Real Pterodactyl in a Civil War Photo

By the modern-pterosaur expert and author Jonathan Whitcomb

What’s the real point of the Ptp photograph? Consider the following:

  1. Two scientists have shown that this is a real animal, with wings
  2. It looks like a Pteranodon, according to some opinions
  3. The Photoshop-hoax conjecture has been shot down, in different ways
  4. Criticisms of the appearances of the six soldiers have been answered
  5. Eyewitnesses, in the 20th and 21st centuries, have seen similar pterosaurs alive


Where is a Photograph of a Pterosaur?

For many years, critics have pointed out that my associates and I had not been able to provide a photograph of an extant pterosaur with an image that showed the form and features of the flying creature. That appeared to be a main point in their criticisms of our investigations in cryptozoology.

Early in 2017, Clifford Paiva (a physicist) and I made a joint declaration: The photograph (now called “Ptp”) has a genuine image of a real animal and it is some kind of pterosaur. That shoots down the idea that nobody has any photographic evidence for a modern pterosaur.


Is it a Pteranodon?

What difference does it make? Paiva and I have seen similarities between what is known from Pteranodon fossils and what is shown in the Ptp photograph, but we do not declare that it must have been some species of Pteranodon. The point is this: It is a clear image of an animal that was an extant species of pterosaur in the 19th century.

We are not alone in the opinion that it may be a Pteranodon. See the page “Unexplained Pteranodon Photo.” Yet that is not the main point: It is a pterosaur, quite likely a species of Pterodactyloid.


sapling tree broken down

Small tree broken down, apparently to allow the animal to be dragged into the clearing


Criticism That the Apparent Civil War Photograph is a Hoax

One critic has written a very long web page that is obviously orchestrated to dissuade people from believing that eyewitnesses accounts of large featherless flying creatures may come from extant pterosaurs. He recently updated the page, adding many paragraphs related to this photo, making the total length of the article at least 60 paragraphs and thousands of words. Let’s look briefly at one of his new criticisms.

In one paragraph, he mentions that I have written many “articles, blog entries, and press releases.” He puts “press releases” in quotes, probably meaning that he has some kind of doubt about the propriety of that phrasing. In reality, some of my news releases are published on my own web pages and others are published on standard press-release sites that many people use for many kinds of news releases.

But it appears that he may misunderstand how press releases are written. He mentions that I use the third person in my writings, which is perfectly appropriate in news releases. In fact, that’s they way that press releases are supposed to be written. Perhaps I misunderstand him there:

He says that my new online publications refer to myself in the third person, but he fails to give any reference to that, so I don’t know what he’s talking about. For my sites, he gives three valid URLs at the bottom of his page, but I went to all of them and they all have my name “Jonathan Whitcomb.” At the bottom of his paragraph (on his own page) he says, “he often fails to provide proper citations,” and he may be right there, but in that case, we may have something in common.

Perhaps this critic is trying to do what other skeptics have done: promote the idea that I have tried to make it look like many people believe in living pterosaurs when it is mostly just me. I have written about that elsewhere, so I’ll leave that alone for now, except to say that a big part of my purpose has been to let people know of the many eyewitness sighting reports that I have received over the past 14 years. From the overall picture that I have constructed, I believe the following:

Of all the persons now living on the earth, those who have had some kind of encounter with an extant (non-extinct) pterosaur, at some time in their lives—those persons number between about 7 million and about 128 million. Only a small fraction of those people, however, realize the importance of what they have encountered, and only a tiny fraction of those will ever contact me.

What is the significance of that? Some critics say that if any pterosaurs were still living, somebody would have seen one.


copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


The old Civil War pterodactyl photograph

“Introduction to the Ptp Photograph”


Modern Pterosaurs (book)

. . . a quick examination seems to reveal the possibility that one wing-image was used, with Photoshop, in creating the other one. But close magnification reveals something completely different: countless details disproving any Photoshop hoax with wing-mirror shortcutting.


Modern Pterosaurs book review

The point of this nonfiction is in the old photograph that is now called “Ptp,” long known by many cryptozoologists and by those fascinated by the paranormal. Consider the following few quotations . . .


A Pteranodon in a Civil War Photo

Long viewed as a paranormal image, the old photo has now become the subject of a book, a nonfiction publication at that: Modern Pterosaurs. . . . Forget about what some skeptics have said about those soldiers: declarations regarding Photoshop and digital hoaxing. To make a realistic photograph of an extant pterosaur, no hoaxer would paste images of Civil War soldiers onto a background of trees.


Pteranodon in an old photograph (Ptp)

Many sightings are by persons who are driving, making it impractical to try to photograph the flying creature, yet I still find eyewitnesses who, like Hodgkinson and his buddy, don’t even think of looking for a camera until the apparent pterosaur has flown away.


Astonishing Discovery by Two Scientists

The following are taken from the nonfiction cryptozoology book Modern Pterosaurs, but before getting into it we need to be clear about the difference between the genuine original photo (now called “Ptp”) and the more-recent hoax photo for a TV show around the year 2000. [The “Freakylinks” photo is a hoax but not the original Ptp]


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