Recent Dragons or Pterosaurs

By the living-pterosaur author and scientist Jonathan Whitcomb

What a wonderful world we live in, a planet that provides for so many forms of life! For many human cultures and in many periods of history, people have had no difficulty in believing in flying dragons. Persons who had not personally witnessed such a flying creature might have known somebody who had, or at least they knew of the stories of dragons and recognized that those accounts were told within a culture that believed in their reality. That’s the way things were.

Unfortunately, comparably few Westerners have had such an open mind in recent generations. People have been indoctrinated into dinosaur and pterosaur extinction for a long time in Western countries, so they assume it must be some kind of mistake when somebody reports observing a living pterosaur (dinosaurs are beyond the subject of this post).

Once I get into a sighting report or begin to interview an eyewitness, I care little about the label used for a particular flying creature. Common is the word pterodactyl, although some eyewitnesses call it a dinosaur bird or a dragon. I care much more about exactly what the person saw. I suggest using this approach.


Two ropens seen by a U.S. Marine at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Sketch by eyewitness Eskin C. Kuhn, 1971, Cuba


Eyewitness Reliability

Skeptics and critics have seriously misunderstood and misapplied the concept of human error in observations. I’ve often seen this kind of criticism over the past 14 years that I have been investigating reports of living pterosaurs.

A typical remark from a critic, who replies to an account of an apparent extant pterosaur, is like this: “Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable.” What the critic fails to realize is this: Almost all of the most important scientific discoveries involved an important observation, a human seeing something. Of course repeatable experiments count for much in science, and a sighting of an apparent living pterosaur is not repeatable, unless a photo or video was recorded, or a scientist can go to that location and see something similar, but we need to keep in mind that all scientific progress requires observing something.

We also need to know that one thing that is even less reliable than direct eyewitness testimony. I wonder if any critic has realized that he or she is observing something while dismissing a recent or an old report of a sighting of an apparent living pterosaur. The critic is observing something in his or her imagination.

Indeed, that skeptic is looking at imagined extinctions of all pterosaurs, looking at the imagined weakness in another person’s ability to comprehend what was seen by the eyes, and looking at an imagined misidentification. In other words, while reporting the unreliability of human observation and comprehension of reality, the critic is reporting his or her own observation and comprehension of reality. The skeptic is looking at what is created in the imagination.

Of course we can see opportunities for an eyewitness to make a mistake while observing something with the eyes, but how easy it is for a skeptic to make mistakes while constructing things in the imagination! And why construct in the imagination only those things that would make a sighting of an apparent modern pterosaur invalid?

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have seen much evidence, during my 14 years of investigating this subject, solid evidence that critics are trying to protect the old popular axiom of universal extinctions of all species of pterosaurs. Perhaps the skeptics feel comfortable with the idea that science is a collection of proven facts, and one of the “facts” is that certain species became extinct many millions of years ago.

I found this kind of definition of science in (first definition):

“a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths
systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws:
the mathematical sciences.”

I suggest that the first part of that first definition is a poor one. Better is the second definition found just below that:

“systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.”

I found the following definition of “science” at the top of a Google search result (“definition of science”):

“the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”

Why do I prefer that definition?

  • It includes the word observation
  • It allows for future refinements: changes and modifications to older ideas


Very Recent Sightings of Living Pterosaurs

This past June (2017), my wife and I (Jonathan Whitcomb) interviewed three eyewitnesses of a “dragon” in Draper, Utah. With one of the sightings, a twelve-year-old boy and his mother were watching stars when the huge creature flew over their house. Both eyewitnesses were shocked by its appearance and the boy immediately wanted to go back into the house. With the third eyewitness, a man saw the same flying creature, or one like it, earlier in 2017, as it flew over his backyard. My wife and I found these three eyewitnesses to be very credible.

Two miles from the border with Wales, in Shropshire, England, in mid-September of 2017, a lady encountered two apparent living pterosaurs. She told me much, including this: “I saw two pterodactyls, side by side, flying past the tree. Now at first I had to check myself, because the first thing I thought was ‘those are blooooody big birds, that’s no lie.’ But what struck me was that it had a giant size beak and the wings had no feathers.”



Living pterosaurs

Sightings in the southern states of the USA


Dragon-pterodactyl in California

A 38-year-old woman in a residential neighborhood of Lakewood, California, just northeast of Long Beach, reported a “dragon-pterodactyl” that had no feathers but a long tail . . .


Publications About Living Pterosaurs

This includes books, some of which only mention modern “pterodactyls” briefly, but other books are entirely about sightings of extant pterosaurs.


How to report a live pterodactyl

Contact the cryptozoologist who specializes in living pterosaurs: Jonathan Whitcomb.


Pterosaur or dragon sighting in California

A lady in Lakewood, California, saw a “dragon pteradactal” in the middle of the day, on June 19, 2012, only about twenty feet away. She was shocked to see it but she also accidentally frightened the creature.


About men who’ve searched for living pterosaurs

Introduces four explorers who have looked for these flying creatures:

  • Paul Nation
  • David Woetzel
  • Carl Baugh
  • Josh Gates


Recent Pterosaur Sightings

You don’t need to go on an expedition to Papua New Guinea to see a modern pterosaur including a long-tailed featherless ropen. For generations, Americans have been encountering these shocking flying creatures, and the sightings continue.


Sightings of living pterosaurs

Near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, three children observed an apparent pterosaur flying overhead.


Big Bird in Draper, Utah (actually a pterosaur)

On June 26, 2017, my wife and I met with several eyewitnesses in a neighborhood of Draper, Utah, (in the southern part of the Salt Lake Valley) a few miles west of the Wasatch Mountains. Each of the four persons we talked with lived within about 300 yards of each other . . .


Living Pterosaur in Taylors, South Carolina

By living-pterosaurs expert Jonathan Whitcomb

I may have included the following eyewitness report of a living pterosaur in one of my nonfiction books, but it seems that I have not previously published the account online, so here it is:

Hi, I have had three of my children tell me they have seen “dinosaur birds”. My first child was six at the time, back in 2004, when she told me she saw one fly over our car as we were driving down the road, but because she had just come from the hospital with a broken arm, and had been given pain meds I just chalked it up to some kind of hallucination, or maybe a crane. She was adamant about it being a dinosaur bird, and said it had the triangle tip on the tail, but I never believed her even though she is not a liar, and had no reason to make it up.

Then, maybe 2010…not sure because I didn’t take it seriously at the time, my fourth child . . . told me she saw one fly over our home in Taylors, SC. She was just as adamant about it, but again I thought it was probably a crane.

Then yesterday, September 20, 2014, my 12 yr-old-son . . . came running into the house to tell me he had just seen something that looked like a “pterodactyl” flying by our home, which is now in Pacolet/Jonesville, SC, in Union County. He was very adamant about it not being a crane, as I suggested…yet again, and it “DID NOT HAVE FEATHERS!”. He said it looked just like a pterodactyl, and it was gray. He said he did not see a triangular tip on the tail though, but he was sure it was not a crane.

Because of this, and because of his age, and he is a smart, and honest kid I decided to look up sightings. I wish I had done this before now, but anyway, I thought you would be interested.

It would be nice to know we weren’t all crazy! Hahaha! I am definitely keeping my eyes open from now on.

That report was sent to me in 2014, and I have received many similar reports: apparent living pterosaurs that are very much non-extinct and flying overhead in the United States of America.

Why Believe Children who Report a Living Pterosaur?

I believe them when they tell us the same thing that adults tell us: “Pterodactyls” (or “dragons” or “prehistoric birds”) are still flying around. In addition, children are often outside, and they don’t know any better than to tell the truth about what they have seen. I wish more adults were more like kids.



Big pterosaur in Bad Axe, Michigan

I glanced up towards the woods and saw this huge, immense creature flying directly at me. It was coming from the woods and was about halfway across the wheat field when I saw it.


Nonfiction pterosaur books for LDS readers

Cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens and Finding God


Introduction to living-pterosaur investigations

Jonathan Whitcomb introduces how cryptozoologists have been researching and looking for these flying creatures


Living Pterosaurs

Revolutionary as they seem, the ideas presented in this “Live Pterosaur” site relate mostly to eyewitness accounts: real-life encounters with creatures called “prehistoric” or “pterodactyl-like.”


Supporting the old Civil War Pterosaur Photograph

By the living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

A Partial Reply to “Living Pterosaurs (Pterodactyls)?” by Glen Kuban

Last month, I contacted the writer Glen Kuban, informing him of his long-standing mistake in assuming that there was only one Civil-War-soldiers-with-a-dead-pterodactyl photograph. Yesterday, I noticed he had corrected that one mistake, publishing images of both the Ptp photo and the Freakylinks hoax photo together. (See “Ptp: Civil Pterodactyl Photo” on this Cerritos Families blog; it’s dated January 31, 2017.)

Unfortunately, in revising “Living Pterosaurs (Pterodactyls),” Kuban added a long string of paragraphs that attacked the possibility that Ptp might be a genuine photograph. I could write a book in response to his web page of 60+ paragraphs, but we’ll have to settle for a short reply here, concentrating on a few details in some of the new paragraphs.

First, Kuban mentions two controversial photographs and then uses the words, “active promotions by Jonathan Whitcomb and associates.” That could mislead at least some of his readers, for he refers to the Haxan Freakylinks photo and Ptp, but I have always declared that the Freakylinks one is a hoax. In other words, I have never promoted the idea that the Haxan Films photo might be genuine. I don’t accuse him of deliberately trying to mislead anyone, but that wording of that sentence appears to me to be far from ideal.

I don’t mean that Kuban is the main source of confusion on this subject, not at all. In fact, it seems that on separate Freakylinks online pages each of the two photos appears (one on each page). But when we, at least in recent years, say “Freakylinks Civil War pterodactyl hoax photo,” or something similar, we mean the one in which the entire image is out of focus and the supposed animal on the ground looks more like a crumpled up canvass than an animal and the soldier on the left appears too heavyset to button his shirt. That’s the one we call the Freakylinks photo.


comparing two photographs

Only the one on the left (“Ptp”) is a genuine photograph with a real animal


Yet even after Kuban admits his original confusion between the two photos, he refers to Ptp with, “[people have] pointed out the suspiciously blurry and grainy nature of the photo, compared to the sharp focus of most photos from the time.” If Kuban had personally looked closely at the two photographs, he would not have made that mistake. See for yourself by clicking on the above comparison-image: Notice that in Ptp the faces of the soldiers and the head of the animal are in focus (compared with the background), but in the Freakylinks fake photo nothing is in focus. In other words, Kuban is still being careless and is still making errors of fact in his paragraphs in “Living Pterosaurs (Pterodactyls).”

Pteranodon or not Pteranodon, That is the Question

He makes more mistakes, in quick succession. He seems aware that I have recently published many web pages on Ptp, yet he seems to have looked at very few of them or failed to read many of them or forgot what he read or confused it with something somebody else wrote. I have often made it clear that the physicist Clifford Paiva and I have not declared that this animal must be some species of Pteranodon. Yet Kuban writes a long list of things that he thinks makes the image in Ptp different from a Pteranodon. He seems to think that his list should discredit the authenticity of Ptp. Really!

And even his list begins with an error that I think could be cleared up by simply looking closely at a magnified image of the head of the animal. He refers to large teeth and then says that Pteranodons did not have teeth. Look more closely. Those are not teeth but could be an irregularity in the shape of the mouth. Perhaps this was a species of Pteranodon that has not yet been discovered in a fossil.

I could write much about weaknesses in his other points but this will have to do for the present.

In other words, Kuban needs to look more closely at Ptp and read more carefully what I have written about it. By the way, we are still dealing in cryptozoology, at least mostly, for eyewitness accounts have been most useful in the living-pterosaur investigations. In addition, for those who have read Kuban’s page, Paiva and I are not declaring that Ptp must have been a photograph recorded during the American Civil War or that it must have been in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The scene could have been photographed a little after the Civil War and in some other part of the United States.


copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


Civil War Photograph of a Pterodactyl

A number of names or labels have been given to this old photo, probably the most practical being “Ptp,” for that helps to distinguish it from the more recent hoax photo that was created to promote the Freakylinks television show produced by Haxan Films at the beginning of the 21st century.

Ptp: Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

Paiva started examining the Ptp photo many years ago, finding evidence for authenticity; I have known about Ptp for a long time, possibly as early as 1968, but I’ve hesitated putting great confidence in it until mid-January of 2017. That was certainly not my friend’s fault but my own weakness . . .

Old Photo of a Pteranodon

On Saturday, January 14, 2017, the missile defense physicist Clifford Paiva and I communicated by phone and mutually agreed that the image herein labeled “Pteranodon Photograph” contains a genuine image of a modern pterosaur, regardless of the specific species or type of pterosaur that it may have been.

Photograph of soldiers with a pterodactyl

Answering skeptical comments and criticisms of a direct interpretation of a photograph that some persons report remembering from the middle of the 20th century, long before Photoshop digital imaging processing was generally available.

Ropen of Papua New Guinea

Gideon Koro was interviewed by Jonathan Whitcomb,in 2004, on Umboi Island. The American found this native’s testimony to be highly credible: The long-tailed ropen terrified Gideon and six other boys, as it flew over Lake Pung one day around 1994. [This appears to be a modern living pterosaur, perhaps related to the orang-bati of Indonesia]


Ptp: Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

By modern pterosaur expert Jonathan D. Whitcomb


On January 14, 2017, Clifford Paiva and I spoke by phone and agreed that the photograph now labeled “Ptp” has a genuine image of a modern pterosaur. He’s a missile defense physicist, living in California. I have been a forensic videographer, although my expertise in recent years has been in the interviewing of eyewitnesses more than in the technical side of imaging.

Paiva started examining the Ptp photo many years ago, finding evidence for authenticity; I have known about Ptp for a long time, possibly as early as 1968, but I’ve hesitated putting great confidence in it until mid-January of 2017. That was certainly not my friend’s fault but my own weakness, including my early impression that the wings of the apparent pterosaur reminded me of a canoe. Three years ago I looked at the photo more closely, finding evidence that those are not from any canoe (made in crude imitation of wings) but are more likely actual wings. Nevertheless, I hesitated, feeling that the photograph might have originated from a hoax.

Then I received an email (earlier this year) from a Tom Payne, who told me the following:

I’ve canoed all my life. I’ve owned several of them. Those aren’t halves of a canoe! . . . Too narrow, too shallow. And definitely not a dugout canoe!

That got me looking again at this image, and I soon phoned my associate, Cliff Paiva.

The Ptp “Pteranodon” Photograph

Some persons report remembering this photo from a mid-20th-century print publication, even decades before Photoshop existed. Yet the greatest support for Ptp is the vast number of sightings of apparent modern pterosaurs, including some reports of extant flying creatures that resemble Pteranodons. We’ll consider some of those reports a bit later.

Ptp "Pteranodon" photograph

Figure-1: the original photograph, now called “Ptp” and declared genuine

The closer we examine the Ptp photograph, the more evidence we find that it is a genuine recording rather than a pasting of elements through Photoshop manipulation. I’ve written about those evidences before and will continue to write about them, but for now let’s consider an accusation of conspiracy and a photo that was made in imitation of Ptp.

Feakylinks TV-Show Hoax Photograph

Compare the Ptp photo (in Figure-1) with a more recent imitation, a photograph of actors, Civil-War reenactors, who placed themselves, in some degree, into positions resembling the men shown in Ptp. The hoax is shown in Figure-2:

Freakylinks TV show hoax photograph

Figure-2: More-recent photo made to look very old (“credit” Fox Network)

Haxan Films produced episodes of Freakylinks for two seasons, 2000-2001, with the above image being staged, with later image manipulation, to promote that television show on the Fox Network. The original hoax photo comes from a staging of real men, dressed like Civil War soldiers, and a crude imitation of a dead flying creature. Something like Photoshop was then used to make the photo appear to be very old.

Notice the similarities in the two photos. One soldier has his boot on the head of a dead flying creature. Most of the other soldiers are to our right of that soldier. The other soldiers stand just behind the body of the apparently-recently-shot animal. White blotches, apparent photograph-damage, are scattered across the image.

Figure-2 has a number of signs that the “soldiers” are not really from Civil-War times, but the important point is that this photo has been shown to be a hoax, apparently without any recent reservations about its being a fabrication. A big problem now arises, unfortunately: The two photos have been confused.

A Conspiracy Theory

Perhaps it’s more like a conjecture. Regardless, I generally have little interest in conspiracy theories. To be brief, at least one writer has proclaimed that conspirators have been purposely using the Freakylinks photo to hide the genuine photo. The idea is that people will either not look at the original or they will assume that it is a hoax. I believe that has happened, but what’s the difference whether it was from a literal conspiracy or from a virtual one? When I act like Sherlock Holmes, it’s to identify the victim and the cause of death, not to catch a criminal.

Confusing the two Photos

In 2012, in the blog post “More on the Civil War pterodactyl photograph,” Sean McLachlan correctly reported that Haxan Films was behind a fake “Civil War pterodactyl photograph.” He then said the following:

“A five-minute check of its origins story found many obvious lies.”

I myself did a quick check of McLachlan’s link-story and found no obvious problem in the text. But both of his pages have a huge problem in the background image: It’s the Ptp photograph. In other words, he’s proclaiming the falsity of the Freakylinks photo while giving us a display of dozens of partial copies of Ptp. It certainly could give most readers the impression that only one photograph is involved here.

Please be aware: I’m not accusing Mr. McLachlan of any deception. But reading “More on the Civil War pterodactyl photograph” can have the same effect as reading a post by a conspirator: It gives one the impression that there’s only one image, the fake imitation of a Civil War photograph, fabricated for Freakylinks. How much better if he had used the Feakylinks hoax-photo for his background image!

Unfortunately, this is not the only prominent web page that makes this mistake. Glen J. Kuban, in his online publication “Living Pterodactyls?”, has a small image of Ptp with a caption below it:

“widely acknowledged as a hoax”

He explains in the paragraph to the left:

“. . . the photo has since been exposed as a hoax–a promotional stunt for a Fox television series.”

The image shown is not the Fox-Network hoax-photo, however, but the older one: Ptp. I’m not accusing Mr. Kuban of deception, but how easily can readers of “Living Pterodactyls?” be mislead by that mistake! And how hard it can then be to look at Ptp with an open mind!

Update: April 27, 2017:

I contacted Glen Kuban in March of 2017 and by the end of April he had revised “Living Pterosaurs (Pterodactyls)” with both photos shown together. Unfortunately, he then wrote many paragraphs, trying to persuade readers to disbelieve in anything that would support the idea that not all pterosaurs became extinct long ago.

Huge Modern Pterosaurs Observed

The following is but a brief overview of some of the sighting reports I have received over the past 13 years. Not all of them appear to be the same species as the apparent Pteranodon in Ptp, but they appear to have been large modern pterosaurs.

  • South Carolina sighting by Susan Wooten (12-15 feet of wingspan)
  • Perth, Australia, sighting (wingspan up to 50 feet)
  • Finschaffen, New Guinea, 1944 (wingspan similar to Piper Tri-Pacer plane)
  • Irvine, California, sighting (length of flying creature about 30 feet)
  • Georgia, USA: by Sandra Paradise (creature’s length was about the length of her car)
  • Altadena, California (“pterodactyl” the size of a school bus)
  • Arkansas (NW) in 2016 (wingspan of 15-19 feet)

Many more reports could be included: huge apparent pterosaurs, with wingspans between fifteen feet and forty feet. Eyewitnesses use various words and labels:

  • flying dinosaur
  • prehistoric bird
  • pterodactyl
  • dragon
  • giant bat



Pteranodon in a Civil War Photo

This is not about the hoax-photograph, with Civil War reenactors, done for the Freakylinks TV series that was on the Fox Network from 2000-2001. . . . The photograph we’re examining here is called “Ptp” and has been around much longer.

Modern-pterosaur expert with a photograph

The physicist Clifford Paiva and the cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb jointly agreed that an old photograph (“Ptp”) contains an image of an actual modern pterosaur.

Evidence of Modern Pterosaurs

“Why don’t we find any carcasses of these animals in nature when they die?” . . . If many Americans have never heard about sighting reports of apparent living pterosaurs, how could they be expected to believe that a partially decayed carcass was from a recently-living “pterodactyl?”

Pterosaurs Living

From “fiery flying serpents” of the Bible ages ago, to strange flying creatures called “dragons” in England and other European countries a few centuries ago, to a huge pterosaur flying across a country highway in South Carolina in 1989, descriptions of these “flying dinosaurs,” . . .