Biggest Pterosaurs

Of course we’re talking about modern live pterosaurs, not fossils of winged creatures that lived millions of years ago. But what were the biggest pterosaurs that have been seen by eyewitnesses? Several sightings could be mentioned, in Austraila, Papua New Guinea, and North America.

Perth Pterosaur Sighting of 1997

The two eyewitnesses thought the wingspan was 30-50 feet.

[The 1997 Perth Creature] “. . . Within a minute or so it had reached our position and was about 250 or 300 feet above us and slightly inland . . . I saw that it seemed to be a light reddish-tan color . . . [It seemed to have] a leathery texture. Soon after it passed us it flew over a more brightly lit sports area which highlighted even more the leathery appearance also bringing more detail to view. The wings were the most definite leathery feature, they were shaped in a triangular arch, similar to a very elongated shark fin, The body also still appeared leathery, though textured as though possibly covered with fine hair or small scales . . .

Giant Ropen Pterosaur of Papua New Guinea

Many eyewitnesses have seen the long-tailed ropen of Papua New Guinea, although most of them are natives. This nocturnal flying creature is only occasionally observed by Western visitors, for it flies at night, often in remote tropical rain forests.

But in 1944, during World War II, the American Duane Hodgkinson and his army buddy were shocked to see one of the giant ropens fly into the air right after it was startled awake from a wild pig in a jungle clearing. Hodgkinson estimated the wingspan as similar to that of a Piper Tri-Pacer airplane, in other words about 29 feet. He estimated the tail length at about 10-15 feet, at least.

New Mexico Sighting of 1993

Two eyewitnesses saw the giant pterodactyl in Socorro, New Mexico.

“Me and a close friend, who now has a masters in biology, were hiking during the midday . . . a large flying animal. It had a 20-30 foot wingspan and was about the same length long. It had a long tail with [a] seeming spike at the end. Its head was very pterodactyl shape with a fluted back pointy head.”

Modern Pterosaurs in Pennsylvania

. . . approximately 5:00 A.M. . . . The weird part is I live in Philly. [My friend] was dropping me off . . . about six blocks away . . . we saw something that made our jaws drop . . . This thing didn’t seem to fly quickly. [Its] wingspan was huge. We’d figured at least 20 feet or so. It wasn’t flapping real hard like a sparrow or pigeon does. It almost seemed to sail.

Can a Cryptozoologist be a Pterodactyl Expert?

Nobody questions the paleontologist’s expertise in fossils, including the bones of old pterosaurs. But can a cryptozoologist be an expert in eyewitness reports of modern “pterodactyls?” It seems to depend on ones point of view. If no extant species of pterosaurs exists, then no cryptozoologist can be an expert in those nonexistent flying animals;  but if at least one species of “pterodactyl” still lives, then the wings of change take over and a whole new world of possibilities alights on our perspective.

About a year ago, an online forum discussion on cryptozoology.com included mostly negative comments about Jonathan Whitcomb, the author of nonfiction books about modern living pterosaurs. This elicited a number of blog posts by the cryptozoologist, including the following:

What is a Pterodactyl Expert?

What most skeptics (if not all) mostly forget or fail to realize is that cryptozoology is neither a branch of zoology or paleontology nor just a label for speculation about mythical animals. It is an approach that often includes examinations of eyewitness testimonies.

Of course, the real issue is the credibility of the eyewitnesses whose reports have been analyzed by Whitcomb. Could sightings have been misidentifications or hoaxes? The appropriateness of the label “pterodactyl expert” is way off the mark for what we need to be asking ourselves. We need to keep examining those eyewitness testimonies.

Two Years of Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs Alive

With the two year anniversary of Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs Alive, let’s look back on some of the better postings, beginning with earlier ones.

Ohio Pterosaur

The old newspaper Antwerp Bee-Argus published the eyewitness account of the man who had seen a long-tailed pterosaur twice, in daylight and in different summers, at the same place: at a bridge near Antwerp, Ohio.

Montana Pterodactyl

” . . . just as it was getting dark, but it was a bright full moon also, my bro in law pointed behind me and said ‘What the hell is that?’ and I turned around and saw the largest flying creature I’ve ever seen. It was heading straight towards us. . . . It flew straight over us and off into the horizon. It must have had a 20 foot wingspan. It was gigantic. It flew about 50 feet over our heads.”

David Woetzel, explorer and cryptozoologist

This New Hampshire businessman has explored in Africa, searching for a dinosaur, and explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for a pterosaur. He continues to search for the elusive cryptids that many scientists assume are all extinct.

Flying Fox and Pterosaurs Sightings

The relationship (and non-relationship) between the large fruit bats of the southwest Pacific and the apparent pterosaurs, giant long-tailed flying creatures of Papua New Guinea.

Headlights and Hard Heads Knocking Marfa Lights

Why an investigation by physics students sheds no light on the real mystery lights that fly near Marfa, Texas, several times each year. Why insist that all mysterious lights must be car headlights?

Cheesman Lights and Pterosaurs

The British biologist observed strange lights for at least two nights, in the 1930’s, deep in the interior of New Guinea. She found that they could not have been from any human origin.

Pterosaur Sighting by Hennessy

The Australian Brian Hennessy (now a psychologist) observed a large pterosaur-like flying creature, in 1971, on Bougainville Island, New Guinea, and later reported his sighting to the American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb.

Child Scared by Pterosaur in Cuba

Patty Carson was only about six when she observed, in about 1965, a long-tailed “flying dinosaur” at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military station in Cuba. Her father, the military commander, did not believe her. She eventually stopped talking about that frightening experience. But in April of 2011, she began talking about it again, for she was no longer alone.

Flying Dragons in Australia

You would think that the sightings of dragons or apparent pterosaurs in Australia would be mostly in the north, closer to Papua New Guinea. But apparently those flying creatures can and do fly far afield, in a number of areas in Australia.

Pterosaur in Western Arkansas

Over the years, a number of eyewitnesses have given their accounts of pterosaurs flying in the southern states of the USA, including Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Here is a new account of a sighting in western Arkansas, although the sighting itself is old.

Pterosaur Sighting in Arkansas

“My father and I saw a huge, featherless bird [later labeled “teradactyl”] in Arkansas [summer of 1977] . . . when I was 16. I’ve been telling people my story since. We were sitting on big rocks at a cliff about 300 foot above the river when it flew out just under us and we watched it all the way down toward the river till it passed the tree lines. It was an awesome experience, indeed. It was however smaller, and wing span of maybe 8 ft and had a large head.

From the nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America:

. . . me and my older brother were sitting in our carport . . . in Texarkana, Arkansas. It was getting dark but there was plenty of light in the sky when we saw what we believe to be a pterodactyle. The wingspan seemed to be about 25’ to 30’ ft wide. It was probably about 70’ to 80’ off the ground, flying over a large tree in front of the house. . . . it just glided on air. The incident was very brief but nonetheless was an awesome sight to see.

What about pterosaur sightings in Texas, which is close enough to Arkansas when we think about where a large flying creature might fly? We have plenty of those, so here is another quote from that book:

Aaron Tullock was eight years old (about 1995) when he saw a hovering flying creature, most uncommon. Late in a sunny afternoon in Marion County, Texas, he was alone in the yard of his grandparent’s house.

“I saw a featherless flying animal with a wingspan of about 4 1/2 to 5 feet and a long tail with a diamond type shape at the tip of it. No hair or feathers anywhere, just leathery reptile type skin. I have a well established knowledge of animals, especially reptiles, so I can easily tell what animal something is and what it isn’t. The animal had bumps down its back, feet with longish toes . . .”