Tracking Living (Or Recently Dead) African Pterosaurs

bosskR

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It’s fascinating how a few devoted creationists have managed to put pterosaurs on the agenda over the last few years. It’s all over the place. Do people really believe in these things – not in the sense that people may be seeing them, but in the sense that they are actual prehistoric survivors?

I sure as hell don’t, but I still bought Live Pterosaurs in America from Amazon last night. I don’t even care if it’s all made up. I want to read about it.

I also love that creationists realise that a live pterosaur, if discovered, would not weaken the case for evolution. (Everyone already knows we have live crocodiles, for example.) But they’re drawn to it anyway, for some reason, and get caught up in it. Because they’re people just like me :)
 

oldrover

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I'm in the don't believe it but love it anyway camp too, but what I don't get is why would creationists believe living pterosaurs would weaken the case for evolution.
 

Mister_Awesome

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I think the logic is that pterosaurs are an extinct branch of life, which ties them to evolution in the minds of the creationists. In their ignorance, the creationists believe that all paleontology is tied to evolution, and thus if paleontology is wrong about one thing, it's wrong about everything. Of course this makes no sense, but I have read such things. When I first heard that there were people who didn't believe in evolution and I researched their arguements, and they were so laughable it was hard to believe that what I was reading was real. One was that ceolocanths being observed in their natural habitats, and that they didn't use their lobed fins like primative limbs, was proof positive that evolution was wrong. It's insane.

The alternative is that it might tie in with the young Earth theory, I guess.
 

oldrover

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Thanks, bit sad really isn't it.
 

bosskR

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Yes, it’s a bit sad, but not worse than, say, ”orbs” or blobsquatches.
 

Zilch5

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In an O/T but related story, creationists could have latched on to the discovery of the Wollemi Pine here in Australia.

Whilst it is "only" a tree, it is a tree grew during the time of the dinosaurs and was thought to have been extinct for 90 million years. It was re-discovered by a bush walker less than 200km from Sydney - Australia's largest city!

If that's out there for so long undiscovered - then who knows what else is out there. But please don't tell the creationists. :oops:
 

oldrover

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Hate to criticise anyone's religion but as regards this sort of thing without the restriction of considerations such as reason , they could latch on to anything.

As regards the Wollemi pine, the trouble is it looks much like any other to the average eye, just like the coelacanth it takes someone who knows what they're looking at to see it's importance. Not so a pterosaur.
 

lordmongrove

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These carvings could just as easily be styalized birds such as hornbills, shoe billed storks or maribou storks.
 

bosskR

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Today I got JD Whitcomb’s Live Pterosaurs in America from Amazon. It’s in many ways delightful. The cover, instead of a pterosaur, just shows a greyish, low-quality photo of a lake and some office buildings (apparently, a pterosaur was sighted near there). And the back cover blurb is just fantastic!
”Liars” the newspaper professionals pinned on two men who professed building a flying machine. How dare they? Bicycle mechanics! The Wright Brothers must be wrong. But secret flight did become known. [1]

One century later, ”liars” a few web pages pinned on a few men who professed pterosaurs are alive. How dare they? Bible-believing creationists! [2] They must be wrong. But just as two men tried to fly on the East Coast in 1903, a few men tried to observe the flight of a strange creature on the West Coast in 2007. [3] One man, Scott Norman, succeeded. But the secret location is not the shocking secret [4]: Many Americans have seen large pterosaur-like creatures in many states.
1. I love this: ”But secret flight did become known.” Secret flight. Of the Wright Brothers.
2. Creationists are people too – fun, regular people, despite our differences – a useful reminder for me, who, as a Scandinavian, have never met any.
3. This totally made my day, not only the whole Wright Brothers comparison but comparing trying to fly with ”trying to witness the flight of a strange creature”!
4. As if any location in itself, however secret, could be more shocking than live pterosaurs.

That said, it’s not all delightful. It looks very home-made, must be the result of self-publishing, and like many self-published books it a) is set in Times New Roman (11-point) and b) marks paragraphs with whitespace in between them, not by indenting the first line. It’s peculiar that all these people who want to make books, you would think it’s because they like books, yet they don’t know what an actual book looks like.

Self-publishing Fortean writers, take note: Times New Roman is never used in real books, simply because it’s too ugly! And whitespace in between every paragraph, which makes stuff so easy to read on the web, actually makes printed books harder to read. If you look at a real book made by professionals, the first line in each paragraph is indented, and whitespace is used to divide the text into larger sections. Simple readability aside, this is an extra level of organization, that you’re not currently using.

Also, ”indented” means by three or four millimeters, not by the half inch you are right now thinking about using!

(Perhaps, in this case, this was done to make the text fill more pages. It’s only a hundred pages as it is. It’s surprising to see a book thinner than a brick today, but I actually like it.)

If you want to be taken seriously, it’s a very good idea to make your book look like an actual book, not like something a crank would make. I know what you’re thinking: people who judge a book by the typesetting are dumb and immature and you don’t wanna pander to them. But believe me, no matter how immature you deem it, most intelligent and educated people think this way.

I’m not being mean to an amateur who doesn’t know how to make a book. I’m being mean to someone who, when looking at a proper book, doesn’t see what it looks like, which for me is incomprehensible, but describes most self-publishing Fortean writers. And for that, I apologize. I hope you take my very constructive criticisms to heart.

Sincererly,
Someone Who Works in Publishing

Helpful PS: Instead of Times New Roman, if you have a PC, you can use Palatino Linotype, Georgia or Cambria – if you have a Mac, use Baskerville, Big Caslon, Didot or Hoefler. They won’t win you any design awards maybe but they’ll look an ass-lot better than anything called Times. If you look around on the web, you can also find other fonts than those that came pre-installed on your computer.
 

Hedgewizard

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bosskR said:
who, as a Scandinavian, have never met any.

Not to be rude, but are you sure? After all, they ARE pretty much normal folks with a different world view. They don't hand out leaflets, or steer every conversation to the subject or any of that. Just as you (I hope) don't spend all your time talking about evolution. I've had the experience of learning that someone I'd known for years believed the Biblical creation to be the literal truth. You never can tell.
 

bosskR

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Hedgewizard said:
Not to be rude, but are you sure?
No, of course not, you’re right. I don’t know any religious people personally, but I mean I’ve ”met” mormons and Jehova’s witnesses and what have you.

By the way, I really adore the panda! Please don’t ever change it.
 

Bigfoot73

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The main focus of pterosaur hunting at the moment seems to be on New Guinea, where they are seen frequently, apparently. Cryptomundo has stories about this.
 

amarok2005

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Mister_Awesome wrote:

I think the logic is that pterosaurs are an extinct branch of life, which ties them to evolution in the minds of the creationists.

As I understand it, they are more concerned with throwing doubt on the idea of an earth many millions of years old: That it would be extremely unlikely for pterosaurs or dinosaurs to survive over such eons of time. And without the endless millions of years, evolution wouldn't have time to work.
 

bosskR

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amarok2005 said:
As I understand it, they are more concerned with throwing doubt on the idea of an earth many millions of years old: That it would be extremely unlikely for pterosaurs or dinosaurs to survive over such eons of time.
But crocodiles are as old as pterosaurs, and they’re already well known, so I don’t see what more doubt a pterosaur would throw. It doesn’t really make sense.

My guess is their creationism is what keeps their minds at all open to the idea of dinosaur survivors (yeah yeah I know pterosaurs aren’t dinosaurs), and that’s how they get interested in it ... whereas many would dismiss the idea completely. From there, it’s just good old interest in Forteana! (Although they can’t fully disconnect their investigations from creationist reasoning, the reasoning seems to be less and less clear and more and more in the backseat ...)
 

blessmycottonsocks

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"I got JD Whitcomb’s Live Pterosaurs in America from Amazon. It’s in many ways delightful."

He's still been blogging about it recently. He gets annoyed at debunkers who confuse the known hoax photo from the Freekylinks TV show with the far older, reputedly civil war era photo of the soldiers standing around the downed pterosaur. The original photo first got publicity back in the 60s - way before Photoshop and how we would all love for it to be genuine!

http://www.livingpterosaur.com/blog/2017/02/08/civil-war-pterodactyl-photo-ptp-vs-reenactment-hoax/
 

RaM

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At some point a tv crew will stagger into the camp of a undiscovered tribe
only to find they have been hunting and eating pterosaurs since Adam was
a lad and when they tried it it tasted like chicken.
Be nice if they did exist though.
 

Peripart

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"I got JD Whitcomb’s Live Pterosaurs in America from Amazon. It’s in many ways delightful."

He's still been blogging about it recently. He gets annoyed at debunkers who confuse the known hoax photo from the Freekylinks TV show with the far older, reputedly civil war era photo of the soldiers standing around the downed pterosaur. The original photo first got publicity back in the 60s - way before Photoshop and how we would all love for it to be genuine!

http://www.livingpterosaur.com/blog/2017/02/08/civil-war-pterodactyl-photo-ptp-vs-reenactment-hoax/
I'm sure I've seen a (fairly convincing) suggestion somewhere - possibly on these very pages - that the original photo is of nothing more cryptozoic than a canoe.
 

kamalktk

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"A scientist has verified that the image of that animal in the Ptp photograph is genuine."

Unfortunately that verification does not mean the object in the photo is an actual pterodactyl, consistent shadowing means there is an object that looks like a creature, but it could easily be a model of a creature. After all my mockup model of a dinosaur has consistent shadowing when photographed, but it's not an actual dinosaur.
 

EnolaGaia

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I'm sure I've seen a (fairly convincing) suggestion somewhere - possibly on these very pages - that the original photo is of nothing more cryptozoic than a canoe.

There have been multiple variations on the canoe suggestion. IMHO the most credible version is that the 'wing ends' originated from an photo of a shallow dilapidated canoe, and the pteranodon bits were spliced in as a midsection.
 

EnolaGaia

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... Unfortunately that verification does not mean the object in the photo is an actual pterodactyl, consistent shadowing means there is an object that looks like a creature, but it could easily be a model of a creature. After all my mockup model of a dinosaur has consistent shadowing when photographed, but it's not an actual dinosaur.

To my mind the most remarkable aspect of this purported 'validation' lies in the fact the 'scientist' (someone with a degree in physics) focused on consistency in shadowing while ignoring the more blatant indication of artifice - i.e., the fact that the relative degrees of focus and contrast vary 'way too much among the background, the soldiers, and the purported beast.

Furthermore, I would dispute whether the lighting / shadowing exhibit consistency at all. The illumination and shadowing for the soldier figures don't match up with those for the creature. Beyond that, I'd love to hear a coherent explanation for why the shadow of the sharp-pointed wingtip on the right is blunt at its rightmost extreme.
 

EnolaGaia

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As for the soldiers in the 'ptp' photo ...

They're too clean overall, and their haircuts are too well done to be 'period'.
The right hand of the leftmost soldier seems to have been pixel-painted.
The boots of the one in front are wrong - the standard issue 'Jeff Davis' boots were square-toed, black, and notably flatter in profile (over the toes).
The four-button sack coats and trousers are better fitted than what you'll find in authentic period photos.
Speaking of fit - these six guys appear to be the best-fed Civil War infantrymen I've ever seen.
The standard issue Union waist belt buckle for infantry was oval-shapped, not rectangular. The rectangular buckles were (officially) associated with officers' sword belts.

All this screams 'modern re-enactors' to me ...
 

oldrover

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And there's a pterosaur in the picture.

I do note though that the author is trying to hijack the mythical 'thunderbird' picture to provide a provenance for the 'real' photo.
 

EnolaGaia

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And there's a pterosaur in the picture. ...

More accurately, there's someone's misinterpretation of any known pterosaur(s) in the photo.

The prominent head crest / knob and the backward-folding wings indicate the creature is a pteranodon rather than any other pterosaur species. This raises two issues for the photo:

(1) All known pteranodons had claws at the leading edge of the first (closest inboard) joint / crease in their wings. No such claws (or indications of such claws) are visible in the photo.

(2) The last portion of the term 'pteranodon' derives from the Greek for 'toothless'. One distinguishing characteristic of known pteranodons is that they had beaks and no teeth. The creature in the photo appears to me to have teeth.

So ... What sort of pterosaur had both a prominent head crest / knob and teeth? Only the artificial ones (e.g., stop-motion models) used in films.

... And the pictured creature's head certainly looks artificial compared to all other visible elements in the image.

I have a strong suspicion the head (if not the full midsection, if not everything out to the wingtips ... ) was taken from some B-movie still or vintage book illustration. I've scanned for such images from (e.g.) King Kong, a smattering of later SF movies, and old illustrations (such as those of Burian), but haven't yet found one that matches all the features of the creature in this photo.
 

EnolaGaia

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... I do note though that the author is trying to hijack the mythical 'thunderbird' picture to provide a provenance for the 'real' photo.

Agreed ... The classic allusions to the 'MIA Thunderbird Photo' originally referred to a creature hung upright (usually on a wall) with what appeared to be cowboys / Old West figures around it. The sole alleged origin for the modern Thunderbird stories involves cowboys in Arizona in 1890 - 25 years after the Civil War ended, and later than the time when Civil War era uniforms were still in use.

I don't recall anyone claiming the creature was prone on the ground or the humans were Civil War soldiers prior to these photos (the 'ptp' one; the FreakyLinks promo) getting circulated on the 'Net.

This writer's attempt to swap photo references so as to claim a much older acknowledgement of the later Civil War version is clearly mistaken (if not outright BS). It's as if one presented a photo of the Nessie figure in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and tried to pass it off as the original Surgeon's Photograph.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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It's a reasonable representation of ludodactylus though.
 

EnolaGaia

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It's a reasonable representation of ludodactylus though.

True ... But ludodactylus' crest was apparently thin / flat, and the sole known specimen is from the Lower (Early) Cretaceous - after which the fossil record (known to date ... ) seems to consistently illustrate a divergence between pterosaurs with crests and those with teeth.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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"the standard issue 'Jeff Davis' boots were square-toed, black, and notably flatter in profile (over the toes).
The four-button sack coats and trousers are better fitted than what you'll find in authentic period photos.
....The standard issue Union waist belt buckle for infantry was oval-shapped, not rectangular."

Whilst I'm certainly no expert on US Civil War uniforms, I did a quick Google of many genuine photos from the period, as well as reading up on the Wikipedia account. I see that, particularly in the early days of the war, there was little standardization of uniform elements. The photos show that oval, rectangular and, in at least one case, a rounded-triangular belt buckle were worn by union troops. Furthermore the variety of footwear was huge, from the black, square-toed boots you mention, to lighter-coloured ankle-boots and even moccasin-style shoes. Here's just one example that looks reasonably close to the soldiers in the "ptp" photo:

uscivilwar2.jpg

As for the beastie itself, the presence of teeth does make it look like a better match for Ludodactylus or Brasileodactylus than Pteranodon:

Brasileodactylus_skull_I_9b89.jpg

I suppose the argument could be made though that, conventionally, pterosaur appearance has been extrapolated from fossils at least 66 million years old. If any of the species had survived until comparatively recent times, it is conceivable that natural selection would have modified their appearance to a degree, just as extant coelacanths show some differences when compared with fossil examples from the Cretaceous.

So, on those details alone, I wouldn't necessarily reject the ptp photo as a fake. It is those "canoe wingtips" that look decidedly dodgy to me though!
 

oldrover

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Agreed ... The classic allusions to the 'MIA Thunderbird Photo' originally referred to a creature hung upright (usually on a wall) with what appeared to be cowboys / Old West figures around it. The sole alleged origin for the modern Thunderbird stories involves cowboys in Arizona in 1890 - 25 years after the Civil War ended, and later than the time when Civil War era uniforms were still in use.

I don't recall anyone claiming the creature was prone on the ground or the humans were Civil War soldiers prior to these photos (the 'ptp' one; the FreakyLinks promo) getting circulated on the 'Net.

This writer's attempt to swap photo references so as to claim a much older acknowledgement of the later Civil War version is clearly mistaken (if not outright BS). It's as if one presented a photo of the Nessie figure in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and tried to pass it off as the original Surgeon's Photograph.

As I recall, it was supposed to be nailed to a barn.

You have a far greater knowledge of pterosaurs than I do, I only touch on them very briefly, but as blessmycottonsocks says above, isn't there new evidence regarding wing tip shape that suggests they were rounded rather than pointy, I'm sure I've heard Darren Naish make that point on his and Jon Conway's podcast.
 

oldrover

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By the way, although I can't give an objective reason for saying so those men don't look like 19thC cats to me either.
 
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