Pterosaur Sighting in England

countryside - Shropshire, England

By nonfiction author Jonathan D. Whitcomb

Living-pterosaur (LP) cryptozoology involves interviewing eyewitnesses of unusual flying creatures, analyzing details in those reports, and comparing various accounts. Sometimes a number of sightings occur in the same general area. Let’s look at the British Isles, an area mostly neglected in my previous writings about these wonderful flying creatures that are not extinct. In particular, we have many reports of dragons in England, earlier in history, and some of those accounts may have involved flying creatures that have been reported in recent generations.

Please be aware that one explanation that people may suggest is that ropens or non-ropen modern pterosaurs have flown from Africa to the British Isles. I now have not nearly enough knowledge to say anything about that potential connection between Africa and western Europe, so let’s put that aside for now.


Pterosaur Sightings in Western England in September of 2017

Whitchurch, the oldest continuously inhabited town in Shropshire, England, has a population of about 10,000 and is only two miles from the border with Wales. On September 27, 2017, I received an email from a lady who wishes to be anonymous but whose experience needs to be shared with the world. In one of the emails I sent her, I mentioned the possibility that some of the larger living pterosaurs may be dangerous to people.

Here is part of her account (slightly edited for punctuation, spelling, etc):

. . . I am in the best of health mentally. I do not take any form of narcotics nor prescription pills, and I do not drink. I am a God fearing women. . . . Two weeks ago around 9 a.m. . . . I went into the garden . . . we live near a wildlife reserve which has an abundance of birds and wildlife, including eagles and hawks, heron, geese, swans, etc. It’s usual for them to fly overhead, and I see them flying; you hear their calls and get familiar with sounds.

Well, on this particular morning I heard a very strange screech; I say strange as I had never heard it before, and it was very loud, almost resounding. I could hear it getting closer across the way from behind the trees. I was curious as to what the sound was, but nothing prepared me for what I actually saw.

I saw two pterodactyls, side by side, flying past the tree. Now at first I had to check myself, because the first thing I thought was “those are blooooody big birds, that’s no lie.” But what struck me was that it had a giant size beak and the wings had no feathers.

. . . this was huge and flew directly past [some crows, revealing size], so due to its size I could see it clearly although it went past fast due to the size of the clearing between the tree and the houses. It was grey in colour, both of them as far as I could tell.

I have [researched] every bird in England and even foreign birds that look similar, in case any had escaped, but the one thing is the sound. None of the birds sound like what I heard. I took a whole day pondering and wondering what it is I actually saw . . .

I thought perhaps it was a toy, yes they have some good toys, but they still look plastic and two dimensional unless at a great distance, even the ones that flap their wings. It didn’t flap its wings up and down like a toy. It was a very fluid motion even coming across in a down to side ways sweep. After a day of research I kept the information to myself except [for] my husband, who remained skeptical but listened very nicely.

I may also add that it did not have [that I noticed] a lump on it head. So that is my story, however last weekend two of my children were playing in the garden . . . around 10 a.m. [and] my son of 13 years came running in to me saying he saw a giant big brown bird with giant wings.

He did have a look of fright or concern on his face, so I knew he wasn’t trying to pull my leg or was exaggerating. My younger daughter, who is nine, was with him and she said she didn’t see it, as she was playing by the trees, but she heard its sound. I asked her the sound (she happens to be a very good mimic when it comes to animals), and she made the sound that I had heard.

[For] the screech sound, the only thing that has come close is on Youtube: a pterodactyl sound clip. I went through pictures of birds with my son; he said it was bigger than the eagles which usually fly around the area. He said it was brown with very long wings. I asked him [if] it have feathers; he said he doesn’t know, he only saw it for a moment. So . . . [I] showed him a [picture of a] pterodactyl and he said, “Yes, that’s what it looked like.”

What I saw had no feathers and its wings were almost bat shaped. I had hoped someone else had seen it or it may have been reported, but as to date no one has. I have done much research online and the largest heron here still does not compare to what I saw: The legs are not long enough and the beak is not as big and the feathers are a major factor here.

I cannot explain what I saw. It was something like out of a movie but it was so quick I still disbelieve what I saw, and at the same time I know what I have seen. I do not know how something like that flying around was not seen by anyone else, as it was low flying, or how it could hide, but what I have told you is true.

Kind Regards . . .


old landscape painting of large tree in Shropshire, England

“Bridgenorth, Shropshire” by Paul Sandby (1731-1809)


I replied:

Thank you

I was fortunate to be able to pass through your area of England in 1972 and still hope to return some day.

I know it can be a shock to see this kind of flying creature: We’re taught from early childhood that all of them became extinct long ago. My associates and I hope that these animals will be acknowledged by Western science before long. My own research has been ongoing for most of the past 13 years. We have an expedition ready to start in Papua New Guinea, where these flying creatures are best known and most commonly acknowledged. I will not be able to go along myself but I am grateful that I’ve been able to do just a little bit in supporting it this year.

Let’s begin with what my associates and I know. The animals are indeed real and very much non-extinct. One common name that many people use for them in the USA and in many English-speaking nations is “pterodactyl.” The proper word among scientists is “pterosaur,” but let’s not worry about that technicality.

We know, from many years of interviewing eyewitnesses in a number of areas of the world, that these modern species of pterosaurs are real, not from human imagination or hallucination. The two you saw, and the one seen by your son, have probably been seen by other persons in your area, but most people do not report their sightings, at least not to me or to one of my associates.

Since you have cats and children, I need to warn your family that at least some of the larger ones may sometimes be dangerous, although we still have much to learn.

I have a couple of questions:

1) Did any of the ones seen by your family have a long tail?

2) What is the online address (URL address) of the Youtube video that has a “pterodactyl sound clip?”

Thank you very much for reporting your sighting. It has been some time since I’ve gotten a report from your area.

Jonathan Whitcomb

The lady replied:

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your reply and information regarding pterosaurs.

This is the youtube clip with the sound, there are a number of them on youtube but this one comes closest to what I heard, although only up to four seconds as the second part of the sound I didn’t hear that.

{sound of pterosaur shreek}

As for your question whether or not they had tails, this is my son’s interpretation of what he saw (he is not the best artist): He said it moved very fast like in stealth mode and was chasing one of the eagles or hawks around. He said it was 2-3 times the size of the bird it was chasing. I found a better image online but he said that it didn’t have such a big head crest part and the tail more like what he drew.

As for me, there was something trailing but I thought it was legs, but I didn’t really focus or notice as I was focused on its front, the beak and wings, and the time frame that I saw it was very quick. But to be honest I would say I saw legs rather than a tail. . . . It had very long wings.

My daughter told me yesterday that on the way home from school she was looking out the window and where the sheep were she saw one flying in the sky. My husband did not see it as he was driving. It could be a heat of the moment thing as she is my youngest daughter of nine years, and you know how children can be sometimes, but she said she honestly saw it so thought I would mention it. I asked her to draw what she saw.

I hope that has been of help to you, I shall certainly keep a look out and let you know if I see anything else.

Kind Regards . . .


living pterosaur seen in England in 2017


probably 9-yr-old sketched the pterosaur she saw


countryside - Shropshire, England

Shropshire, England


Concluding notes from Jonathan Whitcomb

We need to keep an open mind about ancient accounts of flying dragons in England and consider them in light of the more recent sightings of apparent pterosaurs.



Not extinct but living pterosaurs

How many critics have assumed that eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs must be either mistaken or dishonest! . . . I have interviewed eyewitnesses from many countries, including the United States, England, the Netherlands, Sudan, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia. Many of them describe a large flying creature with a long tail.


Cryptozoology in England

A witness reported a large pterosaur-like creature flying above Nursery woods.


Pterosaur Sightings in Europe

  • Lake District of England
  • Spain, mid-2007
  • Books on modern pterosaurs


Living Pterosaurs (monsters?)

(by the cryptozoology author Jonathan David Whitcomb) I’m also grateful to Lon Strickler for allowing me here tp report a few sightings of apparent pterosaurs, but it deserves a brief introduction. This is a strange investigation in a narrow branch of cryptozoology.


Non-extinct pterodactyl

“The extinction of some species of pterosaurs, out of so many known from fossils, is hardly disputed. The popular textbook declaration that all species became extinct millions of years ago, universal pterosaur extinction—that concept itself is approaching extinction.” Jonathan Whitcomb


Living-pterosaur books for LDS readers

  • Searching for Ropens and Finding God
  • Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea
  • Live Pterosaurs in America
  • Modern Pterosaurs


Ropen of Papua New Guinea

Plans for an expedition on Umboi Island, possibly starting before the end of 2017


Owlman sightings in England

The young witnesses ran back to their father, crying and frightened. They claimed they had seen a large unidentified winged creature . . .


Extinction ideas and pterosaurs

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.


Living pterosaurs in Africa

. . . specific sighting reports have similar details, namely this: a large or giant size, a long tail with a Rhamphorhynchoid-like structure at the end, and a lack of feathers.


Ropen bioluminescence

  • Dragon or Big Bird in Sandy and Draper, Utah
  • Ropen Sightings in the United States
  • Ropen-Pterodactyl in Utah and Arizona?
  • Marfa Pterosaurs? You’re Getting Warmer!


Eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs

With each passing year, it becomes more obvious why many eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs are credible and that the flying creatures observed are indeed modern pterosaurs. Many of the sightings are of obvious ropens, in other words modern Rhamphorhynchoids.


Attacks From a Ropen in New Mexico?

apparently desert scene in Chaves County, New Mexico

A speculation can fail, under scrutiny, but when human lives are in danger we need action. I’ve recently been reading the nonfiction Missing 411 – Western United States & Canada, by the former lawman David Paulides. On page 200, the author points out that all six of those missing persons listed in New Mexico disappeared in the Santa Fe National Forest. Why did none of them go missing in any other national forest of New Mexico? We have four other national forests in that state, plus three national grasslands (and two other managed  areas, designated wildlife or wilderness).

Some kind of predator was probably involved in at least two of those cases, someone or something dangerous residing in that part of New Mexico. This may get complicated.

Before getting into details in those strange happenings in the southwestern United States we need to consider this: When all the experts’ explanations fail, consider the idea that fits many of the facts but runs contrary to a cultural assumption of those experts. Some of those strange happenings are probably unknown to those who were involved in the search and rescue efforts, namely observations of large long-tailed flying creatures in New Mexico. Now remember Sherlock Holmes: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

I’d be surprised if Mr. Paulides had read my book Live Pterosaurs in America, for it’s not close to a national nonfiction best-seller. Few search and rescue professionals or amateurs, if any, are likely to have known, during their searching, about the investigations my associates and I have conducted over many years. Those trying to make sense of those missing persons in New Mexico could have been completely ignorant of attacks from large flying creatures in Mexico and in British Columbia, Canada. Yet why should Americans be immune to similar attacks in wilderness areas of the United States?

I applaud the work of search and rescue persons and investigators who have done all that could have been expected of them. Sometimes they find somebody or find a satisfactory reason for a disappearance; sometimes not. We now need to apply what we have learned about ropens in North America.

“Dragons” near Magdalena Mountains, New Mexico

The following I included in the third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America:

“Fourteen years ago [1993, in Socorro, New Mexico], me and a close friend, who now has a masters in biology, were hiking during the midday sun at [a] box canyon and something blocked the sun for a moment. We both looked up to see what did that and saw a large flying animal. It had a 20-30 foot wingspan and was about the same length long. It had a long tail with [a] seeming spike at the end. Its head was very pterodactyl shape with a fluted back pointy head. . . . we watched it glide . . . and land somewhere on the southern expanse of Magdalena Mountains.”

The man who told me about his sighting (above) mentioned the word dragon.

Details on those missing

Of the six persons who were missing in one area of New Mexico, three of them were children, in age from three to seven, in June of 1951. Those three kids were lost together and found together, all alive. The other three persons were adults who were never found, and they disappeared in 1982, 1998, and 2009. The following comparisons suggest there is no cause-relationship between the children and the adults:

  • Found alive or never found
  • Mid-20th century or 1982-2009
  • Group or lone individual
  • Children or adults

As I see it, the strange disappearances in one wilderness area of New Mexico resolve into three critical cases, three adults who went missing from 1982 to 2009. Searchers and experts found those three cases baffling. According to Mr. Paulides, “The New Mexico State Police investigator who has the Emma Tresp [who went missing in 1998] case made this statement: ‘It’s like she vanished off the face of the earth.'”

Bigfoot complication, or not

Mr. Paulides mentions the case of the man who went missing in September of 2009; that’s too recent for me to mention the name here. On page 195 of the Missing-411 book it says that the tracking dogs followed the man’s scent for 150 years and then stopped. Some followers of Bigfoot investigations have suggested that dogs might be afraid when they encounter the smell of a Bigfoot, causing them to avoid that kind of trail. That too is speculative. I suggest the dogs that lose the scent suddenly, in some of these missing persons cases in wilderness areas of North America in general, have stopped their tracking where the child or adult was carried into the air.

Carried away by a giant pterodactyl? What could be more unbelievable? Well, what about being carried away by a Bigfoot? The logic of Sherlock Holmes says it was either a Bigfoot or a dragon; take your choice.


apparently desert scene in Chaves County, New Mexico


Eyewitnesses of ropen interviewed

Three men describe the pterodactyl-like creature of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea. They saw the giant ropen (about 1994) flying over Lake Pung.

Glowing Ropen in New Mexico

The moon had already gone behind the trees, by the middle of that night a week ago Monday, so Mr. Slack and his buddy searched the sky for the Andromeda Nebula. This required using a low-magnification eyepiece, fortunately, to locate that galaxy, allowing the amateur astronomer to see the flying creature sweep through the field of view.

Attacks From Pterodactyls?

One of the American ropen-cryptozoologists, Jonathan Whitcomb, has now suggested that some of the strange missing-persons cases from wilderness areas of the United States may be from attacks from a few ropens.

Author Jonathan Whitcomb

[He] has interviewed eyewitnesses since 2004, common people who have seen, worldwide, uncommon flying creatures.


Whitcomb's nonfiction "Searching for Ropens and Finding God" 3rd ed.

Modern-pterosaur book: Searching for Ropens and Finding God, by J. D. Whitcomb

From the back cover of this 360-page paperback:

Settle into a comfortable chair and prepare for what may become the most unsettling scientific discovery since Copernicus and Galileo. This true story takes you into the expeditions that began to prepare the Western world for a discovery not yet recognized by scientists in developed countries.


Modern Flying Dragons

Cover of a nonfiction paleontology book about pterosaurs and their fossils

How do flying dragons relate to pterosaurs? Old stories and ancient history—those contain the word “dragon,” and some of the accounts involve large creatures that fly, and sometimes those flying creatures resemble pterosaurs, at least to some extent.

Peter Wellnhofer works at the Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology and Geology in Munich, a research institute. He is recognized as the foremost pterosaur-fossil expert in the world. I mention this to illustrate the depth of the pterosaur-extinction assumption, that it is not confined to common paleontologists. It seems like all of them assume universal extinction.

I also mention Peter Wellnhofer because of what he wrote in his book, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs, regarding old records about flying dragons. I am fortunate to own a copy of his book.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs

Published by Salamander Books, Ltd., in 1991

Large hardback, 192 pages

In general I highly recommend this book as a reference to fossil discoveries of pterosaurs and what has been learned about these amazing flying creatures of the past. I do not, however, feel any need to adopt his assumption about universal extinction of pterosaurs or to adopt his assumption about many millions of years of age for the fossils.

Today I read an interesting proposition in this paleontology book:

“Dragons of the Myths”

If we pursue the history of the investigation of pterosaurs, the flying saurians of prehistoric times, there is a natural link in our minds with the myths and legends of dragons. . . .

For 16th and 17th century scholars dragons were still a reality. For example, in the Schlanganbuch (Snake Book) by the famous Swiss naturalist and town doctor Conrad Gessner, dating from 1589, there is a chapter called “Von den Tracken,” in which he describes and illustrates various dragons.

He also describes a battle between a Swiss called Winkelreid  and a dragon which took place near the Swiss village of Wyler. The scholarly Jesuit father Athanasius Kircher provided a picture of this fight in his great work on natural history Mundus Subterraneus (The World Below the Earth) in 1678. According to this the dragon had a long neck and tail, four legs, and wings.

The Viennese paleontologist Othenio Abel suggested in this context that the drawing could have been based on fossil reptile finds, possibly long necked plesiosaurs from the Jurassic strata of Wurttemberg.

At a time when even naturalists believed in fabulous creatures and monsters, the discovery of fossil bones and remains of skeletons in caves must have reinforced ideas of dragons. Old names like Dragon’s Cave, Dragon’s Rock, or Dragon’s Stone still occur on modern maps.

I agree with Wellnhofer that we naturally have a tendency to connect pterosaur fossils with dragon legends. But unless he neglected to mention important evidence, he is speculating about fossil discoveries reinforcing belief in dragon stories. Even if there is some truth to that, it would not explain the dragon stories themselves.

He mentions a few geographic names that might have been related to ancient fossil discoveries, but he mentioned nothing about the many geographic names that contain nothing like “rock” or “stone” but do contain references to encounters with living creatures.

Wellnhofer also mentioned nothing about reports of strange flying creatures much earlier in history than the 16th and 17th centuries and more recently, such as from 1890 to the present. Those many accounts could have taken up many pages of his book, rather than just the few paragraphs that he chose to dedicate to dragons.

But writing extensively about sightings of pterosaur-like flying creatures would be expected of a nonfiction cryptozoology book, not a paleontology book. Nevertheless, this line of thinking brings up a question: Was Wellnhofer’s choices (in writing these few paragraphs about dragons) greatly influenced by the dogma of universal extinction of all species of pterosaurs? Since the book in general appears to have been written entirely within that paradigm, I suggest those few paragraphs were also written within it. Anyone desiring to gain much knowledge and understanding of dragon legends, and how they might relate to extant pterosaurs, needs to research in other books.

If significant truth lives in even just one of the old legends or stories of flying dragons, the intelligent and objective researcher will need to search further than in the brief writings of those who assume modern flying dragons could never have existed. My advice? Search!


Cover of a nonfiction paleontology book about pterosaurs and their fossils

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs, by Peter Wellnhofer


Pterosaurs, or Flying Dragons, in California

News headlines in an 1891 newspaper included:


Sport Gunning for Dragons Near Fresno

Two Screaming Dragons Snap Their Jaws . . .



Flying Creature Sightings in Georgia


Cooler weather does not mean pterosaur sightings come to a halt, for they continue. This past Wednesday, January 2, 2013, I received an email from an eyewitness in Missouri. The sighting was not old: “about 45 minutes ago.”



Live Pterosaur in Georgia?


Reports of living “pterodactyls” in Georgia . . . probably relate to sightings of some flying creatures in South Carolina and Florida, according to author Jonathan Whitcomb . . .

Do Dragons Exhale Fire?

cartoon image of a winged dragon breathing fire

Flying dragons that spew fire and speak English (or any other human language)—those creatures are fictional. But pterosaurs of various species lived in abundance, at some time in the past. The long-tailed varieties, called “basal” or “Rhamphorhynchoid,” could have been called “dragons” in earlier human history. The only requirement is that pterosaurs lived at the time of humans in earlier history.

We now know that those long-tailed flying creatures did live in earlier human history. How do we know? Because those creature live in the present, and they did not sprout from time tunnels to get here: They surely hatched from eggs laid by the previous generation, and so on.

From recent eyewitness testimonies, from around the world, these flying creatures are nothing other than long-tailed pterosaurs. But how could they be related to old legends about large creatures that breath fire? That requires an explanation.

Bird from Hell

In the second edition of the nonfiction cryptozoology book Bird from Hell, the author, Gerald McIsaac, tells us the story of a girl from Kwadacha, in Northern British Columbia, Canada, on a winter night:

[The author’s friend] saw some movement in the shadows and assumed that it was one of the boys spying on her. . . . She believed in facing trouble head on. . . . she charged over to the misguided soul who was irritating her.

As soon as she got close, she realized her mistake. It was not one of the boys, but it was her worst nightmare, a devil bird. She realized she was attacking what she feared the most.

She was not the only one who was scared. The devil bird could sense from the way this girl was attacking that she was a very big, powerful predator. Rather than fight, it decided to retreat, and it did in a manner that left the girl astounded. The devil bird released a cloud of smoke, flapped its wings, and flew away.

That “cloud” emitted by the frightened “devil bird” was not to obscure its escape, notwithstanding the ink cloud used for that purpose by the aquatic octopus. It’s a noxious or poisonous vapor or mist, capable of disabling a dangerous attacker and probably also for putting down prey.

How do I know that? I was informed by one of my associates (anonymous), who has studied ancient accounts of creatures that have that dangerous capability. The account of the “devil bird” behavior reminded me of my friend’s research, which was so obscure that it is unlikely that the author of that book had found out about it before publication.

In addition, the author wrote, “the cloud of smoke was . . . designed to cover the retreat of the animal.” (The author then made clear that it was not literal smoke.) Nothing, in my reading of his book or in my talking with the author by phone, gives any hint that he knew anything about my associate’s research, until a few days before my phone call, when the author received a phone call from my associate, the same person who had done, years earlier, that research.

Smoke does not mean Fire

The idea of fire, in old human cultures and in modern third-world countries, can come from something that glows at night, including bioluminescent creatures. Dragons have been connected to fire partially because at least some long-tailed pterosaurs are bioluminescent. The idea of fire-breathing (in flying dragons), however, probably originated partially from the mist that at least some of them emit from the head (not necessarily the mouth). But mist can be non-smoke, and a glow can be non-fire.

Where do Fire-Breathing Dragons Come From?

Look at this from another angle: could any real animal have inspired those old tales? One possibility has become obvious: eyewitness accounts of apparent bioluminescent long-tailed pterosaurs.

Dragons and Pterosaurs

Both grandmothers and wolves are actual living beings of this world, even though the story “Little Red Riding Hood” is a fictional story. In a similar way, old legends need not be 100% fictional.

Fiery Flying Serpent and Flying Dragons

Translators of the King James Version of the Bible, centuries ago, lived before the English language had the words “dinosaur” and “pterosaur,” so don’t expect to find either word in an old Bible.

Pterosaurs, or Flying Dragons, in California

Hoaxes and comical headlines were common, however, in the nineteenth century, but they were still greatly outnumbered by articles based on actual events . . .

Coloring for Kids

. . . gives children the opportunity to improve hand control and artistic ability.


Third edition of "Live Pterosaurs in America"

Paperback nonfiction cryptozoology book on eyewitness encounters with modern living pterosaurs in the U.S.A: Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition

From the introduction of this book by Jonathan David Whitcomb:

This book might make a few Americans uneasy to walk alone at night; my intention, however, is not to frighten but to enlighten as many readers as possible to know about live-pterosaur investigations. Those who’ve been shocked at the sight of a flying creature that “should” be extinct—those eyewitnesses, more numerous than most Americans would guess, need no longer be afraid that everyone will think them crazy, and no longer need they feel alone. Those of us who’ve listened to the American eyewitnesses, we who have interviewed them, we now believe. So, if you will, consider the experiences of these ordinary persons (I’ve interviewed most of them myself) and accept whatever enlightenment you may.

Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition) is sometimes in the top 4% in ranking of books selling on (early on July 24, 2012, in the top 3%). It is sometimes a contender for most popular nonfiction cryptozoology book on Amazon. Purchase your own copy online.