Where do modern living pterosaurs make their nests? A few years ago, I encountered this question from a skeptic who suggested that they could not be living in the United States or somebody would have found a nest. Let’s examine that criticism first, before getting into eyewitness sightings relevant to pterosaur nests.
That skeptic seems to take for granted a simplistic assumption. Do American newspapers automatically publish every reported event, no matter how unusual, as long as it would be important if true? What newspapers would put on their front page “teenager reports finding a pterodactyl nest”? Certainly not the New York Times. So why does that skeptic assume that any news report of such a discovery would find its way into his reading or television-gazing experience?
Why would anybody go to any newspaper reporter (in any country) and report something that is strongly believed, in that society, to be impossible? Even if that kind of report got to a reporter, how could it be taken seriously and published in a standard newspaper? We must take into account the cultural beliefs of a society, and in the U.S.A. few persons indeed have believed in modern dragons or pterodactyls, at least until recent years.
Wright Brothers and Wrong Reporters
Am I mistaken about a weakness in the news media, a weakness in being tied too closely to basic cultural beliefs? It was only about one century ago that newspaper professionals in the United States took it for granted that the Wright brothers could not have really invented and flown a flying machine. It was only years after the first successful flight when it became common knowledge that an important historical event had occurred. Popular opinions can be way off the mark.
Of course the secret practices of Wilbur and Orville, during the early development of their first airplane, contributed to the delay in public knowledge of the event. But many newspaper people continued to ridicule the idea of their flying success, even for years. American society in general was unprepared for such a revolutionary development, and newpaper professionals often closely follow popular opinion. After all, if they often published unbelievable news, who would buy their newspapers?
Recognizing a Pterosaur Nest
What mountain climber or weekend hiker in the United States (or anywhere else) can recognize a modern-pterosaur nest? Only if a live baby pterosaur were found in a nest could it be recognized as a nest of that kind of flying creature. Well, I have recently received an eyewitness report of just that.
Sighting of a Baby Pterosaur in Arizona
I hope I’ll be able to communicate with the eyewitness, within the next few days, and verify the credibility of her encounter, that it was a baby pterosaur. But I have noticed a few details in her report, details that suggest it’s a true account.
It was around October or November of 2011 when a lady and her son were looking for minerals in southern Arizona. They came to within fifteen feet of a creature that had a wingspan of about seven feet. The lady is certain that it could not have been a bird.
To whom it may concern, I have seen one of these creatures under a bridge . . . It was a baby and was covered in soft whitish looking fur or down. The top of its head was moulting with a top knot protruding.
How did she conclude that the flying creature (with a wingspan of about seven feet) was a baby? It held its ground while making threatening gestures, but it could hardly avoid falling on its face whenever it flapped its wings. The two eyewitnesses left the area when they realized that the mother might come back to the nest.
Pterodactyl Nest in British Columbia
I learned about a possible pterosaur-nest encounter from the book Bird From Hell, by Jerald McIsaac. The book’s author did not interview the eyewitness directly, as I recall, but even though it’s indirect, it makes a good reply to the suggestion that nobody has reported any encounter with such a nest.
Potential for Nesting in Culverts
The southern Arizona sighting of an apparent baby pterosaur under a bridge turned my attention to the sightings that are close to storm channels, including the Lakewood, California, sighting in mid-2012. These flying creatures could very well follow streams or flowing water in drainage systems, and some culverts could be good nesting locations. At least the creatures would be safe from intrusions from human cave explorers, for spelunkers explore real caves, not culverts under highways and country roads. In addition, who would believe a child’s story of finding a dragon in a culvert?
Old culvert by the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin
Even as late as 1908, many newspaper professionals thought the Wright brothers “better liars than flyers.”
I don’t mean to imply that none of the sightings in Eastern Texas, three decades ago, were from encounters with live pterosaurs; I believe that some of them were just that. But some persons may have become overly excited because of numerous local news reports.