Old Photo of a Pterosaur

By the living-pterosaur expert Jonathan D. Whitcomb

Introduction to the “Civil War photograph of a pterodactyl”

A number of names or labels have been given to this old photo, probably the most practical being “Ptp,” for that helps to distinguish it from the more recent hoax photo that was created to promote the Freakylinks television show produced by Haxan Films at the beginning of the 21st century.

the Ptp photograph of an apparent Pteranodon

The above image is the Ptp photograph (with an apparent Pteranodon)

This is a series of brief reviews of several web pages on the subject of the animal shown in the Ptp photo: an apparent Pteranodon. It also has a brief review of an online page on the nonfiction book Modern Pterosaurs, which I recently wrote on that subject.

Those blog posts (or other online sources of information) that I would recommend—those are given links at the bottom of this post. I do not give a link to one site that is mentioned here, for it can be extremely misleading; still, I give “Living Pterosaurs” a brief review here, for its negative statements need to be answered.

Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

Posted January 23, 2017, on the Modern Pterosaur blog

This examines a magnified view of the head of the apparent Pteranodon in the Ptp photograph, and includes, “. . . the physicist found a correlation between a solar shadow under the boot of the soldier and ones on the animal.”

This post also explains how I, Jonathan Whitcomb, came to change my view about Ptp. This is found in the section “Skepticism of the Civil War Pterodactyl Photo.”

A Civil War Monster Photograph

This I posted on April 21st (and I highly recommend Medium.com for online writing)

This is much longer than my average blog post, getting into how I got involved in the living-pterosaur investigations. Halfway through it, I get into Ptp. Medium.com says this is a 12-minute read, although I think some readers could take longer than that.

An Introduction to the Old Photograph Ptp

This Youtube video, which I uploaded on April 26, 2017, is almost 14 minutes long, and is probably the most useful in presenting the positive side of the possibility that a modern pterosaur was photographed in the 19th century.

If you read none of the other blog posts on Ptp, you would do well to watch this video. It’s not really a substitute for reading my book Modern Pterosaurs, but takes only 14 minutes and it’s free to watch.

“About Us”

This is actually much more about Ptp than it is about me and the physicist Clifford Paiva. In fact, it consists almost entirely of quotations from the nonfiction Modern Pterosaurs (Introduction and chapters one and seven).

Living Pterosaurs (“pterodactyls”)? (by Glen J. Kuban)

This is surely the longest anti-extant-pterosaur web page ever published, at over 60 paragraphs. I will not link to it, for too many readers can be mislead by its attacks against writings that support the possibility that one or more species of pterosaur is still living.

For years, “Living Pterosaurs” included a tiny image of what we now call the Ptp. Yet what little was said about it was misleading, for Kuban had confused two different photos: Ptp and the Haxan Films Freakylinks hoax photo. How many readers may have been mislead by that! I do not imply any deception there, for after I had contacted Kuban, in March of 2017, he revised the page, by late April, publishing both photos.

Yet he added quite a few large paragraphs that attacked the idea that Ptp could be a genuine photograph of a modern pterosaur. Kuban appears determined to hold onto 19th century ideas about universal extinctions of basic forms of life, in particular the life of those wonderful featherless flying creatures: pterosaurs.


copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

Do not confuse the above photo [the old Ptp] with a hoax made for Freakylinks (Fox network series that was on the air from 2000 to 2001.) The television hoax-photo has Civil War reenactors standing over a vague canvass-like thing on the ground, yet it was made in imitation of the above photo [which is a genuine 19th century photo]. . .

A Civil War Monster Photograph

What a gruesome head! I don’t recall when I first saw the monster photo, perhaps as long ago as 1968, but that long beak and head appendage made me uneasy.

Introduction to the old Civil War Photograph (video)

Clifford Paiva (physicist) and Jonathan Whitcomb declare that this is a genuine photograph with a real animal that is obviously an extant pterosaur.

About Us (under “Pterosaur Photo”)

On January 14, 2017, Clifford Paiva and I (Jonathan David Whitcomb) spoke by phone and agreed that a photograph we had been studying had a genuine image of a real animal. We did not insist that this must have been a species of Pteranodon killed during the American Civil War. . . .


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About Jonathan Whitcomb

Jonathan David Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah, (formerly of Long Beach, California) has written four nonfiction cryptozoology books (nine total editions), each one about eyewitness reports of living pterosaurs.
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