By the cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb
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 Project. Freakylinks aired on the Fox Network from 2000-2001. Close examination reveals clues that the photo is a hoax.
Figure-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):
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:
- The animal began to stink, so the soldiers started to bury it by throwing a little dirt on it.
- The photographer arrived, asking that the monster be moved into a clearing to photograph it.
- The soldiers complied, dragging the animal out from trees and underbrush, into the nearby clearing.
- The photographer asked the men to stand BEHIND the monster, so the creature could be seen well.
- 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:
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.
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.]
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 . . .
‘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.’
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.