The scientific name for this kind of flying creature is “pterosaur,” although some people call it “pterodactyl” or spell it “teradactyl.” Most people think of it as a flying dinosaur, although dinosaurs are actually a different type of creature. Many people assume that they all became extinct many millions of years ago. Some people, however, have seen apparent living pterosaurs.
Sometime in the summer of 2012, an e-book will be published: Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea. The following is taken from Chapter Four:
I asked him about the wingspan: my mistake. After I had returned to the United States, it dawned on me: Gideon was surely unfamiliar with that English word.
He hesitated when I said “wingspan.” Even when I rephrased the question with “wings,” he probably missed the “s” at the end, assuming I meant the singular. Perhaps no language in this part of the world, other than English, creates a plural noun by adding an “s.”
Gideon answered my wing question: “seven meeta.” When I asked if it was the same as the length of the tail, he agreed.
He later drew the creature’s body, wings, and tail, making it appear that one wing was about as long as the tail. That was a clue I appreciated only long afterwards.
It now seems obvious to me. Why would any native think that Americans would measure two wings as if they were one object? How strange! (Two wings really are two things.) But strange as the Lake Pung ropen may seem to us—a flying creature with a wingspan approaching fifty feet—that estimate resembles the one given by an Australian couple who saw a giant creature flying over Perth in 1997.
So what is a “teradactyl expert?” This also comes in two flavors: paleontologists (who study fossils) and cryptozoologists (who study eyewitness reports of apparent living pterosaurs).
If this book does nothing more than comfort the eyewitnesses of strange creatures, I would be grateful; but there’s much more. We need to understand why we believe what we believe. When I first began researching these eyewitness sightings, years ago, I mentioned a word to a kindergartner: “pterosaurs;” he said, “A comet.” Years later, while writing this book, I mentioned my work to a second-grader; she said, “Who will buy your book? Crazy people?” I think better of you. And I think, because of what she and many others have told me, that we must understand indoctrination, for it influences our beliefs; the extent of that influence discomforts me.
Sandra Paradise was shocked by the huge flying creature that flew in front of her car.
. . . When that edition of the book was published, however, the eyewitness was anonymous, and I had no knowledge of her subsequent sightings in that area. In addition, she had not yet given me permission to publish any of her sketches. Those things have changed.