How Many Americans Have Seen a Living Pterosaur?

flying creature roughly sketched by eyewitness Sandra Paradise

By Jonathan Whitcomb, cryptozoology book author


As of early December of 2017, it seems that no scientist has a body of a recently-deceased pterosaur to examine, or at least I have no knowledge of such a discovery and examination. That’s why my associates and I continue to work in the realm of cryptozoology, using whatever knowledge is available.

The words and phrases Americans use for these featherless flying creatures can include the following:

  • pterodactyl
  • dinosaur bird
  • dragon
  • big bird with no feathers
  • flying dinosaur
  • prehistoric bird

An earlier estimate for the number of American eyewitnesses

On August 9, 2009, I published a press release: “Apparent Living Pterosaurs Seen By 1400 Americans, According To Author Jonathan Whitcomb.” Here’s the subtitle:

“A cryptozoologist estimates that at least 1400 credible eyewitnesses have seen, in the United States, over the past 29 years, large flying creatures unlike any known bird or bat: apparent pterosaurs.”

Notice that I left open the possible interpretation, in that subtitle, that a not-yet-discovered type of flying creature may live in the USA but have no ancestor that is closely related to any pterosaur of the distant past that is now known by its fossils. I have never subscribed to such an extremely unlikely interpretation; I just left open that possibility. In my view, if it looks like a pterosaur, and is very much unlike any bird or bat or kite or flying machine, it is a pterosaur. At least I consider it highly likely to be so, in any particular sighting.

Recent findings related to how many Americans have seen a living pterosaur

During the past eight years, however, as more eyewitnesses have contacted me with details about their encounters with apparent modern pterosaurs, it has become increasingly obvious that the original figure of 1400 is a gross underestimate. Why is that? Those pterosaur eyewitnesses who have also encountered other pterosaur eyewitnesses—those persons are more common than I had thought when I came up with “1400” in the year 2009.

Take the following report as an example:

Recently, a man from Albuquerque, New Mexico, gave me a phone call and reported what he and 20-25 other eyewitnesses encountered many years ago. In the summer of 1972, at dusk in an open field, they were talking and roasting marshmallows when the talking stopped. Near to those people flew a huge creature who wingspan was estimated to be 15-20 feet. It seemed to be covered with fur instead of feathers, and it had a long tail. The man who reported this to me is Arthur Ramirez.

This sighting has two points:

  1. Of the 20-25 eyewitnesses of this encounter in 1972, only one person has contacted me
  2. The man who reported it has found other persons with similar encounters at other times in N.M.

Here’s a second example:

Earlier this month, a man sent me an email about a sighting he had in Durham, North Carolina, in 1993. Dane Simmons saw the flying creature while driving. Twenty years later, he learned that two of his friends also had seen an apparent pterosaur and that sighting was only about three miles from where Dane had his encounter.

Here’s a third example:

In June of 2017, a boy and his mother saw a “dragon” while those two eyewitnesses were in their backyard in Draper, Utah. They soon learned that the woman’s brother had several sightings of that same flying creature earlier in the year. The family then learned about a friend who had seen one at about the same time that the woman’s brother had his sighting, but her encounter was a few miles to the east.

Example number four:

A few days ago, I got an email from a lady who had a sighting north of Atlanta, Georgia, in 1999. Years after that encounter, she was talking with a couple about it and learned that one of them had a sighting of a similar flying creature in that same area north of Atlanta. That other eyewitness, however, did not want to talk about it.

Other examples could be given, but it now appears obvious: Sightings of living pterosaurs in the United States are not rare, but those who report their encounters to me—they make up only a tiny fraction of the eyewitnesses.


flying creature roughly sketched by eyewitness Sandra Paradise

Sketch by the American eyewitness Sandra Paradise (copyright held by her)


Conclusion on the number Americans who have seen a living pterosaur

As of mid-December of 2017, I still don’t have a firm handle on anything close to a particular number, for a variety of reasons, yet we can arrive at some reasonable maximum and minimum numbers. We need to be precise regarding the concept of an “encounter.” For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll set aside the general concept of encounters, which includes unreported experiences of hearing screeches but seeing nothing and seeing an obscure shadow fly overhead at night. Let’s confine our examination, for now, to sightings in the USA in which one or more persons observed an obvious pterosaur. This is the common idea of the phrase pterosaur sighting.

It appears obvious that less than a fourth of the human population of the United States has had such a sighting, otherwise I would be getting a number of emails or phone calls every day. It’s also obvious that the number of Americans who have seen an obvious pterosaur could not be less than 10,000, or I would not have received so many reports that include references to other eyewitnesses: friends and relatives and other acquaintances of the original eyewitness.

For the moment, we’ll have to be content with a general range. It seems that between 50,000 and 4,000,000 Americans have seen an obvious pterosaur at some time in their human lifespans. It certainly cannot be much below that minimum or much above that maximum. I hope that more eyewitnesses will choose to contact a cryptozoologist about their sightings. My associates and I need more data to work with.



I saw a Flying Dinosaur

Although it’s more common, in the United States, for an eyewitness of an apparent living pterosaur to use the word pterodactyl, I sometimes come across the phrase “flying dinosaur.”


Live Pterosaurs in America

Cryptozoology and pterosaurs — in California, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Ohio, New York, etc


Recent Dragons or Pterosaurs

People have been indoctrinated into dinosaur and pterosaur extinction for a long time in Western countries, so they assume it must be some kind of mistake when somebody reports observing a living pterosaur . . .


Living pterosaurs in England

. . . this is my son’s interpretation of what he saw . . . 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.


Modern pterosaur

Jonathan Whitcomb — An active cryptozoologist, interviewing eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs and analyzing and comparing testimonies


Flying dragon in the USA

Not all mysterious lights appearing near Marfa, Texas, are car headlights on a highway. A few times each year the strangest lights appear, although they stay for only about one or two nights at a time.


Living pterosaurs of the world

I, Jonathan David Whitcomb, proclaim that not only are not all species of pterosaurs extinct but more than one species is living, and they range in extensive areas of the planet.


I saw a pterodactyl gliding over the campsite

Report of a pterosaur sighting in Spain


Living Pterosaurs in Louisiana

map with Lake Pontchartrain

By cryptozoology author Jonathan D. Whitcomb


For those new to this blog, I need to explain why I call myself a “living pterosaur expert,” a strange title. From 2003 to the present (late 2017), I have spent over 10,000 hours on this narrow branch of cryptozoology: investigating eyewitness reports of apparent non-extinct “pterodactyls.” I don’t know of any other person who has spent over 10,000 hours on this subject, so I suggest that I am a living-pterosaur expert if anyone is.

I have published four nonfiction cryptozoology books on these flying creatures, in nine total editions. My scientific paper on these animals was peer-reviewed and published in a journal of science (“Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific”). In addition, I have received reports from persons on every continent except Antarctica, and most of those were from the eyewitnesses themselves rather than from second-hand or third-hand accounts.


map with Lake Pontchartrain

Lake Pontchartrain, just north of New Orleans


Apparent Pterosaur in Louisiana

Last night, I got a phone call from a Ryan Causey, who had a sighting in 1994 in southern Louisiana. The flying creature was seen late at night as it flew over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway bridge, which is just north of Metairie. At first, the man got the impression that it was a huge evil black bird, but he eventually came to recognize that he had witnessed a living pterosaur. Bryan found me through one or more of my blog posts or web pages.

The apparent long-tailed ropen flew only about 20 feet above the bridge, as Ryan was standing by his car, which had broken down. The flying creature was only about 200 feet away when the man saw the thing. He estimated the size (probably he was referring to wingspan) as at least 15-20 feet.

When he told me that it had a pointy head, I thought of many other reported sightings of pterosaurs: a horn-like or cone-like head crest is often reported. The overall appearance suggested something like shiny leather.

Email from Ryan Causey:

Jonathan, I see that you do research on this subject. I broke down in a van on the bridge to New Orleans in 1994 when I saw and a enormous creature flying not too far away from me but taking up more than half the size of the interstate. I was facing south and it flew from the west to the east over the bridge. I’d like to tell you little bit more about it I really couldn’t believe my eyes but all these years I know it to be true in my heart . . .

Other Pterosaur Sightings in Louisiana

Three other encounters have been reported to me from Louisiana, over the years: one in Slidell (October of 2013) and another in New Llano (western side of the state). I wrote about the encounter in New Llano in my nonfiction cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition) on page 215. Another sighting was in Louisiana but the eyewitness said nothing about what part of the state. The person did mention “leathery wings” and a “spade/diamond” shape on the tail.


Popularity of this “Live Pterosaur” Blog

Since its first post was published online in 2009, this blog has received over 360,000 visits, most of which were from people in the following countries:

  • United States
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • China
  • Canada
  • Poland
  • Russian Federation
  • Israel
  • Ukraine
  • Germany
  • European Union
  • Netherlands
  • Australia
  • Sweden
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Republic of Korea
  • Norway
  • Brazil
  • Romania
  • Philippines
  • New Zealand



Pterosaur Sighting in Slidell, Louisiana

Reported directly to the living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb: “On October 10, 2013, I received a phone call from a lady in Slidell, Louisiana. She had seen a flying creature just two hours earlier, a frightening experience, and had received no help from the police or the Wildlife-Fisheries.”


Eyewitness Reports of Living Pterosaurs

Some of the countries in which modern pterosaurs have been reported include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • United States of America
  • Kenya
  • Namibia
  • Sudan
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • England
  • Malasia
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea


Flying Creature

Please be aware that a sighting in the day does not mean that what was observed must be a creature normally out in daylight. It may have been frightened out of sleep during the day. It may be a nocturnal creature that was out on that one day.


Books on living pterosaurs

By the modern pterosaur expert Jonathan David Whitcomb


Apparent pterosaurs in the USA

Sightings in California, Washington (state), Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, and Florida


Books for LDS

These nonfiction cryptozoology books were not written specifically for an LDS audience, but the author is a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: These books can be understood and enjoyed by LDS readers.


Nocturnal “Pterodactyls”

The type with a long tail are called ropen, the name some of the villagers of Umboi, Papua New Guinea, call the nocturnal flying creature of their island.


Living pterosaur expert

Since his expedition in Papua New Guinea in 2004, Whitcomb has received many emails and occasional phone calls from ordinary persons who have seen extraordinary animals: apparent pterosaurs.


Sightings of Living Pterosaurs (previously unpublished)

By the modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

Not all the sighting reports, that I’ve received over the past 14 years, are yet published online. Some can be found in cryptozoology books like Searching for Ropens and Finding God, but others are not yet available to the public. Let’s consider previously unpublished sighting reports of apparent living pterosaurs, starting with a daylight encounter in the United States, even though the encounter itself is not recent.

Boise area of Idaho, about 1975

[I’ve done no editing of this eyewitness report except to cut out a few sentences at the beginning.]

When it was standing up out in a field it appeared to be a man off in the distance. It had to have been the height of a man maybe around 6′ tall.

My dad and I was wondering what that man was doing out in the middle of a field while we was going down the road. It looked like he was all dressed in black and seemed out of place with no cattle or horses. It gave us conversation.

We figured he was looking at the ground about crops or something. Until we got closer when it spread wings and flew off the ground. You can only imagine how shocked and surprised we was when it took off and wasn’t a man at all.

Its wings had been closed hugged to the body similar to how a bat has theirs. It took it awhile to get up very high because at first we thought it might hit us it was flying so low to get itself up more.

It went right over us, I’m trying to remember the year, in either 1975 or 1976. It was in desert area in the country part of Boise, Idaho and it finally got high elevation and flew towards the mountains.

The one we saw had a short wide beak and short crest on the head. As big as it was we figured others surely saw it besides us. I’m almost wondering now how many times us and others might actually be seeing these things high above thinking it’s only an eagle or vulture and give it no second thought.

Sighting in Iraq in 2007

Hello there, my name is Charles. . . . (Northern California). I just wanted to share an account of myself witnessing a bioluminescent pterodactyl/saur. This event occurred when I was a soldier deployed overseas. The exact occurrence was at night in 2007 at the vicinity of Ar-Ramadi, Iraq.

Kansas (three eyewitnesses)

The following short email I got early in September of 2017:

A total of 3 witnesses, including myself, saw what appeared to be a pterodactyl. The sighting happened west of Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas during the early afternoon hours.



Living Pterosaurs Declaration

This includes two lists: persons who support living-pterosaur investigations (including expeditions and research) and locations of sightings worldwide.


Are all pterodactyls extinct?

It has an eyewitness pterosaur sighting report from North Carolina


Who believes in living pterosaurs?

“Since 1994, a number of Americans have explored remote jungles and interviewed many eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs.”


New LDS Nonfiction Books

This is mostly about the cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens and Finding God.


Sightings of living pterosaurs in USA

Encounters in Florida, Georgia, Idaho, and in many other states


How can pterosaurs not be extinct?

Ropen – expeditions in Papua New Guinea


Living pterosaur in Kansas

“Pterosaur Sighting Reports, USA, 2016”


Nonfiction Books About Living Pterosaurs

side-by-side front covers of two cryptozoology books by Whitcomb

By the living-pterosaur cryptozoologist Jonathan David Whitcomb

Quotations from three nonfiction cryptozoology books

Searching for Ropens and Finding God (4th edition)

. . . avoid ridiculing those labeled creationist. . . . When in human history has one person always been wrong? [Introduction]

Albert Schweitzer inspired me, earlier in my teenage years, when I read of his unselfish missionary labors: He gave natives medical treatment in Africa; he also treated injured animals. I imagined myself as a missionary, helping natives in a jungle. Only later did Sanderson’s books steer my imagination into jungle explorations in search of undiscovered animals. [page 14]

After my own expedition in Papua New Guinea, I pondered how I had become involved and how those videos had touched me. What were the early signs that there were living pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific? [pg 22]

With Mary Blume’s help with interpreting, Guessman then interviewed Jacob Kepas [He was a Baptist minister at the time of this interview], who was twelve years old, living in the Wau area of the mainland, when he saw what we believe was a ropen. He heard a “whoosh” of wind, one night, and ran outside to see the seklo-bali that had just flown over his village. [pg 94]


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

The “Bible of modern pterosaurs”


Live Pterosaurs in America (3rd edition)

Could it have been a giant mechanical model? This mechanical idea breaks down. Why would a model fly from one swamp into another swamp? Why would it be so much bigger than the known mechanical models? How could it dive down to just above the highway and then ascend to fly over trees tops on the other side, without any acceleration of wing flapping and without even any mechanical appearance of wing flapping? And why would a mechanical model closely resemble a giant flying creature that catches fish on reefs in Papua New Guinea? They’re both too much alive. [pg 12]

I found it interesting that she asked if a “society” existed for receiving her report, and that the word “pterodactyl” gave her, at first, embarrassment. In Western society, including the United States, dogmas of extinction cause eyewitnesses of live modern pterosaurs problems: “Who do I tell?” is common; recognizing and verbalizing “embarrassment” is uncommon. I am grateful for the broadcasts of Destination Truth and Monsterquest, for they revealed the possibility of flying creatures like “pterodactyls” (even though pertaining to New Guinea). I hope many American eyewitnesses will thereby come to trust their senses, even without embarrassment. [pg 53]


Third edition of "Live Pterosaurs in America"

Live Pterosaurs in America (revised, third edition)


Modern Pterosaurs

I remember the experiences of a boy in Irving, Texas, in the 1970’s. A “very scary looking” flying creature had a big beak like those of fishing birds, but this thing had no feathers. It did have “claw hands” on top of its wings. Later, the boy’s teacher told him to be quiet. [pg 14]

Sometimes a sporting event brings many people out for a potential sighting. In 2010, I got an email from a man who was a teenager at a soccer camp at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, in the mid-1990’s. He told me that the flying creature “was huge, as big as a plane.” At least five parents and students watched it fly into a cloud. The teenager shouted, “That was a pterodactyl!” but the adults decided to keep quiet. [pg 15]

One stumbling block is this: Paleontologists, whether professional or amateur, have a habit of mentioning the supposed religious beliefs of those who promote the possibility of extant pterosaurs. In fact, in at least one or two posts, an expert on fossils ridicules a religious belief without even mentioning the word fossil. How easy it is for some readers to see only one of those posts and conclude that religious fanatics have been carried away by religious bias! [pg 66]

Small nonfiction paperback about modern pterosaurs

Modern Pterosaurs (published in the spring of 2017)




Living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea

Three Americans explored a tropical rain forest in Papua New Guinea, within the past few weeks, and two of them succeeded in observing an apparent living pterosaur.


Living pterosaurs for LDS readers

In a broad perspective, the reality of modern non-extinct pterosaurs is more in harmony with a belief in the Flood of Noah, with preservation of species on the Ark, than it is with the origin philosophy of Charles Darwin.


Book about modern pterosaurs

For countless years, an old photograph has been seen on the internet, and some persons report they had seen it in a book decades before there was an internet.


Book about the ropen

The fourth edition of another nonfiction book “Searching for Ropens and Finding God” can be classified in cryptozoology, yet it’s also a spiritual book, not much about any particular religion but asking for religious tolerance.


Non-extinct pterodactyls

Are they still alive? Can reports of flying dragons be more than legends? . . . Pterosaurs, the technically correct name for what many call “pterodactyls,” are known by Western scientists through their fossils.


Baptist minister searches for a living pterosaur

Late in 2006, Pastor Jacob Kepas (a Baptist minister) was interviewed by Paul Nation, in a hut in Tawa Village, deep in the mountainous interior of the mainland of Papua New Guinea. Kepas had recently climbed up a hill adjacent to a cliff where some of the nocturnal flying creatures sleep during the day.


LDS Author Jonathan Whitcomb

Nonfiction dragons, or “pterodactyls,” as described by eyewitnesses around the world, beginning in Papua New Guinea


A long review of Live Pterosaurs in America

. . . as I [was] browsing I spotted a book “Live Pterosaurs in America” by Jonathan David Whitcomb, a nonfiction analysis of actual sightings in the USA. This I had to own, so I immediately ordered it from Amazon, and a few days later it was mine! And you know what — I’m glad I bought it, and have enjoyed reading it.


Nonfiction books on living pterosaurs

I have written four nonfiction books about living pterosaurs, in a total of nine editions.