Why so few eyewitnesses?May 29th, 2010 at 8:22
Occasionally I encounter an objection like “if pterosaurs were still living, we would see them flying around.” Several answers pop up, suggesting the critics who ask that kind of question have failed to think deeply about it. The main problem is circular reasoning, for the objection is an attempted refutation of eyewitness sightings: “They could not have seen a living pterosaur because they are no longer living <–> Pterosaurs are no longer living because nobody has seen one.”
Over many years, I have flown from and to airports in many cities. I love to gaze out the window soon after taking off and soon before landing. During all those observations, however, I don’t recall observing any human, not even one, although I look for people. It’s not that humans are extinct; they just have a shape that makes them difficult to see from above (most of them), and few humans spend much time walking near airports.
I’ve lived more than half a century in Southern California, but I have never seen a mountain lion in the wild. It’s not that I’ve never walked through a wilderness area; mountain lions keep hidden, most of the time. But a few Southern Californians do see them.
At the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, in Southern California, near Irvine, in the summer of 2007, a man was driving north from the university, with the ponds on his right. From the marshy area on his left a very strange flying creature flew across the road, right in front of him, flying into the sanctuary. Much has been written about this sighting of an apparent modern pterosaur, but let’s now consider the eyewitness. How difficult it must have been for him to find somebody to talk with about his experience! It was almost a year before he contacted me, and it’s my work (or my pastime, depending on who you ask) to interview eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs.
The point? It’s not that eyewitnesses of apparent modern living pterosaurs are extremely rare; the creatures may be somewhat rare and nocturnal, but eyewitnesses in Western countries may be ridiculed for reporting something we’ve been taught should not exist. Therefore most eyewitnesses keep quiet, as if hiding what they’ve seen by trying to make themselves invisible.
I am grateful for those special persons who have reported their experiences to me, for they have thereby contributed to sharing this wonderful news to the Western world: Pterosaurs live!
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