Tracking Living (Or Recently Dead) African Pterosaurs

EnolaGaia

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... 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. ...

Yes - I agree that all these points complicate the evaluation of the ptp photo. However, there are certain elements of the photo which narrow down how much variation one could expect in an authentic period photo.

The most drastic variability was at the beginning of the war. The soldiers' attire in the ptp photo could not be representative of that most chaotically-dressed early period, because:

- the lighter-colored kepis some of the figures are wearing weren't issued until after the first year or so; and
- the 4-button sack coat they're all wearing wasn't standard issue at the war's outbreak.

With the exception of the kepis, the ptp photo figures exhibit a uniformity among their uniforms / ensembles you'll be hard pressed to find in any authentic period photos - particularly photos of soldiers in the field.

The uniformity of their apparel - combined with the fit, cleanliness, and lack of wear on the metal and leather accessories - add up to make the ptp photo suspicious at face value, with or without the beast. If this photo is authentic 'period', it displays a group photographed almost immediately after receiving new uniforms and accessories.
 

EnolaGaia

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... 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. ...

Agreed ... However ...

Ludodactylus apparently represents a transitional form preceding the eventual divergence of pterosaurs into those with prominent crests and those with teeth. This is why I emphasized Ludodactylus being from the Lower (Early) Cretaceous.

It is certainly conceivable that subsequent evolution led to a re-convergence of traits in descendant species, yielding later specimens with both crests and teeth. On the other hand, the rarity of such re-convergence only increases the odds against the ptp photo beast being authentic.

On top of which there remains the small matter of explaining how pterosaurs - arguably the most niche-specialized, and hence most vulnerable, saurians, managed to survive the K-T boundary event ...
 

blessmycottonsocks

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"there remains the small matter of explaining how pterosaurs - arguably the most niche-specialized, and hence most vulnerable, saurians, managed to survive the K-T boundary event ..."

Exactly. And therein lies one of the greatest ever mysteries of life on Earth. How could such a catastrophically global extinction event be so incredibly selective in its genocide?
No true dinosaurs - or plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs or indeed pterosaurs are supposed to have survived, and yet the ancestors of today's fauna filling similar niches, such as crocodiles, tortoises, marine turtles, komodo dragons and obviously birds, lived through it all.
Not sure we'll ever fully comprehend that conundrum!
 

oldrover

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"there remains the small matter of explaining how pterosaurs - arguably the most niche-specialized, and hence most vulnerable, saurians, managed to survive the K-T boundary event ..."

Exactly. And therein lies one of the greatest ever mysteries of life on Earth. How could such a catastrophically global extinction event be so incredibly selective in its genocide?
No true dinosaurs - or plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs or indeed pterosaurs are supposed to have survived, and yet the ancestors of today's fauna filling similar niches, such as crocodiles, tortoises, marine turtles, komodo dragons and obviously birds, lived through it all.
Not sure we'll ever fully comprehend that conundrum!

Hang on a second, birds are true dinosaurs, just as much so as any of the non avialan members of the group. The days when this was debated by the mainstream is long past. Birds are firmly within the therapods.

As far as terrestrial and aerial animals went the deciding factor in the K-Pg extinction was size.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Hang on a second, birds are true dinosaurs, just as much so as any of the non avialan members of the group. The days when this was debated by the mainstream is long past. Birds are firmly within the therapods.

As far as terrestrial and aerial animals went the deciding factor in the K-Pg extinction was size.

I meant it in the sense that the class aves, characterised by body shape including wings, feathers, and a beak but no teeth, was already evolved long before the extinction event. No conventional theropod dinosaur though (with grasping forelimbs, teeth and long bony tail) survived the extinction, not even diminuative insectivorous ones (like the fossil estimated at 500g and 30cm recently found in China). Maybe flight was more of a deciding factor than size?
 

rynner2

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Maybe flight was more of a deciding factor than size?
The bigger animals died out because the asteroid impact, and the subsequent fires, destroyed much of the vegetation, so big beasts starved to death. But smaller creatures could still mostly scavenge what little was left.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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But my point was that, while true birds had already evolved/diverged from their theropod ancestors many tens of millions of years previously, not even the tiniest dinosaurs - many of whom were smaller than late Cretaceous mammals, survived the K-T event.
Otherwise they would be present in the fossil record < 65 million years ago and, instead of "evidence" for cowboys and Civil War soldiers with pterosaurs as discussed in this thread, it would be with mini T-Rexes (as is hinted at in the following article!

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2016/07/mysterious-living-dinosaurs-of-the-wild-west/
 

oldrover

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I meant it in the sense that the class aves, characterised by body shape including wings, feathers, and a beak but no teeth, was already evolved long before the extinction event. No conventional theropod dinosaur though (with grasping forelimbs, teeth and long bony tail) survived the extinction, not even diminuative insectivorous ones (like the fossil estimated at 500g and 30cm recently found in China). Maybe flight was more of a deciding factor than size?

I don't know much about the size of non bird therapods at the K-Pg extinction, only that there was a general trend in size reduction in that group. And that except for the bony tails, body shape is pretty much identical in birds and some non avialan therapods, they didn't have wings but the did hold their arms, wrists, and hands folded up against the body in the same way. Also I know that there is some question or suggestion that some famous dinosaurs such as velociraptor may have been secondarily flightless. And being beaked and toothless was a feature of some non bid dinosaurs too, as for feathers it looks like they started well down the Archosaur line, and therapods at the end of the Cretaceous would have been fully feathered. It's so fine a distinction between these animals. But I'd agree though it seems certain that a small insectivorous dinosaur should have had a fair chance.

Why it would have played out so that it appears to be so selective is one I don't understand either, my only real interest in dinosaurs is in getting rid of them to make way for the much more interesting mammals. But perhaps flight was the key issue that saved birds while their closest relatives went extinct. Maybe that was due to them having a greater range, or perhaps it was because they may have tended to nest out of the way, I don't know. But I think reproductive strategy was a key the deciding factor in who got through.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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"getting rid of them [dinosaurs] to make way for the much more interesting mammals."

Well I guess it's debatable whether your late Cretaceous dinos, including Triceratops, Anklyosaurus and, of course T-Rex, were less interesting than the contemporary mammals, who rarely grew to any size larger than a badger at the time.
Still, the largest mammalian predators were already preying on the smallest dinos by the time of the K-T event and the following article argues that mammals had already started to diversify and were thriving very well by 100 million years ago. So, certainly the dinos' mysterious extinction gave mammalian life a helping hand, but there were signs that it was already becoming dominant.

http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2007/03/29/mammals-began-to-diversify-pri/
 

stu neville

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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.

Yes, this. No doubt he would view this picture of a tap-dancing purple dinosaur and conclude there was no fakery as it wasn't photo-shopped. That tap-dancing purple dinosaur is actually there. Proof of the existence of an as-yet unidentified relict dinosaur! That's purple and tap-dances..

Dinodance.jpg
 

Brig

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Why pick on creationists. They are entitled to their opinion. While I do not totally agree with them; I do respect their views. I see Genesis as an abridged version of the beginning. Personally I am a believer in intelligent design. But getting into a religious argument here could go on for ever with no clear victor. Better stay with a simple scientific focus. Actually, think about it. If the coelacanth can survive well over 65 million years almost unchanged and the alligator for even longer (it is now a bit smaller) almost unchanged; then it stands to reason that the Pterosaurs might still exist in some form in some out of the way place. It is generally known that these creatures actually did survive a bit beyond the extinction event. but not long after, or so it is supposed. New animals, some even large, like the deer type animal recently discovered in Viet Nam. We do not know all the creatures on our earth. Not yet anyway. Besides the mystery is intriguing. Same could be said for Bigfoot, the Tasmanian wolf, or the Mammoth.
 

lordmongrove

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Yes, this. No doubt he would view this picture of a tap-dancing purple dinosaur and conclude there was no fakery as it wasn't photo-shopped. That tap-dancing purple dinosaur is actually there. Proof of the existence of an as-yet unidentified relict dinosaur! That's purple and tap-dances..

View attachment 4957
Posh Paws from Swap Shop was there decades before.
 

oldrover

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I can confirm that is what I saw.
 

Mythopoeika

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I think they're the most evil-looking birds I've ever seen.
 

Xanatic*

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Then you should see the equally prehistoric-looking cassowarys.
 

Mythopoeika

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If it asks "Who's a pretty boy?" you better have the right answer.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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blessmycottonsocks

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Pterosaur types which resemble today's birds:

The Maribou type:
mariboutype.JPG

The Shoebill type (even has a crest at the rear of the skull):

shoebilltype.JPG

Then we have some that looked quite goose-like (or possibly a Puffin?):

goosetype.JPG

And of course the Cassowary lookalike:
cassowarytype.JPG

Add to these resemblances, the pterosaurs with the bulbous protrusion at the end of their tail, which looks very like the tucked-up feet of a stork in flight:

tail.JPG
... and you have a whole suite of characteristics that either coincidence or more-likely convergent evolution has produced in living birds.

There are also the curious sparrow-sized bat-winged dinosaurs, which are not closely related to pterosaurs, but merit a mention here, due to their remarkable resemblance to modern bats:

bat.JPG

So, when eye-witness reports from Africa, the USA, Papua New Guinea or wherever crop up, Occam's razor demands that we consider the very high probability of misidentified extant birds or bats, before diving down the pseudoscience rabbit-hole.
 
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