Flying Pterosaur, not a Leaping Ray

 Pterosaurs, Southwest Pacific  Comments Off on Flying Pterosaur, not a Leaping Ray
Nov 072012

I’ve written about this Manta ray fish story many times already, but we need to now concentrate on the reasons why Dale Drinnon has repeatedly brought up this leaping-fish conjecture. But before getting into his reasoning, let’s review his conjecture. He believes that “many” sightings of reported pterosaurs (the extant living creatures, not fossils) come from people who see a large Manta ray that jumps up out of the water.

Mr. Drinnon insists that any extant pterosaur on this planet must resemble pterosaurs known from fossils that have been discovered and that any deviation in appearance means the creature observed cannot be that type of flying creature. He does not explain why he has taken that stand, but he dogmatically holds onto that position.

Hypothetical Encounter at a Zoo

Let’s apply that position to fossils in general and to modern creatures in general (why should pterosaurs get special treatment?). How would we react if a paleontologist marched up to the administration office of a zoo and insisted that a particular animal enclosure be labeled “Animatronic – not a real animal?” Everybody else knows that those animals are biological and not fake. Why is that paleontologist mistaken in his dogmatism? He knows that no fossil yet discovered is exactly like what we all see in that zoo enclosure, so he insists that the animals in question cannot be biological. Why is he wrong? (Of course that paleontologist is imaginary.)

Biological Diversity

Almost every adult human in Western society understands biological diversity, whether those adult humans are Biblical Creationists or strict Darwinist Evolutionists. Chihuahuas and Saint Bernards are the same species, regardless of outward differences. Why should pterosaurs drastically differ from the general rule?

Paleontologists know from pterosaur fossils that varieties existed in the past, great diversity in those flying creatures. Why should we be shocked that a modern pterosaur would have one or two or even three details of appearance that differ, in some degree, from already-discovered fossils of pterosaurs? In fact, new varieties of pterosaurs are still being discovered in fossil form. The shock is in discovering that not all their species are extinct, after generations of indoctrination into the universal-extinction dogma.

Ray Resemblance

Mr. Drinnon emphasizes anything that seems to relate to a Manta ray fish (with sighting reports of pterosaurs) especially the general shape of the body of the Manta ray. But he mentions almost no details, no particular sighting, in most of his writings; what sighting report has a description of a ray shape and was over a large body of water? Two creatures flying together, high over a city in the Philippines could not have been a leaping Manta ray, although Drinnon still wants to hold onto the possibility that it was that fish (because that city is near water).

Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaur Resemblance

In the second ropen expedition of 2004 (I led the first one), Garth Guessman and David Woetzel interviewed a few native eyewitnesses, in Papua New Guinea, by using a page of silhouettes. Those images (unlabeled except for numbers) were of dozens of known birds, bats, and pterosaurs. Only two natives had a good-enough view of the flying creature (that they called “ropen”) to make a valid evaluate of shape, comparing the images with what they remembered observing on Umboi Island. I have photocopies of the detailed reports of those interviews.

The two natives who had good views of the ropen both chose the image of the Sordes Pilosus, a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur:

long-tailed pterosaur - Sordes Pilosus

That silhouette does bear a slight resemblance to the shape of a Manta ray (if we cut off the Rhamphorhynchoid tail vane and the head). But both Jonathan Ragu and Jonah Jim (in two seperate sightings) saw a flying creature that was glowing, not a Manta ray that jumped out of the sea and fell back. In fact, Jonah Jim was miles from the coast, far from any major body of water.

Ragu witnessed, with his daughter, the glowing ropen flying at or near the northwest coast of Umboi Island. Take the case that the man and his daughter had merely seen a jumping Manta ray, as unlikely as that appears to have been. Why would he have chosen the same silhouette as Jonah Jim would later choose? And why would Ragu report the same strange phenomenon: a glow? Those factors practically eliminate the jumping Manta ray misidentification as a reasonable conjecture for these two sightings. Ragu and Jonah Jim had surely seen the same flying creature, regardless of how shocking a modern giant Sordes Pilosus may be to Westerners.

Mr. Drinnon is mistaken on two major points: The critical sightings that my associates and I have analyzed could not have been misidentified leaping rays, and modern pterosaurs need not be precisely similar, in all details, to those paleontologists know from fossils.

Pterosaur, not Manta Ray

The Four Key Sightings in the Southwest Pacific

Ropen, not Misidentified Frigate Bird

Misidentified sea birds [Frigate bird] are a far cry from how serious living-pterosaur investigations really began.

Leaping Fish or Pterosaur

No Manta rays would appear to fly through the air together and change directions in the air . . .

Sep 142012

My newest book is now available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook: Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea (ASIN: B0098QFMDM — $3.99 in U.S. dollars — Cover llustrations by Patty Carson and Eskin Kuhn)

book cover of "Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea"


. . . I believe in living pterosaurs and hope they will soon be officially discovered. More important, I believe in you, that you can soar above dogmatic assumptions about extinctions. I hope that you already understand that we are more than a by-product of culture: Our existence transcends the boundaries of the human cultural assumptions that have shaped our beliefs. . . .

Chapter Four

As I prepared for my expedition, to be in a remote wilderness, leaving my wife at home for weeks, how fortunate that I was married to a trustworthy Christian woman . . . You know what I mean: “Thou shalt not kill!” Actually, I brought up the subject gradually: An important expedition was needed . . . I must assist those who would go . . . Unfortunately none of the other Americans was a professional videographer . . . Unfortunately, I myself had to go.

Chapter Six

In Australia, eyewitnesses also see large flying creatures unlike any bird or bat; unlike natives of Papua New Guinea, however, most Australians have no common tradition of any extant flying creature larger than any bird or bat. Most Australians do know the Western assumption that all dinosaurs and pterosaurs became extinct millions of years ago; but that Western tradition slaps eyewitnesses in the face. How do you tell a friend, neighbor, or relative that you saw a live pterodactyl?

New Book About Live Pterosaurs

This low-cost ebook gives detailed eyewitness accounts of the strange flying creatures seen in the Southwest Pacific, with explanations for why these sightings are absent from news headlines.

Pterodactyls in Australia

The author of the book, the American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb, believes he has found the answer to why the nocturnal creatures are sometimes observed in daylight

Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific

Michael, of Opai Village, “was one of the witnesses of a strange light that came to the grave . . . where the body of a man was buried . . .

Aug 222012

My newest book is about to be published in the next few weeks: Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea. This low-cost ebook gives detailed eyewitness accounts of the strange flying creatures seen in the Southwest Pacific, with explanations for why these sightings are absent from news headlines. Samples:


I have found, after many years of questioning eyewitnesses, that some accounts cannot be dismissed as misidentified birds or bats or as hoaxes. Keep the door open to discovering something for yourself; I expect you’ll discover something important before the last chapter.

Chapter One: How can Pterosaurs be Alive?

Dragon stories abound in many human cultures, and before the late nineteenth century “dragon” would have been what an eyewitness might have called a living pterosaur. I suggest that some legends of flying dragons are less than 100% fictional, but this book examines more recent reports, not old legends. Nevertheless, part of the problem resides in the old English word “dragon.”

Chapter Three: The Bougainville Creature

Did you notice the word absent from Hennessy’s account but obvious in Hodgkinson’s? In all my email correspondence with Hennessy, he never said “pterodactyl” (or “pterosaur”). Nevertheless, he was clear about the description and clear about his impression of the flying creature: “prehistoric.”

Chapter Five: Another Expedition on Umboi Island

Before leaving Kampalap, they learned about the ropen’s behavior on that northeast coast. It glows until it alights on a tree on a promontory north of the village; when it lands on the tree, the light goes out. Later the ropen flies to the nearby reef to feed.

Chapter Eight: Expedition of 2006

Paul Nation and Jacob Kepas were flown into the remote mountainous area by the plane pilot Jim Blume, the same missionary who assisted the 1990 expeditions and the second 2004 expedition. . . . Blume had to make two flights, for the two passengers and their luggage, but he himself did not stay long in Tawa.

“I [Paul Nation] was able to watch the two [lights] on the mountain range . . . at this little saddle. . . . [the lower left light] appeared first. About a minute or so later, the higher one . . . appeared, and the first one disappeared. . . . the second one . . . took up and over [flew over] . . . the back side [of the ridge]. . . .”

To make this book available to as many readers as possible, and to preserve trees, it is being published as an e-book. Please contribute to the preservation of the enviroment and the propogation of knowledge by purchasing your own copy in electronic format (it might never be released in paper-book format).

Book About Pterosaurs in Australia

Some of the sightings mentioned in this book had not been published in any book before, to the best of my knowledge; they are first-hand accounts given to me over several years.

Pterosaur Extinction (or not)

In brief, Mr. Kuban draws attention to the weakest reasons for believing  in modern pterosaurs, the weak reports; he also points out  flaws or just possible flaws  in some of the words and reasoning of those who promote the concept of living pterosaurs. . . . But consider two critical points that he ignores: the strongest eyewitness-testimony accounts and the philosophical foundations of the conflict.

Don’t Get Strung Along by the Smithsonian

 Pterosaurs, Southwest Pacific  Comments Off on Don’t Get Strung Along by the Smithsonian
Mar 192012

Science writer Brian Switek, in an August, 2010, post for the online Smithsonian Magazine, titled his remarks “Don’t Get Strung Along by the Ropen Myth.” He may have gotten unanimous approval for pointing out that a photo of a frigate bird is not evidence for living pterosaurs, but he got a stern rebuke for mentioning the word “hucksters” for those who search for cryptids many had assumed have been extinct for millions of years, especially those who have searched in Papua New Guinea for the ropen. The rebuke was from the cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb.

Ropen Ideas Shot Down by a Smithsonian Blogger

Brian Switek was correct in one point: The news reporter Terrence Aym fell into a serious blunder in referring to an image of a common Frigate Bird as if it were a ropen or pterosaur. (But Switek’s blunders are so serious that I will not even link to his blog post.)

In Whitcomb’s book Live Pterosaurs in America, the “Mesozoic Objection” in regard to the extinction of pterosaurs is criticized as follows:

What about the “Mesozoic” objection? One critic declares that a lack of “post-Mesozoic remains” (no fossils in “less-ancient” rock strata) proves a pterosaur could not live in modern times. But a subtle form of circular reasoning lies buried within this declaration about fossil rocks.

When a creature thought to have lived only in the Mesozoic time period is found in an undated stratum, what happens? That stratum is then labeled “Mesozoic.” So if a pterosaur fossil can cause it to be “ancient,” what can be reasonably concluded about an apparent lack of any pterosaur fossils in rocks not labeled “ancient?” Not a lack of modern pterosaurs. Standard-model labeling of strata relies a great deal on the axiom of ancient extinctions of certain organisms, and axioms are assumptions, not proven facts.

Pterosaur Extinction and Brian Switek

Switek seems to have entirely failed to comprehend what is entailed here. If the discovery of a modern living Coelacanth could have opened up the way for dating some Coelacanth fossils as being after the Mesozoic, the discovery of a modern living pterosaur could open up the way for dating some pterosaur fossils as also being more recent. This perspective was probably entirely overlooked by Switek.


Third edition of the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America

Third edition of the non-fiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America, by Jonathan David Whitcomb, gives you details unavailable in online blogs: many eyewitness sighting reports in many states of the U.S.A.

From a review of the second edition (

“This is an updated review of the book and I am changing my rating to 5 stars. This book has been on my shelf for almost a year now. I pick it up every now and then and a part of me becomes more impressed by the book every time. Yes, the skeptics will laugh at it, but I am a skeptic to. Admittedly, my main interest in the subject is based in romanticism. However, it is apparent that these pterosaur stories will not go away.” (book review by Stevie, Oct 23, 2011, second edition of the book)

May 312011

Although the word “dragon” does not usually come up, Australians sometimes see a giant long-tailed living pterosaur, regardless of the label put to it. The most famous sighting is probably the Perth creature, seen by a married couple who were taking a walk one evening in December of 1997, but similar flying creatures have been seen on the east coast and in the south.

Perth Pterosaur

“My husband and I both sighted a huge creature flying over a densely populated area, while we were out walking one night in Perth, Western Australia on the coastline around 10:30 pm . . . it had a ruddy reddish brown leathery skin . . . it had a long tail and a wingspan that we estimated at between 30-50 feet across. . . .” [correlates with Gideon Koro’s account]

“This creature was huge and never in my life have I ever seen anything that remotely resembled it until I found a page on Pterosaurs . . . My husband works in a scientific field and he observed it and took in much more about it than I.

“What we saw did not appear to have a long neck, at least we could not see it from the angle . . . yes, we believe it did have a tail, and don’t believe they were feet, but actually a tail . . .”

Modern Pterosaur in Australia

“In the early 1990s I was living in . . . South Australia. . . . [I] drove . . . out to Western Australia . . .  [to] see the outback. . . . stopped . . . set up the tent . . . [something] looked like an airplane, far away. . . . maybe a couple hundred feet [high]. . . . it got nearer to me, I noticed that the wings were actually flapping gently . . . no sound. It was getting closer . . . had a wingspan [of about] 15 or 20 feet. It got close . . . leathery . . . no feathers at all.”

Giant Pterosaurs in Australiaeast coast, north of Brisbane

During his farm chores, between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., he [a boy of about twelve years old] forgot something and had to backtrack. . . . at the door of a shed, he saw a large creature with wings. It was on the roof of the shed, just above the door where he had recently been standing.

The boy had a brief view of the body and wings of the creature. It was larger than an average man six feet tall, with wings that folded to the side and back . . .

The giant pterosaur of Australia may be related to the long-tailed Kongamato of Africa or the long-tailed featherless flying creature seen in Sudan, Africa. It may also be related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea, although it could be a different species, notwithstanding the ropen is sometimes described as being a giant.

Are Dragons Pterosaurs?

Are all fictional stories based upon people or animals that never existed? Let’s be careful not to rush to conclusions about dragons, for fantasies, though fictional, are often based upon some truth. The story of Little Red Riding Hood is fictional, but grandmothers and wolves are both real.

What do dragons and pterosaurs have in common? Celtic dragons had arrows at the end of their tails, which may relate to pterosaur tails. What about Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur tails? Are not dragon tails also long? Perhaps most noteworthy  are the wings: both pterosaurs and flying dragons have featherless wings.

Ropen, Not Misidentified Frigate Bird

 North America, Pterosaurs, Southwest Pacific  Comments Off on Ropen, Not Misidentified Frigate Bird
Mar 182011

A hastily written article by a Terrence Aym, for the Salem-News (Pacific Northwest region), has given critics bird shot to shoot at the idea that the ropen is a pterosaur. Aym assumed the Youtube video showed just what it purported to show: a ropen; it was actually a misidentified Frigate bird. But that video is old news to living-pterosaur investigators, and misidentified sea birds are a far cry from how serious living-pterosaur investigations really began.

Duane Hodgkinson Pterodactyl Sighting

The World War II veteran Duane Hodgkinson has many web pages and blog posts written about his “pterodactyl” sighting on the mainland of New Guinea (now in the nation of Papua New Guinea) in 1944. He is also mentioned in at least one scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal of science. The Youtube video “Ropen-Pterodactyl American Eyewitness” (the veteran was interviewed by a cryptozoologist) has over a quarter of a million views. Hodgkinson’s story has fascinated many who have come to believe in his encounter with a “pterodactyl.”

How astonished were the two American soldiers when the giant featherless creature flew up into the air! Its wingspan was close to thirty feet; its tail, close to fifteen feet long. Its head had a long pointed head crest. Everything about the giant flying creature shouted, “non-bird and non-bat.” A Frigate bird it was not.

Where did that idea come from, that idea that apparent pterosaurs are nothing but misidentified Frigate birds? It came not from examining the sighting report of Duane Hodgkinson.

Frigate Birds and Misidentification

This post gives information on how the Hodgkinson sighting of 1944 has nothing to do with the Frigate bird. No bird was misidentified for a “pterodactyl.” It also mentions the 1971 live pterosaur sighting by Eskin Kuhn.

How are some critical sightings evidence of a live pterosaur, rather than a misidentified bird? Consider the 1971 Cuba sighting by Eskin Kuhn. Look at his sketch of the pterosaur with wings down, about to begin an upbeat-cycle of wing-flapping. Notice the legs, separate from the long tail. Also notice the large head crest at the back of the creature’s head. How obvious that this is not a sketch of a Frigate bird!