Newspaper report on an alleged sighting
|Theories|| · Giant bird|
· Ghostly pterosaur
· Biofortean or zooform phenomena
The Pennine Pterodactyl was a flying pterosaur-like creature allegedly witnessed by several people in the Pennines moors and valleys near West Yorkshire. Some characterized the beast as merely a "big bird", others as a wispy, near-translucent ghost image of a prehistoric reptile.
In September 1982 in Shipley Glen, William Green was startled to see a huge bird. He described it as having ‘a wing-span of at least 6 feet, perhaps more’ and that it was ‘flying in a rather hap-hazard manner’. He described it as grey and leathery, the wings like those of an enormous bat, and said it was ‘eerie to look at’.
Three days later a woman saw ‘a huge monster bird’ surrounded by a flock of rooks (which are quite large as British birds go), and said it was heading off in the direction of Leeds airport. She estimated the wing-span to be around 10 feet.
Soon the local press had picked up on the story and were determined to prove that the monster was just a heron. This idea was firmly denied by a mounting number of witnesses. They were adamant. They had seen something which to all intents and purposes looked the part of a "Pterodactyl."
More and more people came forward. A man walking his dog claimed that the creature had uttered a terrifying scream and had actually swooped down on him and his dog as they walked through Pudsey. It had rested on a nearby roof-top and he described it as leathery and bat-like. He also said that he heard the laboured beating of its wings as it swooped at them, as if it had great difficulty in keeping air-borne. The man had thrown himself to the floor in shock as it passed over head and said he got a good look at its crocodile-like face.
Another witness saw it at Eldwick, at close range.
In May 1983 various sightings took place around Thackley. Again it was seen to take laboured strokes as it flew, not being graceful like a bird. An investigator Mike Priestly took a photo of it but all that can be seen is a fuzzy silhouette (see above).
Sightings continued to sporadically occur over the next year until they ceased entirely. It has never been seen again.
This unique case has attracted controversy and diverse speculation in the cryptozoological research community.
- A large specimen of a known bird species. Many localized sightings seem to be instances of regular birds, their perceived size likely enhanced by the atmosphere of rumor and mystery surrounding the creature. In one town the beast was even called the "Bradford Big Bird."
- A cryptid animal, possibly an unknown bird or extant pterosaur. There have been a surprising number of pterosaur-like sightings in the UK over the years. Nonetheless the material existence of such novel creatures breeding populations having left no trace in such a densely populated country seems highly unlikely.
- A biofortean manifestation, or ghostly residual image of a prehistoric animal. Jenny Randles, a Ufologist, notes that the Pennines is colloquially known as "UFO alley" for its high frequency of sightings and abduction reports. It also has a rich history of occult and druidic activity. This context and the high-strangeness aspects of the case have lead Randles and subsequent researchers to consider the creature a manifestation of latent unconscious materials, or even a ghostly record of the ancient pterosaurs recorded in the earth or the unconscious by some unknown means.