Why Pterosaur Extinction may be Wrong

Western indoctrination into the dogma of universal-extinction of all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs has been so widespread for so many generations that any mention of the possibility of one species surviving to modern times is often met with extreme skepticism or worse. Let’s consider an example from a guitar-equipment forum (nothing like a cryptozoology forum) in which one eyewitness brought up his sighting of a “pterodactyl.”

North Carolina Pterosaur Sighting

At about sundown, but with sufficient light, on March 23, 2013, the eyewitness, known as “Smgbad” on the forum, was driving on the I-540, in or near Raleigh, North Carolina, when he had his encounter:

I see the HUGE bird looking thing fly across the overpass I was on, maybe 20-25 feet in front of my car and about 7 or 8 feet off the ground. When I say it flew over, I mean it darted… Like a bird of prey. The first thing that caught my immediate attention was the fact it had an enourmous [sic] pointed beak, with a pointed top of it’s [sic] head. My eyes followed the body down and I noted that the wingspan was probably about 5-6 feet wide. Kind of bony wing stucture [sic] ending in points (almost like sails) with what looked like small claws in the middle. Bat-like in a way.

Couldnt tell really well but the body looked like greyish fur or dark skin. Two legs like a bird kind of jutting straight out of the ass section, followed by (and this is what REALLY made me freak) a LONG tail with a spade at the end. It then kept its wings open and leveled out, soaring over the foresty/swampy area below the overpass.

The man assured his music associates, on the forum, that he was not under the influence of any drug and that he had not been drinking. The forum discussions that followed took up dozens of web pages, but it was closed before I became aware of the site, so I could not participate. I took notice of some of the more interesting comments, although I have not yet gotten to the end of all the pages, as of July 3, 2013. Here is a sampling:


Did it look something like this? [Youtube video of a very colorful “pterodactyl” kite]


It was not a kite or radio controlled plane. It displayed full range of motion. It glided then flapped, glided then flapped. Its wingspan was enormous, and it was very much a real living thing. The kite thing is out also because it flew over an overpass right in front of my car.

Brian D:

No clue what you saw (or even if you’re serious), but your description sounds more like a rhamphorhynchus — except for the pointed top on the head.


I am positive you saw a crane. There are plenty around there. I see them all them [sic] time.


Bird Misidentification or not

This last comment deserves a closer look. Why is “astainback” positive that the eyewitness had seen a crane? In this short comment, he gives no reason except that those large birds are plentiful and he (astainback) sees them often. Problems abound with his conjecture, however.

According to Wikipedia, the only crane reported in North Carolina is the Sandhill Crane. But that large bird has nothing remotely like a “pointed top of it’s head.” Also, that bird does not have “small claws in the middle” of its wings. Also, that bird’s primary feathers are obvious in flight: It does not look like it has “greyish fur or dark skin,” nor it is “bat-like.” Also, this bird, in flight, does not look like it has two legs that are separate from a “LONG tail with a spade at the end.”

In fact, “astainback” appears to have ignored most of the description details, perhaps only those details that do not fit a crane. The point is this: How can a skeptic be positive that so many description details are wrong? Those details are what correlate with some kind of pterosaur or at least with a non-bird and non-bat flying creature that resembles a pterosaur.

Why be so Sure About Universal Pterosaur Extinction?

We must remember that real science normally advances with careful examination of details, not careless regurgitation of generalities. Real science is more likely to thrive when we do the following:

  1. Ask precise questions
  2. Choose carefully the question to first examine
  3. Examine eyewitness details, even when they contradict what was assumed
  4. Be ready to reconsider what was assumed, if that assumption is an axiom

The origin of the universal-extinction-of-pterosaurs dogma lies partly in the early investigators who found fossils of those creatures in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, long before Darwin’s General Theory of Evolution. Those few men had, apparently, no experience with eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs and probably had never seen a living pterosaur themselves. They assumed that those few species that left fossils were extinct, leaving only bones to reveal their earlier existence. The key is this: It began with only a few species of pterosaurs and with only a few humans, men who may have been ignorant of reports of modern creatures that were similar.

As more fossils of different species of pterosaurs were discovered, over decades, researchers began to develop the idea that the general type was both ancient and extinct. That idea was amplified by Darwin’s assumption that ancient organisms must have been mostly different from present-day ones. Apparently nobody considered the possibility that a few species of pterosaurs might live in some degree of rarity and be nocturnal.

With Darwin’s General Theory of Evolution, it became popular to generalize about ancient life. Universal extinctions of general types became an axiom that was drilled into Western culture through constant indoctrination, and that was done in the name of “science.”

It’s a deep subject and this is a blog post, not a book, so I’ll wrap up universal extinction for now. A number of the forum comments on those many pages were from musicians who assumed that what they had been taught since childhood was science. They assumed it was almost impossible for a pterosaur to be seen alive in North Carolina in the twenty-first century. They took the sighting report as if it were an isolated case, with no other eyewitness reports that had any significant relevance. We need to remember, however, that the comments were on a forum for musicians, not a cryptozoology forum.


Pterosaur Extinction or no?

. . . Ropen lights  (or indava lights) are not caused by fire, airplane lights, or meteors.”  Analysis, by the physicist Clifford Paiva, regarding Paul Nation’s video  footage of two Indava lights observed near the top of a ridge deep in the interior of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, late in 2006 . . .

Ropen or Strange Bird in California?

But the problems with that misidentified-bird [woodpecker] conjecture are enormous. In fact, a careful examination of details is so damaging to the woodpecker interpretation that I will not even mention that skeptic’s name in this post . . .

Sightings of Pterosaurs

“I know what it was. It wasn’t a heron; it wasn’t a vulture; it wasn’t an albatross.” [sighting in the Maryland-Virginia border area—from the book Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition]


Cover, back and front, of Live Pterosaurs in America - nonfiction book

Live Pterosaurs in America, 3rd ed., (nonfiction), by Jonathan Whitcomb

This is the third edition of this nonfiction book on eyewitness accounts of modern living pterosaurs in the United States. As of early July 5, 2013, it was possibly the best-selling cryptozoology book on Amazon.com and ranked #46 in Professional & Technical – Professional Science – Biological Sciences – Animals – Wildlife. The overall Amazon ranking was #56,132.


3 Replies to “Why Pterosaur Extinction may be Wrong”

  1. I’ve been following your blog for a while now because this subject really interests me. I live in Cary, a Raleigh suburb, so when I saw the location of this sighting, I have to say that it got me excited! Did anywhere in that forum give the exact location of it?

    1. According to the eyewitness: “It was right down there near that big mound of dirt and the overpass by Triangle Town Center on 540 . . . The actual flyby
      occurred [sic] right near the actual TTC exit . . . It flew from the US1 North side towards the TTC side.”

      We need to remember, however, that this location may have no relevance to where the creature may be seen in the future. There’s only just a chance that it may relate to a flight habit or nesting location, just a chance.

    2. I just found the reported location on a satellite map. The sighting must have been very near Greshams Lake, near a heavily forested area of Northern Raleigh.

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