All Press Releases for 07/31/2009

Reports of Living Pterosaurs in U.S. Fail Explanation as Hoaxes, According to Author Jonathan Whitcomb

"Pterodactyls" are more likely living creatures than hoaxes, according to three separate factors analyzed from eyewitness accounts across the U.S.: Hoaxes have been eliminated as a significant cause of reports.

LONG BEACH, CA / PR FREE / Jul 31 2009 --
"Hoaxes are disproved," declares Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the nonfiction book, "Live Pterosaurs in America." After compiling data from reports collected from early-2004 to mid-2009, from eyewitnesses across the United States, he found three kinds of evidence disproving any hoax-explanation.

Of the reports from eyewitnesses who estimated wingspan, 27% "are within the narrow range of 8-10 feet (sightings in California, Georgia, Ohio, and Texas) . . . far too small or too big for hoaxers."

Whitcomb explains that a hoaxer would fabricate a wingspan based on two possible influences:

. Fossil evidence of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs (wingspans mostly less than seven feet)

. Reports of ropen sightings in Papua New Guinea (wingspans reported much larger than twelve feet). The 8-10 feet estimate of wingspans is a statistical peak that validates the honesty of those who have reported seeing pterosaur-like animals, according to the book.

Details about feather-less appearance also suggest sightings were genuine. Whitcomb questioned many of the eyewitnesses about how certain they were about the absence of feathers. He found that “'probably' outnumbered 'definitely' by about two-to-one: far more indicative of live pterosaurs than hoaxes." He reasoned that a typical hoaxer would try to convince somebody that a featherless pterosaur was seen, rather than a bird; therefore a dishonest person would insist that there were no feathers.

On the other hand, true sightings of actual animals would often be under imperfect conditions, making it often difficult to be sure about the absence of feathers.

A third validation of eyewitness honesty involves tail length. The great majority of movie and television portrayals of pterosaurs are of short-tailed Pterodactyloids. In addition, textbooks declare that those were the more-recent pterosaurs - but the eyewitness reports compiled by Whitcomb indicate that "about 80 percent of sighting reports in the United States include a long tail." He maintains that this alone discredits the idea that hoaxes were involved.

The discovery of a living pterosaur would astonish many scientists, for it has been assumed that the more-recent species became extinct by 65 million years ago. It has also been assumed that Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed) species were replaced by Pterodactyloids, at least to some extent.

According to a standard-model approach, a modern pterosaur would be predicted to be short-tailed, but Whitcomb also maintains that reports of pterosaur-like animals in Papua New Guinea also indicate a dominance of long-tailed creatures.

Live Pterosaurs in America

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