The droppings could have come from some other creature, not necessarily from the apparent ropen observed in the backyard of a residence in Lakewood, California; but circumstantial evidence points to the possibility that what I now have in my freezer may indeed be poop from a living Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, strange as that sounds.
The lab results came back early Tuesday morning, July 24, 2012:
I examined it using three methods: direct observation, floatation and centrifugation. I looked at two slides from each method for a total of six slides.
Surprisingly, I did not observe any parasites or parasite eggs on any of the slides. Now, the gold standard would be to examine three consecutive “movements” but since this is a wildlife field sample, we can assume that the individual is probably in fairly good health.
What I did observe was a lot of plant fragments, some insect parts and some bits of mineral soil. I did not observe bone fragments consistent with a predatory diet. This would lead me to conclude that the animal this came from is likely omnivorous or primarily herbivorous. . . .
It seems quite possible that the scat was from an opossum or a raccoon. The hair in the sample could very well have come from self-grooming, but those hairs were not examined in detail, at least not in the preliminary examination.
The longer scat on the top of the image is relatively undamaged and is about 1.25 inches or about 3 centimeters long. The remainder is fragments from an examination I (Jonathan Whitcomb) made when I suspected it was from a dog, for dog droppings were in that same area of the yard. When I saw the hair in the sample, I put everything in a plastic bag, for only one dog is ever in that enclosed area and it eats only dog food: This needs an expert examination. The scat in question is also smaller than the dog’s.
The long-tailed flying creature had no feathers and was perched on the lower telephone cable, almost directly above the area where the scat was found. One of the two pieces of scat had evidence of a break which could have been caused by its hitting the cable before falling onto the ground.
I have no reasonable doubt about the identification of the creature itself. The eyewitness was only about eighteen feet away from it when she saw it, and she makes it clear:
I walked out from under the awning and lost my breath when I saw this huge dragon pteradactal looking thing. . . . I saw him very closely and know what I saw!! The pic someone drew from GA. looks just like him, he had that triangle on his tail, like a dragon. . . . I am 38 years old and a very sensible woman with an education and sceptic mind. This bird is real and now in a very populated area. . . .
When the creature flew off into a large tree, she noticed that it had a long neck. While I interviewed her and her husband, I examined the backyard. When she mentioned the “triangle” at the end of the tail and the long neck, I ruled out any Frigate bird possibility. In addition, she was also clear about the lack of feathers.
While talking with her husband (they are anonymous), he noticed some droppings on the ground, under where the eyewitness said the creature had been sitting. The family dog had droppings all around that area, so it appeared to be just more of the same. But the man pointed out (without touching anything) that two droppings close together were smaller than their dog’s droppings. I took note that it lay almost exactly under where the apparent ropen had been perched. With the couple’s permission, I gathered the two pieces into a plastic bag, hoping to find somebody qualified to analyze it.
At mid-day, in the backyard of her home in Lakewood, the lady at first paid little attention to the barking of her nearby dog. She was focused on her computer until she heard a strange noise. She looked up to see a strange winged creature that immediately flew off, startled by the human who had suddenly come out from under the nearby gazebo.