Polynesian Bird Man Likely a Pterosaur Representation

Posted by Chris Parker
Aug 29 2006

 

If it is difficult for paleoentologists to recreate or to identify pterosaur species from a few bones, it is just as difficult to identify pterosaur representations from ancient representations from art. For example, there are a number of birds that look similar to various species of pterosaur, including pelicans and herons.

Here we believe that a positive pterosaur identification can be made because in addition to the closeness in appearance to a number of pterosaur species, the artifact also clearly features a “batlike” pterosaur type wing rather than a birds wing.

This piece is Polynesian, from Easter Island. The Pacific Island group includes Easter Island and Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is the site of many eyewitness acocounts of the years of Ropens or pterosaurs, with wings spans ranging from 3 to 4 feet all the way up to the size of a piper cub airplane.

When describing the Ropen, a characteristic often mentioned that is not included in pterosaur recreations are dermal humps along the back. This ancient piece also appears to include these dermal humps.

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