I have been asked…What does this creature look like? Since I have only seen the bioluminesence of this creature and no morphology. I can only give descriptions as reported by those who have seen this creature.
The year is 1875. British explorers were steaming up a newly discovered river in Papua New Guinea they call the Baxter River. ” We often heard the natives speak of a large bird which could fly away with a kangaroo or a large turtle, but I scarcely credited the statement until I saw two of the birds myself. One was seated on the truck of a large tree, and rose as we approached. The noise caused by the flapping of its wing resembled the sound of the locomotive pulling a long train very slowly. When it had flown away we heard another coming, with just the sound of an approaching goods (freight) train. I had a good opportunity of observing it, and it appeared to be sixteen or eighteen feet across the wings as it flew; the body dark brown, the breast white, neck long, and beak long and straight. Our guns had no effect on it. I feel sure I struck it, but flew on as unconcernedly as ever.”
Now advance to August 1944. The war with Japan was ending and Dwayne Hodgkinson, a 19-year-old soldier, was hiking with his friends on a path which led to a local village near the town of Finschaven, Papua New Guinea. As they were walking, they heard the sound of a large animal crashing through the bush. Moments later, a wild hog came out of the dense jungle and began running through tall grass in the adjacent field. The hog’s commotion led to a scene that was permanently burned into Dwayne’s memory. To his amazement, Dwayne watched as a huge “bird” took flight less than 200 feet in front of him and his friends. When this creature rose into the air, Dwayne vividly remembers the tall grass and brush swaying violently from the down rush of air as the creature gained altitude.
Dwayne watched in awe as the creature circled and flew back to where they were, giving them a perfect side view of this unique creature. He estimated that the creature was flying at no more than 100 feet high at that time. What amazed him most was the crest on the creature’s head! Dwayne knew that no birds today have such a crest. He noted the long beak and head crest were each about three feet long. Dwayne said that the creature looked exactly like pictures he had seen of a prehistoric flying reptile only found in the fossil record. He estimated that the tail of the creature was about 15 feet long and the color of the body was dark, “not black, but dark brown.” Before being drafted, Dwayne was a private pilot and flew a small aircraft called the Piper Tri-Pacer which has a 29-foot wingspan. The creature that flew before his eyes had about the same wingspan as his plane back home! We now know from the fossil record that pteranadons had a 30-foot or even greater wingspan. After returning to camp and telling about his “discovery,” Dwayne quickly realized there is a price to pay for seeing something no one else has seen. After being teased by his follow soldiers, he quickly realized it was best not to talk about such things because people will think you are unstable or have been drinking. It was the result of Dwayne’s story that led to the first expedition into Papua New Guinea in 1994.
(Please see a YouTube of an interview with Dwayne about his eyewitness account of the creature.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl1A2xXnxpU
Now let’s stop in August 1994. I, Paul Nation, was sitting in the men’s hut in Garu Village, Papua New Guinea, listening to natives tell of creatures they have seen that exhibit the same characteristics as the one Dwayne sighted. One group of hunters told about a similar creature that flew into their camp one night to steal the game they had killed. It landed by clinging to a nearby tree trunk and the men could see a “glow” coming from this creature. It terrified these normally fearless hunters to the point that they could not even move! To simulate the creature’s clinging to the tree trunk, one hunter jumped up next to a large support post in the hut, tightly gripped the post with his legs, and then grabbed the top of the post with his hands. This caught my attention because no known birds have “hands” to grip the trunk of a tree. Local fruit bats are plentiful and have claws on their wings, but they land on tree limbs and never on the trunks of trees. The bats will land on a limb and immediately swing down into an inverted, hanging position. But they never land upright on the trunk of a tree. What flying creature would have this ability to land upright on a tree trunk and grip the trunk with both feet and wing claws?
On my expeditions, I have taken a set of silhouettes of flying creatures, both present-day birds and those known from the fossil record. I ask eyewitnesses to pick silhouettes from the head, wing and body types of the one that resembles the creatures they have seen. Without fail, 100% of the natives will pick a pterosaur silhouette. Then to my amazement, 80% will choose the Sordes Pilosus out of all the pterosaur silhouettes!
This brings up a question: How do these natives know to pick this particular creature if they have never seen one?