By Jim Miles
Pterosaurs, the oldest vertebrates which had powered flight, existed between 210 and 65 million years ago, though some believe they are still around, as rare as the ivory billed woodpecker.
Jonathon D. Whitcomb has become the modern chronicler of pterosaurs with his blog Modern Pterosaur and three interesting books on the topic.
Whitcomb has received sighting reports from three different individuals in Georgia; one has made four separate sightings; another has had two encounters.
We start this extraordinary report with Sandra Paradise of Winder, whose experiences started on August 27, 2008. Paradise has a 25-mile commute to work, the route alternating between pastures and forests.
Paradise had risen early that day and was on the road at seven a.m. when a winged creature flew just in front of her car and just above it. “What was that!” she yelled to herself. The bird was a uniform tan in color, with a long tail ending in a heart shaped feature and a ridge on the underside of the impressive tail. The head was “Curved, like a hammer,” and the crest was “solid, not feathery at all.” Although it was an extraordinary sight, she thought it “made perfect sense as it flew.”
She described the creature’s actions as “Dive bombing my car.”
She phoned a friend to say, “You won’t believe what I just saw!” A pterodactyl. He suggested it might have been a Great Blue Heron carrying a snake. At length he accepted the accuracy of her account.
Two weeks later, September 10, Paradise left home under a cloudy sky running late. It was nine a.m. and she was a few miles out of town when she spotted a larger version of the same aerial being. Again, she saw the long tail and thick end, and a head crest. This creature was actively flying-the wings pumping in a scooping motion, the effect rippling through the body and tail. She was enthralled watching what she compared to a “breast stroke,” or grabbing at the air and pulling itself through the sky. Bird wings in motion have a more up and down motion.
This second creature was as long as her Camry and the size of a large dog or even a tall human. Her initial beast was about as wide as her Camry.
Whitcomb, who believes these are actually nocturnal creatures, thought their daylight presence might be a mating pair disrupted by Hurricane Fay and were seeking a suitable site to spend their days.
After both incidents, Paradise phoned a friend to describe her exotic encounters. She searched databases of bird photographs and found nothing similar, and when asked if she had seen an airplane, she said it was flying beneath the treetops.
The third sighting occurred in October 2008 on the same road and near the second sighting. A flock of crows flew across the highway in front of her, followed by a pterosaur.
Around the first of 2011 what she thought was the same creature passed directly above her. It “was in perfect silhouette, wings outstretched, distinctive head in full view, pad on the tail.” The creature “was traveling fast, with a distinctive, quickly, 1, 2, 3, rest (with wings outstretched) 1, 2, 3, rest, wing beats.”
The end of the tail structure did not ripple, but “stuck straight out.”
She once saw the shadow of what was obviously an unusually large bird fly into the woods near dusk, and on another occasion heard “something like a hawk in extreme distress” in the forest.
In his book, Whitcomb stated his belief that Paradise had contacted him “to confirm the anatomy” of her creature and to “find someone else who had seen it.”
She once dreaded her boring commute, but now she finds the “world is now totally different. I feel blessed that God has allowed me to see this creature that should not be here, and yet is…”
She wondered where they lived, what they ate, were they nocturnal. Their coloring could camouflage them in the woods, and there were rodents enough to subsist on.
“I was floored,” she told Whitcomb. “I knew what it was. I couldn’t believe what is was. But I knew what it was.”
At 8:15 a.m. on July 18, 2012, a woman and her 16-year-old son were driving along GA 27 in Franklin, also in eastern Georgia. The mother first saw the creature and shouted to her son to look at what she called a “flying dinosaur.” He saw it and identified the avian as a “pterodactyl.” The creature, with the distinctive long tail, glided across the road. It sported one white line around its neck
The final reports originated in southwestern Georgia when a woman and her son were driving and both saw “a large thing, not a bird,” that resembled a small pterodactyl with bat wings and a wingspan of ten feet. It “had no discernable feathers” and the son said it had “leathery-looking skin.” The head was pointed, the tail end a diamond, with legs pointing backward.
At a later date the same woman and her 14-year-old daughter were on the road, no more than three miles from the original sighting. This time the view was clear and the event lasted longer.
The woman said she was reminded “of the creatures at the end of Jurassic Park,” and was nothing like the turkey vultures routinely seen in the area.
Whitcomb suggested that these aerial mysteries be named “American Hammerhead Ropen.”
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org