LONG BEACH, CA, August 19, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the nonfiction book "Live Pterosaurs in America," interviewed, from 2005 to 2009, eyewitnesses from 19 states: California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Washington State. The sightings themselves were from 1980 through 2008.
Some eyewitnesses label what they saw "pterodactyl," the layman's word for "pterosaur." Many descriptions included "long tails" and lack of feathers. Wingspan estimates showed a statistical peak at 8-10 feet, but 27% of the estimates were over 18 feet: too big to be birds.
Many scientists assume that pterosaurs, like dinosaurs, became extinct by 65 million years ago. But a few cryptozoologists specialize in reports of sightings of pterosaur-like animals. They believe that many recent reports of apparent living pterosaurs in North America cannot be easily dismissed. According to Whitcomb, a substantial number are not from hoaxes, insanity, or misidentifications; they are most likely living pterosaurs.
Whitcomb found that eyewitnesses are hesitant to report their experiences; many are afraid of ridicule or afraid people would think them "crazy." Most of those who reported their sightings to him remain anonymous in his book; an exception is Susan Wooten, who reported what she saw flying over a highway: "It looked as big as any car . . . NO feathers . . . like a humongous bat." She made a sketch of what she had seen; the creature had a long tail and a head crest.
On August 15, 2009, three weeks after the publication of his book, Whitcomb made use of data from eyewitness interviews. He noted that when more than one person shares a sighting, at least one of the eyewitnesses may be shocked or disturbed in a way that prevents conversation about it, even with those who were present and saw the same thing. (But the great majority of reports are by lone eyewitnesses who fear ridicule if they talk.) Whitcomb estimated that of those who have seen an obvious pterosaur, only about 33% have sufficient confidence in their own senses to even consider contacting a cryptozoologist. Of those 33% who accept what they saw, at most only 20% will get up the nerve to phone or email an expert. And with some eyewitnesses, that may take years. Whitcomb calculated that at least 1400 Americans have seen living pterosaurs in the United States from early-1980 through the end of 2008.
"Live Pterosaurs" promotes the awareness of living-pterosaur investigations.