Paleontologists say pterodactyls went extinct 65 million years ago. But did they really die out completely? Pilots, doctors and explorers that have seen them with their own eyes insist the creatures exist...
Alaska: prehistoric flyby
John Bouker, a 22-year veteran Alaskan bush pilot, thought he'd lost his mind. As he headed toward Manokotak on October 15, 2002, he and his passengers thought they'd somehow flown into a scene from Jurrassic Park. Not far off the starboard side of his plane a gigantic winged creature soared. The amazed pilot and his stunned passengers all got a good look at the thing. Comparing notes about the sighting, all agreed that the creature strongly resembled the illustrations in books about dinosaurs and other extinct animals.
The flying creature was not a bird; it was a living pterodactyl.
Some ornithologists suggested that what the pilot saw was a large eagle, but Bouker insists that's not what it was, "You have got to realize that the thing I saw I mistook for another Cessna coming up on me. This was big, big, big. I have seen maybe 100,000 eagles, and I know that this was an awful lot bigger than an 8-foot wingspan. You would not want to have your children out with this guy around," he was quoted as saying in the Telegraph.
A witness on the ground also saw the creature. He told the news media that it definitely wasn't a bird. He described the animal as looking just like a prehistoric pterodactyl.
Biologist Phil Schemf of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska told the Telegraph that news of the sighting had reached him. "As far as we know," he told the paper, "nothing with a 14-foot wingspan has been alive for the last 100,000 years or so."
Brazil: terror of the pterodactyl
Other airborne sightings of pterodactyls have been reported. One encounter reported on by David Hatcher Childress involved a commuter airplane that nearly had a mid-air collision with a soaring pterodactyl during 1992 over a mountainous region of the mostly unexplored Brazilian rainforest. The astounding incident was covered by Australian news weekly, People.
Childress writes: "A U.S. anthropologist named Dr. George Biles was supposedly aboard the plane of twenty-four passengers and was quoted as saying, 'This was a classic case of a white pterodactyl with a giant wingspan. Of course, I've heard the rumors for many years that these prehistoric creatures still roamed the Amazon. But I was skeptical like everybody else. But that wasn't an airplane or a UFO flying beside us. It was a pterodactyl.'
"The People story says that the pterodactyl was flying alongside the plane as it was preparing to land and that the pilot veered away to avoid colliding with the 'giant bird.' A stewardess named Maya Cabon is quoted as saying, 'Here was this giant monster flying right next to the plane. He was only a few feet away from the window-and he looked right at me. I thought we were all going to die.'"
Could such prehistoric wonders really have survived into modern times? Tales of pterodactyls in the past were often called dragons. The description of the "dragon," however, fit the physical appearance of a large pterodactyl.
China: the priest and the pterodactyl
A fascinating story along these lines is featured by the Cryptozoology Research Team. A Russian priest recounts the sighting of a pterodactyl: "Here’s an interesting account, which indicates that a few pterosaurs may have survived in China into relatively recent times. At the end of the 19th Century, a Russian Orthodox saint named Saint Barsanuphius was stationed in Manchuria to pastor the Russian soldiers during the Russian-Japanese War.
“'I happened to hear from soldiers that stand at the posts at the Hantanza station, forty miles from Mullin, that two years ago they often saw an enormous winged dragon creep out from one of the mountain caves. It terrified them, and would again conceal itself in the depths of the cave. They have not seen it since that time, but this proves that the tales of the Chinese and Japanese about the existence of dragons are not all fantasies or fables, although the learned European naturalists, and ours along with them, deny the existence of these monsters. But after all anything can be denied, simply because it does not measure up to our understanding.'"
The paranormal, UFOs, cryptozoological animals, all fall prey to hoaxters and hoaxes. Reports of pterodactyls are no exception. Over the years some hoaxes have emerged that make serious research into the existence of the creatures that much harder.
Embryo (left) from a science website next to a
Photoshopped head of bird on fruit bat body (right)
Examples include fake videos posted on Youtube, questionable accounts by people looking for notoriety, and quite a number of Photoshopped images purporting to be real pictures of living pterodactyls.
Some photos, however, are real. An example of legitamacy and how a photo can be confused with one that's been debunked follows below:
Debunked 'Civil War' photo of shot pterodactyl
Real photo from Civil War with alleged pterodactyl
Photo of Ropen (pterodactyl) above Papua New Guinea
Hunt for the living pterodactyls: the Papua New Guinea expeditions
Reports like these appear throughout history. The peoples of Mesoamerica also documented sightings of creatures that match the description of pterodactyls.
Today, the hunt for the pterodactyl continues. A creature called the Ropen is known to dwell in regions of the primitive land of Papua New Guinea.
"In 1944, in (Papua) New Guinea, Duane Hodgkinson and his friend saw a pterodactyl with a wingspan similar to a Piper Tri-Pacer (29 feet)."
Expeditions to the area and interviews with many native eyewitnesses lends support to the evidence that some pterodactyls still roam the skies. Living fossils from an age long past.