According to nonfiction author Jonathan Whitcomb, “at least 1400″ Americans have seen an obvious living pterosaur in the United States within the past three decades. One cryptozooology forum-blog has challenged that crude calculation, but what would be a better estimate? How can anyone estimate what is not reported?
We know, from what eyewitnesses have told us, that some people just will not come forward and admit that they have seen an obvious pterosaur. The Chasepeake Bay area sighting is one example: several men saw the creature in daylight, but only one of them wanted to talk about it. This is part of Western culture, for it is considered crazy to report seeing something like a “live pterodactyl.” Considering the many eyewitnesses who have come forward, it seems that there must have been at least hundreds of eyewitnesses within the past three decades.
The point is, we can no longer accept the old criticism: “If pterosaurs were still alive, we would have seen them.” That circular reasoning, to dismiss sightings, becomes more obviously invalid now that we have begun to consider how many eyewitnesses there really are.
Bioluminescent flying creatures larger than fireflies–that possibility has received attention lately, in light of the research done by Fred Silcock of Victoria, Australia. According to this expert on birds, Tyto Alba (known as “barn owl” in the United States and “great owl” in Australia), in some cases at least, has intrinsic bioluminescence. Some of these owls can turn on a glow on their underside. In fact, the whiteness of some of their feathers is explained by this intrinsic glowing capability: White feathers allow light to pass through.
So how do glowing owls relate to reports of live pterodactyls? In Papua New Guinea, the ropen is seen usually from a distance at night. How is it seen? It glows, sometimes brightly, as it flies. How can anyone conclude that it is a pterosaur? When it is seen up close, it is seen to be one. The combination of giant size, head crest, long tail, and absence of any sign of feathers—that hardy fits neatly in place alongside any pterosaur fossil. But it fits better with a ”pterosaur” label than with any name of any bird or bat, and the tail-movement description given by villagers of Northern Umboi Island (Woetzel-Guessman expedition of 2004) give it a fit with another label: Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed pterosaur). So some barn owls and some modern pterosaurs glow at night, at least sometimes.
With American ghost lights, intriguing possibilities arise. What about the Hornet Light of Missouri or the Gurdon Light of Arkansas or the Chapel Hill Light of Tennessee? Are they from pterosaurs or from barn owls? The behavior of those lights gives us a clue: The three lights appear to behave like hunting barn owls. Don’t bother hunting for strange lights in those three areas if your interest is only in modern pterosaurs or in headless ghosts who search for their missing heads.
But with the Marfa Lights of Southern Texas, well, that is another story, and apparently a nonfiction one. Those lights behave like intelligent glowing flying creatures that are hunting bats. Could not barn owls learn to catch bats? Perhaps they might, but it would be a remarkable adaptation. The big problem with a barn owl interpretation of the Marfa Lights, however, is in the behavior of those lights. Their complex dance routine flies in the face of barn owl intelligence; the dance movements leave birds far behind, figuratively and literaly. They can be compared to whales hunting; but African lions appear clumsy by comparison.
So if barn owls are eliminated, must Marfa Lights by made by pterosaurs? Perhaps there is a third possibility, but so far no scientific explanation (without pterosaurs) has come close to a reasonable interpretation. Non-living objects are just too dumb to appear to hunt bats; living ghosts or demons are just too unscientific for scientists. Strange as it may seem, living bioluminescent pterosaurs appear to be the only reasonable explanation.
“ On September 4, 2009 . . . just as it was getting dark, but it was a bright full moon also, my bro in law pointed behind me and said ‘What the hell is that?’ and I turned around and saw the largest flying creature I’ve ever seen. It was heading straight towards us. I wish I’d had a video camera. It flew straight over us and off into the horizon. It must have had a 20 foot wingspan. It was gigantic. It flew about 50 feet over our heads.” So stated the man who reported what he called a “pterodactyl.”
But these two men were not the only eyewitnesses of strange flying creatures near the Cooney Reservoir in southeast Montana, in early September, 2009. The same eyewitness that gave the above account also said, “I told the fish and wildlife service lady who was working there what I saw and her eyes popped open and she said she’d seen several very large birds that she’d never seen before in the area the day before.”
Canine-cryptid and mysterious things in Montana
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?
“Pterodactyl”–that’s the name most Americans use for “pterosaur.” (Say ter-uh-sore) But the common name is used, by scientists, for a particular type of pterosaur. Let’s use the technically correct form here.
Pterosaurs come in two varieties, short-tailed (Pterodactyloid) and long-tailed (Rhamphorhynchoid) . . . excuse me, they don’t exactly come any more, according to textbooks. But this web site is about the exceptions: where pterosaurs really do come in, and that means in modern times.
Most Americans who see anything very like a pterosaur (about 1400+ Americans, according to the estimate of one cryptozoologist) are reluctant to talk. Most of those who have seen the flying creature clearly, and talk about it, describe a long tail. That’s interesting, for natives of remote islands in Papua New Guinea describe long tails on pterosaur-like creatures. Long-tailed pterosaur-like flying creatures have also been seen in Africa and Europe. It seems that 70%-90% of sightings involve long tails, at least when a tail is noticed. Perhaps this relates to some of the old flying-dragon legends from around the world.
Both ordinary Americans and remote natives often fear talking about featherless long-tailed flying creatures but for different reasons. A native fears that the nocturnal creature (human-like and with magic, according to legends) might come back, even to his hut; An American fears that her friends will never again come back to her house, and that she herself could become a neighborhood legend. Therefore, most eyewitnesses keep quiet.
But thank goodness for eyewitnesses who do talk to cryptozoologists. When a man sees something flying high overhead in Bowling Green, Kentucky, or a boy sees something flying five feet overhead in Sudan, Africa, the description includes “long tail.” This is so common (in reports of living pterosaurs) that some cryptzoologists now take it for granted that Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs live in many parts of the world, rare and usually nocturnal, but just as alive as any bird or bat.