In the book "Live Pterosaurs in America," page 33, it says, "I suddenly saw, parallel with the water, quite a distance away, a flying object that was strange. Why? Because we knew it was quite far away, but it was as big as a regular bird would appear up close." (The thing flew over the men.) The account in the book continues, "I know what it was. It wasn't a heron; it wasn't a vulture; it wasn't an albatross." The eyewitness was shocked to see that the creature had both a head crest (common in Pterodactyloids) and a long tail with a "diamond tip" (common in Rhamphorhynchoids). He saw a living pterosaur near the Maryland-Virginia border, in the 1980's.
A few years ago, a psychologist, Brian Hennessy, was interviewed concerning a reported sighting of a large "prehistoric" creature seen on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. The psychologist was not analyzing the mental health of the eyewitness; that psychologist, Brian Hennessy, was himself the eyewitness.
Near Collision With Airplane
A pilot and co-pilot of a small twin-engined plane encountered a giant flying creature 150 miles southeast of Bali, Indonesia, in August of 2008. The pilot put the plane into a dive to avoid a collision with what he at first assumed was another airplane. As it passed, it became obvious that it was no plane; but what was it? The men later did some research and found the word for such a creature, a word used in nearby Papua New Guinea: ropen. The pilot contacted me, Jonathan Whitcomb, and gave me the details. I contacted the co-pilot and verified the sighting.
Pterosaur Sighting in Lakewood, California
The eyewitness contacted me soon after her sighting of the "dragon-pterodactyl" that she had encountered in her backyard in the middle of a clear day. I was shocked as well, for the sighting location was just a few miles from my house.
The creature was not very large compared with some of the ropens that have been observed in the United States: wingspan of perhaps six feet or so. The anonymous eyewitness was sure about the long tail and the structure at the end of the tail, an apparent Rhamphorhynchoid tail flange (although she did not use that word for it).
The sighting was on June 19, 2012, in a residential neighborhood of Lakewood, California, northeast of Long Beach, Los Angeles, CA.
Science or Cryptozoology?
Are the investigations of pterosaur sightings scientific or "anti-science?" They are cryptozoological investigations, using whatever scientific tools and methods are available. Jonathan Whitcomb has analyzed 128 of the more-credible sighting reports, late in 2012, concluding that three significant factors show that there was no major hoax involvement in those sightings as a whole. It was statistical analysis that disproved hoax insinuations from skeptics. Mathematics can often help provide valuable tools in science, even when the overall subject is cryptozoology, rather than a standard branch of science.
Pterosaur Sighting or Hoax?
Statistical analysis of the more credible reports of pterosaur sightings—that has eliminated hoaxes as a reasonable explanation for any significant portion of the accounts. Several independent factors demonstrated that few, if any, of those reports could have been from a hoax.
Wingspans estimates show a very even mathematical curve, with no peak or valley where we would expect to find one if hoaxes played a significant part.
In addition, "probably no feathers" slightly outnumber "positively no feathers" in those 128 more-credible reports that were compiled at the end of the year 2012.
Also, long tails outnumbered lack of long tails, by a twenty-to-one ratio, which is not what we would expect if hoaxes were a major factor in the reports.
Each of those three points independently eliminates "hoax" as a reasonable conjecture for the overall pterosaur sighting reports. Of those 128 sightings, there is a possibility that one or two may have been a hoax, of course, but what difference does that make? The vast majority, at least, of these accounts come from flying creatures that are unlike any known bird or bat, much more like a living Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed) pterosaur.
Jonathan Whitcomb is a cryptozoologist who has written nonfiction books about sighting reports of living pterosaurs in various parts of the world.