What Happened to Pterosaurs?
Many species of pterosaur have lived on this planet at some time in the past. What evidence is there that all of those species have become extinct? NONE!
A) Reasoning on the belief that pterosaurs
many millions of years ago
B) Reasoning on evidences
that pterosaurs lived
on earth within the last few thousand years
C) Reasoning on evidences that pterosaurs
in various parts of the world
is often called “pterodactyl,” but the general type, whether the long-tailed
or short-tailed, is “pterosaur.”
and incorrect spelling is "pteradactyl."
Why Believe in Extinction?
There are indications that many sound
scientific investigations are ignored by
the major journals simply because they
the General Theory
of Evolution. Some of these studies not
published elsewhere, are published by
the Creation Research Society (CRS).
of those peer-reviewed scientific
Whitcomb of California.
Long-tailed featherless flying creatures may be elusive and rare but not extinct.
Sightings have been reported around the world.
Long-tailed pterosaurs are sometimes seen near water.
They've been reported
in the United States
Photo by brewbooks
Some glow at night.
Some appear to be bioluminescent.
It’s important to include the word “reasoning” when referring to
evidence, for each scientist brings personal assumptions into any
scientific investigation. It’s normal for a person to bring personal
opinions into any examination of evidence. The objectivity which
is expected of science is usually only obtained through uncensored
communication, including ideas from those with different points
of view. When minority opinions are covered up, objectivity is
smothered and science itself may be in danger of being supplanted
official dogma or pseudo-science. This is no idle warning but a
plea for your attention to what may very well be a distorted view
of this subject, caused by repeated assertions that have little if any
sound scientific basis. Use your own reasoning while evaluating
following unusual ideas about pterosaurs and "extinction."
This is not a treatise on pterosaur biology nor a detailed history
of scientific discoveries but an investigation of why the idea of
ancient pterosaur extinction (millions of years ago) is so
in Western society and why alternate ideas should be considered.
It is more of a study of human mentality and reasoning
than it is
a study of pterosaur biology.
Did Pterosaurs Become Extinct Long Ago?
Mention the word “pterodactyl” or “dinosaur” to a kindergartner
and you’ll quite likely get
a response like “A comet” or “Million
of years ago . . .”, or “They died a long time ago.” Ask the same
child, “How do we know they
all died millions of years ago?” and
the answer may not come as quickly. When the kindergartner does
answer, it will probably be a
personal reference such as, “My book
says . . .” or “My teacher told me.”
Ask an adult “How do we know pterodactyls all died millions
years ago?” and the response might be different but one thing will
surely be the same: The answer will not be any sound reasoning
or explanation of evidence for their extinction; it will most likely
be something like this:
1) I don’t know.
2) Science tells us
. . .
3) All the books say so.
4) They are no longer with us.
5) Scientists say/believe/know . . .
6) Maybe some still live somewhere.
How is it that so many people in the Western world are so familiar
with an idea without knowing why so many believe it? Why is this
belief repeated so often, as if fact, by authors in the U.S.?
Open almost any textbook that refers to the creatures. Most likely
find their extinction (many millions of years ago) is treated
as if it were indisputable. Why is this idea so prevalent? Is this a
scientific “fact” that has been proven? If so, when was it proven?
If true, the veracity of this claim will not be damaged by a careful
examination of its source and substance. Let’s see how it stands up
to critical analysis. If pterosaurs became extinct many millions
years ago, analyzing why this “fact” is so widely believed shouldn’t
hurt its reputation; if, however, there are flaws in the rationale
this belief, it’s better to uncover as much relevant truth as possible
so we may consider the ideas of those who declare
have lived more recently or are still living.
One "pterodactyl" is called "ropen."
The first “point” seems ironclad. The remains of pterosaurs are
dated scientifically. Does this close the case? “Point” #2 seems
nail shut the coffin on any notion that pterosaurs still live. But
let’s look a little deeper. Sound scientific investigations
on details, not generalities. What about dating pterosaur fossils?
Before proceeding, we need to clear up a misunderstand
people have about “dating” dinosaur and pterosaur fossils. The
fossils which many scientists believe or assume to be millions
years old are not usually dated directly by any radiometric
technique. They’ve been put into ancient time frames
assumptions related to Geologic-Column and General-Theory-
of-Evolution beliefs. We’ll not go into
much detail on these
assumptions here. We shall look at one of the unexpected results
of the dating of a fish known as the Coelacanth.
of the most obvious flaws in the belief that pterosaurs have
been “dated” (and lived no more recently than
65 million years
ago) is the Coelacanth. This fish was long thought to have died out
with dinosaurs, millions of years ago. In fact,
they’re still alive and
surviving quite well. This alone is enough to discount any similar
claim that creatures must be
extinct because some fossils are
thought to be extremely old. Whether we believe the scientists
who trust these
dating methods, or other scientists who claim the
earth itself isn’t that old, there is no method of dating pterosaur
(Whether they lived long ago or not is irrelevant.)
Why was the discovery of living Coelacanth
fishes so shocking
to Western scientists? The supposedly ancient fossils were not
ever dated by any radiometric dating method. Actually, it
is a little-known fact that fossils are not often dated by methods
to millions of years ago. When fossils are dated, it
is by Carbon-14 techniques, which can date organic materials
to a maximum age
of about 50,000 years. The great majority of
organic specimens dated by Carbon-14 are far younger than the
50,000-year ceiling of measuring-accuracy.
This even includes
carbon residue on dinosaur bones! Perhaps one reason not many
museum curators have their “ancient” specimens dated
it’s so likely to show them to be younger than their theories say
they should be. In reply to the scientists who say that Carbon-
dating should not be used on specimens that are “known”
to be “millions of years old,” it’s now obvious that their ideas
infallible. The discovery of living Coelacanths is
sufficient to convince objective researchers to use Carbon-14
dating on all organic
specimens. The fact that so many of the
results show younger ages than is expected may be due to the
errors of 19th Century theories.
Why shouldn’t all fossils be
dated by Carbon-14 first, before assuming extreme age? This
type of dating is more accurate than potassium-argon
(Carbon dating is not infallible. Errors are not uncommon.
An important point about this measuring process is that
dating sometimes gives dates that are too OLD:
The creature or plant was actually living more RECENTLY,
especially when dated over 4000
years old before present.)
The reason it was so shocking to many scientists to discover the
living Coelacanths was that the ideas of their ancient extinction
so widely published. These ideas seemed to fit very well
into the popular General Theory of Evolution. It seemed very
some scientists) to imagine the fins of the Coelacanths
changing into feet over many generations. This was theorized
to be how
ocean creatures gradually changed into land creatures.
This specific evolutionary idea is now obviously wrong. Their
fins are still
fins, not legs. They didn’t change into land animals.
They're still fish. But is there more to this mistake than
misunderstanding about a fish?
What do Coelacanths have to do with pterosaurs? Consider this:
Were the errors in Coelacanth
evolution/extinction theory only
a shallow or narrow flaw? Could there be a deeper weakness
in evolutionary theories? Is it possible
that the General Theory
of Evolution (with the conclusions relating to the Geologic
Column ideas) be built on a sandy foundation?
not go into details about all the evidences against the
General Theory of Evolution
or the Geologic Column ideas
in this investigation.
It is enough to concentrate on how the
pterosaurs fit into this controversy.)
To sum up the case against the first “point”: pterosaur
has not been “dated”. Even the belief that they lived 65+ million
years ago is disputed by some scientists.
Let’s examine the second assumption. Is a lack of publicity about
a creature, evidence of its non-existence? Before looking further
this angle, let’s take a different approach:
From about the 1980’s until the present time, how would most
Americans react to someone
who reported seeing a pterodactyl?
How would the person report the sighting? (to news media or
a university professor?)
Most Americans (late 20th Century)
have only heard or read about these dinosaur-like creatures in
terms of ancient pre-human life.
It has been consistently drilled
into us since early childhood. (that dinosaurs and pterodactyls
are dead and have been dead for
millions . . . ) When we see
any indication of the creatures living with humans, it’s usually
in fictions such as movies or science
fiction books. How would
a news reporter react to an individual who claimed to have seen
a live pterodactyl? Who would take such
a claim seriously?
The point is: the popularity of an idea is not scientific evidence.
Point number four is not evidence for extinction.
us with point # Three: It supports the General Theory
of Evolution (GTE). For many generations the idea that dinosaurs
became extinct many millions of years ago has
been used as evidence for GTE. We need to understand that
assumption is not evidence for the extinction of pterosaurs but it
is an explanation of why it is so popular in the western world.
other words, this connection (with General Theory of Evolution
ideas) is not scientific evidence for pterosaur extinction.
makes it easier to promote evolutionary ideas.
If Point #1 and #2 are not solid evidence and Points #3 and #4
are not really
evidence, is it possible pterosaurs did not become
extinct in the distant past? Let’s move on to evidences from
and Western dogmatism related to ideas about
The belief that pterosaurs became extinct many millions of years ago
is usually based on one or more of the following mistaken
assumptions and concepts or conditions, which we'll label "points":
1) The fossils have been dated. This proves,
or at least suggests
that pterosaurs lived until 65 million years ago, and not after.
2) Pterosaurs are never seen by humans, so they’re extinct.
3) The idea that they have been extinct for millions
of years fits
the requirements of the General Theory of Evolution. In other
words, it supports (gives credence to) G.T.E.
4) The claim for very ancient extinction is repeated continuously
in the media, textbooks, classrooms, television, movies, etc.
It’s very likely that the third “point” is one primary reason many
scientists support the idea that pterosaurs became extinct
many millions of years ago. Those who believe or assume GTE
Theory of Evolution) to be true feel comfortable
with any hypothesis or theory that seems to support GTE. When
such ideas have
no obvious flaws, they’re accepted uncritically.
The main reason most non-scientists in Western countries believe
in this ancient
extinction, however, is probably because of “point”
number four. Few people consider investigating a claim that is so
But let’s start at the beginning:
The fact is, certain aspects of western culture make it almost
impossible for an individual (in the United States)
to make a
believable report of any sighting of a living pterosaur. Strange
accounts from third-world countries are routinely
western cultures as superstition or folk tales. Therefore assump-
tion number two is not a valid reason for believing in
tion of pterosaurs. (Reports are not given and/or are not believed.)
Under these conditions, an absence or small number
of living pterosaurs cannot be taken as evidence for the extinction
of pterosaurs. On the other hand, no number of “non-witnesses”
millions or billions who have not seen a living pterosaur)
can be taken as evidence that there are no living pterosaurs in any
anywhere on the earth.
Media and textbooks declarations may outnumber the eyewitnesses
accounts, but that hardly counts as scientific
evidence that pterosaurs
have been extinct for many ages. Much of what is promulgated is
simply multi-generational regurgitation of
what others have written.
In other words, authors simply repeat the standard dogma uncritically.
They repeat numbers like
“65 million” without considering even the
possibility that their sources are simply repeating what many other
authors are repeating.
How often textbooks give dates for dinosaur
and pterosaur life without any details about how they were dated!
Even more rare is a
book that mentions there are alternate ideas on
such dating! Where is objectiveness in reasoning?
Continued in the next column -->
Why did a forensic videographer believe
this eyewitness testimony about a very large flying creature the Umboi Islanders call “ropen
Continued from the left column
What scientific test can prove the
extinction of any creature? None.
Even when there seems to be an
obvious extinction in modern times,
how do we know there are not a few
stragglers hiding somewhere? There
are still places on this earth that
are not thoroughly explored.
"Perhaps the most mysterious case of bioluminescence is the five-to-six-second
flash of the ropen
of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea."
"A psychologist at a university in Central China
asserts that he saw, in 1971, a prehistoric-looking creature flying in
Papua New Guinea. Brian Hennessy . . . described the creature
as black or dark brown with a 'longish narrow tail' and a beak that was 'indistinguishable from the head.'"
Pterosaurs are associated with dinosaurs
but are not considered dinosaurs themselves,
regardless of ones position on extinction.
"In fact, a range of points of view are available about evolution, creation, and live
During World War II, the American soldier Duane Hodgkinson saw a living pterosaur
(he called it a "pterodactyl") in
New Guinea. It was no hoax, according to the American forensic videographer and cryptozoologist Jonathan David Whitcomb.
traditions and testimonies are
often not considered in scientific studies.
In some areas of Africa and Papua New
Guinea there are not
only traditions that
pterosaur-type creatures have lived in the
past alongside humans, but eyewitnesses
have seen them in the 21st Century.
to Jonathan Whitcomb, the
many eyewitnesses of the ropen and the
indava do not come from any hoax; they
are genuine eyewitness sightings.
The first published description of a pterosaur
fossil was in 1784. (a specimen from Bavaria,
first it was thought to be the
remains of a marine creature. Not until well
into the 19th Century was it recognized (by
that pterosaurs (some will say "pterodactyls") were flyers, like birds and bats: creatures of the air.
Through the early 20th
Century, pterosaurs were thought cold-blooded and gliders rather
than flyers. More recent opinions include that
were warm-blooded and adept at
flying. Late in the 20th Century a few of the
scientists began suspecting the word “were”
should be replaced
with the word “are.”
Then a dragon legend it must be, right? The problem is that the investigators interviewed more
than natives of Papua New Guinea: They interviewed an American World War II veteran who has maintained that
he saw a giant long-tailed “pterodactyl” in 1944.
Are all fictional stories based upon people or animals that never existed? Let’s
be careful not to rush to conclusions about dragons, for fantasies, though fictional, are often based upon some truth. The old story
of Little Red Riding Hood is fictional, but grandmothers and wolves are both real.
that radiometric dating such as the potassium/argon method must be consistently accurate is a problem. Some volcanic rocks that
are known to be only a few decades old have been dated up to millions of years old:
Mt Etna basalt (Sicily, May 1964 A.D.)
dated at 0.7 +/- 0.01 millions of yrs old
Mt Saint Helens (1986 A.D.)
dated at 0.35 to 2.8 millions of yrs old
Iki basalt (Hawaii, 1959 A.D.)
dated at 8.5 +/- 6.8 millions of yrs old
The rubidium-strontium isochron
has been to used with astonishing results:
The youngest volcanic rock from the top of
the Grand Canyon has been dated at millions
years older than the oldest rocks at the
bottom! This casts doubt on the rubidium-
strontium dating method itself.
The Coelacanth was discovered to be living
in the deep waters east of Africa in 1938.
Previous to this discovery,
it was assumed
that they became extinct 65 million to 80
million years ago.
An obvious evidence of the connection bet-
assumptions and fossil
evidence is this: It was believed by some of
the scientists that the Coelacanth evolved
into land animals. When
it was discovered
that they were still living (and in the same
form as the fossils) this idea became extinct.
The Coelacanth was
never evolving into any
land creature millions of years ago. In fact,
this fish is no more ancient than any other
presently living fish.
“In December, 1997 my husband and I both sighted a huge creature flying over a densely
populated area, while we were out walking one night in Perth, Western Australia on the coastline around 10:30 pm. . . .”
. it had a ruddy reddish brown leathery skin; (we could see its underneath as it flew over us at about 300 ft up; the glow from all
the ground lighting made that possible), it had a long tail and a wingspan . . . 30 to 50 feet across" [correlates with
Gideon Koro's account of the ropen over Lake Pung]
“'It looked as big as any car, and had NO feathers, not like a huge crane or egret.'”
With a wingspan that she estimated at 12-20 feet, the creature glided over the highway, coming to as close to 'twenty feet' high and
'twenty-five feet' in front of her car.'" [Eyewitness: Susan Wooten, S.C.]
Evidences suggest that humans have lived with dinosaurs and pterosaurs,
that they've never became extinct. Consider the case
of the Ogopogo
of Canada. (another cryptid, but
unlike the ropen: aquatic)
There are, in fact, reports of living pterosaurs from eyewitnesses in various parts of the world, and some eyewitnesses have been
interviewed and have been found credible. On one island in Papua New Guinea, the flying creature of the night is called by the natives
Jonathan Whitcomb, a cryptozoologist from California, explored part of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2004, searching for the
ropen. Two weeks was not enough for him to personally be in the right place at the right time to see a ropen, but he interviewed many
native eyewitnesses of the nocturnal flying creature. He has since written two books on sightings of living pterosaurs (multiple editions
of the books).
It was 3:00 p.m. (about 1989) when Susan Wooten, of Greenville, South Carolina, was driving on Highway 20, between Greenville and
Florence. Without warning, a large pterosaur or pterosaur-like creature swooped over her car. She saw the long tail as separate from
the legs and was sure that there was no mistaking the legs for a tail.
There is no fossil (or group of fossils) that proves any evolutionary development of pterosaurs from non-pterosaurs. Highly
developed structures for flight are shown in all species of pterosaurs. When any scientist makes a specific case for pterosaur
evolution, it is made with the assumption that the General Theory of Evolution is true. Even other scientists who believe
in G.T.E. come to different conclusions about pterosaurs sometimes. Although G.T.E. ideas may be used in formulating hypotheses about
pterosaur origins, this has no evidential value concerning extinction.
Sketch by Eskin Kuhn: the two pterosaurs
he observed in Cuba in 1971, in daylight
A young woman describes the flight of the ropen over their village: Umboi Island, PNG
Why believe in pterosaur extinction?
Nothing is wrong with the human experience of observing pterosaurs.