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October 1992, to be exact. It was a different slate of candidates: George HW Bush vs Bill Clinton vs Ross Perot. I don’t remember whose idea it was at The Week to throw the Beast into the ring with them, but I do remember modifying my original sketch for the full page poster. At any rate, 24 years later I believe it’s worth at least considering one more time.🙂 (Note: Please, no comments comparing the Beast with any official human candidates for better or worse – he stands on his own two rear paws)

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Before we start, I’d like to add a note to Part One of this story of a years-long dogman habituation in eastern Pennsylvania that continues to this day. The eyewitness I’ve nicknamed Jessie contacted me to say I had her permission to reveal the purpose of the family party she attended later in the day of her first sighting…it was her wedding! This fact has always seemed significant to her although she isn’t sure why. I had left that detail out as a possibly identifying factor–how many women have a dogman sighting on the day they get married? But I’m glad to be able to include it because if it’s important to her, it may also be important to the entire series of encounters. And I do consider this a case in progress.

It may seem odd that the bride-to-be would go hiking on her wedding day, but this bit of back story gives me a chance to add a few more of Jessie’s pertinent characteristics. She describes herself as an avid hiker and prefers sunrise and sunset, so this walk was part of her daily routine. She had worked for several years as a mechanic in the US military and was not afraid to be in the woods by herself. So that morning, she decided to begin her big day by de-stressing with a sunrise walk to a rock ledge where she could best see the colors of dawn. That was what led to the first encounter discussed in Part One.

It also sets the scene for another shock that occurred the next spring after her grandfather passed away, after Jessie’s second encounter in her own back yard. Jessie woke up one night to see her beloved grandfather, whom she described as a “a good Christian with his head on straight,” standing next to her bed. She rubbed her eyes, gulped down some water, and he was still there, watching her. And then he spoke. She wrote:

“‘Don’t,’ he said. ‘Don’t do it. Don’t go after them. You don’t know what they really are. Don’t,’ he said. And meant it. He disappeared after [that], but left me with a sense of horrible dread…To find answers [to what the creatures are] is to find something worse than death, is the sense he left me with.”

Needless to say, Jessie was very disturbed by the visitation and says she has had recurring nightmares ever since. She began awaking with the sense that something was just outside her window almost every night, and would often feel the hair rise on the back of her neck as her cat stared intently at the window for no reason she could see.

Mulch Ado About Something

On June 9, 2015, Jessie wrote me that she had found deeply indented prints in the mulch around her house, and scratches on her house siding. (See her photos, below. Note crushed flowers, too) She had also found a snow print that looked canine a few months earlier.

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She wrote that the activity was all next to her bedroom window. The prints were about four inches wide. (They resembled a similar case I called The Hartland Hairy Thing in Wisconsin.) Jessie also asked whether I knew anyone local who might come out to her place and have a look. I did, and made the connections but unfortunately they have not as yet been able to find a mutually workable time to get together. In the meantime, I advised her to get motion lights, a strong flashlight, and a trail cam, if possible, and to spread playground sand in a few strategic spots around the yard to try for a better footprint.

On June 11, 2015, she awakened to the familiar sense that the creature was outside. This time she got up and peeked through the side of the blinds, only to see it standing there. “I saw ears, eyes and teeth,” she wrote. “The ears are upright dog ears. The eyes were a bright yellow/orange. Like an amber color, and they kind of seemed to glow! The teeth…I don’t want to think about any more. It didn’t see me peeking at first, but once we locked eyes it let out a tremendous deep-throated growl and bared its teeth, then turned and ran into the woods behind our house. It ran on two legs, and leapt our fence like it was nothing. I stayed up the rest of the night but it didn’t return. At least, not that I know of.”

She estimated that it would have had to have been at least six feet tall to see into the window, and noted that it seemed partially hunched over which meant it was probably taller than six feet.

Near the end of June, Jessie managed to capture a howl on her phone camera and she gave me permission to share it. She did not see the creature at the same time so it’s not definite as to what this was, but given all the other sightings I think it is worth listening to. And she did see yellow eyes at her back gate that evening. The howl reminded me of some howls thought to be Bigfoot vocalizations that I’ve heard on other sites:

July 14, 2015, Jessie wrote me again to say,”A little after 2 am, I was starting to doze off in my bedroom after staying up late with a good book, and I heard this massive SLAM against the back door, as if a 7 ft., 400 lb. linebacker just threw himself full-force into the back of our house! It even rattled the chain on the deadbolt on the inside of the door! I jumped up and ran out to the kitchen and in the window of the back door was two bright glowing yellow eyes!!  The wolf-beast was standing on two legs, hunched and snarling through the door window at me, it growled and let out a sort or ROAR!”

She continued, “I ran to my bedroom to grab my phone and video it, and tried to wake up my husband, but no matter how bad I shook and yelled, he wouldn’t wake. I ran back to the kitchen and the beast was gone, no where in sight. Also, on a side note, I do special effect makeup as both a hobby, and a job. I’ve done work in theater, in film, not just with makeup but also as an actress and editor, so I know when it’s someone in a suit or makeup. But what’s outside my house, is a real living, breathing, whole animal. It’s alive, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. And it’s not a regular wolf, or a wolf coyote hybrid, or a neighbors dog. This is something else entirely.”

In mid-August 2015 she wrote that something was tapping and pounding on the back wall of her home all night. “These aren’t normal noises and it doesn’t sound like raindrops or acorns/pinecones falling, I know what those sound like and where they usually hit,” she said. “I can’t bring myself to look outside, I don’t think I could handle what I’d see,” she added.

Similar incidents have continued without her husband ever having witnessed the creature. Jessie did feel vindicated in early August 2016 when a visiting friend caught a glimpse of it at mid-day. The woman spied it lurking in its favorite place, the tree line at the back of the yard. Jessie wrote, “She saw its shadow. She didn’t see its face because he was under the shadow of the trees but she could see the furry outline, the ears, and the eyes standing out.”

Was it a supernatural or otherworldly creature? The fact that two people saw it at the same time means it is not a hallucination on Jessie’s part.

There have been more incidents than I can describe here, but Jessie hopes that one final action will end the visits: she and her husband are planning to move away from that house and yard. In other cases I’ve known of, putting some distance between witness and cryptid often does indeed do the trick. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this does it for Jessie, too. Dogmen just don’t make ideal neighbors.

 

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Witness sketch provided with permission from “Jessie”

Pennsylvania certainly seems to be a hotspot lately for sightings of dogman, wolfman, upright canids–whatever you choose to call the wolf-like creatures that get around on two legs. Most of these encounters could be described as one-time, random incidents. But some reports tell of sightings that never truly end, as creatures return again and again to terrorize individuals or even whole families.

One woman from the eastern side of the state has endured such a situation for four years now. She wishes to retain complete anonymity for several good reasons, so I’ll refer to her as Jessie. The incident that began what she calls her living nightmare began with a sunrise walk in the woods near her house in October, 2013 as she sensed an eerie change in the atmosphere as is often reported by those who encounter mystery creatures. She wrote:

“The stillness and predawn glow of the forest around me seemed somehow off, but I couldn’t put my finger on how. I mean, the light was coming in like normal; it infiltrated the woods and made everything sort of glow for that moment before the sun peeked…so I got up and headed back to the car. I got close to where my car was parked, and got a whiff of something rotten. I thought it was just the deer carcass lying near the trunk of my  car that looked like it was hit the night before.

“I heard something shuffling around in the same spot as the deer. I started to hear something dragging, and I walked slowly toward my car in case it was a bear. The smell became almost unbearable, and I started to cough and gag. When I did that, the shuffling stopped. I turned to see a VERY large…thing…on two legs; it was kind of hunched over the deer carcass and was dragging it with its claws dug into the meat of the deer. It was mostly brown with a bit of grey in it. When it saw me, it stood all the way up and turned to face me. It had blazing yellow eyes that seemed to stand out more than any animal’s normally would. It had a snout somewhat like a husky or German shepherd. Its teeth were fully bared and it gave a very low and menacing growl.

“This thing was my worst nightmare come to life.

“I was frozen, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head. This thing towered over me! I’m five foot, one. My neck cramped looking up at this thing…it had to have been close to seven feet  if not more. My heart was hammering so fast I thought it would explode. I remember hearing it beat in my ears. My throat burned with a strangled scream that never came out,  and my eyes were locked with his (it was very much male). He growled a second time, licking his bared teeth, and took a step toward me. He had let go of the deer and his claws were free and curled, ready for action.

“That step was enough to break my paralysis. My eyes watered and I broke into a run to my driver’s side door. As I ran around the car, he lunged at it. Not very forcefully, just kind of a half lunge sort of like, ‘Get the f— out of here,’and his arm and claws came down on my car. He scratched down the back window making a horrible high-pitched squeaking noise, then got to the trunk and dug his claws into the paint. I was able to get into the car and turn it on and drive, but he was scratching while I was inside fumbling to get my keys in the ignition. It almost seemed as if he was taunting me with his scratching noises.

“I threw the car in drive and hit the gas. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw him grab the deer carcass and drag it back into the woods at the trail opening. I drove back, shaking still.”

Jessie had to attend an event with relatives later that day, and she said they kept telling her she looked “preoccupied.” That was one way of putting it!  She did not confide her experience to anyone, but began combing the Internet to learn what she might have seen. Almost as if the creature knew she was focusing on her sighting, it paid her a visit one night as she sat on her backyard deck listening to music .

“I felt a stare,” she wrote. “Suddenly I got a chill and my hair stood on end, and I turned to look and there he was. It felt almost like a warning to me. This time, he was standing in the woods of my backyard along the fence,” she said. “And he was staring at me and my home with those yellow eyes!” She went inside and the creature also retreated. Shortly after that, Jessie called me and asked if we could talk. The experiences have continued, despite some precautions and remedies I’ve advised that have helped others.

Altogether it’s a lengthy story but one worth telling, so I’m going to split it into parts in order to better communicate all that has occurred to the present time. Watch here for the rest of Jessie’s ordeal.

End of PART ONE of The Persistent Beast of Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

 

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New Book due out in October, available for pre-order now!

“Linda S. Godfrey explores the mystical, legendary, and scientific aspects of these creatures…and the surprising secret portals and doorways some may use to enter our  world.”

Pre-order from the publisher  , or online booksellers such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble to be sure your copy is reserved.

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Although Hollywood loves to depict their classic werewolves in shredded shirts and jeans, the great majority of eyewitness reports describe fur as the only covering on the upright canines they have encountered.

Here’s an exception to the rule, from a former Texas pizza delivery man whose encounter occurred the night of July 20, 2012. I leave it in his own words with only a few minor edits for repetition, spelling and paragraph separations:

 

Hello Linda,
Thank you for getting back to me. I’m going to state right away that my sighting has terrorized me to say the least. When I was a small child I watched an American werewolf in London by myself and had been mortally afraid of werewolves since then.
My sighting was on the 20th of July in 2012. It was a Friday night. I was 19 at the time, and didn’t have many responsibilities other than delivering pizza part time, so naturally being a teenager I was out with friends at a house party in old Katy (a suburb west of Houston, Tx) .
My friends and I experimented with both marijuana and alcohol, but we were always “responsible” enough to make sure one of us stayed sober to be the designated driver. That particular night was my turn to be the sober one. My friend B. had gotten well past drunk and once he was starting to behave reckless I decided it was time to leave the party and take him home. He didn’t want me to take him home, so instead he asked me to drive him to one of his friends houses that I’m not familiar with. This friend, who I only remember as Joey, lived on the far west outskirts of Katy, close to a town called Brookshire.
I took  Morton Rd to get there, with the driver and passenger windows down so B. could get some fresh air. The street is one turn north of Morton, and while I don’t remember the name of the street I do remember how to get there (my sense of direction is fairly superior; I’ve delivered pizzas all throughout Katy, and have since become a local truck driver in Houston). The road had 3 or 4 house on the eastern side, and on the west side was a fairly large forest area (maybe 40 or so acres) and dead ends just past the last house.
I had noticed the moon was full before I even went out that night. I got to Joey’s house, the second house on the right and parked my car on the left side of the road, closest to the trees. I helped B. get out of my car and walked him to the porch, Joey came out and thanked me for dropping him off and we said goodbye.
I decided to smoke a cigarette before I left the road. At the time, I shared my car with my dad and his number one rule was to not smoke in his car. After lighting my cigarette it didn’t take long to notice that the road was eerily silent. I assume I didn’t notice before as I was helping my noisy drunk friend get inside the house. Maybe three drags of my cigarette I heard heavy footsteps going across the gravel maybe 100 feet in front of me. I was alarmed at the sound they made, similar to the sound of pulling something metal against concrete.
As I’ve stated, my fears have always been werewolves. Here I am, alone, standing on a dark road under a full moon and I hear something BIG walking too close for comfort in front of me, I didn’t hesitate to throw down my cigarette and get into my car. I told myself as I was getting in that I wouldn’t turn on my headlights so I wouldn’t have to see what was in front of me, and simply reverse my way back onto Morton Rd and get the hell out of there. Unfortunately for me, my car had automatic lights that turned on as soon as I started the car, a fact that I was aware of but in my panic seemed to ignore.
Immediately in front of me about a hundred feet as I had guessed was a 6 and a half to 7 foot beast, on two legs. It was covered in black fur, with the body of a gym addicted man and the head of what I guess could be similar to a German shepherd or a black wolf. It had human like feet covered in the dark fur as well with large claws sticking out about two inches, and it held its left hand out the same way a human would reaching for something in front him/her. I noticed that the fingers ended in large claws as well. While this was enough to cause my jaw to drop, what got me the most was that it was wearing torn blue jeans that seemed too tight and unnaturally torn, and an open flannel blue shirt that was ripped at its bulky shoulders.
It looked my way when the lights revealed it and glared at me with narrowed yellow eyes baring its large fangs. My windows were still down and I hadn’t touched my radio so I had no trouble hearing the loud growl it let out. It then turned its head to the forest and dropped on all fours and ran out of my sight into the trees.
All of this took place in about 20 seconds, but it felt like hours. At this point I literally had tears in my eyes but didn’t hesitate for one second longer to shove my car in reverse and put the gas pedal to the metal. I heard loud growling and grunting as I was leaving. I reversed onto Morton Rd and went 80-90 miles an hour down the streets leading back to Katy and didn’t slow down till I was on interstate 10. While still on Morton Rd I kept my eyes in front of me and sobbed the whole time because I had never been so scared in my life. I can swear that the look I got from this creature was communicating to me that I had no business seeing him and that he wanted me gone. The look reminded me of criminals on tv being caught in their wrongdoings and wanting to cause harm to those who witnessed it.
I got home, ran inside and called my Scottish terrier into my room and didn’t sleep till the sun was up.
To this day I’ve never had a desire, nor the nerve to go back to that part of Morton Rd. I obsessed over the idea that I had seen a werewolf and researched werewolf sightings on google and was intrigued by the Beast of Bray Rd sightings and everything else that came up. I was disappointed to see that nothing i found on the web was precisely what I saw…while the beasts others have encountered seemed similar, none were spotted wearing clothes.
The Reaction
I told my mother and father what I had seen, and while my mother could tell I was being genuine, my father was more interested in me driving that far from home without letting him know so I stopped talking about it. Of the 7 people outside of my family I’ve told, only my wife to be and my friend Mike seemed to believe me, most laughing and asking stupid questions such as “did you ask the werewolf if he got the vampires yet?” And similar things like that.
I’ve always wanted to write you, but it wasn’t hard to notice that my story sounds far fetched, especially considering the fact that I couldn’t find any other reported sightings near the Houston area, nor much in Texas recently either. I guess I was scared of being ridiculed, or to be honest scared that if I did say my story that somehow the creature would find out and hunt me down…I’m honestly positive I’ll never stop being haunted by the memory of this creature, it’s just too vivid and too frightening to put out of my mind.
I also never told the friend I dropped off there that night, what I saw. In fact, I didn’t see him again for two years until accidentally bumping into him at a gas station in south Katy.
Last week, my mom and fiancĂ© went shopping at Barnes and Noble and noticed Real Wolfmen and thought I’d like it. I haven’t put it down since and after reading the chapter where the woman in Tennessee saw a clogged creature, I decided that after four years of hesitating it was time to write to you.
I’m not sure what happens next, but I want to say thank you again for getting back to me and taking the time to listen to my sighting. I know that some of these creatures have been spotted in daylight, but I just don’t know how what I saw couldn’t be a werewolf…the moon was full (the official full moon was July 19th but it still looked exactly the same from what I saw) and this creature was wearing clothes..I know some dogs wear sweaters when their owners force them to but even pretending that dogs walked on two legs standing 6.5-7 feet tall, how someone could dress a dog up that way is beyond me…and there’s no way in hell that it was a man dressed up as a werewolf/wolfman/dogman…it was just too real. 
I’m 23, a father of two daughters and I’ll be married next month.
The witness shared a few more things with me after I told him that in my experience, the upright canines with more humanoid features and especially those seen wearing a human garment tend to be seen near parks or Native American reservations. There are, in fact, several reservations near that area, he said, and since he is part Native American, he asked his grandmother about tribal lore that might explain the encounter. He said she told him that in their legend, the entities usually referred to as skinwalkers are more like the usual idea of werewolves. The witness drew a sketch at my request, then asked his mother to redraw it, using his drawing as a guide. I must say it looks very like a typical portrayal of a werewolf. The ruff or neck mane is something that many witnesses describe, however, clothing or no clothing.
To play the devil’s advocate, there is a big advantage to hoaxers in wearing clothing, because it’s eliminates the need for a full bodysuit of fur. In the drawing, the feet are shown as flat rather than digitigrade (supported on toepads) But this witness didn’t seem to think this could have been a human. The creature ran away on all fours. And there was that almost full moon…

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Thunderbirds, mothmen and other unknown flying things are some of the most puzzling of cryptids. They appear in the sky or a nearby meadow, amaze lucky witnesses, and then fly away without any hint as to their intent. Sometimes they seem to portend doom, as in the famous case of Point Pleasant, W. VA’s Mothman, which many think was a harbinger of the tragic Silver Bridge collapse.

 

In other cases, such as the northwestern Wisconsin daylight sighting by John Bolduan that begins my “American Monsters” book, witnesses are left feeling perplexed yet privileged to have witnessed such a spectacle. Bolduan watched in awe as the tall, silvery-feathered bird took to the air and displayed a 22-foot wingspan.

 

There’s another example of that flighty ambiguity in my next book due out this fall, titled “Monsters Among Us, an Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms and Odd Phenomena.” In this incident, a central Wisconsin woman witnessed a gigantic, large bird standing on a bridge near Black River Falls. She was told by a Native American elder that she had seen a Thunderbird.

 

Why am I bringing these examples up now? I’ve often wished that I had some way to help  interpret these incidents, but had never found much contemporary material aside from well-known Thunderbird lore. I was thrilled recently, then, to stumble across a gleam of illumination in my summer reading pile, in a book about one man’s solo canoe adventure down the Mississippi River. The beautifully written work, Nick Lichter’s The Road of Souls, Reflections on the Mississippi, also describes many of the places long considered sacred or otherwise important by our indigenous people.

 

One of these places is Rock Island, Illinois (specifically, the area known as Rock Island Arsenal across the river from Bettendorf, Iowa). Lichter cites the translated autobiography Life of Black Hawk to explain that this island was once considered a hunting, fishing and horticultural paradise by Blackhawk’s people, the Sac or Sauk. I’ll quote just the last half of Chief Blackhawk’s own statement from  Lichter’s book:

 

“In my early life, I spent many happy days on this island. A good spirit had care of it, who lived in a cave in the rocks immediately under the place where the fort now stands, and has often been seen by our people. He was white, with large wings like a swan’s, but ten times larger. We were particular not to make much noise in that part of the island which he inhabited, for fear of disturbing him. But the noise of the fort has driven him away, and no doubt a bad spirit has taken his place!”

 

Lichter adds, “The swan’s cave was long ago dynamited out of existence.”

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(Image shared from http://cdn26.us1.fansshare.com/photo/mississippiriver/shannon-mississippi-river-watershed-wikimedia-commons-delta-333095664.jpg)

Might the big birds seen up and down the Mississippi since Chief Blackhawk’s day be embodiments of that wandering spirit bird? Blackhawk doesn’t directly call the spirit bird a swan; he merely says it is white, has wings like a swan and is ten times its size. That’s very reminiscent of what Bolduan described. And Webb Lake, where it appeared, is only about five or six miles from the Mississippi in Burnett County, Wisconsin. Moreover, the other encounter I mentioned on the bridge in central Wisconsin was near Black River Falls, a tributary of the Mississippi.

 

This is just my own fanciful thought, but maybe that great, spirit bird is still winging over the Mississippi, setting down now and again as it searches for another place of peace– another earthly paradise to watch over. I believe it’s as good an explanation of these huge creatures as any.

My final thought is a question inspired by Blackhawk’s words when he suggested a “bad spirit” might have taken the great bird’s place… I can’t help but wonder what shape that bad spirit might have taken…

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Quetzalquatlus image via Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatlus

 

The past week’s tragic event at the Disney World lagoon had me thinking of the witness in American Monsters who told of being stalked by a bipedal, throwback-looking alligator over a couple of years.

As it happened, he sent me an email message not about these ancient reptiles but about the flying creatures generally termed Pterosaurs that seem to be reported more and more often around the US in modern times, especially in Texas and Pennsylvania. As a student in the fields of paleontology and zoology, he noticed some major differences in the way these creatures are usually described by witnesses, and the actual characteristics scientists scientists now ascribe to some of them–fuzzy skin filaments, odd beaks, bright colors, etc.–as research has progressed over time. I asked his permission to post this as a guest blog and he agreed.

Please note, as he states below, that he’s not trying to contradict what any witnesses have reported. After all, he has seen something quite unusual, himself! He’s just intrigued by the fact that Jurassic-era flyers were probably quite distinct from the leathery, pointy-winged creatures reported today. I think it’s a question worth pondering. Here it is in almost its entirety:

Hello Linda, it’s me again and thankfully despite all the mayhem going on here in central Florida; another hostile encounter with any part-time bipedal reptiles hasn’t been on the list. I’m aware it’s still there as ever so often I’ll still hear sounds off in the river system or come across areas where all the animal life is gone (including me soon after realizing it).

 

I was rereading your books, great work by the way, and one of the things that struck me across them and other cryptozoological archives I ended up digging through trying to find if anyone had seen anything similar to the “Gator Man” was these Pterosaur reports. Pterosaurs are something of my forte in paleontology, enough I was actually planning on writing my doctoral thesis on the group should the opportunity arise in the years to come. However as I was reading many of these sightings of large, very unbird-like flying creatures is that many of them doesn’t actually match the science we know behind the animals. There are exceptions, but the majority does leave me raising an eyebrow.

 

Now science has gotten things wrong about Pterosaurs since we knew of the group. If you want an idea of how outlandish it was in the first years, in the 1784 when the first species was described by Cosimo Alessandro Collini, he thought he was looking at some sort of giant, reptilian penguin and that the wings were giant paddles that linked the wrist and ankles. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the swimming interpretation was finally overridden by correctly classifying them as winged, flying reptiles. However as more and more species were classified and more and more very good fossils, including numerous impressions showing us both the epidermis and wing shape, we’ve gotten a lot better at distinguishing what was what.

Pterosaurs_Buckland_1836 (Drawing of pterosaurs by English naturalist William Buckland (1784-1856) in 1831. Buckland imagined pterosaurs hanging on cliffs.1831 (public domain)Wellnhofer, P.; 2009: A short history of pterosaur research, Zitteliana 29, pp 7-19) — Wikimedia Commons notes this as an inaccurate image due to the wing structure depicted)

The thing that makes me skeptical of many of these Pterosaur reports being exactly what they are said to be is that many of them match the pop culture representation of the group. You’re typical pop culture Pterosaur is something of an amalgamation of various Pterosaur species and birds.

 

They’ve got

-Long pointed, straight beak and backwards crest of Pteranodon longiceps
-Rhamphorhynchus muensteri
styled teeth and long, arrowhead tipped tail

-Walk in a bipedal manner like birds

-Are devoid of any filament epidermis and are either scaly or just blank skin

-Use their feet for grasping

-Are either quite tall standing up, man sized, or size of a coyote

-Have pointy wingtips

The problem is there isn’t a single species of the entire Order that fits more than one of those indicators. Since Pteranodonis the genus most people are familiar with (Pterodactyl[us] was a sea gull sized individual species, not the name of the group; just to clarify), I’ll do a quick comparison.

 

Pteranodon had

-An upwards curving beak with variable crests. Only the males of one of the two species have the “spike back” crest pop culture uses, the males of the other species had a fan shape. The females of both species had barely any, or no crest at all. It was also completely toothless, the name “Pteranodon” literally means “Wings without Teeth”.

-An incredibly short tail

-A covering of fur-like pycnofibers on the chest, back, neck, and face.

-Round tips to the wings (all large Pterosaurs did)

-Grasped with the mouth like a pelican or heron. Their feet were built for walking like some larger birds and couldn’t articulate like a bird of prey’s can.

-Strictly quadrupedal aside from very brief instances. Their hips weren’t built properly to walk upright. One of the whole reasons Pterosaurs got bigger than birds if they used both their arms and legs to vault themselves off the ground, thus giving them a bigger starting lift.

-Actually pretty short, both due to posture and short legs. A very large male Pteranodon of either of the two species would barely come up to the average man’s hips if it held a natural posture. And the females were significantly smaller.

 

Now there were other Pterosaurs that match up a bit better with some reports. Ludodactylus sibbicki closely resembled a smaller Pteranodon with both a crest and teeth, but had a very stout snout that looked more like a Gharial crocodilian’s snout or a gar fish’s head than a beak. Other species like the enormous Quetzalcoatlus northropi  were far larger thanPteranodon and with their arms being much longer than their legs, could be mistaken for being bipeds if standing up straight and one didn’t get a good look at the limbs. But the problem with Quetz is it is almost ludicrously tall, taller than a giraffe, has almost no crest (and the one is does have doesn’t point backwards), and has a enormous head and toothless beak.

To my knowledge, there are no large Pterosaurs known with long tails. Long tails were a trait of early members of the group and were practically unheard of by the time of the Cretaceous. Plainly put, the image I see in a lot of Pterosaur sightings closely matches a creature of pop culture, a mixture of Pterosaur species along with modern birds and fantasy dragons, which seems to have never existed. In fact the two things I saw pop up the most, point wings and scaly bodies, are about as unheard of in the group as they are in mammals. In life, Pterosaurs would have looked like some kind of bizarre fusion of a bat and a bird.

 

This isn’t me calling these eye witnesses liars. I’ve seen inexplicable stuff myself and I doubt I’d have the right to call foul on these people. They’re seeing something alright for there to be so many. I just wanted to know two things from you as a researcher.

1. Have any of them speculated about anything else what they saw might have been? Giant bat? Odd looking bird? Something mythological?

2. Have any of the people who’ve come to you about these reports described anything that seems to match the more accurate representation of what these animals looked like? Something akin to what I’ve described in looks or behavior?

If you want to know a sort of inside joke among some in paleontology, we often refer to inaccurate pop culture representations and cryptozoology reports of Pterosaurs as “Terror-Sores”. Both from them being unrealistically monstrous and how much of a sore headache they give any expert who looks at the darn things!

 

Two notes I will make real quick though.

1. There is one species of Pterosaur that somewhat resembles your pop culture image. Harpactognathus gentryii, a large Jurassic Pterosaur from the USA that did have a reasonably large wingspan (roughly 4 meters at max), a long tail, and a short crest. The problem with this creature being the species reported is it’s from the Jurassic and represents a lineage of Pterosaurs that largely died out by the Cretaceous period. We have thousands of fossils of Pterosaurs from the later period and not one of them looks anything like Harpactognathus. By the Cretaceous, the primary type of Pterosaur was the short tailed, toothless, large bodied lineage such a Pteranodon. So if Harpactognathus or anything like it had any decedents, we’d have seen them in the Cretaceous record somewhere because the archive of Cretaceous Pterosaurs is so good. Additionally, the species still lacks the reported pointed wings (flying with such is aerodynamically impossible by the way), has even more pycnofiber fuzz than Pteranodon, and would have been just as incapable of bipedal walking or perching. It’s also still smaller than many reported giant “Pterosaurs”

2. If you want to give an easy way for any folks reading to remember that Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs aren’t one and the same, here’s a comparison. Dogs and elephants are members of the same mammal family, Placentals. But a dog is not an elephant and an elephant is not a dog. Pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and crocodiles are all members of the same reptile family, Archosaurs; but aren’t the same thing.

 Thanks to the “Gator Man eyewitness” for this thoughtful letter! To answer his two questions very quickly, some witnesses have speculated that they might be seeing a dragon or a Native American Thunderbird, but most are at a loss to explain what they saw. To answer the second question, I think that there probably are some who have seen creatures closer to what he has described as the real appearance of pterosaurs, but that they may be found in the books of other researchers who specialize in the topic and have more examples. (I’m looking for help from readers here rather than delay posting while I make a lengthy search)
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