
It was gray and did not appear to have any feathers . . . It had a long, skinny, pointed tail extended straight behind it that had sort of a diamond shape at the tip. It also had a long neck extended out in front of it as it flew.
Two Pterodactyls in Cuba
The U. S. Marine Eskin C. Kuhn observed two similar flying creatures, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1971. He sketched what he had seen, within minutes of the encounter, giving us details of the appearance of those two ”pterodactyls.”
Sketch by the eyewitness Eskin Kuhn (Cuba, 1971)
The pilot put the plane into a dive to avoid a collision with what he at first assumed was another airplane. As it passed, it became obvious that it was no plane.
But why should modern creatures conform precisely, in a few arbitrarily-chosen details, to those that we know from fossils? How absurd!
According to a PBS report, the remote Highway 16 in British Columbia, Canada, has been called the “Highway of Tears.” It stretches for over 400 miles, from Prince Rupert to Prince George, with much of it through Indigenous reserves where unemployment may top 90%. Amnesty International estimates that thirty-two Native American women have gone missing here, in the last thirty years. Many people assume that monstrous humans are responsible: rapists and murderers. Evidence suggests that at least some of the victims were assaulted by humans. But the nonfiction author Gerald McIsaac (second edition of Bird From Hell) thinks that most of the children and women were victims of the “devil bird,” a flying creature that some eyewitnesses have described like a “pterodactyl.”
I don’t believe everything that I’ve read in Bird From Hell, but other cryptozoology books mention “pterodactyl attacks” . . . Take one account in the pioneering nonfiction On the Track of Unknown Animals, by Bernard Heuvelmans: “Coming straight at me only a few feet above the water was a black thing the size of an eagle. . . . its lower jaw hung open and bore a semicircle of pointed white teeth . . . And just before it became too dark to see, it came again, hurtling back down the river, . . . [with] black, dracula-like wings. . . . the brute made straight for George. He ducked.” [account by Ivan T. Sanderson: an expedition in Africa]
We covered the Sudan, Africa, pterosaur sighting in February of 2010, but more could be said.
On “Pterosaur Sighting Extremes,” this sighting is mentioned as an extreme closeness between the eyewitness and the live pterosaur.
That “kongamato-pterodactyl” web page fails to mention, however, that the creature hopped from one mud-brick hut to another RIGHT OVER THE BOY’S HEAD. The distance between the feet of the creature and the head of the boy must have been about ten feet, if that much. After the boy had grown into a man, he gained access to a computer (not everybody in Sudan has a computer) and sent me an email, with details about his encounter. I found his report highly credible, both in his honesty and in the high probability that it was a pterosaur.
Although some critics have mentioned the possibility of misidentifications in sightings, including those in Africa, this one in Sudan was so close that the details in the description cannot reasonably be ignored.
. . . four-to-five feet tall, olive brown, and leathery (no feathers). A “long bone looking thing” stuck out the back of its head, and its long tail . . .
[It was] moving its wings very, very slowly, very much as we see raptors or eagles do when they circle in the air scanning the land for prey. I paid attention to the wings as it would allow for identification – but this bird did not have any feathers, at least not any spread primary feathers (as eagles often show).
It looked more like a large bat with distinctly brightly coloured (yellow-brown, orange?) protrusions, where birds have carpal joints (like some ‘spur-winged birds’). It showed a long, very long, slim neck (like of cranes or flamingos), with a thickening in the middle . . . ending into a long beak (like storks). At the joint of the neck to the wing (or body) there was a type of thickening or collar (like the fluffy doughnut collar of a ‘white backed vulture’).
Eskin C. Kuhn, the U. S. Marine who watched two pterosaurs fly by at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1971, has commented recently on what he observed. He wrote another letter to the American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb, including:
I can well imagine that a young girl [six-year-old Patty Carson, who saw a similar pterosaur at Guantanamo but in 1965] would have been terrified at such an encounter; as I recall wondering at the time if the ones I saw had such a temperament to be aggressive . . . and how much they could carry off . . . and figured that at 175 lbs. I was well beyond their capacity.
I tried to memorize the way the bones of the wing (struts) were really extensions of the “hand” that formed into the leading edge of the wing, trailing back through the skin to the back or trailing edge of the wing.., in much the same way as a bat’s wing is formed. Indeed the fleshy hide would probably be more akin to a bat’s than any other creature.
He describes the end of the long tail: “long strands of hair in a tuft . . . a brush, not flesh covered as the rest [of the creature].” This reminds me of the description of the pterosaur seen by a boy in Sudan, for that boy mentioned being reminded of the tail of a lion.
“It was a beautiful, clear summer day . . . I was looking in the direction of the ocean when I saw an incredible sight . . . I saw two pterosaurs…flying together at … perhaps 100 feet, very close in range . . . so that I had a perfectly clear view of them . . . the texture of the wings appeared to be very similar to that of bats.”
I have interviewed Eskin Kuhn (early 2010) by surprising him with a phone call; he had no time to prepare how to respond. The first thing he said to me was something like, “It was a long time ago.” He confirmed that the desciption he gave of the two apparent pterosaurs was an honest report of what he had seen; in early 2010 he had nothing to add, subtract, or change. I was moved by the high credibility of this man who has, since his 1971 sighting, been doubted by some critics. But I found strong indications that there was no hoax.
It’s possible that the pterosaurs seen in Cuba may be related to the kongamato of Africa.
“Regardless of what caused natives, long ago, to name this frightening creature, many reports of apparent pterosaurs in Africa involve featherless creatures flying over land, not jumping out of water, as a stingray may do on occasion. Although some modern pterosaurs appear to live close to water (even catching fish on reefs, as is the case with the ropen of Papua New Guinea) the sighting reports themselves, when details are noted, eliminate any reasonable possibility that what was seen was a stingray.”
The cryptozoologist Dale A. Drinnon has come up with some strange ideas to try to explain away accounts of live pterodactyls in Africa and in Papua New Guinea: stingrays, Manta rays, and Hornbill birds. But his ideas fail when details are taken into account. Neither the stingray fishes nor the Manta ray fishes fly above trees, far from any body of water. Hornbill birds have neither mouths like crocodiles nor horn-like head crests. That bird also never grows big enough to have a wingspan 30-50 feet, neither does it glow with bright bioluminescence as it flies at night. And Hornbills do, in fact, have feathers.
He believes a large stingray could overturn a boat (“Kongamato” means overturner of boats), declaring that a pterosaur would never have enough mass to overturn a boat. I find a number of serious problems with that pterosaur-impossible assumption . . . Some paleontologists have become so focused on the precise details in the fossils that they have forgotten the ramifications of the obvious: A surviving pterosaur species may differ from pterosaurs that left us fossils. [Why could not an undiscovered species of pterosaur overturn a small boat?] . . . [In addition] how are small boats usually overturned? A human in a small boat makes a wrong move. Put yourself into that small boat and how would you react to an attack by a reported-dangerous flying creature with many teeth? How could you avoid making a wrong move for a small boat? How easy for a terrified human to overturn a boat that was dive-bombed by a Kongamato! What difference does it make if the mass of that flying creature is insufficient to overturn a boat by only an impact?
Hodgkinson and his army buddy were in a small clearing, in 1944, when the “pterodactyl” the size of a Piper Tri-Pacer flew up into the air (obviously a short distance away for the men and flying creature were together in that small clearing). That alone, the description of a wingspan close to thirty feet when seen about a hundred feet away, can eliminate the Hornbill explanation. All the other differences are a confirmation that Hodgkinson saw nothing like a Hornbill.
. . . What about the details in the testimony by the eyewitness Gideon Koro, whom I interviewed in 2004? He and his six friends were terrified at the giant ropen that flew over Lake Pung. He described a creature with a tail that was “seven meter” long, a creature with no feathers but a mouth “like a crocodile.” Those seven teenagers did not run home in terror because they had seen a common bird flying over a lake.
How can two freshwater stingrays fly slowly, directly over ones head? They cannot. It is possible for one stingray to jump out of a river, however uncommon that may be, but never two overhead, flying slowly.