Two major objections skeptics bring up: “hoax” and “misidentification.” Skeptics are correct when they bring up questionable stories, accounts that are obvious hoaxes or misidentifications, but they assume that all accounts must likewise be worthless. They fail to comprehend that when a dishonest boy cries “wolf,” all wolves do not thereby become extinct.
Duane Hodgkinson, an experienced plane pilot, immediately ran into flak, in New Guinea in 1944, when he used the word “pterodactyl” for the “huge” flying creature that he and his army buddy had seen take off into the air from a jungle clearing. He never denied his account of the encounter, but he became more quiet about it after friends kept replying to him by asking what he had been drinking (he has never been a drinker).
He continued to tell of his encounter when he found listening ears, not that the account itself had changed: only his willingness to talk. He flew planes for many thousands of hours, since his mililtary service during World War II, but without any near misses from flying pterodactyls. Why did he and his army buddy see a huge flying creature (with no sign of feathers but with a tail “at least” ten or fifteen feet long) in that jungle clearing in 1944? How simple the answer! At least one species of pterosaur still lives. The hoax idea itself becomes extinct, for a general explanation for sightings, when we examine details, and details abound in the more credible accounts.
Duane Hodgkinson would not be repeating his “pterodactyl” story if it had been a hoax, for he has been a flight instructor for years, and he needs to present a professional atmosphere: He needs to be taken seriously. The same is true for Brian Hennessy the psychologist and other eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs. (By the way, both Hodgkinson and Hennessy have not tried to prove the live-pterosaur concept through insisting that there could not have been any feathers on the huge flying creatures that they observed in the southwest Pacific; they simply declare that they did not see any feather: another evidence that there was no hoax with either of those sightings.)
But the vast majority of the emails and phone calls that I receive show no sign of any of those four distractions*, and that, over the past eight years, has made the case for living pterosaurs, for the probability that all of those many credible reports are non-pterosaurs is so slight that it is not worth considering. [*The four distractions are hoax, misidentification, dream, insanity.]
The better explanation is that a number of species of modern pterosaurs lives in various parts of the world, with a least some of them increasing in size as they grow older. The smoothness of the statistical slope is also in harmony with general inaccuracies in the eyewitness abilities to estimate wingspan and flying-creature size, at least for most sightings. The combination of all those factors, along with various ages of the creatures (including some juveniles), causes a somewhat smooth slope in the graphing of the data.
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