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Creationist Imagines Pterosaurs Soaring Over America

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 19th, 2009

At the end of the 1950s and beginning in the early 1960s, a man showed up on the scene to overthrow the theory of evolution. His name was John C. Whitcomb.

J. C. Whitcomb (born 1924) has, in the recent past, described himself as a creationist, theologian, and former Professor of Theology and Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana.

As Wikipedia points out, regarding an infamous 1960 book coauthored by Whitcomb:

“The work The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris has been criticized for being scientifically inaccurate. Furthermore, the work takes quotes from scientists either out of context or completely misquoting sources. For example, the writers took sources out of context and left out the date of ‘millions’ without noting the exclusion with an ellipsis.

“John G. Solum, a geologist with the USGS, has criticized the work for being inaccurate. Solum noted, ‘Whitcomb and Morris are mistaken about the nature of the rocks associated with thrust faults. Their claim about fossils is based on a YEC misunderstanding of how rocks are dated relative to each other, and how the geologic column was constructed’ and, ‘Morris’ explanation of relative dating is not ‘somewhat oversimplified,’ it is entirely incorrect.’”

Today, along comes another Whitcomb (are they related?), creationist Jonathan Whitcomb. He has studied the Ropen of New Guinea. He criticizes the standard model of universal and ancient pterosaur extinction. The younger Whitcomb criticizes the General Theory of Evolution. (MonsterQuest’s recent episode on the Ropen said the Whitcomb-promoted “demon flyer” video might be camp fires.)

“In 2003, [Jonathan Whitcomb] wrote a shorter work on a mathematical model showing the impracticality of macroevolution: An Evolutionary Boundary.”

You will note that in Jonathan Whitcomb’s new publicity campaign, he is downplaying his American Old Testament religious and Young Earth Creationist (YEC) motivations, and, instead, calling himself a “cryptozoologist.”

The new press release is headlined “Apparent Living Pterosaurs Seen By 1400 Americans, According To Author Jonathan Whitcomb,” with the subheading, “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.”

It follows:

Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the nonfiction book “Live Pterosaurs in America,” interviewed, from 2005 to 2009, eyewitnesses from 19 states: California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Washington State. The sightings themselves were from 1980 through 2008.

Some eyewitnesses label what they saw “pterodactyl,” the layman’s word for “pterosaur.” Many descriptions included “long tails” and lack of feathers. Wingspan estimates showed a statistical peak at 8-10 feet, but 27% of the estimates were over 18 feet: too big to be birds.

Many scientists assume that pterosaurs, like dinosaurs, became extinct by 65 million years ago. But a few cryptozoologists specialize in reports of sightings of pterosaur-like animals. They believe that many recent reports of apparent living pterosaurs in North America cannot be easily dismissed. According to Whitcomb, a substantial number are not from hoaxes, insanity, or misidentifications; they are most likely living pterosaurs.

Whitcomb found that eyewitnesses are hesitant to report their experiences; many are afraid of ridicule or afraid people would think them “crazy.” Most of those who reported their sightings to him remain anonymous in his book; an exception is Susan Wooten, who reported what she saw flying over a highway: “It looked as big as any car . . . NO feathers . . . like a humongous bat.” She made a sketch of what she had seen; the creature had a long tail and a head crest.

On August 15, 2009, three weeks after the publication of his book, Whitcomb made use of data from eyewitness interviews. He noted that when more than one person shares a sighting, at least one of the eyewitnesses may be shocked or disturbed in a way that prevents conversation about it, even with those who were present and saw the same thing. (But the great majority of reports are by lone eyewitnesses who fear ridicule if they talk.) Whitcomb estimated that of those who have seen an obvious pterosaur, only about 33% have sufficient confidence in their own senses to even consider contacting a cryptozoologist. Of those 33% who accept what they saw, at most only 20% will get up the nerve to phone or email an expert. And with some eyewitnesses, that may take years. Whitcomb calculated that at least 1400 Americans have seen living pterosaurs in the United States from early-1980 through the end of 2008.

“According to Whitcomb, a substantial number are not from hoaxes, insanity, or misidentifications; they are most likely living pterosaurs,” says their press release.

Wherein lies the insanity here?

Cryptozoology used in the support of extreme, unsupportable theories of creationism is unscientific and, perhaps, worse.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


40 Responses to “Creationist Imagines Pterosaurs Soaring Over America”

  1. JMonkey responds:

    Yes I agree that unsupported claims may be dangerous, but I believe that most of cryptozoology has begun in this fashion. The part that really bothers me is his wanting to further Creationist (and yes I am one) theory by making unsupported claims. If he wants to support creationism there are easier ways. Argue for microevolution. This has long been my stance on the issue of evolution. He could even argue that birds came from dinosaurs, and there are no more dinosaurs, so we could not have possibly come from monkeys, because there are still monkeys, and put up a better argument. By the way I am aware of how many wholes that argument has, I am just saying that he could have made many other claims that would still be more relevant than the analysis he made.

  2. Dragonheart responds:

    Even if there was any solid evidence for surviving pterosaurs, that would in no way prove the biblical myth of creation. Creationism is based on faith, and all efforts to disprove valid scientific theories like evolution are pointless. Creationism has long been disproven, and the mountain of evidence against it is mind-bogglingly huge (f.i. Retro viruses, that can be traced back to build up a tree of life that looks exactly like the one that is based on classic taxonomy).

  3. cmgrace responds:

    Evolutionists can be just as zealous as Creationists.

    Dragonheart, you said “Creationism is based on faith…” I will have to argue that evolution is also based on faith, since it has never scientifically been re-created in a lab setting. Please note that I am talking about macro-evolution and not micro-evolution.

    This whole discussion has been done before, but I look forward to seeing comments from new posters!

  4. Scott C. responds:

    Weblogs used in the bashing of creationism, especially when irrelevant, are unscientific and, perhaps, worse.

    (A) Whitcomb is a creationist
    (B) Whitcomb made a cryptozoological claim with which you disagree
    (C) Whitcomb has abused cryptozoology in order to support creationism

    Could you help me understand what I missed?

    Other cryptozoologists, who happen to be evolutionists, have made embarrassing claims; but, you don’t see me responding with,
    “Cryptozoology used in the support of evolution is unscientific and, perhaps, worse.”

    Although, if they directly tied their embarrassing claim to the theory of macro-evolution, I might.

    Not to get sidetracked, but, allow me to make a side note:
    It is simply not true that cryptozoology could ever prove creationism, and creationists who have this attitude misunderstand the nature of induction/deduction.
    However, most creationists do not make such a claim. Rather, they claim that certain cryptozoological finds would seem more consistent with a young earth than with an old earth.
    That is not an unscientific claim. It is an inductive claim, just like every other claim of science.

  5. praetorian responds:

    Whitcomb is free to have any opinions he likes on Pterosaurs, creationism, ect. The problem is you can’t write that there are an estimated 1,400 Pterosaur witnesses without producing a list detailing those 1,400 sightings. Not if you expect to be taken seriously anyway.

    There’s a parallel to this at Loch Ness. Estimates of the number of Nessie sightings range from 600* (Magin) to over 3,000 (Mackal). Ulrich Magin provides a well-researched and comprehensive list. Roy Mackal does not**. There’s a difference between an informed estimate and a guess.

    *Of Magin’s 600, many in that number are multiple witnesses present at the same sighting.

    ** Don’t get me wrong. Dr. Mackal is a legitimate scientist and a great asset to cryptozoology. But even he, I think, would probably admit the 3,000 figure wasn’t reached through any kind of comprehensive statistical analysis.

  6. Victory33 responds:

    Science claimed the coelacanth was millions of years extinct…yet here it is living today. Dinosaurs like descriptions have been spotted and even depicted on such things as rocks and statues within the last few thousand years. So if humans did or are living with modern day dinosaurs it disproves everything science has “proven” and told us throughout history….and all the sudden the Creationists start to look like the genius in the situation.

    When science denies the very things you study or have seen and believe exist. I see no reason to take most things science states as “fact”. I’m not saying the creationists are right or wrong, but they are probably as “right” as most scientists.

  7. jayman responds:

    The discovery of a living pterosaur, which I feel is unlikely, would no more prove creationism, or disprove any form of evolution, than the discovery of the coelacanth did.

  8. PhotoExpert responds:

    Personally, I don’t care if it is an Evolutionist or a Creationist that proves Pterosaurs currently exist in North America. I wouldn’t care where or who it came from. I’ll just settle on the proof!

    It is almost impossible to be totally objective and unbiased. Afterall, all of us have a past. Were we raised in a religious home? If so, did we adhere to our parents’ belief system or did we rebel against it? It would not matter. Either way, you would carry some bias. Are we registered voters? Do we lean to the conservative side, liberal side, or are you a Libertarian or Independent? Either way, you carry certain political bias. Even if you are apolitical, that means you have a view or might be an Anarchist who opposes the political system in the US today. You would still be biased.

    Basically, subjectivity enters into our objective analysis to some degree. I say, why sweat the small stuff and bring me the proof.

    I could care less about the subjective point of view of Whitcomb and to what degree he tries to use the data to make a point. All I care about is the data itself, it’s objectivity in and of itself, and if it can stand on it’s own merit, barring Whitcomb’s subjective take on the analysis of that data. If you are competent in statistical analysis, you realize that you can use that data to make or refute an argument. It is how you use those statistics to make your point. But the numbers stand alone.

    If a baseball player gets on average, two and a half hit, in 10 attempts at bat, he is an average or good hitter. But if he gets just one more hit in those 10 attempts at bat, he is a superstar! It is about consistency. And just because that hitter can perform that feat, does not ensure a World Series Ring for his team. However, the statistic for the player of being a great batter would still stand.

    My point is, statistics can be meaningful regardless of the outcome. If Whitcomb has good numbers, it does not mean his agenda will be successful but the statistics could stand alone on their own merit.

    I’d like to see that player that hits just one more hit in 10 attempts at bat. I’d also like to see the person that proves Pterosaurs exist. I could care less if the batter prayed before every hit or that the cryptozoologists was a Creationist. That would not matter to me. That is the character and subjectivity of the cryptozoologist. For me, only the statistical data or proof would matter.

    Therefore, I can not criticize Whitcomb based upon his belief system. What we can do is criticize or critique the numbers. If there was church picnic somewhere and the people found the body of a BF, would you care that they had a religious background or would you be thankful that they found a BF and reported it? Would you criticize the discovery of that BF body and discount it because a church group stumbled upon it? I wouldn’t, but then maybe I can be more objective than some people and just worry about the proof. I don’t have any hidden agenda to destroy the messenger or future finder of a BF body. I could care less about their personal beliefs. If one were an evolutionist and discounted the find of a BF body because some church members found it, then I would say that it was the evolutionist that had a hidden agenda against the creationists that found the body, solely based on polar opposite beliefs. The proof would remain objective. You would have a body. So I could care less about Whitcomb’s personal beliefs and how he tries to subjectively interpret the original data. As long as the data is correct and viable, let’s work with that, shall we?

  9. inbetween responds:

    evolution or creation , that is the question , the answer matters less then you think,just like in the old days when we thought the world was flat and we all believed it with aggressive and total belief , persecuting those who would dare disagree , the world , as it was, kept right on doing what it was supposed to independent of our opinions , as it does today . If we are people housing immortal souls then it doesn’t matter , the 8 billion or so years the universe is supposed to have been here is nothing more then a flash , a single letter on one page of the library of congress times the biggest number that can be made.Time will reveal itself and the follies of man and beast , in other words , just wait and see ,we may all be wrong!

  10. AlbertaSasquatch responds:

    jayman says “The discovery of a living pterosaur, which I feel is unlikely, would no more prove creationism, or disprove any form of evolution, than the discovery of the coelacanth did.”

    You took the words right out of my mouth jayman!

    This really made me laugh though.

    Victory33 says “and all the sudden the Creationists start to look like the genius in the situation.”

    and then goes on to say “I’m not saying the creationists are right or wrong, but they are probably as “right” as most scientists.”

    You are kidding me, right Victory33? You see, scientists use this thing called the scientific method to prove or disprove their theories. Creationists use…….the bible?, to prove their theory of creationism and to try and disprove evolution. Who should I trust?

  11. Dragonheart responds:

    - “So if humans did or are living with modern day dinosaurs it disproves everything science has “proven” and told us throughout history” -

    No, it doesn’t. Would such a find disprove the theory of gravity, or Einstein’s theory of relativity? I don’t think so.

    - “I see no reason to take most things science states as “fact”.” -

    One cannot deny the existence of evolution in the same way one cannot deny the existence of gravity or electromagnetism. Evolution happens. That is a fact. I’m not talking about the theory of evolution (which covers the mechanisms), but about the simple fact that living organisms change and adapt over time. It has been observed in the past, we observe it today, and it will be observed in the future.

    - “I’m not saying the creationists are right or wrong, but they are probably as “right” as most scientists.” -

    With all due respect, that is a statement that contradicts itself. Creationists and evolutionary biologists/geologists/palaeontologists have opposing viewpoints. By saying that one group is probably as close to the truth as the other one implies that both are wrong, and that there is a third possibility for the origin of species, which is simply not the case.

  12. comstock responds:

    Speaking as an evolutionary biologist, making odd distinctions between micro- and macro-evolution makes creationists look just as silly as the whole why-are-there-still-apes nonsense. As another biologist said, believing in micro-evolution but not macro-evolution is like believing in inches but not miles.

    That said, jayman’s got it right.

  13. cryptidsrus responds:

    I agree that possible discovery of a Pterosaur (which I doubt will happen anywhere near mine or most peoples’s lifetimes here, to be honest) would not put a dent on the theory of evolution.
    Nor it should NECESSARILY do.

    I do think it WOULD put a dent into the forehead of the theory that is unfortunately prevalent amongs a lot of the scientific establishment that there is nothing more to discover and that the question of the origins of mankind, the animal kingdom and the earth is a “solved” subject and “not debatable.”

    To clarify—I am NOT a creationist. I lean towards the “Intelligent
    Designer” camp. The earth IS Billions of years old—and evolution does occur—but WHAT jump-started it? And how did it happen? Was it chance or a sentient intelligence that did it?

    How does Darwinianism fit in with new evidence that disputes the accepted scientific view as to the Age of the Human Race?
    And how does Darwinianism answer questions as to its tenability???
    With arrogant scorn and dismissal?
    Or with open, robust debate?
    Those are questions that need to be addressed, among others.

    I don’t agree with Whitcomb’s creationist views but I refuse to dismiss his evidence outright and without careful analysis simply because it does not fit with my personal beliefs and views. Which is what science does.
    But yes—I agree that the finding of a Pterosaur would not disprove current evolutionary theory. But it would raise “uncomfortable questions,” to say the least.
    Such as—
    How in the heck did they survive??? :)

  14. J-Monkey responds:

    Everyone believes what they want to, science is not perfect just as a bible is not perfect. Most people need some type of evidence to support a claim, to quote Carl Sagan in The Demon-Haunted World Science As A Candle In The Dark if I told you there was a dragon in my garage and you came over only to find no dragon and I reply that it is invisible you might not believe me and why would you I have no proof. Science is trying it’s best at what little evidence we have and can find, creation is religion with a little science sprinkled in to lure open minded people in if you ask me. So in short believe what you want but please have presence of mind to question and look for some kind of proof, what works for you works for you.

    As for the idea of a species of pterosaurs flying around remote places I have an open mind, yet the only “proof” I have seen is eye witnesses which in the court of science is the lowest form of evidence and a old grainy picture or two which holds no ground for me

  15. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Just a couple of quick comments.

    1. The apparent fact that birds evolved from dinosaurs does not have anything to do with whether or not there are still living dinosaurs. Nothing AT ALL. Most Americans are descended from Europeans, but that doesn’t prove that there are no living Europeans today. The fact that you are alive does not mean that your parents are dead. A woman may marry and change her name from Smith to Jones; that doesn’t prove that the Smith’s are now all extinct. Etc., etc.

    2. In principle, one COULD estimate a total number of witnesses which is larger than the number of actual reports IF there is a way to estimate the percentage of witnesses who do not make their experiences public. This kind of thing is in fact done with crimes like rape that go under-reported. However, any such estimate is obviously very subject to error.

  16. cmgrace responds:

    I’m sorry but according to the definitions there is a difference between macro- and micro-evolution.

    From Dictionary.com:

    mi⋅cro⋅ev⋅o⋅lu⋅tion – noun Biology. 1. evolutionary change involving the gradual accumulation of mutations leading to new varieties within a species.

    2. minor evolutionary change observed over a short period of

    mac⋅ro⋅ev⋅o⋅lu⋅tion – noun Biology. major evolutionary transition from one type of organism to another occurring at the level of the species and higher taxa.

    n. Large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups.

    Evolution that results in the formation of a new taxonomic group above the level of a species.

    Micro-evolution is adaptation to environmental factors and has been re-created in a lab setting. Macro-evolution is the theory of species change and has never been recreated.
    Having said that, I don’t believe finding any supposed extinct species will prove Creation, just as I believe not finding them will prove evolution. It’s all about facts and proof, and neither theory has enough to prove beyond all doubt.

  17. cmgrace responds:

    Correction, I meant “just as I don’t believe not finding them will prove evolution.”

  18. Munnin responds:

    It is entirely understandable to me that, when someone reports a sighting of a strikingly large, flying creature which appears to lack any feathers or hair, the initial comparison that comes to mind is “pterosaur.” But what makes us so sure that what people are seeing is an archaic creature at all? Maybe it has nothing in common with a pterosaur other than physical size and the ability to fly.

    And even if these ARE actually living pterosaurs, why would that make any difference whatsoever in terms of dating the age of the planet? Horseshoe crabs apparently predate pterosaurs by over 200 million years, and there are plenty of those still around in the same form today. Alligators were the same back when the pterosaurs were supposed to have died out as they are now. On the other hand, we know that the Polar bear has only been a distinct species from the Brown bear for tens of thousands of years; nowhere close to even one million.

    I think that these sightings comprise a fascinating subject that is well worth further inquiry. However, I don’t see how that subject has any bearing at all on the dialog about evolution, creationism, intelligent design, or flying spaghetti monsterism, for that matter.

  19. korollocke responds:

    When I was in Iraq with 1/64 ab Staff sargent mao told about an encounter he had in Micronesia. He and another local were fishing and as he described an ugly featherless bird with a long beak and flesh toned came out of hole in the opposite river bank. Ssgt Mao shot it in the chest; it sqaucked and flew off. Ssgt Mao was on of the most serious men I ever served with and had no reason to lie or make up a tall tale. He told me this right after a porcupine the size of a oil barrel strolled through our umcp just out side if tikirt.

    Now as for this whole evolution vs creationism I throw in with darwin. More and more advances and evidence of evolution is being revealed and discovered, where creationist go by stuff like thats just bad science your wrong. There are ruins older than the bible, stories older than bible, artifacts, fossils, ect…all older than the supossed time of creation. What they have is a book that has been re-written and edited so many times no one knows what the original source material is or truley was. Don’t even get me started on constaintine. We have bits and pieces of bone and such we pull from the earth and every day we find a little more and understand a little more and slowly but surely fill in the gaps. Well peace, maybe were all wrong.

  20. Quacker1 responds:

    While I don’t want to get into the living pterosaur debate or the Creation debate, (though I do have strong opinions on both), I’d just like to respond to cmgrace’s comment about micro and macro evolutions’ differing definitions. While the two have different definitions, and describe changes within or between different taxonomic categories; respectively, there is no biological difference between micro and macro evolution. The two work under identical mechanisms. The only difference between the two is the addition of time. Macroevolution won’t occur in our lifetime, or in the life times of our great-great-great grandchildren, and for all intents and purposes can’t be accurately observed in nature. However, through extrapolation, our knowledge of the fossil record, and the predictive power of the scientific method, scientists understand beyond all reasonable doubt that macroevolution occurs, and it occurs under the same driving forces as microevolution, and the only difference between the two is time. To believe that the Earth is billions of years old, (as it is), and that microevolution occurs, (which it does), but not believe that macroevolution occurs should spur on a case of severe cognitive dissonance in any reasonable adult.

  21. graybear responds:

    I would love to believe in living pterosaurs, but I don’t. The reason that I don’t is fairly simple; below the KT boundary we find copious quantities of dinosaur fossils and many pterosaur fossils.
    Above the KT boundary there are none. This is a world-wide phenomenon which has absolutely NO exceptions. If the dinosaurs and pterosaurs lived on beyond the time of the KT boundary, then where are their fossils? We have fossils of mammals and birds from this 65 million year span of time, and some of these mammals and birds rival the size of the largest dinosaurs and pterosaurs. So, if the dinos and pteros lived on, then where are their more recent fossils? There are teratorn fossils found in South America, California, even as far east as Florida. There are “terror bird” fossils in many of these same places. So where are the pterosaur fossils? They’re all below the KT boundary, that’s where, because that’s when they died out.
    Whatever these eyewitnesses are sighting, it isn’t relict pterosaurs.
    To convince me, show me a recent body or recognizably pterosaurian body part, unfossilized.

  22. CryptoInformant 2.0 responds:

    While my opinions on this fellow’s opinions are probably best left unsaid, I feel he may be right on one thing – that pterosaurs may still live on this planet, though most likely not in the form of any species recognized through fossil evidence.

    CMGrace – Macroevolution does not need to be re-created in a laboratory setting – indeed, the process is much too slow for that to be feasible. Many scientists are instead willing to accept the body of fossil evidence presented to us through the efforts of over one hundred years of paleontologists as sufficient proof that macroevolution does occur. For instance, there is the presence of so-called intermediate forms – off the top of my head, Tiktaalik, Euparkeria, Eusthenopteron, Archaeopteryx, Falcarias, Velociraptor, Ambulocetus, Hyracotherium, Eohippus, Patriafelis, and Australopithecus – that have been so useful in piecing together our current understanding of the relationships of the various groups of animals.

  23. CryptoInformant 2.0 responds:

    One addition – by “this fellow”, I mean Whitcomb.

  24. subrosa responds:

    “I don’t agree with Whitcomb’s creationist views but I refuse to dismiss his evidence outright and without careful analysis simply because it does not fit with my personal beliefs and views.”

    HE HAS NO EVIDENCE. There is nothing there to analyze. It is all subjective and conjecture. Until someone can come up with a verifiable non-photo-shopped picture or a body of one, then this point is moot.

    I think we are all forgetting that Evolution is a THEORY and Creationism is a STORY.

  25. graybear responds:

    Subrosa: to be accurate, the theories of evolution which are constantly competing for acceptance in the scientific world, starting with Darwin’s theory, are about how and why and when evolution occurs. Evolution itself is an observable fact. This is similar to the case with the various competing theories of gravity; no matter which one is correct, or even if all the current theories of gravity are wrong, gravity itself is an observable fact.

  26. cryptidsrus responds:

    Subrosa:
    I would personally count as “evidence” the sightings (some of them with multiple eyewitnesses) of Pterodactyls and other Pterosaur-like creatures that Whitcomb has collected over the years. Plus oral traditions from around the world, especially Africa. I know that that is not “evidence” to a vast majority of people (including you) but that is my take.

    To reiterate—I am NOT a creationist. I was simply commenting on the dismissive attitude that many in the scientific community have towards eyewitness reports and other second-hand, “circumnstancial” evidence. The arrogant refusal to even consider the “evidence” and just dismiss it outright as “delusion” or a “hoax” without investigation or even considering that there might be a germ of truth in it is unscientific in my opinion.
    Once again, I admit that some here may have a different take on that. Ultimately, I refuse to believe that EVERY single one of these witnesses is either drunk, delusional or ignorant about avian wildlife. Many may be, but not all. If most disagree here, I understand.

    I do agree, ultimately, that the only way this will be “proven” once and for all is either with a “non-photo-shopped picture” (as you put it) or a dead body. And to repeat—IF there is a “definite” sighting or a “live” body produced of a Pterosaur, I very much doubt this will happen during mine or most people’s here lifetimes. But one can only hope.
    But in the sense you meant—I’m with you, Subrosa.

    This is ultimately (to me) a matter of what constitutes “evidence.” I’ll leave that for another time and place. I don’t feel like getting into a long, drawn-out discussion like I sometimes get into here RIGHT NOW. But I do get what you are saying.

    Hope I was able to clarify what I meant. :)

  27. cryptidsrus responds:

    Oh, and one more thing—

    Creationism IS indeed a story. But so is, in a sense, Evolution. Evolution occurs indeed—but the exact way it occurred and continues to occur is part of a narrative/story that has been developed and is accepted by the current scientific and social establishment. It mightchange in a hundred years for all we know.

    One day there might be a new twist on the “Story” of how Evolution occurred that might take it in a different “direction” than today. NOT saying Evolution hasn’t been proven—just that the “storyline” is missing a few “chapters”—at least a few “paragraphs”—and one day new “subplots” to the story/narrative may be added—Know what I mean??? ;)

  28. norman-uk responds:

    Im not too interested in the creationist versus evolution debate. I wouldnt be surprised if it was bit of both. Time may tell.

    What I am excited about is the possibility of pterosaurs being alive and kicking today! All these reports and is it it a well kept secret, anybody working on this subject? One must find out more!!

    I do value eyewitness reports!

  29. graybear responds:

    Another thing to consider is that most if not all of these reports of living pterosaurs describes them as featherless and furless. According to the fossil record most if not all of the pterosaurs had furred bodies and wings. If these eyewitnesses are truly seeing giant flying things with naked skin showing, like a lizard or other reptile, then they are not seeing pterosaurs. Dragons, maybe, but not pterosaurs.

  30. cryptidsrus responds:

    BTW—
    J-Monkey made a very interesting comment upthread:

    “I have an open mind, yet the only “proof” I have seen is eye witnesses which in the court of science is the lowest form of evidence and a old grainy picture or two which holds no ground for me.”

    Interesting comment. Yet in the ordinary “Court of Law” eyewitness testimony is unquestioningly accepted and is an integral part of the Legal Process. Cases get solved and determined all the time based on eyewitnesss testimony. Folks have even been sent to the Electric Chair/Gas Chamber/Lethal Injection Room based mostly on eyewitness testimony.

    One could even ask—
    If it is good enough for a Court of Law—why can’t it be good enough for the “Court of Science?”

    Ultimately this is what it all comes down to—Science feels it may “good enough for a Court of Law, but not good enough for Science”—to paraphrase Neil DeGrasse Tyson—he of PBS fame.

    I guess Science feels their standards are stricter, more absolute—as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    I understand the reasoning but not sure if I agree with it.
    Just seems as if Scientists are taking on a mantle of Superiority to other disciplines that it may not merit.
    Almost as if they are saying—”Our standards of what is Truth or not are more definite and on a higher level than others.” Which is dubious, since a lot of what is considered Truth is subjective and fluid. And the scientific method cannot be applied to all aspects of Life—despite of what some advocates of “Scientism” try to do.

    I’m not trying to start an argument or discussion here about the reliability of Scientific Truth vs. Legal Truth or even the objectivity or subjectivity of truth. Far from it.
    It would needlessly take the post off topic.

    Just thought I’d make an observation about what J-Monkey said. Thought it was thought-provoking. :)

  31. Fhqwhgads responds:

    cryptidsrus: Even in a law case, it depends on what the witnesses claim. It wouldn’t have helped Plaxico Burress much if he had claimed a pterosaur swooped over and dropped the pistol, which landed in his pants before accidentally discharging. Not to mention the fact that a jury of scientists just might have come to a different conclusion in OJ’s murder trial.

    Let’s face it, though: saying that if evidence is good enough for the law it should be good enough for science is like saying that if touching the ball with your hands is good enough for baseball, it should be for soccer as well. Science and the law may both pursue the truth but be required to do so through very different avenues because of the things that make them different, such as the motive for witnesses to lie and the degree of patience that can reasonably be indulged.

  32. cryptidsrus responds:

    Fhqwhgads:

    I get what you are saying.
    Like I said above, there’s different standards of “Truth” for Law Courts and for “Science” courts. That ultimately is what it comes down to.

    I’m still not sure in an subjective level if I’m Ok or even agree with it, but like I said, I’m not trying to get into a drawn-out discussion. Just pointing to something interesting that a fellow poster said.

    One thing though—
    IF we were to apply the scientific testing method to contemporary
    trials—particularly crinminal ones—I’m not sure you would get a whole lot of resolutions, convictions, or acquittals either way.
    If eyewitnesses are the “lowest form of evidence” in a “Court of Science” then I’d think we’d agree than that would not be very “practical” in a Court of Law either, wouldn’t it???

    IF we use the “standard” that eyewitnesses tend to be unrealible scientifically, of course.
    That’s probably why there’s different “necessary” levels for both courts, I’d say. :)

  33. CalebKitson responds:

    “Wingspan estimates showed a statistical peak at 8-10 feet, but 27% of the estimates were over 18 feet: *too big to be birds”.

    *I would say too big to be birds known to modern science.

    I was recently at the field museum in Chicago, and was spending some time in the Young Earth exhibit (my personal favourite) and I noticed that the pterosaur skeletons on display (I think there were about 4) only had wingspans of about 6 or 7 feet. Do different species of pterosaur vary greatly in size (from wingspans of 8 feet to 18 feet), or were the pterosaurs on display a younger age group?

    Also, are pterosaurs considered to fall under the class of Reptilia, or are they considered to be transitional animals? What is the common modern acceptance of its place in the animal kingdom?

  34. norman-uk responds:

    CK -
    There’s some interesting new information about pterosaurs, including wings of about 3 feet across, here.

  35. norman-uk responds:

    Well science depends absolutely on eyewitness reports but only if it is comfirmed by other eyewitness reports. In that case pterosaurs existence seems to have a pretty good chance doesnt it? The eyewitness reports may be recorded in any form which can be understood. By this means I believe in Brazil, the Antarctic, the Arctic etc. etc. etc. All because of eyewitness reports. At the very least eyewitness reports have a fundamental role in any scientific endeavor and deserve great respect as a useful tool, much like science itself. Clearly like looking through stones in a diamond mine, sorting and discretion is needed.
    I liked Carl Sagan (via the media) but he really was one sided in his quotations and I never saw it but he really was in need of hearing the other side of the argument.

  36. Ceroill responds:

    Caleb- it is my understanding that they are currently still classified as reptiles.

    One note about evolution- It says nothing, and cannot say anything, about the ORIGIN of life. It deals with how life changes over time.

  37. graybear responds:

    CK: As a group the pterosaurs ranged in size from about the size of a starling (8 to 10 inch wingspan) to the size of a small airplane (49 foot wingspan). There were many different species of them which thrived and died out over the 200 million years of their existence and they filled just about every flying group imaginable. For a very very long time if it flew and wasn’t an insect, then it was a pterosaur.
    Technically they are still considered to have been reptiles, but they are also known to have been furred, which seems contradictory; fur is first of all an insulator. Maybe the scientists will make up their minds about it THIS century.
    Interesting side fact: the iconic pteranodon, the big one with the head crests and long beak which has become what most people think of when they think pterosaur, was toothless and probably had a lifestyle similar to that of today’s pelicans. Without the stealing food from tourists part, of course.

  38. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Cryptidsrus: Exactly! One of the constraints on the legal system is that it must reach a conclusion in a reasonable length of time. Determining today who Jack the Ripper was or whether or not Lizzie Borden was guilty may satisfy our curiosity, but it can have no legal consequences — all the parties are long since dead. But if we can’t determine whether there is life under the ice of Europa for another 300 years, well, we’ll just have to keep waiting.

    In principle, science tries to be very exact. This takes time. Law, on the other hand, can generally only be approximate even under the best of circumstances — think how difficult it may be to determine what the “reasonable” weight is to be given to the testimony of an interested witness, or to determine the “reasonable” sentences for a variety of crimes committed by people with a wide range of characters and personalities. AND it has to be (relatively) fast. So the methods and standards of science and law are very different. A jury of 12 can decide a man’s fate. I wouldn’t want a jury of 12 voting on whether or not the HIV virus causes AIDS.

  39. Fhqwhgads responds:

    graybear: The “hair” on pterosaurs appears to be an artifact of convergent evolution that is not homologous with the hair on mammals. If you meant to imply that they might be mammals, no, they’re not. (Among other problems, the holes in the skull don’t match — mammals are synapsids, pterosaurs are diapsids. There are other differences involving the teeth and ears.) But if you mean that if they were alive today they’d have their own grouping, unrelated to snakes, lizards, and turtles, I completely agree. In fact, someone more than a century ago suggested referring to them as “arm griffins”. I think saying that basal “reptiles” evolved not only into modern “reptiles”, but also into birds, mammals, and griffins works just fine.

  40. CryptoInformant 2.0 responds:

    Caleb – Pterosaurs do vary greatly in size – the smallest were no bigger than sparrows, while some, like the behemoth Quetzalcoatlus, had wingspans approaching 40 feet. Pterosaurs are classified under the Archosauria, a subset of Reptilia that includes them, crocodilians, and, of course, the Dinosauria.



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