Griffith Park Pterosaurs and Perching

A cryptozoologist, here unnamed, has objected to the pterosaur interpretation of sightings east of Griffith Park in 2013. He said, “The creature which is reported as a pterosaur perches upright, which no kind of a pterosaur could do.” The statement was apparently based only on his reading a small part of what was reported on these two sightings and on how it probably relates to a 2012 sighting elsewhere in Los Angeles County. The creatures reported east of Griffith Park were soaring or gliding, not perching, and the pterosaur reported to have been perching on a telephone cable in Lakewood, California, in 2012, had a Rhamphorhynchoid-like tail, suggesting a flying creature like those that left fossils of pterosaurs that could perch, according to at least some paleontology sources.

Pterosaur Feet

Perhaps many species of pterosaurs could not perch on a branch like many birds now can; but the skeptic said that “no kind of pterosaur could” perch, and that’s another forest altogether. Before getting into details about pterosaurs on branches, consider what Dr. Peter Wellnhofer wrote about pterosaur feet in his book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs:

The foot of the pterosaur was generally narrow and long. Rhamphorhynchoidea differ from Pterodactyloidea in having a long fifth digit, which is flexed and has no claw.

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From fossils of pterosaurs, the foot and toe bones of a long-tailed Rhamphorhynchus - showing the curved fifth toe

Foot of Rhamphorhynchus (The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs)

Wellnhofer illustrates the curved fifth toe of a long-tailed pterosaur, but without explaining the function of that curve, at least not on page 56 of his book. David Peters, another expert, does explain how this toe can help pterosaurs perch on a tree branch.

Pterosaur Perching

The old opinion about pterosaurs perching on tree branches was that it could not be done; that old idea now seems to have been shot down. David Peters has shown that in “basal” pterosaurs the fifth toe could act like a universal wrench, becoming the opposing digit that makes it possible for that kind of pterosaur to perch, in a general way like birds sit on tree branches.

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according to paleontologist David Peters, the curved fifth digit on the feet of long-tailed pterosaurs allowed them to perch on tree branches

Perching Pterosaur in Lakewood, CA, in 2012

Interesting to note, the kind of pterosaur observed by an eyewitness in Lakewood, California, on June 19, 2012, was the same general type as the one that David Peters mentioned as being capable of perching something birds do, and that non-extinct Rhamphorhynchoid seen in clear daylight, from less than twenty-five feet away, was perched on a telephone cable.

The tail was described as at least four feet long and the eyewitness said, “He had that triangle on his tail, like a dragon.” She was sure that the flying creature had no feathers.

Pterosaurs Flying Near Griffith Park in 2013

The two sightings of 2013, over the I-5 Freeway next to the Los Angeles River, just east of Griffith Park—both were in daylight, witnesses by drivers in the northbound lanes. They were about 1.5 miles apart and separated by ten weeks.

Although none of the four flying creatures observed in those two sightings were seen to perch, the first encounter involved three “dragons” that had long tails ending in “triangular points.” The eyewitness described the tails as “long and thin with a bigger point at the tip.” That witness was shown many silhouette images of bats, birds, and pterosaurs, and she chose the Sordes pilosus, a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

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map of freeways and river at the eastern side of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, showing locations of pterosaur sightings in 2013

Locations of the two pterosaur sightings just east of Griffith Park, in 2013

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Pterosaurs Perching in Trees

Peters (2002, 2010) described how pedal digit 5 in basal pterosaurs acted like a universal wrench, extending while digits 1-4 flexed around a branch of any diameter (Fig. 1), thereby opposing the flexing digits . . .

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Dragons Around Griffith Park in Los Angeles

I’ve received many emails, over the past nine years, regarding apparent pterosaurs in Southern California. This deserves a brief overview, before we consider those sightings that surround that huge city park: Griffith Park in Los Angeles. But let’s confine ourselves to just a few sightings in Southern California.

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cover of the Amazon-Kindle-format ebook (nonfiction) by Jonathan Whitcomb

Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea (FREE digital book)

From the Preface to this book:

I believe in living pterosaurs and hope they will soon be officially discovered. More important, I believe in you, that you can soar above dogmatic assumptions about extinctions. I hope that you already understand that we are more than a by-product of culture: Our existence transcends the boundaries of the human cultural assumptions that have shaped our beliefs.

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2 Responses to Griffith Park Pterosaurs and Perching

  1. Prince Justice Antonius says:
  2. Prince Justice Antonius says:

    Didn’t even knew us Californians had pterosaurs. I’m guessing the entire United States probably did. If they are indeed nocturnal, I should keep an eye out. However, gotta keep an eye out in the day time as well. I’m not too far from Lakewood. Griffith Park isn’t extremely far. I live in Los Angeles myself. They probably come in different colors. Unless we have different types of pterosaurs still flying around the globe.

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