Modern Pterosaur in a Civil War Photograph

By the cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb

How to report a pterosaur sighting

Do not Confuse two Photographs

Notice the Civil War reenactors in Figure-1. This is an early-21st-century hoax photo for the Freakylinks television series produced by Haxan Films, the company that also produced The Blair Witch ProjectFreakylinks aired on the Fox Network from 2000-2001. Close examination reveals clues that the photo is a hoax.

Fake pterodactyl in a hoax photoFigure-1: modern reenactment, a fake photo

It’s not very rare for a Civil War soldier to fold his arms while being photographed, but it’s unusual for more than one to do so in one photograph. More telling in the above hoax-photo, however, is the “soldier” on the far left. That man is too heavy-set to button up his uniform; unless you’re a general, it’s unlikely you’ll be that big around the middle as a common soldier in the Civil War. But most important is this: The photo was discovered to be a creation by Freakylinks, and it appears to be imitating a much older photograph.

Now I recommend you look at the original photograph (click on it to see better):

original Ptp photo of an apparent Pteranodon

Figure-2: The original “Ptp” photograph that some people remember from decades ago

Notice that the important subjects of the photo, the strange winged animal and the soldiers—all of them are in reasonably good focus, a characteristic of Civil War photography. Now look more closely at the head. It has a number of similarities to what we might expect of a Pteranodon head. It’s not 100% like what we see in Pteranodon fossils, perhaps, but why should a 19th-century pterosaur be 100% like what we have already discovered in Pteranodon fossils?

The physicist Clifford Paiva, of central California, has examined this photograph carefully, noting a number of factors that point to its authenticity. These include the muscles of the neck, the curve of that neck, and the hump where it connects to the body of the animal. He also found, on magnifying the head, that the eye has a vertical pupil, sometimes called a “slit eye.” Why would anyone go to so much trouble to create a model with a head that is so convincing?

Compare the photograph labeled “Ptp” in Figure-2 with the known hoax-photo in Figure-1. Notice that the Freakylinks hoax has an apparent winged animal that is so vague that it could be just a shaped canvass. And that vague construction was done for a professional television show.

Is the old Photograph a Photoshop Hoax?

A deep analysis of the Ptp photo shoots down the Photoshop conjecture. Paiva has looked closely at the shadow under the boot that is on the beak of the animal. That shadow correlates with shadows on the animal itself. In other words, this is a photograph that has a real man with a real boot on his foot, and that boot is on that apparent beak, whatever the animal is.

But other problems jump up at us from the Photoshop conjecture. There is no Pteranodon-simulation button in that software program. Of course a professional artist could create a pterosaur and use Photoshop, but skeptical criticisms for what we now call “Ptp”—those are usually as vague as the canvass construction for Freakylinks. Those criticisms point attention away from the animal, like a cunning magician trying to get you to look away from what’s important. Look at the apparent Pteranodon.

Another problem with the Photoshop conjecture is that people seem to remember this older photograph from a book or magazine around the 1960’s. That was decades before Photoshop existed. In fact the hoax photo by Haxan Films was created when Photoshop was far less known and used as it is now, and the fake was an imitation of the old photograph. The Freakylinks staged-hoax had little need for a software program like Photoshop, except apparently to make the photo look old. And the older photograph is, without doubt, older; that makes it less likely to have had any manipulation with Photoshop. So what is the origin of Ptp?

The Direct Approach to the Older Photograph

Take the case that a few Civil War soldiers shot down a large modern pterosaur. What would we expect if, within a few days or weeks, a photographer arrived and wanted to record an image of that huge winged monster. Consider the following possibilities:

  1. The animal began to stink, so the soldiers started to bury it by throwing a little dirt on it.
  2. The photographer arrived, asking that the monster be moved into a clearing to photograph it.
  3. The soldiers complied, dragging the animal out from trees and underbrush, into the nearby clearing.
  4. The photographer asked the men to stand BEHIND the monster, so the creature could be seen well.
  5. All the soldier’s complied except one, who insisted that he put his boot on the monster’s beak.

Now look again at Figure-2. Does it look like the soldier’s didn’t bother removing the soil that they had previously thrown onto the wings? Now look at Figure-3, below:

Civil War photograph with drag marks

Figure-3: drag marks on the ground, apparent path of the animal being dragged

Notice that one drag mark points to the general area of the end of the beak of the animal. This could be a drag mark from that beak. These details, and more, support the concept that this is indeed a photograph of a modern pterosaur.



Ptp Civil War Pterosaur Photo

Very early in the 21st century, a stunt-photo was created, apparently imitating Ptp, for one or more episodes of the Freakylinks television series on the Fox network. Freakylinks was produced by Haxan. [Do not confuse the TV-series hoax photo with the genuine Ptp photograph.]

Civil War Photography

The American Civil War was the most widely covered conflict of the 19th century. The images would provide posterity with a comprehensive visual record of the war and its leading figures . . .

Modern pterosaur in South Carolina

‘It looked as big as any car, and had NO feathers, not like a huge crane or egret. . . . it swooped down over the highway and back up gracefully over the pines.’

Civil War Pterosaur Photograph

Answering skeptical comments and criticisms of a direct interpretation of a photograph that some persons report remembering from the middle of the 20th century, long before Photoshop digital imaging processing was generally available.


Modern Pterodactyls in the United States

The following post is by the modern-pterosaur expert and author Jonathan David Whitcomb

Why do I use the word pterodactyl in some of my writings? It’s not from adhering to the scientific definition of pterodactyl but from a common word used by eyewitnesses. When a non-scientist observes a featherless flying creature that looks like a pterosaur, that eyewitness might say “pterodactyl” rather than use the correct name: pterosaur. Yet the following is more to the point:

Regardless of the label applied to the flying creatures, many of the eyewitnesses report details that make sense in the context of modern pterosaurs. On the other hand, a general conjecture about misidentifications of known birds and bats for all sightings—that makes no sense: Many descriptions are not remotely like what one should see with known birds and bats.

For example, natives on the shore of Lake Pung, on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea (around 1994) would not see a Flying Fox fruit bat flying over the surface of that lake, in the middle of the day, and then later report that what they had witnessed was a flying creature with a tail that was “seven meters” long and a mouth that was like that of a “crocodile.” (expedition of cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb on Umboi Island in 2004: videotaped interviews, words of the native Gideon Koro while answering questions put to him by the American forensic videographer)

The following are a few of the sighting reports sent to me more recently.

“Pterodactyl” sighting in Oregon in September of 2016

On September 13, 2016, I was traveling with my husband from McCall, Idaho, to Winnemucca, on highway 84, through Oregon. I was driving in the early afternoon and saw a large “bird” flying across the freeway from the left . . . the biggest “bird” I had ever seen!

I said it must be a crane, but it looks like a pterodactyl! It was matte dark grey/black with a crest on its head and a triangular shape on its tail. I believe it was at least 5 feet long. It appeared to be a heavy animal.

When we returned home to San Jose, I began to look up “black cranes” on the Internet. I did not see a single bird that looked like what I saw. I then typed in “large black birds near highway 84 in Oregon.” Oh my goodness. Goosebumps. Found your information . . .

Sighting in Massachusetts, reported in August of 2016

I have recently discovered a volume of information about pterosaurs, after witnessing something strange during a camping trip in MA.

My internet research allowed me to conclude that what I saw looks very much like available images / renderings of pterosaurs. I don’t know what other information you are seeking, but I’ll provide a short description:

– wingspan was 3-5 meters long
– matt grey / speckled black coloring from my POV
– the same head shape as the pictures shown on this and other sites/journals on this species
– long, free moving tail that appeared to help it “rudder” its way through the air

“Dragon” sighting in Oklahoma in 2016

I believe I saw one of these the other day. It was two days ago (Tuesday 2/2/2016 @ around 6:00) I was driving down the highway and noticed what first looked like a big bird flying over lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. . . .

I was staring at it for a good three to five seconds before passing by it. . . . It looked way too big to be an eagle or hawk or anything and I couldn’t think of anything else it could’ve been. . . . I distinctly remember no feathers and it’s skin, which reminded me of one of those hairless cats it was all tan and wrinkley, and also the wings were like webbed to its body. I remember it having kind of a long body but not skinny kind of flabby looking, it looked like a mammal and not a bird. I thought it was a dragon.

. . . I remember saying out loud to myself, “did I just see a . . . dragon?” I was alone but It was right beside the highway so there had to be a few if not many others that saw it. . . .


Two living pterosaurs sketched by the eyewitness - Gitmo, Cuba, 1971

Two ropens observed by U.S. Marine Eskin Kuhn in 1971



Sightings of Pterosaurs Reported in 2016

  • Missouri
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa


A modern pterodactyl in the United States

Eyewitness accounts . . . including sightings of large ropens


Living Pterosaur Investigators

Mini-biographies on four cryptozoologists:

  • Garth Guessman
  • Paul Nation
  • David Woetzel
  • Jonathan Whitcomb


Ropen-Pterodactyl in Utah and Arizona

Note that the phrase “flying dinosaur” is technically inaccurate, for pterosaurs are not actually dinosaurs. Some [say] “prehistoric birds” or “pterodactyls,” although that’s also incorrect terminology. The ropen is considered, by some cryptozoologists, … a modern Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.


Living-Pterosaur Credibility

The critical question is this: “Does at least one report of a pterosaur sighting come from an encounter with a modern living pterosaur?” (It matters hardly at all whether or not all reports are of actual living pterosaurs.) Judging accurately the credibility of a sighting report can take time.


Pterodactyls flying in the USA

  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Louisiana
  • Iowa
  • California
  • New Mexico
  • Idaho
  • Virginia


Ropen Sightings in the United States

Jurassic World has more fiction and more nonfiction than most film viewers would imagine. Who would guess that millions-of-years-since-extinction would be fictional and non-extinct pterodactyls would be non-fictional? Yet those who have encountered the ropen share a perspective that others may never have even dreamed of. And the flying creature called ropen is not confined to a tropical island but this apparent long-tailed pterosaur has been reported around the world.

The correct word for it is pterosaur rather than pterodactyl. Many eyewitnesses have seen it in North America, including many states in the USA, and these flying creatures appear to care nothing about Western teachings about extinction, flying wherever they please. They seem to be mostly nocturnal and uncommon.

Rhamphorhynchoid-Like Tail Flange

The ropen is unlike many pterosaurs depicted in science fiction films. It has a long tail, with many eyewitnesses describing a “diamond” or “spade” or “triangle” or “bulge” at the tail end. This suggests a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur (also called “basil”), which has been assumed, by many Westerners, to have become extinct long before the short-tailed ones died out.

Not all descriptions of the tail flange are identical, but we should not expect all eyewitness reports to be identical, even if only one species is being described. Eyewitnesses do not all comprehend or remember details the same.

Bioluminescence of Pterosaurs

From the nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition, we can read about glowing flying creatures in the United States:

On March 28, 2012, I got a comment to one of my blog posts, from an eyewitness in Pasadena, Texas:

“I have seen them; they look like bats but flap their wings way different than birds do… And they have a red-orange bioluminescent body… First time I spotted one was somewhere on Nov, 2011; last time I saw two of them together a week ago.” [page 278 of the book]

Later in that book, we read:

If we have extraordinary unclassified bioluminescent creatures flying at night in the United States of America, why don’t we have a biology professor out at night investigating them? Well, such a biology professor we do have. Professor Peter Beach investigates lights flying over a river in the state of Washington; he believes they may be bioluminescent pterosaurs. [page 291]

Marfa Lights in Texas

If bioluminescent pterosaurs actually fly over the United States at night, where do they fly? In one area of southwest Texas, flying lights have returned on some nights, and they have been observed for generations. They’re called Marfa Lights.

Also from Searching for Ropens and Finding God (page 283):

Some time after getting my copy of Hunting Marfa Lights, I analyzed the rich collection of data compiled by Mr. Bunnell. I found that the flying lights that display the apparent intelligence are observed in the Marfa area only a few times each year, returning every few weeks or so, but generally for only one or two nights at a time. That fits the overall hunting pattern. [a group of large bioluminescent flying predators]



Reports of Apparent Living Pterosaurs

During the past twelve years, I have received many reports, some of which were from eyewitnesses in the United States. The following are the ones I found to be more likely than not to have been encounters with living pterosaurs in the contiguous states.

Marfa Lights and Ropens

. . . those Marfa Lights that behave as if directed by intelligence—those flying lights may be related to . . . sightings of apparent Rhamphorhynchoids, long-tailed pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea and to sightings of the “Gitmo  Pterosaur” of southeast Cuba.

Bioluminescent Ropens

Many of the eyewitness reports suggest some intrinsic bioluminescent capability in these pterosaur-like flying creatures.

Sightings of the Ropen

Professor Peter Beach was interviewed by Jonathan Whitcomb by the Yakima River in southeastern Washington state. [Beach and another man saw flying lights over that river in the northwestern USA, and a third man saw a “pterodactyl” in a tree in that same area.]

The Glowing Ropen

Three boys were playing at night on a playground in the farming community of Grantsville, Utah, around the fall of 2001, when they were shocked at the appearance of a large glowing creature that flew overhead.

Non-Extinct Pterosaurs

Three “dragons” were reported to have flown over the I-5 Freeway in Los Angeles, at 6:10 a.m., Sunday, March 3, 2013, just east of Griffith Park. Ten weeks later, another eyewitness reported a “pterosaur” flying over that same freeway but about a mile and a half to the south . . .

Ropen-Pterodactyl in Utah and Arizona

My wife and I visited Devon and his brother Dallin in St. George, Utah, this past Thursday, and they told us about the extraordinary encounter they had in Grantsville, Utah, fourteen years ago. . . . the glowing creature just south of the Great Salt Lake.




"Searching for Ropens and Finding God" - 4th edition

Searching for Ropens and Finding God

This overshadows common true-life adventures, revealing the early stages of what may become the most unsettling scientific discovery since Galileo and Copernicus. [From the Title page of the book]


Scientific Paper on Radiocarbon in Dinosaur Fossils

The most recent issue of a scientific journal (Creation Research Society Quarterly) including the article “Radiocarbon in Dinosaur and Other Fossils.” The following are excerpts from that scientific paper.


The consistent failure of carbon dating facilities to find carbon-dead samples . . . highlights the regularity with which they have detected measurable amounts of radiocarbon in samples from Phanerozoic settings. . . .

Comparing Laboratories

We considered the possibility that error could arise from a given carbon-dating facility, for example by operator error on a given day.

Our 16 results from a carbon isotope facility that specializes in bone tissue combine with similar detections of radiocarbon in Phanerozoic fossils from GeoChron Laboratories in Massachusetts, the IsoTrace Radiocarbon Laboratory at the University of Toronto in Ontario, the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), and the Jena AMS system at the Max-Planck Institut Fur Biogeochemie.

The most parsimonious explanation for five different laboratories detecting radiocarbon in ancient fossils seems to be that these fossils contain endogenous 14C.


On the basis of repeated observations of original tissues found in dinosaur and other bones, and on the basis of prior researcher’s difficulties in finding a reliable source of carbon-dead earth material to calibrate highly sensitive AMS systems, we tested 16 fossil samples for the presence of 14C. Our fossils came from seven dinosaurs . . .

We sought to falsify the hypothesis that this radiocarbon originated from our fossil material first by comparing our amounts of measured radiocarbon to those already published, finding general concordance between our data and already published data. Second, all samples regardless of geographic and even stratigraphic provenance, showed detectable 14C within a total age range spanning orders of magnitude smaller than the conventional age range for these fossils.


cover of Creation Research Society Quarterly

Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 51, Number 4 (Spring)


A Translation into Simple English (for non-scientists)

A number of laboratories came up with the same results for dinosaur fossils: Those bones were not nearly as old as many scientists have long assumed. They are tens of thousands of years old, not millions of years old. In other words, dinosaurs have lived in human times.



Dating Dinosaurs With Carbon-14

The [radiocarbon] technique of dating fossils is an established way to determine the ages of archaeological specimens, sometimes accurate from 500 to 50,000 years old . . . It has often been used by scientists . . .

Radiometric Dating Censored (Recent Dinosaurs)

It was two chairmen of the Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore, a five-day conference held in August of 2012. They apparently gave no objection, during the conference, to any of the materials presented by the Paleochronology group.

Dinosaur Bones – Radiocarbon Dating

Dinosaur bones . . . are younger than anyone ever guessed.  Carbon-14 (C-14) dating of multiple samples of bone from eight dinosaurs found in Texas, Alaska, Colorado, and Montana revealed that they are only 22,000 to 39,000 years old.

Scientific Dating of Young Dinosaurs

A number of pieces of dinosaur bones found in North American have been dated in recent years. So how many millions of years old are those fossils? Well, they’re not actually that old, apparently, dated at tens of thousands of years old, according to carbon-14 testing.

Carbon-14 in Dinosaur Fossil Bones

. . . the carbon dating results from five respected laboratories around the world of bones from ten dinosaurs . . . 14c lasts only thousands of years, not millions. Yet each of these dinosaurs had plenty of radiocarbon . . .