Pterosaur Nesting

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 Sheboygan River

Old culvert by the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin

Scientific Paper on Living Pterosaurs

Even as late as 1908, many newspaper professionals thought the Wright brothers “better liars than flyers.”

News and Pterosaurs

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.

Jonathan Whitcomb

Author of nonfiction books about reports of living pterosaurs; interviewer of eyewitnesses; occasional explorer.

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4 comments on “Pterosaur Nesting

  1. Tony Lucas on said:

    It stands to reason that if these creatures are out there then they must reproduce to carry on. Some of these things have been seen for centuries, so unless they have gained imortality they must be generational.

  2. abput 15 years ago I was driving on a rural road in sask,Canad, on a bright sunny day in June, when out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was a small plain heading right for me on the driver’s side. I actually ducked my head and ended up in the ditch to avoid, what turned out to be a huge flying creature. It all happened so fast and I didn’t get a good look at it as I was busy trying to control my car.But it flew over my head and disappeared into a gravel pit. I was pretty shaken up, but unhurt and wasn’t brave enough to go to the gravel pit to investigate then or later. Nor did I tell anyone because they would have thought I was crazy.It wasn’t flapping any wings just soared over my head, and was brown, with a long head and neck.It’s feet were sticking out as it disappeared from view.

  3. The hubris of Homo Sapiens is, and has always been, that we (the present age) *know everything*. This is obviously quite false (note the recent beaching of a never before seen variety of Whale and her pup). “There are things in heaven and earth, Horatio….” Reports of extremely large predatory “birds” are not uncommon and I remember reading one recently where a child was threatened by one such creature. We basically know little to nothing about the reality we actually live in.

  4. Michael on said:

    As a scientist I am always surprised how fast and easy main stream scientist abort ideas or findings and on what reason. Searching for extinct or rare animal is one of the best expalmes. The majority of socalled eco-scientists work from their home desk, rarely venture out into nature, this they leave to young inexperienced colleagues or to “hobby”-scientits, later denying unusual reports due to the inexperience or non-professional training. Moreover statitics about anmals is today done by “roadkill”, See latsets report on rare british martens or the mountain lions in eastern united states. Instead of inspecting the area in person it is easier to wait for a roadkill which overall ha to be reported. And imediatelly the activists step in and request stronger protections with the argument that the animal must be rare becasue of the infrequent roadkills.
    May it be that some rare animals have learnt to avoid humans? Beside our believe that we know the earth and we are overpopulated there are vaste land areas which are rarly traveled or sparcely inhabtited. Furthermore animal adapet and hide from humans. It took years for the people to realise that foxes, dears and wild boars meanwhile share our cities, even big one such as London or Berlin. What we need are scientist who go out and observe.

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