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]


What Flies Along Storm Channels?

If your backyard borders the San Gabriel River, you might want to put your Chihuahua indoors before the sun sets, if a recent eyewitness report from Lakewood, California, is true. Something predatory may be flying along storm channels in Southern California, and we’re not talking about a hawk or an owl. Strange to tell, but it seems to be a flying cryptid, as in “cryptozoology.”

First, the more recent sighting, on June 19, 2012, was in Lakewood, California, at about noon, in a backyard that borders a storm channel that is about twenty feet wide. A lady was irritated at the constant barking of her dog, and walked out to see the reason. On the phone line near the edge of the channel, about twenty feet from her head, was a strange winged creature that caused the lady to think “dragon pterodactyl.”

Fighting the urge to run away into her house, the terrified woman was just curious enough to stare at the long-tailed featherless flying creature. The “dragon-pterodactyl” was more frightened than curious from the encounter and flew away into the canopy of a nearby tree. The woman and her husband immediately jumped into their car and drove around looking for the featherless flier, but with no success. They did succeed to finding information online: The creature is called “ropen.”

The woman estimated the wingspan at about six feet, perhaps more, and the tail length at about four feet. The end of the tail had a “triangle” that suggests a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur flange, but the woman simply related it to a “dragon” tail-end.


storm canal south of where an eyewitness in Lakewood, California, saw a ropen

Storm channel that runs through a park in Long Beach and is connected to the storm drain over which an apparent ropen was seen perching on a phone line, on  June 19, 2012

This storm channel empties into a bay in southeast Long Beach, seventeen miles from where another storm channel empties. That other one runs very near where a giant ropen was reported flying in daylight, in 2007, near the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, in Orange County. That ropen was much larger, with an estimated length of thirty feet. In that part of California, perhaps you should put your Great Dane indoors at night. Ropens are said to be nocturnal predators.

Lakewood, California, has a Flying Predator

The lady’s husband told me that he had noticed an absence of possums in the past twelve months; they used to run along the phone lines often, but they seem to have almost disappeared. The only he has seen in recent months was not on the phone line but on a fence. The eyewitness saw the flying creature sitting on the phone line, so it seems likely to be a predator that eats possums and probably rats.

How did a Dragon get to Lakewood?

The eyewitness in Lakewood estimated its wingspan at about six feet (perhaps more) and it flew away from her when she used a loud voice. But there have been fewer possums in that neighborhood, at least the ones that used to run along the phone lines at night, far fewer.

Texas Marfa Lights

A strange phenomena has been gaining attention in this remote high desert of southwest Texas. Marfa Lights, at least the ones classified scientifically as “CE-III,” have defied scientific explanation for many years. A new study reveals interesting similarities with other flying lights observed around the world, resulting in a hypothesis that the “dancing” lights of Marfa come from the bioluminescence of a group of flying predators that may not yet be classified by science.

The new hypothesis, outlined in the news release “Unmasking a Flying Predator in Texas,” has received little support from most scientists who have recently become aware of the idea. It involves a group of intelligent flying creatures that glow brightly with intrinsic bioluminescence, while they hunt the Big Brown Bat, that lives in caves in this part of Texas. The idea is that the glow from the predators attracts insects which attract bats, making it easier for the larger flying predators to catch and eat the bats. The bioluminescent creatures themselves are not thought to eat insects.

To quote from that press release:

In southwest Texas, local residents have speculated about dancing devils or ghosts. Scientists have preferred something along the lines of ball lightning or earthlights, but all their scientific explanations have tripped over the resemblances to line dancing. If atmospheric energies or tectonic stresses cause the displays, why do two lights horizontally separate for a long distance before coming back together?

Now a cryptozoologist from California has explained the dancing lights of Marfa. Tales of spooks may hold a spark of truth, for recent research implies intelligence directs the lights: Bioluminescent flying predators may be hunting at night and catching a few unlucky Big Brown Bats: Eptesicus fuscus.

Other web sites have sprung up:

Marfa Lights Are Not All Car Headlights

Sometimes a ball of light seems to split into two, with a separation and eventual reunion. Some of the local residents refer to that kind of activity as “dancing.” . . . A few American cryptozoologists, including the Californians Jonathan Whitcomb and Garth Guessman, and the Texan Paul Nation, have researched and searched for bioluminescent flying creatures described like Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs. For years, one or two Americans at a time would travel to Papua New Guinea to search for the elusive nocturnal ropen . . . with limited success in remote jungles. Only recently has it been considered that this creature (or one like it) seems to also live in North America, including Texas.

Marfa Ghost Lights

The flying Marfa Lights of southwest Texas have been compared with the ropen of Papua New Guinea. There the lights have been correlated with appearances of large and giant long-tailed flying creatures, featherless and resembling Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs (long-tailed “pterdactyls”).

New Cryptozoology Book From Long Beach Resident

Jonathan Whitcomb, of the Bixby Highlands neighborhood of Long Beach, has just had his nonfiction book published: the second edition of Live Pterosaurs in America. Although it sounds like fiction, the title comes from years of eyewitness sighting reports of flying creatures whose descriptions strongly suggest pterosaurs, commonly called by Americans “pterodactyls.”

Although standard models of biology include the assumption that all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs became extinct millions of years ago, that is not a proven fact. Whitcomb maintains that human experiences should prevail in bringing to pass the eventual scientific discovery of several species of pterosaur, including at least one Rhamphorhynchoid.

Whitcomb explored a remote island in Papua New Guinea, in 2004, interviewing many eyewitnesses of the ropen, a nocturnal flying creature that is described like a long-tailed pterosaur. After publishing his findings, Whitcomb received many emails from Americans who had seen similar flying creatures in North America, including California, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, and other states.

According to the page for this cryptozoology book:

Nocturnal pterosaurs have always lived among us, but hidden by something. Enter now the realm of a new branch of cryptozoology, a branch overshadowed by the dogma of a “universal extinction.” How did scientists miss living pterosaurs? Get the answers here, hidden secrets about how these amazing flying creatures of the night have gone mostly unreported: Until recently, almost nobody would listen to eyewitnesses; but for the past seven years many of them have been interviewed by the author of this book.