Modern Pterosaur in an Old Photograph

By the nonfiction author Jonathan David Whitcomb


Introduction to the Ptp “Pteranodon” Photo

This photograph of an apparent modern pterosaur has been around for a long time: According to some persons, such as Tom Payne, it was in an old publication that was published many years before Photoshop existed. So guess what many skeptic proclaim about the Ptp photo. Yes, they say it’s a Photoshop hoax.

I explain much about this in my nonfiction book Modern Pterosaurs.

Apparent Civil War soldiers with an apparent Pteranodon


In 2007, the well-known cryptozoologist Loren Coleman said of this photo only two words: “Verdict: photoshopping.” So where did he get that idea? Of course the old hoaxes, like a dinosaur alongside a group of Civil War soldiers, puts us into a frame of mind to assume that this photograph is also a hoax. But just remember that the American Civil War was a real event that happened long ago and large pterosaurs lived long ago, albeit we’re taught that it was much longer ago.

The point is this: When did any scientist examine this photo carefully before Loren Coleman’s declaration referring to a Photoshop trick? Perhaps never, that is until early in 2017, when two scientists looked at Ptp very closely and concluded that the apparent animal in the picture was most likely a real animal.

Before 2017, Clifford Paiva and I had written scientific papers, including the following two:

  • “Results of Investigations Concerning Pterosaur Sightings In Papua New Guinea” (Paiva)
  • “Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific” (Whitcomb)

I doubt if Loren Coleman has ever written a scientific paper related specifically to the possibility that not all species of pterosaurs are extinct. The two publications mentioned above, by me and my associate Clifford Paiva, are not to be automatically taken as proof of extant pterosaurs, of course, but they are evidence that the two of us have taken that possibility seriously.

To be brief, the following are just a few of the points that we found, in 2017, that suggest a real animal was actually photographed and that it was extremely likely to have been a modern pterosaur. Here is a partial list:

  1. The curved neck of the apparent Pteranodon shows muscle structure.
  2. Shadows under the animal are consistent with a shadow under the shoe of a soldier.
  3. The physicist Clifford Paiva found what are probably image-stabilization props under the animal. These were often used in photography before about the year 1870.
  4. Whitcomb found a drag mark on the ground: consistent with a recently shot-down flying creature being dragged out from underbrush, into that clearing.
  5. Paiva and Whitcomb independently found a small tree that appears to have been broken down to make it possible to drag that animal into the clearing.
  6. Paiva found that at least some of the six men were using stances with their rifles that are consistent with a 19th century practice of keeping the human body motionless during the many seconds necessary for a camera to record a photo.
  7. Whitcomb magnified the images of the soldiers’ buttons and belt buckles and found that the pixel-width sizes were perfectly consistent with six men standing in the positions these six appear to be standing. In other words, the man in the front was actually standing in the front. In other words, these were men who were standing as they appear to be, NOT cutout images of soldiers being pasted onto an image of a monster in a clearing.

More Advanced Examination of the “Pteranodon” Photo

Now let’s consider a critic who has recently insinuated that at least part of this photograph was created digitally by creating one wing and then duplicating that wing to make the other wing. That hypothesis falls apart under close scrutiny.

Physicist Clifford Paiva found the wings to be apparently real

Paiva and I have carefully examined the whitish part of the outer areas of the two wings. We may have been the first persons to have noticed that patterns are very similar from wing to wing, with this white area. This brings up the idea that one wing was created and then duplicated, with modern digital image software, to make the other wing, which could easily be inverted horizontally. Paiva and I considered that possibility, but I found differences as well, early in 2017.

The recent skeptical remarks were that a wing must have been duplicated in that way, but look more closely. The wing shapes themselves, as we look at the darker outlines, differ greatly. Paiva and I independently experimented with wing duplicating, in September of 2017, and found that one wing cannot practically be manipulated in the way that two skeptics have insisted they were. We showed it experimentally, while the two skeptics, apparently, only imagined it vaguely in their minds. Any distortion that would allow one wing shape to come to resemble the other wing shape caused great distortion of the whitish area.

The best explanation for the similar patterns in the whitish areas of the wings is this: It is biological similarity, not from any digital hoax manipulation.


The Ptp photograph continues to pass anything that skeptics throw at it. It becomes more clear, as we examine it, that the best explanation is this: That apparent animal was an actual animal that was photographed, not in any way, in any part, created through anything like Photoshop.



Living pterosaurs in Africa

What about the kongamato? It may be the same flying creature that is called “Batamzinga” in Kenya or “ropen” in Papua New Guinea.


Nonfiction Books About Living Pterosaurs

Quoting three cryptozoology books that are about non-extinct pterodactyls


A Modern Pterosaur in a Photo

Yet before the beginning of 2017, before Cliff and I began our joint investigation of Ptp, the typical skeptic would say, in response to this photo, something like, “It’s a Photoshop hoax.” One skeptic said that it was a very good Photoshop job, but that it was a hoax. Cliff and I found significant evidence, however, that it is not only much older than that digital image manipulation software but that it has evidence that the soldiers were actually standing in the way that they appear to be standing and that the animal was a real animal.


Ptp photo of a modern pterosaur (~ Civil War time)

Problems in an online publication by an extreme skeptic of living-pterosaur investigations


More than one prop in the photograph

I’ve written about the tree-branch prop used when this “Ptp” photo was recorded, indicating it was probably before about 1870 when those six men were standing over the body of the pterosaur. . . . The scientist Clifford Paiva has recently found another prop, this one under the left wing of the animal.


Is the ropen a living pterosaur?

We have reports of modern pterosaurs in other parts of the world including the United States: California, Washington State, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Georgia,North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania,Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas,Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states.



Nonfiction book about the “Civil War” pterosaur photograph Ptp


non-fiction cryptozoology book about a photo of a real modern pterosaur

Modern Pterosaurs – by Jonathan David Whitcomb


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