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 . . .

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.

Mar 112010

I’ve never been to Marfa, Texas, where dancing ghost lights have intrigued residents and visitors on countless nights for countless years; what causes the strange lights has defied logical explanation. But I have spoken with an eyewitnesses, Ed Hendricks, who for years has carefully investigated the lights. I appreciate his intense struggle to unravel a mystery that seems to defy unraveling; I respect his skill, talent, and educational qualifications; I acknowledge his careful observations, recorded in detail and shared. Nevertheless, I suggest something rarely, if ever, mentioned to explain Marfa Lights, perhaps as shocking as ball lightning or as eerie as dancing demons: a species of large flying creatures, intrinsically bioluminescent.

The puzzle cries for a solution; Mr. Hendricks and I agree. I respectfully disagree with his general assumption (something like an atmostpheric phenomenon, non-living). I credit him for his work, but credit the Marfa Lights to the flights of cryptids, notwithstanding they differ from flights of birds and bats. Why do they seem, at times, to dance? Why do two lights fly apart, then turn and fly back together? The dance sometimes appears complex but the purpose is simple. It’s just their technique: a way to catch bats.

Whatever the bioluminescent creatures are that make those lights, they may be the only ones who have worked harder in this area than Mr. Hendricks, with one possible exception. And just as this human researcher spends much time (pondering and writing) away from those fields just south of Marfa, the cryptid spends much time (searching for bats) away from those fields. Hendricks and others have tried to find what causes those lights, but bats flying just south of Marfa (and elsewhere) may try even harder to not be found by those lights.

But how could a flying creature glow, and so brightly? Even though the lights are sometimes described with the word “fireflies,” those who have observed the dancing of Marfa Lights (true Marfa Lights, not car headlights; cars never dance) sense a power, a size, a speed that dwarfs any insect. To catch just a tail feather of an answer to that question, let’s leave Texas and fly, first to Australia and then to Tennessee.

Come with me to Victoria, Australia, along Salisbury Road in Mt. Macedon. Notice, as we enter an open window, that Mr. Fred Silcock is sleeping in the easy chair by the fireplace. Now search for a thin brown book on the bookshelf. That’s the one; the spine says “The Min Min Light  F.F. Silcock”. Notice the drawing of a glowing barn owl on the cover.

Turn to page 12, under the heading “Min Min Intelligence,” and read the words of two observers of strange flying lights: “It definitely knows you’re there. I found it would not let us any closer than it wanted us . . . They are very playful, like a bunch of puppies chasing one another all over the place, going out and hopping up in another place. They can move pretty fast but most times move slowly, hovering and floating.”

Turn to page 45, under the heading “The Common Denominator,” and read the first paragraph. A Silcock Min Min (my own label, and not to be confused with other light-phenomena labeled “Min Min” in Australia) flies with ease, sometimes against the wind. It appears to fly with intelligence, sometimes interacting with one or more other Min Mins, and this interaction can appear playful. This paragraph makes it clear that these mysterious lights in Australia behave like birds. But what birds fly around at night, glowing?

Reading further we learn that there is nothing unscientific about the possibility of a self-luminous bird, although it’s a study not yet undertaken by universities, examining live or dead birds to test the Silcock hypothesis. But the book quotes many eyewitnesses who report finding the source for the Min Min glow: the “great owl” (called “barn owl” in the United States). It is Tyto Alba, found in many countries worldwide.

The book mentions an observation by William Wharton, of Queensland. One night he saw a bright light on the diving board of his swimming pool. As insects flew around the light, it began to fade until Wharton could see a glowing bird that was picking at insects that had landed on the board. The book mentions many eyewitness reports that make it obvious that some barn owls, sometimes, emit a glow, and that glow can help them catch insects. Of course that would explain why the underside feathers of barn owls are white: to allow light to pass through. Of course that would explain the bobbing, weaving motion of Min Mins; that is how barn owls fly at night while hunting. Mr. Silcock makes many points for a bioluminescent Tyto Alba.

Now let’s fly back to the United States, to Chapel Hill, Tennessee. Notice the railroad tracks, barely visible in the moonlight. Look down those tracks. A faint glow appears bobbing just to the left of the tracks; now it bobs over to the right. It looks like someone is approaching with a lantern, searching back and forth, but searching for what? Could this light be the lantern held by the man who was hit by a train long ago? According to the story, he was decapitated and his ghost still searches for the head.

But the ghost story of a headless man searching for his head sounds like the story of the Bingham Lights of South Carolina and the Maco Lights of North Carolina and the Gurdon Light of Arkansas and . . . well, headless ghosts searching endlessly for their heads, especially down railroad lines—those stories seem endless. But with a little knowledge of the bobbing, weaving Min Min of Australia, only a little brain power can enlighten us: Australians describe the same thing.

Why would a glowing barn owl fly down railroad tracks at night? If it hungered only for insects, it would sit and gobble them up. For a nocturnal rodent, how far is it exposed while crossing railroad tracks? Too far to be comfortable in daylight. But in the dark of night, why worry? Take your time. A midnight snack, for a rat, can be easy to find; humans throw trash near the tracks. Dine where you find it . . . until . . . oops.

Can a nocturnal rat out-think a human? To us, it seems stupid to sit on railroad tracks, eating garbage while a light approaches. But then no rat ever born has screamed and run away from a headless ghost. No, moving lights (in a world with so many humans) should not appear dangerous to a rat, for glowing barn owls appear to be rare, or they rarely glow. And it takes no genius of an owl, glowing or not, to fly down railroad tracks at night. I think that at least a few bioluminescent barn owls live in the United States (glowing for whatever reasons), and they account for many ghost lights. But what about the Marfa Lights?

The dance patterns of Marfa Lights resemble no flock of hunting barn owls. No, our old friend Tyto Alba cannot compete here and it dare not try. But it has illuminated part of the answer to the puzzle. The predators of Southern Texas show greater intelligence than most birds and some of them may be larger than any owl. This cryptid may be related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea (another nocturnal glowing flyer). If so, it will make a story more extraordinary than any headless ghost. Eyewitnesses describe the ropen like a giant long-tailed pterosaur.