By the cryptozoology author Jonathan D. Whitcomb
Let me make this clear at the beginning: I do not proclaim that the animal in the Ptp photograph must have been a species of Pteranodon very similar to what has been already discovered, in pterosaur fossils, before 2017. Early in this year, the missile defense physicist Clifford Paiva and I came to an agreement, after a phone conversation, that the animal was a modern pterosaur. Yet we did not make any declaration, then or since, that it must have been extremely similar to some species of Pteranodon that is now known to scientists.
The photograph being discussed, now called “Ptp”
A vocal critic of living-pterosaur investigations
One skeptic has written a long online article, orchestrated to discourage people from taking living-pterosaur investigations seriously. It mentions the Civil War photograph but emphasizes every possible detail, that the writer could imagine, that could throw it into the most unfavorable light.
I don’t exaggerate when I call it a “long” article, for it contains about 13,000 words (only a small portion of it is about the Ptp photograph). Obviously I won’t be responding to all of it in this little post, but we can look at some of it.
“Giant Pteranodon-like pterosaur” in the photo
Those are his own words, that skeptic who wrote that long online attack against modern-pterosaur research. He may remove that sentence, should he eventually read what I here write, yet the point remains: After many years of writing and rewriting and refining his long online article, those were his own words, “giant Pteranodon-like pterosaur,” and he apparently was not quoting anyone else’s words. In other words, he got the impression that the image resembles that kind of pterosaur, at least in some way.
Not that he supports the idea that the animal shown in the Ptp photograph greatly resembles what is now known, from fossils, about Pteranodons. But he and others get the impression that it is like that kind of pterosaur, so let’s look briefly at his two lists of reasons he gives for how it is NOT like a Pteranodon. (I’ll not go over every item in the list, for Paiva and I are not contending that it must have been a Pteranodon.)
1) It has teeth, but Pteranodons were toothless
Look closely. The beak of that apparent pterosaur does NOT have teeth anything like Rhamphorhynchoid teeth. In fact those are not necessarily “large teeth” in the technical sense, but could very well be an irregular shape of the beak. And why should paleontologists have already discovered fossils of all the species of Pteranodon that ever lived?
2) The beak is the wrong shape
In the real world, beaks of flying creatures come in many different shapes, even in pterosaurs. In fact, it seems that there is no such thing as a wrong shape for a beak.
3) The head is “too small” (in comparison with the rest of the animal)
Perhaps this was a species of Pteranodon that has not yet been discovered, one with a smaller head. Maybe it is different enough that it should be classified as a different species of pterosaur. The point is this: It was a pterosaur. Remember that Paiva and I have agreed with the point made by this skeptical writer: The animal in the photograph gives one the impression that it was a Pteranodon.
I’ll go no further on this subject, for those two lists have little relevance. The animal was an obvious pterosaur.
Civil War soldiers in the photo
The skeptic mentioned missing fingers on the hand of one of the apparent Civil War soldiers. I have written extensively about this elsewhere, and it’s on my Youtube video “Introduction to the Old Photograph Ptp.” The skeptic said that it relates to “modern photo editing.” Nonsense. I’ve worked in animation and have experience with a number of software systems for editing images (including Photoshop). The only imaginable way those missing fingers could have come about through digital image processing, to the best of my knowledge, is ridiculous. It would require finding a photo with a Civil War soldier who had his hand out, as if holding a rifle, when HE HAD NO RIFLE. An image of a rifle would then be pasted onto that image, causing the ends of the man’s fingers to disappear. I feel sure that never happened.
How much better is the following explanation! The man was holding onto the ramrod of the rifle, with his finger tips. Since the ramrod is also not visible in the photo, we can assume it was, from the camera perspective, behind the body of the rifle. In other words, don’t be surprised that those finger tips are unseen.
If one were to look deeply into the origin of accusations of Photoshop manipulation, that person would most likely discover that the person responsible is not any kind of expert on digital image manipulation.
Two American scientists have declared that a photograph, that was previously assumed a hoax made through Photoshop, was not created through any digital image-manipulation trickery.
I had come to recognize witness credibility, as a forensic videographer, and I noticed that almost none of the natives mentioned anything about their superstitions or legends of the ropen. In fact, almost none of them had any clear sighting of the animal, admitting they had seen it only briefly and at a distance . . . with one exception.
I just finished writing the nonfiction Modern Pterosaurs, which supports a Biblical timetable regarding the Flood of Noah [although this is not a religious book; it is in the nonfiction-cryptozoology genre].
I’ve recently been communicating, by emails, with a skeptic who has written much to persuade people to disbelieve in modern pterosaurs. Here’s part of what I told him in reply to a couple of his questions . . .
This new nonfiction book is subtitled “Human encounters with living pterodactyls.”