The Illustrated London News, in an article in 1856, shamelessly proclaimed that a “pterodactyl” had been disturbed from its existence in solid rock, during excavation of a tunnel in France. The creature was said to have exited the tunnel still alive, but soon died, disintegrating into dust in the process. How do we know that the flying creature had come out of a rock prison? According to the story, the impression of the body could be seen in the rock where it apparently had lived for countless years.
This 1856 newspaper story is now commonly believed to have been a hoax. The evidence for that hoax could have been detected long ago, by those who read carefully the details. But recent sighting reports, not often publicized in newspapers, have no such clues about any hoax. In fact, compilations of the data from 98 sightings demonstrate that it is practically impossible for those sightings to have arisen from any combination of hoaxes from purported eyewitnesses.
Pterosaur Sightings in Papua New Guinea
From a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal (“Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific”):
In 2004 I interviewed Duane Hodgkinson, of Montana . . . He was then videotaped [and interviewed] by Guessman in 2005. He and an army friend were in a jungle clearing west of Finschhafen (then New Guinea) in 1944 . . . something “huge” took off into the air . . . The creature ran to their left, taking six to ten steps to get airborne and ascended at an angle of about 30 degrees . . . It then disappeared over the dense brush but soon returned and flew over the clearing, presenting a “perfect side view” of its features . . .
The top of the back was 5–6 ft (1.5–1.8 m) above the ground just before takeoff. Although he did not notice details of the tail, he estimated it was “at least” 10–15 ft (3–4.6 m) long. He compared the wingspan to a Piper Tri-Pacer airplane (~29 ft or 9 m). The length of the head, not counting the appendage, was about 3–4 ft (1–1.2 m), similar to the length of the neck. An appendage protruding from the head, above the neck, was about half that length, and both the head and appendage were parallel to the neck.
The significance of the above report is that it comes from information collected from two interviewers and the peer-reviewed results were published in a journal of science (CRSQ, Volume 45, Winter-2009, page 200). That is a far cry from publication in a 19th century newspaper.
There seems to be no end of refutations for the “hoax hypothesis,” as it has been called. Statistics from years of eyewitness sighting reports disprove any generalized hoax explanation, for the degree of certainty in descriptions of featherlessness . . . fly in the face of those skeptics who use the word “hoax.”
Skeptics are correct when they bring up questionable stories, accounts that are obvious hoaxes or misidentifications, but they assume that all accounts must likewise be worthless. They fail to comprehend that when a dishonest boy cries “wolf,” all wolves do not thereby become extinct.
“A study by an American cryptozoologist suggests that the ‘pterodactyl’ described by the World War II veteran Duane Hodgkinson was a real creature, of a species living in coastal areas of Papua New Guinea.”