In a Nutshell

Tag: living fossils

Genuine Photograph of an Extant Pterosaur

by on Mar.23, 2017, under Strange

On January 14, 2017, Clifford Paiva (a physicist in California) and Jonathan Whitcomb (a forensic videographer and cryptozoology author in Utah) jointly declared their belief in the authenticity of an old photograph that contains an image of an apparent recently-deceased Pteranodon.

Previous to that date, skeptics had dismissed the photo as being a hoax created by Photoshop. Paiva and Whitcomb, however, have declared that they have discovered numerous evidences that no digital image manipulation was involved and that the photo has distinctive evidence that it was recorded prior to 1870.

This is a study in cryptozoology, with an apparent “living fossil” that appears to have been a Pterodactyloid pterosaur. Paiva and Whitcomb stopped short of insisting that the animal was a species of Pteranodon, but they have pointed out the obvious similarities in appearance between this image and what is known from Pteranodon fossils.


old Civil War photo verified authentic

“Ptp” photograph declared authentic by Paiva and Whitcomb, January 14, 2017


“Missing Fingers” and Photoshop

Prior to 2017, the most damaging apparent evidence against the photo were the missing fingers on the hand of the man on the far left. That lack of fingers was used by some skeptics to ridicule the image as a Photoshop hoax. But serious errors have been pointed out by Whitcomb, regarding the hand of that man.

According to Whitcomb, the way that those fingers would have gone missing from using Photoshop would have been in a digital cut-and-paste: A soldier-image would have had his arm out to his right (our left) as if holding a rifle but the rifle-image would be pasted over that part of his hand. In other words, a hoaxer would have had to find a photo of a soldier that had his arm out as if holding a rifle but without any rifle. That alone would shoot down the Photoshop conjecture, regarding those missing fingers. How many Civil War soldiers had their photographs taken while holding out their arms, as if holding their rifles, but without any rifle?

But Whitcomb found a reasonable explanation for the missing fingers. He noticed that another soldier was holding a rifle with the ram-rod showing. The soldier on the far left (with missing fingers), however, had a rifle in which the ram-rod was not visible. Apparently the rifle was turned in such a way the the ram-rod was behind the camera’s view. That soldier was holding his rifle by the ram-rod, making the ends of his fingers not visible to the camera.

Discovery by a Physicist

Paiva found a branch under the beak of the animal. It was, apparently, used as a prop to keep the man’s foot and the animal’s beak steady during the many seconds of exposure needed for the photograph. That length of time for the exposure of a photograph was necessary before about 1870, so props were often used to keep people perfectly still.


copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


The original Civil War pterosaur photo

The photograph now called “Ptp” has been around for a long time, possibly in one or more books in the mid-20th century, according to a number of persons who report remembering it.

A Pteranodon in a Civil War Photo

The American physicist Clifford Paiva found evidences of the photo’s authenticity, after examining the details. One of those was a shadow of the front soldier’s shoe on the beak of the animal. Paiva declared that this shadow is consistent with other nearby shadows.

Dinosaur or pterodactyl in a Civil War photograph

Years ago, a scientist in California began noticing details in a photograph, clues that the image of an apparent modern pterosaur was genuine. On January 14, 2017, I spoke with Clifford Paiva (a physicist) by phone. We agreed that the photo (now labeled “Ptp”) has a genuine photographic image of a modern pterosaur. Some people call this kind of animal a “flying dinosaur” or a “pterodactyl.”

Skeptical Responses to Civil War Pteranodon Photo

The dead flying creature seen in the “Pteranodon photograph,” (Ptp) although it may be called a “pterodactyl” by some Americans and a “ropen” by others, could be a pterodactyloid pterosaur, possibly without the long tail that ropens are seen to have.


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Dinosaurs in Papua New Guinea?

by on Feb.23, 2010, under Strange

New species, giant rats and strange frogs, being discovered in New Guinea—that now seems commonplace. New Guinea is the second largest island on the planet (after Greenland) and perhaps the least explored. But look just a bit to the east, on New Britain Island: Over the years, eyewitnesses have reported three types of giant dinosaurs and a pterosaur. Extraordinary!

The second largest island in the nation of Papua New Guinea, New Britain, covers 14,600 square miles, mostly tropical rain forest. Before the 20th Century, the interior of the island had been mostly unexplored by outsiders. But by 2009, several astonishing cryptozoological investigations had taken place.

The MonsterQuest Papua New Guinea expedition of 2009 (it was short)–that was not one of them, for it appeared practically a foregone conclusion that the expedition team would discover no pterosaur but only reaffirm their bat-explanation. According to one member of the team, they were there to make a show, not to do scientific research.

A more-enduring endeavor, a medical mission deep in the interior of the island, unintentionally gave cryptozoologists much more to talk about, for the eyewitnesses were focused on helping local natives rather than inspiring American cryptozoologists. Garth Guessman (who has explored in Papua New Guinea twice, searching for “living fossils”) interviewed the three eyewitnesses, in 2006, after they had returned to the Unites States. They described a featherless creature, with a head crest but without any long tail, “soaring” for up to half a mile in daylight; the Pterodactyloid-like creatures fly regularly over one valley, sometimes in a small group. It obviously differs from the nocturnal, solitary long-tailed ropen of Umboi Island.

Leaving the pterosaurs, what about a ten-foot-tall grey-colored creature with a head like a dog and a tail like a crocodile? This was not millions of years ago but in 2004. “Christine Samei told reporters she saw the ‘dinosaur‘ early on Wednesday in a marsh just outside . . . Kokopo . . . New Britain.” After hearing others talk about it, she went to see for herself; “very huge and ugly looking,” she said. Michael Tarawana, a local leader, told a newspaper reporter that the creature had eaten three dogs. That sounds like something a tyrannosaurus rex might do.

But near the coast of southwest New Britain, two different dinosaur-like creatures have been observed by natives. According to the Australia explorer Brian Irwin, Dililo Island (near Gasmata) has an apparent sauropod dinosaur, seen one afternoon late in 2005; the length was estimated at “about 20 metres” (over 60 feet). And Umbungi Island has an apparent Therizinosaurus, seen “occasionally,” and with length estimated at “10–15 metres” (about 40 feet).

New Britain Island deserves more scientific expeditions, even if only one of these creatures is officially discovered and verified a living fossil.

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