As we end the year, let’s look at a few press releases about reports of extant pterosaurs:
Brian Hennessy encountered a strange “prehistoric-looking” flying creature one morning, as he was on a dirt road on Bougainville Island (then part of New Guinea). He actually heard the flying creature before he saw it. This news release compares Hennessy’s 1971 sighting with Hodgkinson’s: “Whitcomb drew sketches based on Hennessy’s and Hodgkinson’s answers, concluding that they had seen the same type of creature . . .”
Eyewitness of “prehistoric-looking” flying creature
Kuhn also said, “the pterosaurs . . . had the short hind legs attached to the rearward-most part of the wing, and they had a long tail trailing behind with a tuft of hair at the end.” He added that “. . . I would estimate their wingspan to be roughly 10 feet.”
This press release gives a brief overview of why the strange flying lights near Marfa, Texas, are probably caused by a group of bioluminescent flying predators, maybe similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea.
The Pteranodon-like creatures are unlike the solitary long-tailed “ropen” reported to fly at night over nearby Umboi Island. The New Britain creatures, with no sign of tails, fly in daylight, usually two or three at a time, sometimes in single file. They are also unlike the giant Flying Fox fruit bats, common in Papua New Guinea, which have no head crests or beaks.
Three aspects of the data independently show that hoaxes could not have had any major impact on the eyewitness accounts:
- Wingspan estimates
- Certainty about lack of feathers
- Tail length estimates
Wingspan estimates are far different from what would be expected from hoaxes, with 27% falling “within the narrow range of 8-10 feet.”
“Whitcomb questioned many of the eyewitnesses about how certain they were about the absence of feathers.” A two-to-one ration made it obvious that hoaxes could not have been prevelant, for somebody making a hoax would not likely admit any uncertainty about lack of feathers.
Tail length estimates also produced an interesting overall result: Long tails greatly outnumberd short tails, something that would be most unexpected from hoaxes. Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs have received much less attention in film and television, compared with the short-tailed pterosaurs.