Reply to a Newspaper Article in North Carolina

pterodactyls in Raleigh, North Carolina

By the living-pterosaur cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb

The News & Observer published an article, earlier this week, about a sighting by Cynthia Lee and about my ideas on non-extinct “pterodactyls,” including pterosaur sightings in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was not the first newspaper article on this kind of encounter in the USA and on my work in cryptozoology. In accuracy and objectiveness, it was about average, meaning it had a number of mistakes and was weighted in favor of the old assumptions about universal extinctions of pterosaurs. The two writers (Abbie Bennett and Josh Shaffer) seem to have avoided any deep research into the possibility that eyewitnesses in North Carolina may have witnessed actual living pterosaurs.

Don’t misunderstand me here: I’m glad they published that article on January 11, 2018, for I hoped for something like that, when I contacted them, and I’m not surprised that they took the traditional point of view that all pterosaurs are extinct. After all, the News & Observer is the second largest newspaper in North Carolina, a regional daily source of news, not a paranormal publication.

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“Are there flying dinosaurs in NC? One woman says she’s seen them three times in Raleigh”

See the link “Flying Dinosaur in North Carolina,” at the bottom of this blog post

"Are there flying dinosaurs in NC?" newspaper article

Newspaper article in North Carolina (News & Observer)

A Typical Day in a Newspaper Office

Bennett and Shaffer wrote this article as one would expect the typical American newspaper professional to write. Nobody expected them to try for a Pulitzer Prize. It was probably just another day for them, handling a local and regional issue that would certainly be of interest to the average reader.

I can understand their position. Why risk making a paleontologist, or other scientist, upset with a story that might suggest even one eyewitness, out of many, might have witnessed an actual pterosaur? How much safer to assume that all the eyewitnesses were somehow wrong! Those two writers chose the safe but entertaining approach, like many other newspaper professionals would choose. They ended with this:

“Whether these sky-bound shapes are mythic beasts, ancient reptile survivors or great blue herons playing dress-up, they make for lively conversation.”

That seems like a fair ending to the article, avoiding any offense to anyone: another interesting story on an average day. I would be delighted if many American newspapers would publish stories like that, for I feel sure that someday, in some town or city in America, some newspaper professional will be struck by the possibility that maybe great blue herons are not playing dress-up. Will that article, whenever and wherever it will be published, fly well enough for a Pulitzer Prize? I’m willing to help that writer make a run for it.

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Living Pterosaurs in North Carolina

Jonathan Whitcomb, author of nonfiction cryptozoology books, has suggested that flying creatures reported in Raleigh, North Carolina, over several years, may be related to what Americans in other states have reported to him over the past fourteen years.

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Living pterosaur in an Ohio newspaper article

Something on front page of the Antwerp-Bee Argus newspaper was different, on August 5, 2009. It was the live pterodactyl that made the news.

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Houston Chronicle Denies Dinosaurs in Texas

One of the largest newspapers in the United States, the Houston Chronicle, printed an article dismissive of dinosaurs flying over southwest Texas (mid-December, 2010, by Claudia Feldman).

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Living pterosaurs in a newspaper article

An 1891 issue of the Los Angeles Herald newspaper had an article from an earlier California news publication, about reports of “dragons” flying over an area south of Fresno, around Selma.

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Non-extinct pterodactyls and cryptozoology

“Since the time of Darwin, many scientists have assumed that some general types of animals became extinct long ago. One of the assumptions is that all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs died off before any humans existed.”

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Flying creature in Raleigh, North Carolina

I saw the shadow of big wings on the ground, so I looked up and I saw a winged, brown, species of [pterosaur] flying in the sky in the afternoon around 6 pm while me and a guy was standing at the bus stop.

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Flying Dinosaur in North Carolina

Newspaper article in the News & Observer in Raleigh, January 11, 2018

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Why Pterosaur Extinction may be Wrong

cover, front and back of the nonfiction cryptozoology book "Live Pterosaurs in America" second edition

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:

Cody:

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

Smgbad:

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.

astainback:

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

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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.

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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]

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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.

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Flying Creatures in North Carolina and Virginia

non-fiction 360-page paperback "Searching for Ropens and Finding God"

Early this year I received an email from an eyewitness of a pterosaur-like flying creature in North Carolina. (The following is English-corrected from the email-style spelling and grammar.)

I saw what I saw in October 2009, in Charlotte, North Carolina. When [we were] searching the internet for other accounts, I was amazed to see and hear witnesses describing details exactly the way I described them.

It was at night. I was standing outside my car [talking on the phone] when I saw the creature emerge directly over the three-story building I was standing next to. The creature was so close [that] my reflex was to duck.

It looked like what I had seen in a Jurassic Park movie. The only reason I didn’t think dragon was that it didn’t [have] any fire. My instant reaction was to get my cousin, who was in my passenger seat, out [of] the car so I [would not] see it alone. He did, and that [confirms] I’m not crazy. I know what we saw.

Two years ago, I received an email from a lady who was driving in Jacksonville, North Carolina, when she saw a flying creature:

. . . I saw something HUGE above me in the sky.  It looked like a pale greenish white and smooth-skinned. It didn’t appear to have any feathers, and it had the tail with the diamond shape on the end. . . . It was probably . . . 100 ft away.  I just looked up the Rhamphorhynchus and it was definitely similar to what I saw.

Virginia Flying Creature

Earlier this year, I communicated by email with an eyewitness in Virginia, who told me a little about his encounter with an apparent pterosaur:

I live in Hampton, Virginia, and approximately ten years ago I had a sighting of a huge bird here in Hampton, and I do mean “huge”. I was just wondering if the sighting you wrote about was anywhere near my area? The drawings reminded me so much of what I saw, only the bird (?) I saw was much bigger and looked like a pterodactyl.

Update (January 19, 2018) on Apparent Pterosaurs in North Carolina

From the cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb

More reports of what I believe are living pterosaurs have been sent to me from N.C. since late 2012. Consider what the eyewitnesses themselves have to say (here are some brief excerpts from five reports):

My brother and I spotted a Pterodactyl flying maybe 25 feet above tree level in Conover, North Carolina. This hairless, birdlike creature looked exactly like a Pterodactyl. If I had to put a guess on it’s wing span, I’d say 10 ft. [reported to Whitcomb on January 12, 2018]

I just wanted to contact you to let you know, me and two of my friends saw one at different times in NC, Durham [email sent to Whitcomb on December 8, 2017, although one sighting was in 1993]

Subject: Durham sighting around 2003 . . . While I am unable to verify what I saw as an actual pterosaur, I don’t
see any other way to explain it . . . [wingspan] estimate . . . 17-23 feet [emails sent in January of 2018]

I was driving in eastern Guilford County, NC. Stopped at an intersection . . . I just caught a glimpse of the big dark mass and what appeared to be a long, dangling tail. [email sent to Whitcomb on December 24, 2017]

I saw one at Murray’s Mill in NC. I was walking with my sister . . . I stopped telling people about it because they think I’m crazy. [email sent on January 16, 2018]

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More Virginia Pterosaur Sightings

“I know what it was. It wasn’t a heron; it wasn’t a vulture; it wasn’t an albatross. I had spent countless hours as a child studying dinosaurs and playing with dinosaur models. I know what I saw.”

Flying Creature in North Carolina

She told me of an experience she had while driving on a major highway near Asheville, NC when a HUGE winged black creature flew very low over her car. [her friend mentioned “flying dinosaurs” still surviving]

Flying Creature Identification

I have over a hundred sighting reports compiled in a data base that includes many details (wingspan estimate, surety of featherlessness, location of sighting, time of day, presence or absence of tail, etc); [The skeptic gives not even one detail and not even one sighting report] it is still expanding, now with year-2012 reports being entered. Let’s consider the skeptic’s remark about ducks . . .

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

 

Searching for Ropens and Finding God – cryptozoology true-life adventure

From the title page:

This overshadows common true-life adventures, revealing the early stages
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long. Above all, this explores human experiences—of eyewitnesses and
those who interviewed them. People have become connected by common
encounters: Persons of various faiths, with various levels of education,
from various countries and cultures, have seen a living pterosaur.

This nonfiction is sometimes labeled the “Bible of modern pterosaurs,” although that relates more to the size and breadth of the book than to religious content: It is more in the cryptozoology and true-life adventure genres. The fourth edition was published in 2014, still a significant breakthrough in nonfiction cryptozoology.

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Marfa Lights of Texas

I recently interviewed a man who observed several strange lights near Marfa, Texas. Driving across the country, two days earlier, Mr. Greene decided to stop at the Marfa observation station, having previously read of the strange lights. He watched the sky for hours, grateful that the flying lights were active that night. [details became available in late 2010, in the nonfiction book on cryptozoology: Live Pterosaurs in America.]

Why consider that American “ghost lights” relate to live pterosaurs? Consider the ropen light of Papua New Guinea. From them we can learn that at least some living pterosaurs are bioluminescent, in particular the apparent Rhamphorhynchoids of the Southwest Pacific. Now consider how many strange lights are reported across the United States: North Carolina (Brown Mountain Light), South Carolina (Bingham Lights), Arkansas (Dover Lights), Washington state (Yakima Lights)–those are only a sample. Strange lights have appeared across the United States for decades or centuries; apparent pterosaurs have also appeared across the United States for decades or centuries.

A bioluminescent flying creature much larger than a firefly I label “B.F.C.” Of course, not all strange flying lights are BFC, but I will also use this term to refer to ones with reasonable potential, from the perspective of my associates and I (who are convinced that the ropen is a bioluminescent Rhamphorhynchoid).

I took special interest in one of the lights that Mr. Greene described to me. It flew around for over two hours, until the sun was about to come up. At least once, it dived down, at a speed apparently consistant with what I would expect of a B.F.C. that is hunting bats, diving after one bat.

[The special characteristics of Marfa Lights should not be confused with ghost lights that may be barn owls.]

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cover, front and back of the nonfiction cryptozoology book "Live Pterosaurs in America" second edition