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!

Feb 262010
Kuhn's sketch of Cuban pterosaurs

Pterosaurs seen in Cuba

I gave Eskin Kuhn a surprise phone call this morning. His response (what he said and how he said it) confirmed that his account of the 1971 sighting at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was no hoax; I have no doubt that he saw what he said that he saw: two long-tailed pterosaurs flying in daylight.

Rather than repeat the entire “Out of place artifacts” web page (Kuhn told me that he had nothing to add or modify from his previous interview-comments and cryptid-descriptions), consider some excerpts:

“I was [stationed] . . . [to the] 8th Regiment (reinforced), H&S Co., 106mm recoiless rifle platoon . . . I had been in Cuba for perhaps 4 months [1971] . . . [during] a free time period, in the middle of the day . . . I was outside and witnessed the Pterosaurs.

” . . . most of the platoon was in the new barracks . . . I was looking in the direction of the ocean when I saw an incredible sight . . . I saw 2 Pterosaurs (or Pterodactyls…what’s in a name?) flying together at low altitude, perhaps 100 feet . . . I had a perfectly clear view of them. The rythym of their large wings was very graceful, slow ; and yet they were flying and not merely gliding . . . The Pterosaurs I saw had the short hind legs attached to the rearwardmost part of the wing, and they had a long tail trailing behind with a tuft of hair at the end. The head was disproportionately large, with a long crest at the back, long bill, long neck with a crook in it . . . The vertebrae of their backs was noticeable, mostly between the shoulders. I would estimate their wingspan to be roughly 10 feet . . . They came in from the direction of the sea and flew inland.”

The many details that Kuhn gave in his original desciption make it obvious that the creature had no feathers; his sketches also make this obvious. His composure of speech, during his phone conversation with me, was compelling: He is telling the truth.

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