Feb 222012

The pterodactyls did not attack me (Jonathan Whitcomb). It was just a few commentators on a cryptozoology.com forum thread who initiated the attack. But it was a rather vicious attack, with one of the assailants using the name “ape man.” The question may appear simple on the surface: Am I (Jonathan Whitcomb) a “pterodactyl” expert? Without somebody making that assumption and titling the forum thread with that phrase, I would not have been attacked; but I survived and hold no grudges. I  hold onto hope that the commentator was wrong who said that I make “Don Quixote look like a paradigm of sanity.”

Pterodactyl Expert

So what does all this boil down to? If all pterosaurs (AKA pterodactyls) are extinct, nobody whose experiences are confined to eyewitnesses can be an expert, even if he writes books on the subject, like Whitcomb has done. But if even just one of the eyewitnesses has actually seen a modern pterosaur, then Whitcomb is an expert, having interviewed perhaps more eyewitnesses than any other cryptozoologist. Of course with all that said, the existence of modern pterosaurs does not necessarily mean that all of his ideas are correct.

Attack the Interviewer or Attack Ignorance?

I suggest that we all examine the eyewitness reports rather than attack those who interview eyewitnesses. I suggest people avoid attacking investigators even when I myself am not the victim of the attacks. 🙂

Live Pterosaurs in America - front cover of nonfiction book, third edition

Nonfiction cryptozoology book on reports of apparent pterosaurs flying in the United States of America (whether or not the author, Jonathan Whitc0mb, is a “pterodactyl expert,” let each reader decide)

Three Author “Witnesses” of Living Pterosaurs

 North America  Comments Off on Three Author “Witnesses” of Living Pterosaurs
Jan 112012

Three books are said to be objective evidence that living pterosaurs in North America are a distinct possibility, or at least the flying creatures should be considered seriously as valid cryptids. The three authors, from British Columbia in Canada, Texas, and California, have each written at least one edition of a nonfiction book that primarily deals with sightings of possible pterosaurs in North America.

Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition

This newest edition gives amazing eyewitness reports from across the forty-eight contiguous states of the USA: California, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, and other states. Author: Jonathan Whitcomb.

Bird From Hell, Second Edition

This deals mainly with native American Indian traditions about strange cryptids in northern British Columbia, including a dangerous nocturnal flying creature that is said to have an arrow at the end of a long tail. But this book gives more than just stories: modern encounters with potentially (at least) man-eating flying creatures. Author: Gerald McIsaac.

Big Bird

No, not the Sesame Street character. Most, if not all, of the sightings of strange flying creatures are in Texas; the encounters are shocking. Author: Ken Gerhard.

Three Books by Independent Authors

The three authors, Ken Gerhard, Jonathan Whitcomb, and Gerald McIsaac, have independently written their books, with no apparent collaboration between them. I don’t claim complete objectiveness in evaluating these three publications, as evidenced by the ad below, but I would like to present these books in some degree of comparison in some ways . . .

For those new to this fascinating field of cryptozoology, I recomment purchasing all three books on Amazon.com, for you will probably get free shipping in the bargain.

Modern Pterosaur Expert

After an expedition on a remote island of Papua New Guinea, and after having written over a thousand blog posts and web pages, and after interviewing countless eyewitnesses from various countries of the world, Jonathan Whitcomb is a pterosaur expert in the cryptozoological sense.

Cryptozoology Book LPA-2

 North America, Pterosaurs  Comments Off on Cryptozoology Book LPA-2
Jul 132011

The sightings reported in the second edition of the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America are almost entirely encounters in the United States, but there is a noteworthy exception, the sighting by Eskin Kuhn.

An excerpt from pages 123-124 of the book:

How fortunate that Eskin Kuhn was the marine who stood outside the new barracks on a particular sunny day around mid-July, 1971! While the other marines were hanging out inside, this talented artist was enjoying the lovely weather and looking out toward the ocean. . . .

“I am an artist with sharp eye for detail and was determined to drink in the visage before me for future recording on paper. I saw two pterosaurs (or pterodactyls . . . what’s in a name?) flying together at low altitude, perhaps 100 feet, very close in range from where I was standing, so that I had a perfectly clear view of them.

“The rhythm of their large wings was very graceful, slow, and yet they were flying and not merely gliding . . . The rate of their [wing flaps] was more like that of crows, perhaps a little slower, but very graceful.”

From the introduction of Live Pterosaurs in America (2nd ed, author: Jonathan Whitcomb):

If this book does nothing more than comfort the eyewitnesses of strange creatures, I would be grateful; but there’s much more. We need to understand why we believe what we believe. When I first began researching these eyewitness sightings, years ago, I mentioned a word to a kindergartner: “pterosaurs;” he said, “A comet.” Years later, while writing this book, I mentioned my work to a second-grader; she said, “Who will buy your book? Crazy people?” I think better of you. And I think, because of what she and many others have told me, that we must understand indoctrination, for it influences our beliefs; the extent of that influence discomforts me.

From page 27 (Scott Norman’s pterosaur sighting in the United States):

He saw the creature silhouetted against the stars of the sky; no color was visible. Lack of any sign of a tail interested me, for just a few years earlier a local man had seen, in daylight, what investigators assume was the local pterosaur; it had a tail. Maybe Scott missed the tail in the dark.

Scott wished that the creature had been glowing when it flew over the shed, confirming the concept of large bioluminescent flying creatures. He felt confident that the wingspan was eight to ten feet. He was a bit perplexed that legs were not visible, but like other eyewitnesses of large flying creatures he was concentrating on one or two parts of the cryptid: Apparently Scott was concentrating on the creature’s head.

Sep 232010

Around the end of 2004, I received an email from an eyewitness in Arkansas. More details are available in my book Live Pterosaurs in America, but I include many of the details here, for those who live in the Texarkana, Arkansas, area and have seen a similar flying creature but have not yet read my book.

It was probably 1982 [in Texarkana, Arkansas]. It was getting dark but there was plenty of light in the sky when we saw what we believe to be a pterodactyle [pterosaur AKA “pteodactyl”]. The wingspan seemed to be about 25’ to 30’ ft wide. It was probably about 70’ to 80’ off the ground, flying over a large tree in front of the house. . . . The incident was very brief but nontheless was an awesome sight to see. If someone would have told me that they had seen a creature like that, I doubt I would have believed the story until I saw it for myself. . . . [from the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America]

The meaning of this sighting of an apparent living pterosaur (and a giant one at that) is better understood in context of many sightings of similar flying creatures in the United States, over the past few decades. Here are excerpts from a few online sources:

Texas Flying Creature (actually two apparent pterosaurs in two parts of Texas)

I was about 11-12 yrs old . . . In the open backyard next door was what looked like a 9 or 10 ft tall man . . . then the man turned and I realized that this man didn’t have a face like a man at all! . . . I watched what looked like disgusting black leathery . . . bat-like wings . . .

Ropens — Sightings in the United States

 . . . a teenager riding his bicycle on a dirt road in Washington State, years ago . . . stopped when he saw, by the side of the road, the two huge flying creatures with wings that had no feathers but looked like “black rubber.” The wingspan . . . twenty feet.

Pterosaur near Swamp in South Carolina

The pterosaur was “gliding” but it flapped its wings slowly once or twice. The wingspan was about twelve to twenty feet. . . . The huge featherless creature swooped down over the highway, maybe only “twenty feet” high and only “twenty five” feet in front of the car. (Highway 20, South Carolina) [The car was driven by Susan Wooten.]

Chapel Hill ghost light or barn owl

 North America  Comments Off on Chapel Hill ghost light or barn owl
Apr 162010

“Barn owl” hardly seems mysterious or paranormal, but what about the strange lights of Chapel Hill, Tennessee? The legend involves a headless ghost that uses a lantern to search for its head. According to one version of the story, long ago a signal man was walking on the railroad tracks one stormy night. He slipped in the rain and hit his head on the rail before a train came and . . . well, you know. Another version has the poor man falling off a boxcar; that seems more likely. But the general drift of the story resembles other ghost light stories in the United States, for example, the Gurdon Light of Arkansas*. The explanation for the Chapel Hill Light and the Gurdon Light is the same: bioluminescent barn owls.

Many ghost lights in the eastern and southern states resemble the “Silcock Min Min lights” of Australia. Fred Silcock wrote a book about the slow-flying mystery lights: The Min Min Light, The Visitor Who Never Arrives. Of course it does not explain all strange lights of the world; but when a slow-flying light, just above the ground, weaves back and forth like a hunting barn owl, then that is probably what it is. The surprising characteristic of the glow is not yet classified in biology textbooks; nevertheless, eyewitnesses verify that some barn owls sometimes glow. And that explains the white underside feathers: to allow light to easily pass through those feathers.

Not all ghost lights in the United States behave light hunting barn owls, however. Marfa, Texas, is famous for the dancing lights that have defied scientific explanation for a long time, but that’s another story.

See the Marfa Lights, “Living Nightmare” (not any barn owls)

* See also Arkansas Pterosaur (although this may not be related to the Gurdon Light)

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.