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.
To quote from Wikipedia, “In 1956 an engineer, J.P.F. Brown, allegedly saw the creature at Fort Rosebery near Lake Bangweulu in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). . . . he saw two creatures flying slowly and silently directly overhead. He observed that they looked prehistoric. He estimated a wingspan of about 3 to 3½ feet (1 meter) and a beak-to-tail length of about 4½ feet (1.5 meters). It reportedly had a long thin tail, and a narrow head which he likened to an elongated snout of a dog.”
Stingray or Pterodactyl?
Before considering the origin of the word “kongamato,” we need to evaluate what witnesses have seem to have seen, regardless of what they call the flying creature. 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. How can a freshwater stingray have a head that looks like “an elongated snout of a dog?” It cannot. But a pterosaur, called by some people “pterodactyl,” may appear as described by J. P. F. Brown, according to his report, regardless of whether or not someone else had once seen a freshwater stingray and called it “kongamato.”
One cryptozoologist has suggested that the origin of the word “kongamato” lies in a large freshwater stingray, found in some rivers of the world. But that suggestion is irrelevant to the cryptozoological investigations that have centered on accounts of apparent pterosaurs in Africa and in other areas of the world. Many accounts involve flying creatures high over land, often over thirty feet above the ground, not a stingray jumping inches above the surface of a river. Many accounts involve a head crest and a beak or long snout, not the body of a stingray, which has no distinctive head.
Part of the credibility of kongamato sightings of what seem to be pterosaurs come from similar accounts from other areas of the world. The U. S. Marine Eskin Kuhn has stood by his sighting for decades, never wavering in spite of thoughtless words of those who fear the possibility of live pterodactyls. It was not a vague sighting in the night but a clear sighting in daylight, with nothing obscurring Kuhn’s view of the two pterodactyls that were flying nearby. With pterodactyls flying in pairs in Cuba, why not two kongamatos flying in Zambia, Africa?
(From the “Flying Dinosaurs” site) Eskin Kuhn was surprised by a phone call from the cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb, early in 2010. Kuhn confirmed the sighting and Whitcomb was convinced that it was a real encounter in 1971.
It has been suggested that the strange ghost lights of southwest Texas, sometimes called “Marfa Lights,” are caused by the bioluminescence of a group of intelligent flying creautures like the ropen of Papua New Guinea. The ropen is said to be a living pterosaur, perhaps not unlike the kongamato of Africa.
(From the Live Pterosaurs blog) It seems odd to me that Wikipedia makes almost no mention of the name “James Bunnell” under the heading of “Marfa Lights.” What scientist has done more research and conducted more searching for Marfa Lights than he has, with at least two nonfiction books on the subject? What other investigator of ghost lights in southwest Texas has been granted permission to set up remote automatic cameras on the private property of ranchers?
Walking from one mud-brick hut to another, early one night in 1988, the boy noticed something on the roof of a nearby hut. Lit up by the patio light, 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, and its long tail somehow resembled that of a lion.
The boy froze as the creature stretched its wings and hopped toward another roof, passing a few feet over the boy’s head. He dropped the metal tray with dishes and the creature flew away. The eyewitness was sure about the head crest and the long tail.
Could this “pterodactyl” in Sudan be related to long-tailed pterosaur-like creatures reported in other areas of Africa, the “flying snake“ of Namibia or the kongamato of the swamps around Angola, Congo, and Zambia?