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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Some More Possible Pterosaurian Reports

Great Blue Heron Photos Sent In by Phillip along with emails

Phillip O'Donnell wrote a comment at the end of my ropens blog and said he saw what he thought was a similar type of pterosaur to the description of a ropen. I said I was interested and that I wanted to run the story on this blog. At first our comments centred around the possibility that the sighting might have been of a great blue heron, which was Phillip's own explanation he thought of, but which he considered to be a bad fit.

Following is the main part of our correspondence with Phillip's messages set apart in blue and mine left in black print:

Hello Dale,

Here are the photographs I mentioned on your blog. The close-up Heron shots are from a science center near Lake Erie in Ohio. The remaining illustration below (the result of a collaborative effort) is the creature I saw. Please note that I am unable to recall most anatomical features below the neck, so here I am relying on two other witnesses (my attention was drawn to the most outstanding feature - the region of the head).
Here are some additional details from a draft of (Survival of Greater Mesozoic Organisms Hypothesis, Dec. 2009)

“In March of 2003 I observed a large winged animal perched in a fir tree in Northwest Oregon. My brother, Timothy also witnessed this creature. We both looked at this creature with binoculars and we could clearly see a protuberance extending from the back of its head at an angle of 15-20 degrees. The head, neck, nor the protuberance contained any noticeable colors, excluding a grayish tone. Unfortunately, note-worthy observations were not made concerning features below the neck. It certainly did have a good sized body. I would estimate the overall height was approx. 3 feet. Later, on April 30, 2004 we saw it again, this time in a nearby field. As it spread its wings (approx. 7-10 ft. spread) to lift off the ground, I was struck by the fact that its wings were reflecting sunlight intensely. The wings bent near the middle and they also seemed to contain what I and Timothy identified as red veins. There was no visible plumage in either of my observations. Most assuredly I am not claiming with certainty this animal was a living pterosaur, yet I must admit that it contained several features of Pteranodon. Since then I have interviewed approx. a dozen eyewitnesses to similar flying creatures. I have traveled to some locations where they were seen very recently. After making some observations that collaborated with the accounts I was given, I am convinced that some remnants of Pterosaurs still exist. I intend to publish the details of my research on Pterosaurs at a later date.”

The most recent nearby sighting took place in Nov. 2010 (Rainer, WA).

God Bless,

-Phillip [Phillip O'Donnell]

Hello, actually I was basically in my email account right now just hoping you would write. I am very interested in this matter and of course I would very much like to discuss it in my blog.
Actually I had heard of "Pterodactyl" reports originating in Michigan in the mid-1960s, a creature the size of a big eagle and with several of the features you noted, but I never was able to get a good complete report nor was I able to contact any of the witnesses directly. None of the reports described the head in any detail and none specified the long crest as you described.

I am going to assume you did NOT see the neck curved into an S-shape as I described in my blog, is this correct? Also, it seems that you saw this creature in heavy vegetation, is it possible that the appearance of some nearby branches or shadows from them exaggerated the apparent size of this crest? Forgive me, I have got to ask these questions, you know.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

Hello Dale,

I have also heard of a few reports from Michigan, but haven’t spoken with anyone directly as of yet. Yes, I do not recall the neck being in an S-shape. It may be been a bit longer than the illustration depicts, I certainly do remember seeing a neck. Thank you for asking questions, I’ve also thought about the illusion factor. It fails on two counts:

1. At the beginning of the sighting, its beak was facing us and we could see no crest, only after it turned its head we could see the crest.

2.With binoculars, Timothy watched it turn its head and the crest move with it.

Though the crest was the most distinguishing feature, it was not entirely isolated. Something was different about this animal from the usual Great Blue Herons that frequent our area. Fortunately there were no noticeable branches obscuring our view of the creature.

For the past several years I have kept “tabs” on the sightings of this animal in the Pacific Northwest. The investigations and reports are filed with all available information. As you might have already gathered, the creature has a 7-9 foot wingspread, a crest is mentioned in the majority of reports, some reports mention a long thin tail terminating in a diamond shaped flange and has bat-like wings with no feathers.

God Bless,


Dear Phillip,
If you have other information that would help, including sightings that described the tail such as you say, I would need to see those as well. However this is NOT anything like a Ropen, it is very much smaller and has a completely different "bird" attitude when perching. It is "Only" about the size of a big eagle.

Have you considered that an ivory-billed woodpecker at doubled the dimensions, elongated crest on head and an additionally elongating the tail, and at a more muted colouration (?female) might look very much like what you are describing? (see attached)

There are several kinds of different birds with crests on their heads, you know.

Best Wishes, Dale D.
Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker stretched out to double dimensions, at which the head and body are about 36-40 inches long, wingspan is 72 inches (7 feet) and the length of the head from beak to crest is perhaps 20 inches.

Comparison of (muted-colour) ivory-billed woodpecker X2 to sighting.
(To same absolute scale.)

I am not saying absolutely that this is what Phillip and Timothy saw, only to say that the sighting shows features which could be consistent with an ordinary bird rather than requiring a pterosaur as an explanation. As of Tuesday night, this is as far as our discussion has gone.

Best Wishes, Dale D..

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