During the past few weeks, I’ve compiled sighting data, entering it into the data base that was used for analysis about one year ago; most of the newly compiled data is from sighting reports I’ve received in 2012. It verifies the earlier examination that showed that hoaxes were not involved, in any major way, in the sighting reports of apparent pterosaurs; but it also reveals other things.
Tail Flange Suggesting Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs
Of all the flying-creature sightings compiled into the data base, 28.5% indicate, or at least suggest, a Rhamphorhynchoid tail flange. All things considered, this makes it obvious that long-tailed pterosaurs are still living. How significant is this 28.5%? Think of this: Several factors could cause a Rhamphorhynchoid tail flange to be unobserved or unnoticed by an eyewitness: wrong angle, concentration on head or wings, too great a distance, too dark for seeing a small flange, etc. This magnifies the case for modern Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs.
I know this could seem impossible to many paleontologists: “basal” pterosaurs that fly over our heads at night, sometimes flying in daylight; but consider now the reports of long tails on these flying creatures. Of the total sightings, a long tail was reported in 41% of the reports and no-long-tail in 2%. What about the majority of sightings that did not indicate the presence or absence of a long tail? Some of them could be explained by imperfect observations of Rhamphorhynchoids, sightings in which the eyewitnesses were focused on head or wings at night, for example. But that’s not the sole explanation.
One of the most common questions that I have asked eyewitnesses, over the years, is something like this: “Did it have a tail?” It’s often followed by something like, ”Was it a long tail?” Some of those who have sent me emails (to tell me about their sightings) have not replied to my questions; a person may be satisfied to tell me what cannot be reported to hardly anyone else and feels relieved enough to then set it aside and get on with other aspects of life.
Perhaps my questions often go unanswered because some eyewitnesses hardly ever use email except to report an extraordinary experience (in Papua New Guinea, it seems email communication is relatively expensive). At any rate, I feel that many more long tails would have been reported if everyone had answered my questions and if all sightings had allowed for the comprehension of the presence or absence of a long tail. Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs live.
But long tails do more than just survive: They dominate. Only 2% report that the apparent pterosaur did not have a long tail. Of those that noticed the presence or absence of a long tail (and reported or answered accordingly), 95% reported a long tail and 5% reported that there was no long tail. It seems that most species of modern pterosaurs are descended from Rhamphornynchoids, regardless of whether or not most people in the world believe in the standard Western models that include the axiom that pterosaur fossils are many millions of years old.
Where do Pterosaurs Fly? (really: “Where do reports come from?”)
Please do not draw any conclusions about where modern pterosaurs live, based on these statistics. Americans use the internet to such a degree, compared with third world countries, that we should expect many more sighting reports from them than from, for example, natives from Papua New Guinea. This is amplified by the statistical preference for English-speaking eyewitnesses, since the web pages on modern living pterosaurs in English greatly outnumber all other languages on that subject.
I have found nothing, in my nine years of research, that suggests that more pterosaurs live in the United States than in other countries or areas of similar size. For what it’s worth, I report the following regarding reported sightings of apparent extant pterosaurs worldwide:
- United States: 75%
- Canada: 5%
- Papua New Guinea 5%
- Europe: 4%
- Caribbean: 4%
- Australia: 2%
- The following have 1.5% each: Africa, Mexico, Philippines
The above may reveal more about my resources than anything else. For anyone wanting to learn about specific details about modern pterosaurs in the United States, that data can be separated from the data from other countries. I am open to questions.
Statistics on Sightings of Living Pterosaurs
The way that American eyewitnesses respond to questions about apparent lack of feathers–that shows something significant: 23% were sure that there were no feathers on the pterosaur or pterosaur-like flying animals that they had seen; 37% believed that there were no feathers but were not sure about it. [This indicates no hoaxes played any significant role in the overall sighting reports.]
Not all Long Tails Mean Pterosaurs
Notice the enormous head of the Gitmo Pterosaur. Also, notice the shape of the wing and the structure at the end of the tail and the obvious featherless appearance.
Do you call the police? The newspaper? Animal control? A nearby university? A brief reflection makes it obvious: None of those will do.