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The death of a pterodactyl

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2015

Jean-Loïc Le Quellec
Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAF), Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Brenessard, St-Benoist-sur-Mer 85540, France (Email:
Paul Bahn
428 Anlaby Road, Hull HU3 6QP, UK (Email:
Marvin Rowe
Office of Archaeological Studies, 7 Old Cochiti Road, Santa Fe, NM 87507, USA (Email:


The pictograph discovered at Black Dragon Canyon, Utah, in the late 1920s, is a classic example of the Barrier Canyon style, dating probably to AD 1–1100. Creationists, however, have argued, from the incomplete preservation of the motifs, that it depicts a winged monster or pterosaur. A new study using portable X-ray fluorescence refutes this ill-founded interpretation and reveals a scene characteristic of Barrier Canyon style, featuring an anthropomorphic figure. By removing interpretational bias, the new technology finally lays to rest the Black Dragon Canyon pterosaur.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2015 

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