Nonfiction books about modern pterosaurs

Whether called “pterosaur,” “pterodactyl,” “Big Bird,” “flying dinosaur,” “dragon,” or “ropen,” this large flying creature, unclassified by modern science, is the subject of several modern nonfiction books.

Live Pterosaurs in America

Jonathan Whitcomb wrote this nonfiction, in 2009, after receiving many emails from Americans who reported sightings of apparent pterosaurs in the United States. The sighting locations range from Washington State to Florida and from California to Maine (and many states in-between). This book is a consistent best-seller in this category.

This pure-genre cryptozoology book (in contrast to the cross-genre of Whitcomb’s first book, Searching for Ropens) does not avoid the subject of the philosophical conflicts, but leaves the issue to the side while making the case for living pterosaurs. Few readers should take offense at that approach. It has sold more copies on Amazon, in late 2009 and early 2010, than any other nonfiction book about living pterosaurs.

Live Pterosaurs in America is available on Amazon.

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Big Bird! Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters

(But see Live Pterosaurs in America, above, before deciding)

Ken Gerhard steers clear of philosophical controversay in this 2007 nonfiction: He reports his experiences and those of the eyewitnesses he has interviewed, avoiding the issue of Creationism versus Naturalism. The amazing stories of large flying creatures are mostly confined to Texas, but what’s wrong with that? There’s plenty of room in Texas for plenty of cryptids.

Big Bird is available on Amazon.

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Dinosaurs Dead or Alive

This compilation of eyewitness reports was written by Phillip O’Donnell, a teenager when it was published in 2006. A cross-genre nonfiction that combines creationism with cryptozoology (a combination that seems guaranteed to ignite controversay) appeals to those friendly to both genres. Don’t expect a classic from the first book of a teenager, but you may be pleasantly surprised if you are a creationist who is open to cryptozoology (or visa-versa).

The title seems to use the general sense of “dinosaur,” for pterosaurs are included.

Dinosaurs Dead or Alive is available on Amazon.

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Searching for Ropens

The second edition of SFR (published in 2007) is a cross-genre nonfiction, like Dinosaurs Dead or Alive. But this is more than a creationist-cryptozoology book, for it includes the adventures of searching jungles for living pterosaurs. Disappointments are followed by triumphs in this true-life adventure that takes you on one expedition after another.

Although creationist overtones dominate parts of this book, it has been used as the standard cryptozoology reference for living pterosaur investigations in the Southwest Pacific, especially regarding Papua New Guinea. Expedition funding and research have both been expedited by this book. Wikipedia quotes SFR in giving a definition of “ropen.”

Searching for Ropens (second edition) is available on Amazon.

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Which to Read?

Ranking these four books with stars would be the wrong approach. Look at the strengths and weaknesses, find what you most like, then judge for yourself.

English teachers, avoid Big Bird; editing was limited or nonexistent, and the writing is less than professional professional quality. But if you are especially interested in sightings in Texas, and you don’t mind a lack of quality English, read it. You might find sighting-reports here that are found in no other cryptozoology book.

Are you offended at creationism? Avoid Dinosaurs Dead or Alive. Creationists should enjoy it, however, especially if they are interested in world-wide sightings of dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Just don’t expect too much in terms of literary value.

Live Pterosaurs in America was written by a professional writer who is also a cryptozoologist. Controversay is handled delicately and in moderation. This does not mean that nobody will take offense, for the years of work of the explorers is extolled, and most of those explorers are creationists. Nevertheless Amazon sales suggest that this book has a broader base of support than any other nonfiction about living pterosaurs, and the writing itself is engaging.

Searching for Ropens is an essential resource to cryptozoologists interested in sightings of apparent living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea. Nevertheless, be aware that the book strongly supports literal interpretations of Biblical scriptures, whether or not Whitcomb is a strict creationist himself. The appendix covers many topics, including (to a limited extent) the possible age of the earth; but the author rejects billions of years of earth life on two pages, then questions the six-thousand-year earth on another page: not standard Young Earth Creationism, obviously. What is unquestioned is that this should remain an important reference work for years to come.

The Best, Overall:

"Live Pterosaurs in America" third edition - nonfiction cryptozoology

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