We’ve got a strange explanation for what’s been flying around Los Angeles County recently. The cryptozoologist Dale Drinnin has proposed that a woodpecker has made people think they are seeing dragons or pterosaurs. The flying creatures observed, however, are larger and three out of the four of them had long, thin tails that had things at the end, suggesting pterosaur tail flanges.
The two sightings near Griffith Park are strange in themselves, for it looks like they are from the same kind of flying creatures, even though descriptions vary. They may also relate to other sightings in Southern California, including the Lakewood sighting of 2012.
Griffith Park Pterosaur Sightings
Let’s see what the two encounters had in common.
- Both involved a female driver traveling northbound on the I-5.
- Both eyewitnesses were alone in their cars but in traffic with many other drivers.
- Both involved one or more flying creatures gliding over the freeway.
- Both were on a 1.5 mile stretch of freeway a little east of Griffith Park.
- Both were very close to the Los Angeles River
- Both eyewitnesses soon reported to cryptozooologist Jonathan Whitcomb.
The first sighting was a little after six in the morning, on March 3, 2013, near the Colorado Street bridge at the I-5. This is southeast of the Los Angeles Zoo, but that may not be relevant. The woman said that she saw three dragons, at first thinking they were some kind of stunt. She soon noticed tail movement, which may have been the tipoff that they were alive. She was given a survey form by Whitcomb, and she chose the silhouette of the Sordes Pilosus, which is a basal pterosaur, but she said that the heads were bigger of the three creatures she had seen gliding over the I-5.
The second sighting was at about four in the afternoon, on May 13, 2013, near the Los Feliz exit, about half a mile north of a reservoir. This was about a mile and a half south of where the first sighting took place. The woman saw one pterosaur and noticed the head crest and lack of feathers. She was given the same form as the first eyewitness. She chose six pterosaurs that could have been what she had seen. One of those six was the Sordes Pilosus. There is an important difference between the two sightings. In the second one, the woman was concentrating on the head and did not notice whether or not the creature had a long tail.
Could Dale Drinnon be right about woodpeckers? If so, why did neither of the two women choose any bird from among the images? They only choose pterosaur silhouettes.
Right between the Los Angeles River and Griffith Park—that’s where the three “dragons” were flying on March 3, 2013, at 6:10 a.m., but another driver on the I-5 Freeway saw one “pterosaur” ten weeks later, just a little over a mile south of the first sighting location.
But the pterosaur expert David Peters has shown us that the Rhamphorhynchoidea type (long-tails) did indeed have opposing digits, but the curved fifth toe is used differently than the toe grasping of modern birds.
It could be that Drinnon was thinking about the Lakewood, California, sighting that happened last June, in 2012. The eyewitness said that the “dragon-pterodactyl” was perched on a telephone cable just a little overhead. But she also described a long tail with a “triangle” at tail end, as I recall. That would make it the type of pterosaur that had digits on the feet that could perch, for that would be a basal pterosaur.