Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History

BioFortean Review, (March 2008, No. 16)

The Scott Norman "Pterosaur" Sighting: His Own Words

Scott Norman (edited by Chad Arment)

Scott T. Norman (1964-2008) was a dedicated cryptozoology researcher who had traveled to Africa and South America to investigate mystery animals. Living on the West Coast, he had opportunity to investigate cryptozoological cases closer to home, and in 2007 reported that during one California investigation, he saw a flying creature apparently consistent with a pterosaur. Scott was a member of a small online discussion/investigation group of independent researchers, and shared the following account (with only minor editing).

(July 22, 2007)

Got back from ----- and have a very productive and interesting research trip!

The reports of Ropens, possible pterosaurs out of PNG, is that they glow at night and can look like falling stars, and I believe one of the names of the animal means falling star in PNG. The SCI Fi channel was down in PNG and on their recent program, Destination Truth,, they have on video a picture of glowing object in the sky; I was given a copy of it on DVD, if anybody would like a copy please let me know. On has a picture and analysis of a video taken of the glowing lights on one of the PNG research trips.

Our contact in the area has seen these type of lights and we have also seen them now too. I don't now how to explain them, but they really do look like falling stars, but the difference is that they go in many different directions, even up and down. Within a one minute period I saw two separate streaks moving vertically down towards the earth. From what Garth has told me, he talked with I believe somebody at JPL, that meteors always fall in one direction and down towards earth. Between myself, Garth, and David, we've seen about 30 of these streaks, if not more. I've been skeptical and am still somewhat skeptical, I still need to research if there is any natural phenomenon that should account for this. We also were told by our contact that the animal screeches, and we have heard it and have got the screech on tape, but we really need to get it analyzed and make sure it's not an owl or something else.

On the second night, I didn't participate into the research until much later that evening because my cousin lives in the area and went to go have dinner with her and we ended up talking for a long time, which was really great, and I told her about the research and how skeptical I was, because she knows about research in Mokele-mbembe and other animals. Part of the reason I've been skeptical is that our contact had a video of an animal that was supposed to be a pterosaur and Garth, David, and some others believed it to be, to me it was just a bird and I had some other people look at the video and they thought it was a bird also. The problem with the video is it was shot early morning, so picture is grainy and hard to tell exactly what type of animal it is, so can't prove anything. So between the video and though seeing the glowing lights, still very skeptical and didn't think we would see anything.

Both Garth and David were tired and went to sleep and I stayed up till 4AM. Here's the kicker, the skeptic between 1:30-2:30AM, probably closer to 2AM, has a sighting! On the property is a house and a shed, we had chairs and equipment set outside of the shed facing a pasture. I was sitting in a chair, sideways towards the shed looking up at the starry skies, when this animal came gliding just over the shed and into the field and then I lost it. I did not tell them about the sighting until later that morning, I had to sleep on and think about what I saw.

The animal I saw had an 8-10 foot wing span, the wings were bat-like in shape, the inside had that wavy type of look. The body was about 5-6 feet in length, the neck about 1-2 feet in length, the head was about four feet in length, and the head was key for me: it has a crest that was about 2 feet in length, fit that of a pteranodon, don't know how else to describe it. Our contact had a similar type of sighting three years ago in daylight. In his sighting he saw a long tail, I did not see one, and all of the pteranodon pictures I've seen show a real short stubby one. The animal I saw was stockier compared to some of the drawings of pterosaurs I've seen. The animal in the video that's supposed to be a pterosaur and the animal I saw are two different animals.

I only saw the silhouette of the animal against the a stars in the sky and saw no real details, the animal was black, could not see any color to it. The animal was only 20 feet from me, our contact told us his shed is 18 ft high, and the animal was about two feet above that and probably it was a little closer as it flew by me and down into the pasture. The animal was gliding, it did not flap its wing and it did not make any sounds, so if I had not been looking where I was I would probably have not seen it. I shone my small flashlight into the field and did not see the animal so it must have kept flying. Though I didn't walk into the field and should have known that, I think about it. My sighting lasted 15 to 20 seconds, so I had a good look at the animal. My first impression of the animal was, this thing is big. Have no video or stills of it, I didn't have my equipment out because I didn't think I would see anything and even if I did I don't think I would have been able to capture a clear picture of it. Yes, should of been prepared but when you're really skeptical, hard to be prepared, even though I was there to do research. I wish this thing had glowed, that would have been even a better confirmation, but it did not glow.

Issues with my sighting, really hard to give exact measurements in the night, so could be smaller, though a possibility that it could be larger, though I'm confident about saying it has an 8 to 10 foot wing span. I didn't see any legs and I'm not sure why, they are pretty promenent on the images I've seen; the only thing, (maybe) they have the ability to tuck them up to their body, even though I haven't seen an image that shows it, or have their legs are coming out the back of them, they were just too black to see, or I didn't see them because I was more concentrated on the head crest. I also did not see any claws on the wings and not sure why, maybe not enough of it to show against the sky, not sure. Did not see the eyes either.

So that's what I saw, something that I've never seen before, is it a pteranodon, I can't say 100% until more research is done, or is something else, a bird that I just mistook, possibly, but not sure what to do about the head crest. Whatever this animal is, it was big, and that was my first thought, and it's possible its wing span may have been even bigger, I need to get some more measurements of the shed to do comparison of size. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I saw. I stayed up until 4AM hoping to see the creature again, but didn't happen.

The third night saw some more flashes but no close sightings of the animals. Actually is possible on the same night I had my sighting that I may have seen this animal or another fly over the canal behind the house and shed, not really sure because it was just a shape, but could have been seeing the weeds at the top of the canal look like something moving. Was really hoping to see this animal again, maybe on the next trip.

Give me your comments, critiques, questions, etc.

Scott T. Norman

In response to some questions and comments:

1) I'm still not seeing a specific connection between the glowing spots and living bioluminescent animals. The ropen report certainly indicates a non-fire origin, but there appears to be no place where they compared the lights' spectral characteristics to that emitted by known bioluminescent species. That would be a necessary supporting factor in making the case for bioluminescent pterosaurs.

The reports from the locals in PNG is that these animals are nocturnal, though there are some daytime sightings, they attribute the lights to being Ropens. Our contact said he was close enough to one of the flashes and was able to see a wing shape. Not sure if he saw it with night scope or his eyes, but I believe he saw it with his eyes. I haven't studied this enough to have any answers, just what's come from what natives, our contact, and what Garth, David, and others believe.

2) If you are going out in search of the lights again, any chance you can pick up or borrow a good telescope? These blurry light balls are not helping the caseif you can examine the lights in progress through the sky, you should be able to detect an outline of an animal in the light itself (as opposed to those blurry round light balls in the ropen report).

G. had a good telescope, the problem is that you only see the streaks for a couple of 1 to 2 seconds so very hard to get a fix on those. Our contact said he saw one glow for like 5 minutes and saw it only through a night vision scope. Actually night scopes might be better then a telescope.

3) I think you're rightyou'll need to check to see if the lights are produced by atmospheric effects, etc. (High altitude ball lightning?) Did you ever see one of the lights change course or act in a manner suggesting volition?

I don't recall seeing one change in a different direction, David say he say a light come over his head then it banked. So seems to indicate that is moved on its own.

4) Screechesyeah, there are a lot of night birds that can do screeches; you might be able to find a western birds vocalization cd somewhere... also lots of mammals at night make odd sounds. Contact a few local naturalists to see if they can interpret the sound (without telling them what your contact thinks they are, of course).

I need to get copies and get them analyzed.

5) Can you sketch the outline of the animal you saw and scan it for the photos file? You say you actually did note a head crest? What did that look like?

I will sketch what I saw and will post it. Yes, I saw a head crest; that's what stood out to me, like what you see in pterandon images, though a little different, smoother, longer, you'll see in the drawing when I post it.

6) What kind of habitat is this area? Where would a large animal hide in this region? What is the human population like?

The area has a lot of orchards, main ones around the research area were oranges. There was the house we were at, then one next to it and a canal behind it. An orchard behind the house, then foothills. We searched the foothills behind the orchard to see if they live there, but came up with nothing. We believe that they would have to live deeper in the foothills and mountains and that they come into the valley to hunt. Our contact believes at times they may sleep in the orchards at times and as seen a least one fly from the orchard when disturbed by a vehicle. There is a road in front of the house that can have a lot of traffic. So populationwise, the people who live in the house and then those who work in the fields.

7) If it was a bird, you're looking at one of the large wading birds basicallyheron, egret, crane... you can find images of them in flightwhat differences do you think the animal had from those?

The video that our contact shot I compared to a flying egret video I got off the internet, has similarities in flying. So to me it's a bird. What I saw, compared to herons, egrets, cranes, was different. The crest of the animal I saw was about 2 feet in length and thick, nothing compared to any crests a bird might have. The animal I saw had bat like wings, no feathers that I could see.

8) Just thinking about the long thin tail that some witnesses seeherons will keep their long feet dragging back out behind the short tail, which might confuse a witness.

Yes, I agree.

9) Wonder if you can set up an upward facing camera trap (motion sensitive)but would be hard, as you can't push a flying animal to go the same place as the camera is pointing...

Our contact said the animals fly over that area all the time, so yes, we could put upward facing camera, we could also put up IR lights to help illuminate the field. So with cameras with wide angle lenses might capture something.

Now I'm wondering whether these light balls, whatever they are, might have something in common with the old "witch's lights" reported in the skies early on here in the East.

Be interesting to see if there's any correlation between the two.

Unfortunately, Scott does not appear to have added the sketch of the crest to the group's files, but if I locate a usable copy, will add that here.
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