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


Print Friendly, PDF & Email