Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

By modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

I wrote about this old photograph here on Modern Pterosaur four years ago. I’ve learned much more about this “Pteranodon photograph,” however, in recent days, especially from communicating with Clifford Paiva, a missile defense physicist.

controversial photograph of what looks like six Union soldiers standing over the remains of a large Pteranodon

Figure-1: “Ptp” photograph examined by a physicist: Cliff Paiva

Do not confuse the above photo with a hoax made for Freakylinks (Fox network series that was on the air from 2000 to 2001.) The television hoax-photo has Civil War reenactors standing over a vague canvass-like thing on the ground, yet it was made in imitation of the above photo, even to the point of having a “soldier” put his boot on the crude head-like thing on the ground. The Ptp image shown above, in contrast, is much older and shows the head of an apparent Pteranodon. That head cries out for a closer look.


Photo enlarged, showing solar shadow zones - Clifford Paiva analysis

Figure-2: close-up of the beak and eye and the soldier’s boot

Notice the magnification in Figure-2, including the vertical-pupil of the eye. Some animals have that kind of eye, cats and crocodiles, for example. It allows them to see in both daylight and at night. Also important, the physicist found a correlation between a solar shadow under the boot of the soldier and ones on the animal.

In other words, the image is consistent with the idea that this is a photograph of an actual soldier that has his boot on the beak of an actual animal.

Skepticism of the Civil War Pterodactyl Photo

I remember seeing this photograph many year ago, perhaps even in the 1960’s. One of my earliest memories of it included my distaste for the wings. At first glance, they look like the ends of two canoes, or one canoe cut in half. I had little knowledge of canoes at the time, but in January of 2017, I got an email from a man who did know about them. Here is part of what he told me:

I’m 67 years old and remember this photo from when I was young. . . . I’ve canoed all my life. I’ve owned several of them. Those aren’t halves of a canoe! . . . Too narrow, too shallow. And definitely not a dugout canoe!

I suspect many skeptics have turned away from this photo for the same reason I did, thinking the wings looked like a canoe. Now the above comments from Tom Payne sinks that skepticism.

Have you ever seen the page “Living Pterodactyls?” by Glen Kuban? I have found many problems with that long online publication, but one applies especially here, his curt remark about the “Civil War pterosaur” (that I call “Ptp”) for which he includes a small image:

“Alas, the photo has since been exposed as a hoax–a promotional stunt for a Fox television series.”

Did you catch the problem with his dismissal? He displayed a cropped small image of the photo that is now declared genuine, but he confuses it with an entirely different photo: The known hoax from the Freakylinks television series that was once on the Fox network. In other words, his conclusion is entirely worthless regarding the image he has displayed. His mini-photo shows the old Ptp but his words refer to the newer hoax-photo.


We’re stilling discovering new things in the Ptp photograph, new evidence that this image of an apparent modern pterosaur is genuine. I have also been discovering that many old criticisms from skeptics are of little or no relevance or value. In other words, Ptp is coming to look more and more like a valid photo of a modern pterosaur.



Possible Pteranodon in a Civil War Photograph

Paiva has found new evidence that this has an image of a genuine modern pterosaur. The solar shadows tie the soldier’s boot to the animal, and a number of details in the head, neck, and other areas—those correlate well with the anatomy of a Pteranodon.

Skeptical Responses to Civil War Pteranodon Photo

The dead flying creature seen in the “Pteranodon photograph,” (Ptp) although it may be called a “pterodactyl” by some Americans and a “ropen” by others, could be a pterodactyloid pterosaur . . .

Civil War Photos

The War Between the States was the first large and prolonged conflict recorded by photography.

Civil War Pteranodon Photograph

Written by Jonathan Whitcomb in April of 2013, long before the detailed analysis that was revealed by the physicist Clifford Paiva (This needs to be taken in that context)


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The Big Picture of Modern Pterosaurs

Let’s begin with “A Brief Introduction to Living-Pterosaur Investigations:”

YouTube video produced by Jonathan David Whitcomb


Definition of “Modern Pterosaur”

From page 294 of the fourth edition of my nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, we can read the technical definition:

A featherless vertebrate two-winged creature, living within the past few thousand years, having an elongated digit-like bone on the leading edge of each wing and an absence of any bat-like wing-support involving bones that radiate into the wing membranes

For those who would prefer a simple definition:

A modern pterosaur is a non-extinct featherless flying creature often called “pterodactyl” or “flying dinosaur”

Cryptozoology Rather Than Standard Zoology

As of May 29, 2016, the modern pterosaur appears to fly only in cryptozoology, not yet landing on any page of a biology text book. I can be seen in the many eyewitness descriptions rather than in the zoo or in the biology laboratory.

Of course the same could once be said for other animals including gorillas in Africa. We now have no doubt in the existence of the gorilla, although it was once thought to swing from jungle trees only in the imaginations of gullible persons. Westerners once found it convenient to dismiss stories of gorillas as Boogeyman tales.

So what evidence do we now have that at least one species of pterosaur is presently living? It’s in the wide range of testimonies, from a great variety of eyewitnesses from around the world, describing flying creatures that have a remarkable consistency in details of description.

The Long-Tailed Ropen

If reports of non-extinct “pterodactyls” were not enough to shock people, many of the descriptions include a long tail. In fact, the ratio between the presence of a long tail and the absence of one, in the overall sighting reports, is about 20-to-1 (41% to 2%).

What’s so unusual about a dominance of long tails in modern pterosaurs? It’s the opposite of what we would expect if people were just playing hoaxes. Think of the last film or television science fiction show you saw that had “pterodactyls” in it. That movie or TV show probably was depicting short-tailed pterosaurs. Those Pterodactyloid short-tailed flying creatures were assumed by many scientists to have been the last ones to survive, after the long-tailed ones had mostly died off. Those are the pterosaurs often shown in science fiction films and on TV, yet it’s the long-tailed ones that dominate in actual human encounters with those flying creatures.

What is a ropen? It’s a long-tailed pterosaur, similar in some ways to Rhamphorhynchoid (“basal”) fossils. The end of the tail is often seen as having a structure described in various ways:

  • diamond-shaped
  • spade shape
  • triangle

Sightings Around the World

People see them in many parts of the planet. I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have received reports directly from eyewitnesses who report encountering living pterosaurs on five continents, as I have been available to communicate with those persons over the past 12+ years.

A recent sighting was in northwestern Arkansas, in the first week or two of May, 2016. Here is part of the report:

. . . saw a pterosaur come up out of the water and fly into the woods. It was grey and did not have feathers. . . . [wingspan] was from 15 to 19 feet! . . . grey leathery skin.

I had previously received several reports of pterosaur sightings in Arkansas as well as many in surrounding states. These included (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Missouri

Indeed, it’s easier to list the American states in which modern pterosaurs have not been reported than it is to list the ones in which they have been seen. The states shown above are listed because they surround Arkansas.



Cryptozoology and Pterodactyls

. . . the belief that all pterosaurs became extinct many millions of years ago is not based on sound objective evidence but on a number of assumptions.

What is this flying ropen?

How often we’ve been taught that all dinosaurs and pterosaurs became extinct . . . as if that were proven! But what if some are  still living? . . . consider the many eyewitness testimonies of those flying creatures.

The Ropen and Destination Truth

Adventure, danger, enlightenment—those I experienced half a year later, sitting in my living room, delighting in the ropen-episode of Destination Truth. I thought I remembered advising the production team “do not” enter a cave that might contain a ropen . . .

Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs and Ropens

The pterosaur suborder of Rhamphorhynchoidea, those long-tailed featherless flying creatures—they’re also called basal pterosaurs. For generations, many scientists have assumed that they became extinct . . .


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Reply to Misidentification Conjectures

By Jonathan David Whitcomb

Sometimes a person who is mostly ignorant of the overall eyewitness evidence of modern pterosaurs will speculate about misidentification. Many of those conjectures fall to one of the following two flying creatures:

  1. Frigate bird
  2. Flying fox fruit bat

Yet many of the speculators avoid details, in particular avoiding any reference to any one sighting. Perhaps the weight of generations of Westerner assumptions appears sufficient, allowing a critic to simply toss a feather of skepticism onto the subject, to crush the idea of modern pterosaurs. Before we get into any particular sighting, let’s examine how cultural assumptions play a role in our thinking.

Cultural Assumptions

Each culture encapsulates what other cultures may recognize as faulty assumptions. The nature of how cultural assumptions originate may lie within the fog of ancient history, but the result is clear: The great majority of those who have been raised in a particular culture have been blinded to the weaknesses of their cultural assumptions. They will sometimes go to war, even risking destruction, to protect their weak assumptions.

Westerners have become indoctrinated into the opinion that all species of certain general types of animals became extinct many millions of years ago. In reality, no paleontologist has witnessed even one extinction of even one species of dinosaur or pterosaur. Yet the indoctrination continues, as if all of their species must have died out by 65-million years ago. This indoctrination-influence problem deserves far more attention, but we need to move on for now.

Eskin Kuhn sketched Gitmo Pterosaur he saw

Sketch drawn by the eyewitness Eskin Kuhn (sighting in Cuba)

Misidentified . . . Whatever

I have sometimes been amazed at the imaginations of some skeptics. What an imaginative collection of speculated misidentifications! It’s not been confined to oceanic birds or large bats. It has also included leaping fish and woodpeckers. Some of this deserves a little attention, even though the ideas are ludicrous.

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have been criticized for publishing accounts of modern-pterosaur encounters, yet my critics usually ignore the following point: I have probably spent more time on living-pterosaur investigations than any other person now living on this planet. Even if I have made mistakes, those 10,000+ hours of searching, researching, interviewing, and writing may have uncovered some important truth.

If someone reports observing a potential living pterosaur and later retracts that original interpretation, it usually means we can safely classify that sighting as a misidentification. In reality, that rarely happens. To the best of my memory, I list the following cases in which a person could have changed his or her mind in that way (and these are restricted to eyewitnesses who clearly appeared to be honest):

  • Number of Frigate birds reported as pterosaurs: one
  • Number of fruit bats reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of leaping manta-ray fish reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of woodpeckers reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of Hornbill birds reported as pterosaurs: zero
  • Number of mechanical flying models reported as pterosaurs: zero

The above does not imply that almost no such misidentifications have ever taken place. But those cases are so rare that I now recall only one of them, and that appeared to have been a Frigate bird seen by a man in Australia years ago.

Please be aware that I am not including the many YouTube videos that feature Frigate birds or mechanical models or 3D animations of apparent pterosaurs. Many of those can be resolved as hoaxes rather than honest misidentifications. I mostly refer to persons who have reported their sightings to me or to one of my associates. (An exception was the Frigate bird seen by an Australian; he reported his sighting to an online forum.)

Common Misidentifications Overlooked by Skeptics

Critics may be ignorant of the common types of actual misidentification:

  • Eyewitness first thought it must have been a weird bird
  • Eyewitness first considered it a strange big bat
  • Eyewitness first thought it was a perception problem

We have no room on a single blog post for all the sighting reports in which a person observed a flying creature that looked like a “dragon” or “pterodactyl” but that idea was immediately rejected. Those eyewitness pondered all the possibilities that it could have instead been some strange bird or bat. This is common with many Americans and other Westerners.

Often a person will doubt his or her ability to see properly or correctly perceive what was seen, because of the depth of Western indoctrination into extinction dogmas. In some of those sighting cases, the eyewitness will eventually come to realize that the flying creature was actually what it appeared to be. Those are the eyewitnesses that may eventually report their encounters to me.

That kind of misidentification seems to have been overlooked by the skeptics and critics. The important point about misidentification is this: When a person comes to correct an apparently wrong early interpretation—that case has a significant potential for being a misidentification, and the vast majority of such misidentifications are for actual modern pterosaurs that were at first thought to have been strange manifestations or misperceptions of other things. This calls for examples.

Paperback book Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition)

Page 28:

The two men [in Florida one night] had no time to recover when a second creature flew in the opposite direction, toward the neighbor’s backyard. . . . This one was not as clearly visible, but obviously very similar. DR said to his friend, “Was that what I think it was?” He replied, “Naa, it had to be something else.”

Page 32:

It’s common for an eyewitness to first assume that what is seen is a bird. In Kentucky, MR first assumed he was watching a “large bird.” In Wisconsin, EWED first assumed a “strange looking bird.” In Michigan, RT first assumed an ordinary “large dark colored bird.”

Pages 35-36 [Brownsville, Texas]

She was twelve years old, at most (around 1995), when she walked out into her backyard one morning to check on the dog . . . Next door, in the neighbor’s backyard, was what she first thought was a tall man; but he was about as tall as the house, too tall. He was “draped in a long black coat or cape,” facing away from her. “Dracula” came to mind as GR tried to understand what she was looking at. The “man” turned, and revealed a face that terrified the child: It was non-human.

Slowing the creature . . . unwrapped its bat-like wings, dark leathery wings.

Notice how eyewitnesses in the United States, in the above cases, initially searched for a non-pterosaur explanation for what was encountered. Only after careful consideration did they realize it may have been a pterosaur, an animal that they had been taught was extinct. Without that extinction indoctrination, it would have been immediately obvious to the eyewitnesses that they had observed a pterosaur.



Honesty Credibility in Pterodactyl Sightings

Let’s examine what’s been learned from sighting reports that are mostly from North America, with a critical eye on the overall honesty-credibility of eyewitnesses.

Ropens in Western USA

According to Cryptozoology News (online), two eyewitnesses in Nevada recently saw a “reptilian-like bird” fly up and over their vehicle on Interstate-80 at 11:00 p.m., and the description of the flying creature included “long thin tail,” a head crest, and “a long and thin neck.” That sounds like a ropen.

Living Pterosaurs? Not by Glen Kuban

. . .  the testimonies of Brian Hennessy and Duane Hodgkinson. Glen Kuban’s web page ignores those two witnesses entirely. . . . [sightings of] “prehistoric” looking flying creatures in daylight, at fairly close range, with locations being Bougainville Island and the Finschhafen area . . . [in] the nation of Papua New Guinea.

Figurines of Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs in Mexico

Where is the physical evidence for modern ropens, or extant long-tailed pterosaurs? It’s there to see, for those who are open-minded enough to look.

Misidentification Possibilities With Pterosaurs

Perhaps the oldest misidentification suggestion, for reports of living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, has been “Flying Fox fruit bat.” It seems to satisfy reports of large featherless flying creatures in the southwest Pacific, but there are problems with “misidentified bat.”


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Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs and Ropens

The pterosaur suborder of Rhamphorhynchoidea, those long-tailed featherless flying creatures—they’re also called basal pterosaurs. For generations, many scientists have assumed that they became extinct, at least for most of their species, before the last of the Pterodactyloid pterosaurs dominated the skies, many millions of years ago. At least that has been the assumption.

In other words, according to orthodox evolutionary ideas, a typical species of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur either became extinct or it evolved into another form before the short-tailed pterosaurs became the dominant type, long ago. That line of thinking also includes the idea that all species, of both suborders, had become extinct by about 65 million years ago. All of those ideas, to me (Jonathan Whitcomb) and to my associates, are like fairy tales. Both of those suborders are still living, represented by at least a few species worldwide.

Modern Rhamphorhynchoids we call ropens. Two differences emerge with some of the modern versions of this featherless flying creature:

  1. Some ropens can be much larger than a typical fossil
  2. Some of them have a prominent horn-like head crest

Sighting in Wetlands of Central California in 1994

From a report in Cryptozoology News, we learn of an encounter in California in which a mother and daughter saw an apparent pterosaur, one with a long tail.

A few miles south of Sacramento, California, thousands of acres of the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge are managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. On a clear spring day in 1994, the two eyewitnesses there saw a flying creature, apparently featherless, with long thin tail and a “pterodactyl-like head.” They were sure that it was living, not a kite. It circled overhead and then departed the area in its flight.

The eyewitness who reported the sighting said, “It had a long neck, long head and long pointed beak area. It had a large wingspan, bigger than a blue heron. It was gliding very high up, with very little flapping movement of its wings.” That woman, who is a avid bird watcher, also said, “What we saw was neither a crane nor a heron. We saw a real living animal that was not familiar to us and looked like it was straight out of Jurassic Park.”

Scott Norman’s Sighting in Central California

According to the cryptozooogist Chad Arment, Scott Norman had reported to him a sighting of an apparent pterosaur one night in mid-2007 in Central California (much further to the south of Sacramento):

. . . this animal came gliding just over the [nearby] shed . . . [It] had an 8-10 foot wingspan, the wings were bat-like in shape . . . 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 . . .

The flying creature had a head crest that the eyewitness estimated was about two feet long. Norman did not see a tail that night, but he told Arment that another eyewitness had seen an apparent pterosaur in that area in daylight, and the other man reported a long tail.

Sighting in Southern California

Moving further south, the 1994 sighting in wetlands near Sacramento brings to mind another sighting in wetlands, this one in Orange County in 2007, over a hundred miles south of Scott Norman’s sighting but in the same year. It was just northwest of the University of California, Irvine.

From the nonfiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition), we read about this apparent ropen:

[The eyewitness] had no view of any feet and no good view of the head. He noticed that during the creature’s flight the tail was straight, as if it was “stretched out to be measured.” A flange, close to the end of the tail, he described as “triangle-shaped.”

The anonymous eyewitness saw the featherless creature fly just above Campus Drive, which separates two marshy areas, and the length of that road tells us about the size of the apparent ropen. The flying creature was about as long as the width of that road, which is thirty feet. Half of that thirty feet was the approximate length of the tail.


Gitmo Pterosaur sketched by eyewitness Patty Carson

Eyewitness sketch of a featherless flying creature seen in Cuba in 1965




Gitmo Rhamphorhynchoid

I have also learned that Carson, later in childhood or adolescence, was inquisitive and sharp and recognized one or more images of pterosaurs at the Smithsonian, when her father worked in Washington D.C.

Ropen Observed in Alberta, Canada

A family saw an apparent pterosaur flying over the city of Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) recently, and the flying creature appeared to have been a ropen.

Rhamphorhynchoid Suborder of Pterosaurs

Before scientists created words like Rhamphorhynchoid for long-tailed pterosaurs, common folk used the word dragon for large destructive creatures, including those with long tails and wings but no feathers.

Recent Ropen Sightings

I’m not positive about what [I] and my 16 year old son saw flying across a major road in Richmond, Virginia . . . Its wing span was massive! It looked to be about 10 feet across and its tail was long with a triangle point! We were so flabbergasted looking at it that I nearly crashed!

Long Tails of Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs

How common is a long tail on a modern pterosaur! Of the 128 more-credible sighting reports compiled at the end of 2012, 41% reported a long tail.

Universal Pterosaur Extinction?

To be plain, extinction has two meanings, or distinct usages, so beware of anyone—even a paleontologist—who uses the word in a general sense but with an air, and only an air, of sounding specific.

Strange Flying Creatures in the United States

When I led a brief expedition in Papua New Guinea in 2004, I had no idea that many Americans had encountered, in the forty-eight contiguous states of the USA, flying creatures like the ropen.


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Ropens in Western USA

According to Cryptozoology News (online), two eyewitnesses in Nevada recently saw a “reptilian-like bird” fly up and over their vehicle on Interstate-80 at 11:00 p.m., and the description of the flying creature included “long thin tail,” a head crest, and “a long and thin neck.” That sounds like a ropen.

That was a rare sighting report, that apparent pterosaur in Nevada, for the many sightings in the western United States, up until then, were in states like Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Idaho. Nevada and Colorado had been slighted by those flying creatures, apparently. Now only Colorado seems left out.

I can understand how some readers might think that the ropen flies only in the imagination of a few radical believers, only in the realm of cryptozoology. But most eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs in the United States had no interest in cryptids before their sightings. Their belief in the long-tailed featherless ropen ignited the moment they saw the flying creature with their own eyes.

Ropen in California

The following is part of an email I got in mid-December of 2012:

I would like to report seeing a very strange creature flying above. I saw it around 9 a.m. this morning today. It was a giant black bird of some types. I live very close to San Fernando and Fletcher [Los Angeles area] . . . after the rain settled I saw this big black bird figure fly over an electrical post. . . . It was just huge. A big beautiful thing. It had a long tail but it was a different color than what was reported. It was black… I think it was a pterosaur.

Ropen in Oregon

Searching for Ropens and Finding God (4th edition of the nonfiction) says:

In May of 2010, a man and his wife were driving, at mid-day, on the I-84, by the Columbia Gorge in Oregon, when something flew across the highway. The man reported, “It was pretty good size and the thing that really stood out was that it had a long tail and unusually shaped wings, different from a bird because they seemed to be more curved.”

” . . . it was brown and appeared to have no feathers.” After searching online, he concluded that it was a ropen.

Ropen in Washington State

From the book Live Pterosaurs in America (3rd edition) we read:

“I was 15 yrs old [when] I saw two ropens together sitting on a fence. I was riding my bike home from a friend’s house around 5 pm in [a town in southwest Washington state]. I lived in the country with my parents on a . . . ranch.

” . . . on a wood plank fence were two of the biggest bird-like creatures I could ever imagine! I almost crashed my bike! . . .

” . . . the first thing I noticed was their heads, then I thought this can’t be! Could they be dinosaurs? . . .

“[Their] heads [were] . . . maybe 4 ft long with the beak. . . . a brown body color that looked like hair . . . the wings looked like black rubber. . . .”



Recent Ropen Sightings

Virginia (2015)

West Virginia (2015)

Nicaragua (2009)

Louisiana (2014)

Modern Pterosaurs in North America

The name for this featherless flying creature in North America does not mean it needs to be the same species of pterosaur as the glowing ropen in Papua New Guinea.

“Dinosaur Bird” in Nevada

[The pterosaur was] grey in color and had a long and thin neck. Its head, says Davis, was also thin and pointy with a long beak. He remembers it had a “crest” on the top of its head.

Ropen, a Still-Living Pterosaur

Although this apparent extant pterosaur on  Umboi Island does not seem to be much of a  threat to humans, there have been reports, in  other areas of Papua New Guinea, of attacks  on natives.

Reasons to Believe Eyewitnesses of the Ropen

Not only natives of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, have seen the long-tailed ropen but Westerners like the American Duane Hodgkinson and two Australians in Perth.

Ropen Searching

What is this flying creature called “ropen?”  Countless eyewitnesses, in many countries  across the planet, have pondered what it  was they had seen.

Giant Ropen in Papua New Guinea

Gideon Koro, of Umboi Island, was one of seven boys who encountered the huge ropen one day as it flew over a crater lake: a terrifiying ordeal for Gideon.

The Ropen as a Rhamphorhynchoid

Ropen is the local name of a nocturnal creature on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea that glows while flying, and which is held by many cryptozoologists as a possible living pterosaur.

Live Pterosaurs in America

So in conclusion, what do I think of the book? It’s not polished, it’s not gripping at least in style (though the accounts are fascinating and Whitcomb makes some clever arguments) and it’s all way beyond my boggle threshold: I’m slightly more inclined to believe in live pterosaurs in the USA now than before I read it . . .


Cover of the third edition of "Live Pterosaurs in America" by Whitcomb

Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition) by Whitcomb

From a reader of the previous (second) edition of this nonfiction book:

“I  couldn’t put this book down. It is absolutely  fascinating to read about eyewitness accounts of  the people who have seen these creatures. To learn  about these testimonies from such an open minded  perspective is refreshing in the extreme! . . .  I  highly recommend this book to anyone! People  should know the truth about what is going on. . . .”


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Dinosaurs Dated to Thousands of Years Old

How do dinosaur bones relate to long-tailed ropens that are reported to fly in North America? The ropen appears to be a huge Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, notwithstanding those flying creatures were supposed to have all fallen to the ground many millions of years ago, and recent dating of dinosaur bones tell us that those huge creatures of the earth lived only thousands of years ago.

Both dinosaurs and pterosaurs have been assumed, by many Americans, to have lived only millions of years ago, with their fossils bones somehow evidence for their ancient existence. Carbon-dating of dinosaur bones has now shown that assumption is false. No C-14 should exist in the remains of something that lived millions of years ago. But results of testing are consistent: A number of types of dinosaurs have been dating to recent ages, even to less than 60,000 years in age. Pterosaurs living in our modern world now make sense, in light of recent dinosaurs.

Human experience and scientific testing cannot be dismissed out of personal distaste for the religious beliefs of the persons that are involved or are assumed to be involved in the sightings and in the radiocarbon testing.

Radiocarbon in Dinosaur and Other Fossils

That’s the title of a scientific paper by Brian Thomas and Vance Nelson, published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Volume 51, Number 4 (Spring of 2015). Here’s an excerpt from that article:

[page 303, after a paragraph on carbon-dating fossil wood]

Next, a whole hadrosaur caudal vertebra (ICR 021 Institute for Creation Research), minus its spinous process, was donated by Mr. Paul Koepp of Dallas, Texas. . . .

Abundant disarticulated hadrosaur and ceratopsian fossils occur on the Schmidt ranch, as at other Hell Creek Formation sites, mostly across Montana. . . .

The interior trabecular bone was plainly not infilled with sediment, and retains its in vivo spongy structure, albeit colored almost black . . . This fossil also yielded radiocarbon in amounts well within the detection threshold of the AMS technique at 20,850 +/- 90 BP for the interior trabecular portion, and 28,790 +/- 100 BP . . .


Carbon-14 dating of dinosaur fossils shows them to be only tens of thousands of years old (at most), and this is the only direct dating-measurements that have been done on such supposedly ancient bones. (Other radiometric dating methods had not been done directly on those fossils, and the interpretations depended on a number of assumptions.)

This is completely in harmony with the finding of soft tissue in T-Rex and other dinosaur bones. It also makes sense in light of the many sightings of pterosaurs that still fly overhead (though usually at night). Ropens are not extinct but still living.

Ridiculing a religious belief is no substitute for objective consideration of these many findings. And let the evidences be made known, not covered up.

Jonathan Whitcomb



Dinosaurs dated to be young

. . . dinosaur bone apatite had been successfully RC dated in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s and significant amounts of C-14 were detected and reported.

Neutron Capture in Carbon-Dated Dinosaur Bones?

Awkward Explanation for Carbon-14 Dated Dinosaurs

American Hammerhead Ropen

The American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb gave the name “American Hammerhead Ropen” to a type of apparent Rhamphorhynchoid that has been reported . . . to live in North America.

Pterosaur Sightings in the USA

Details are now available on ninety important sighting reports: apparent pterosaurs in the lower-48 states of the USA, with data compiled at the end of 2012.

Scientific Testing of Dinosaur Bones

“Not everybody embraces a dinosaur that is not yet completely decomposed.” . . . Carbon-14 methods cannot date anything older than a few tens of thousands of years old . . . Dating accuracy may be as high as 60,000 years, at best, but carbon-14 just does not last much longer.

Recent Sightings of Ropens

For the past eleven years, I (Jonathan Whitcomb) have interviewed eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs from various areas of the world. Many of those whom I have questioned report a flying creature resembling what my associates and I call ropens.

Dinosaur Bone Contains Radiocarbon

Scientists believing in deep time (i.e. millions of years) would not expect to find radiocarbon (C-14) in dinosaur bone. . . . they assume that the “terrible lizards” died out some 65 million years ago. . . . what happens if researchers actually test whether dinosaur fossils contain C-14? They find it.


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Big Flying Creature in Utah

A newspaper article was published in Salt Lake City, about a century ago, reporting a huge flying creature described as half-bird and half-reptile. How big was it? The image coming with that article showed a dragon flying off with a horse in its mouth. Where was that flying thing flying? Over Stansbury Island, which is in the Great Salt Lake of Utah.

Three children, including Devon Roberts and his brother Dallin, saw something huge flying overhead, at about 11 p.m., around the fall of 2001, something very unlike any bird. Devon estimated the flying creature had a wingspan of fifteen to twenty feet, although that estimate depends on his estimate of the distance. Where was that flying thing flying? Over Grantsville, which is just south of the Great Salt Lake.

Was it an over-imaginative newspaper reporter a century ago and three over-imaginative children fourteen years ago, with no relationship between the stories? Maybe . . . but maybe not. I suggest both stories may have had some truth, with more credibility for the recent sighting, for two of those three eyewitnesses (sighting around the fall of 2001) I myself interviewed face-to-face, and those two young men appeared perfectly credible to me. I also suggest the two young men did, in fact, observe a very large bioluminescent flying creature and the best candidate for that kind of animal is the ropen.

Devon videotaped during interviewDevon Roberts was interviewed, in 2015, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I recently interviewed Devon and Dallin Roberts, of St. George, Utah, concerning the flying creature they witnessed, when they were children, in the farming town of Grantsville. The point of this investigation of that encounter fourteen years ago is not to promote belief in a dragon that carried away a full-grown horse and flew over the Great Salt Lake a century ago, but to promote an open mind to the possibility that something much larger than any classified bird now flies over North America, including northern Utah.

Some of the sighting reports in the United States suggest the larger ones, the creatures that resemble pterosaurs, may be able to lift much more weight than eagles or owls can, for the wingspans of the apparent ropens are much greater. But let’s now concentrate on the sighting in Grantsville.

Sighting in Grantsville, Utah

Twelve-year-old Dallin was the first of the three boys to see the strange thing that was flying overhead that night. None of those boys could see it well enough to say it was a half-bird and half-reptile, as an earlier generation may (or may not) have seen in that area of Utah, for the more-recent encounter was late at night. How did they see the creature? It was glowing, although the light went off and on over a period of minutes.

At first, Devon thought his brother was playing a joke. Dallin was telling him there was a huge bird that was “on fire” and then it disappeared. Sure! But then Devon saw the glowing creature. It was no joke but real, seeming to disappear when the glow stopped.

So how could the recent sighting relate to the old story of a horse-carrying dragon-like thing? When the flying creature in 2001 turned on its glow, the farm animals under its flight path “started going berserk” (words of Devon Roberts). Those animals felt threatened, even if the flying creature was not large enough to carry away a horse.

Perhaps the old report included an exaggeration and a false detail about a horse, but that does not mean that all aspects of that old newspaper story were only fictional. Regardless of how truthful that horse-eating story was, the three boys in Grantsville, in 2001, saw something other eyewitnesses have seen in North Ameria: a strange flying creature that glows when it flies at night, an animal much bigger than any bird in a science textbook.



Ropen Bioluminescence in Utah

Three boys were playing at night on a playground in the farming community of Grantsville, Utah, around the fall of 2001, when they were shocked at the appearance of a large glowing creature that flew overhead.

Van Meter Flying Creature

If the town of Van Meter, Iowa, stood alone with a series of sightings in the early 20th century, what about recent sightings? What about reported encounters with pterosaur-like animals in recent times, in the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Missouri? I doubt that Van Meter really stands alone.

Author in Utah Reports Flying Creatures

Do you believe in the possibility that long-tailed featherless flying creatures, much larger than any fruit bat, live in the jungles of Papua New Guinea? Your belief depends a great deal on where you lived your childhood: in a village like Gomlongon on Umboi Island or in a western country like the United States.

Are Modern Pterosaurs Bioluminescent?

I suggest, to anyone who would attempt to explain pterosaur bioluminescence to a skeptic, that we begin with reports of large flying creatures known to some of the natives of Papua New Guinea, creatures that glow as they fly.

Bioluminescence in Pterosaurs

I interviewed Paul Nation in his home in Texas, soon after he had returned to the United States  from his late-2006 expedition in Papua New Guinea. . . . Jacob Kepas, his interpreter, was able to climb up a cliff where he and a local native saw what  appeared to be a giant winged creature sleeping on another cliff.

Ropen Pterosaur

The word “ropen” comes from Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea,  where in the local language of Kovai it refers to a large nocturnal flying creature that  briefly, on occasion on some nights, glows brightly.


Live Pterosaurs in America - third edition

Nonfiction paperback: Live Pterosaurs in America – by J. D. Whitcomb

From a reader in Wisconsin:

“. . . there is something here for everyone . . . Once you  start to reading it you won’t want to put it down . . .  amazing and awe inspiring . . . Out of five stars, I’ll give  it all five.” (From Isaac Elekom)


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Recent Ropen Sightings

For the past eleven years, I (Jonathan Whitcomb) have interviewed eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs from various areas of the world. Many of those whom I have questioned report a flying creature resembling what my associates and I call ropens.

Let’s consider some of the recent reports that have come in.

West Virginia, 2015 (apparent bioluminescence)

An eyewitness sent me an email about a sighting he had early on May 18, 2015, near Blue Lick Road, in Harrison County, West Virginia.

. . . this past Monday morning around 4ish we seen what appeared to [be] a ufo but then we realized it was alive. It had wings [and] was glowing green, extremely bright. It flew maybe 150 to 200 ft above us . . .

It had a tail . . . the wings are in a pyramid shape, I’m talking about both wings as it glided over us, from the head to where they went in the body, from the top of the wings, meaning the head, down to the body was like a pyramid. The whole body was glowing . . .

Nicaragua, about 2009

I found your web page and would like to share with you a sighting of a bird that happened more than 5 years ago. It was a rainy day and for some reason from the patio deck I looked up and saw the only bird flying. I can recall its shape as a big M with long neck and tail. I called my wife and she also was amazed for the looks of the animal. Even though it was high in the sky, it seemed to be big and featherless.

Louisiana, 2014

I seen one for myself. Last year, living in Metairie (suburbs of
New Orleans, LA), while at a friends BBQ. . . . I am CERTAIN of what I saw. The beasts size was as big as a small plane. It circled around my area a couple of times . . . I also noticed the slick skin . . . This was no silent drone glider plane. I know what I saw and one friend saw it too.

Virginia, 2015

I’m not positive about what [I] and my 16 year old son saw flying across a major road in Richmond, VA, a couple of days ago at dusk. What I do know is, it was something we have never saw before. Its wing span was massive! It looked to be about 10 feet across and its tail was long with a triangle point! We were so flabbergasted looking at it that I nearly crashed!


Gitmo Pterosaur sketched by eyewitness Patty Carson

Ropen sketched by the eyewitness Patty Carson (sighting in Cuba, circa 1965)



Ropen of Papua New Guinea

. . . an alleged relict pterosaur that has been reported from the jungles . . .  a large, featherless flying creature with a long tail. It is reported to glow at night, in a way suggesting the animal controls the light . . .

Ropen Attacks

Suddenly, we heard screams . . . We looked up the field at the girls and the ones farthest away from us were pointing into the overhead fog bank and screaming. Then the girls below them started screaming and pointing into the fog. . . .

What is a Ropen? A Pterosaur?

Before you dismiss the concept of a  modern pterosaur (in particular, of a long-tailed  featherless Rhamphorhynchoid), consider the many  eyewitness testimonies of those flying creatures. . . . We have reports of modern pterosaurs in other  parts of the world including the United States:  California, Washington State, Oregon, Arizona,  Utah, Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states.

The ropen is not a bat

Up until the late 20th Century, the flying fox explanation was used to dismiss reports of large flying  creatures in Papua New Guinea, nocturnal creatures that some people called pterodactyls.

Ropen Expeditions

In addition, the two ropen expeditions of 2004 brought to light the long tail of this huge flying creature. The native Gideon Koro told the American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb that the creature that he and his six friends saw had a tail that was seven meters long (twenty-three feet).


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Non-Ropen Pterosaur Sighting in Papua New Guinea

Two Americans returned home to the Portland area of Oregon on Saturday, April 18, 2015, after having searched for a living pterosaur in Papua New Guinea for several weeks. No photograph or video footage was obtained but they did see an apparent pterosaur in daylight. This was the eleventh pterosaur expedition in which Americans were heavily involved in Papua New Guinea over the past twenty-two years. It was the first such expedition in which an American visitor witnessed an apparent pterosaur in daylight.

Pterdanodon-like pterosaur

Pteranodon-like Pterodactyloid pterosaur

Not a Ropen but a Possible Pterodactyloid

At the time of the sighting, one or more natives caught the attention of the two Americans as the large creature flew overhead. One of the Americans had forgotten where he had put his camera, and the other tried to videotape the apparent Pterodactyloid pterosaur but in the excitement missed pointing the camera in precisely the right direction, which was to some extent towards the sun. (Neither American is a professional wildlife photographer.) Yet both men did see the form and features of the flying creature, and both of them got the impression that is was a pterosaur.

It appeared to be short-tailed, however, and so it was unlike the long-tailed ropen that appears to be more common in Papua New Guinea. Is this Pterodactyloid-type also bioluminescent? We don’t yet know, for the new sighting, during this expedition in March and April of 2015, was in daylight.

Although the sighting was hardly a scientific proof of the existence of modern pterosaurs, we can learn from the experience. Let’s begin by going over who these men are: Peter Beach and Milt Marcy.

Two pterosaur searchers in Washington state

Milt Marcy (left) and Peter Beach, by the Yakima River, state of Washington

Dinosaur Search in Africa

According to Wikipedia:

In January 2006, the Milt Marcy Expedition traveled to the Dja river in Cameroon, near the Congolese border. It consisted of Milt Marcy, Peter Beach, Rob Mullin and Pierre Sima. They spoke to witnesses that claimed to have observed a Mokèlé-mbèmbé only two days before, but they did not discover the animal themselves. However, they did return with what they believe to be a plaster cast of a Mokèlé-mbèmbé footprint.

That was one of many expeditions in central Africa, over many years, by various Western explorers, in search of a non-extinct Sauropod dinosaur. A few of those American dinosaur “hunters” have also searched for living pterosaurs, including David Woetzel.

I specialize in modern pterosaurs, not modern dinosaurs, but I did interview Marcy and Beach in August of 2014, on the banks of the Yakima River in Washington state.

Bioluminescent Pterosaurs in Northwestern USA

Glowing nocturnal flying creatures in Washington state may appear irrelevant to sightings of apparent pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, but Milt Marcy and Peter Beach have searched for them in both locations. We can learn at least one thing from that.

I found these two men quite credible, as I interviewed them in August of 2014, by the river where they had witnessed strange flying lights at night. They admitted that they were unable to see anything like a pterosaur in daylight, and almost all of their night sightings were only of the flying lights.

Some weeks after our interview, Marcy and Beach witnessed similar flying lights but over a different river in that northwestern area of the USA. Again they saw no form or features of a pterosaur. That brings up an important point.

Honesty in Searching for Living Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs

Is it possible that Milt Marcy and Peter Beach were dishonest when they returned from their African expedition in 2006, when they admitted that they had seen nothing like any dinosaur? How easy for a liar to make up a story, if a dishonest man were to go to some remote area of the planet where his lie could hide in the dark! How unbelievable that two men would try to deceive the world into believing in modern dinosaurs, when those two would spend their own money on an expedition and afterwards admit that they had seen nothing like a dinosaur!

Why did those two men tell me nothing about any sighting of an apparent pterosaur that they had seen in daylight at a river in the northwestern USA? They had no such sighting and were honest.

So why would Mr. Marcy tell me about an apparent pterosaur he had observed early in 2015 in Papua New Guinea, admitting that he was not 100% sure it was a pterosaur? He was still being honest.

And why would Mr. Beach hesitate when I asked him how sure he was that he had observed a pterosaur with Mr. Marcy in Papua New Guinea? He was trying to think of something else that it could have been. He was thinking of different birds and bats that may have presented the appearance of what he had seen that day with his friend Milt. He was being honest.

Peter Beach was once a biology professor at a small college. He is well aware that a human with a bias can observe something and misidentify it because of that bias. I give him credit for being careful about assuming that he and Milt must have seen a pterosaur. Both of these men have shown us honesty in their investigations.

So was it a Pterosaur?

I have spoken with both of them by phone this past week. I feel that the three of us agree that it is more than 50% likely that it was a living pterosaur they had observed in Papua New Guinea. So where does that leave us?

At the end of 2012, I compiled data from 128 of the more-credible sighting reports that I had received over many years. Each one of those 128 appeared to me to have been more than 50% likely to have been from an encounter with a living pterosaur. What does that mean? To those who understand probability, it means that if my assessment of each of those 128 reports was anywhere near the mark, it is practically impossible for all of those reports to have come from non-pterosaurs: Not all pterosaurs are extinct.

Who am I do declare myself objective enough to make such a proclamation? I have spent the past eleven years researching and searching for living pterosaurs, although most of the searching was for truth within eyewitness reports rather than for the creatures themselves. I appear to have written more on this subject than all other cryptozoologists in the world combined, in nonfiction books and web pages and blog posts, which does not in itself prove the validity of my ideas, proving only that I am serious. In 2004, I returned from an expedition in Papua New Guinea, admitting that I had seen nothing like a pterosaur. In 2013, I finished examining 14,333 game-camera photos of a location where such a flying creature had been reported, and I admitted seeing nothing like a pterosaur. By early 2015, I had received eyewitness reports from five continents of this planet, not rumors or second-hand reports but the words of the witnesses, from those persons themselves. As of April 24, 2015, I have never myself seen anything like a living pterosaur. In other words I am honest. To the point, honesty is the first step and the biggest step to objectiveness.



Pterosaur Sighting in Papua New Guinea Early in 2015

Peter Beach and Milt Marcy, both of the Portland area of Oregon, led an expedition in Papua New Guinea, in March and April of 2015, searching for a living pterosaur that previous American explorers had failed to see clearly. This time Americans did see, in daylight, the form and features of an apparent pterosaur.

Investigators of Reports of Living Pterosaurs

Garth Guessman, David Woetzel, Paul Nation, Jonathan Whitcomb—each of these four American men has explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for a living pterosaur.

Flying Pterosaur Creature

The problem is not in the eyewitnesses but in the indoctrination, over generations, that all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs must have become extinct millions of years ago. That’s the problem.

Sightings of Flying Creatures

[In] July of 2010, My wife and I were sitting outside when motion from above the tree tops to our left caught my attention; it’s very hard to explain how I felt at that moment. We were looking at two extremely large birds flying together and heading north . . . I can only guess to be 15-20′ wing spans and the motion of their wings as they flew was very slow.

Can Ropens Hide in Caves?

Last month, I learned about multi-eyewitness sightings of flying lights in the northwestern United States, lights that the observers believe are bioluminescent pterosaurs, possibly ropens. Its seems these lights fly over at least two rivers in this part of the country and near one particular river the lights enter and exit nearby caves.

Bioluminescent Pterosaurs in Washington State

The flying creatures are nocturnal, not usually seen there in daylight . . . I emphasize that sightings of apparent living pterosaurs are throughout the states of Washington and Oregon . . . We were unable to get a picture but we saw many . . . flashing lights. I would have assumed that [they] were fireflies but we [don’t] have them in Washington.


Live Pterosaurs in America - third edition

Probably the best-selling nonfiction book on modern “pterodactyls” – Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition) by the cryptozoologist Jonathan David Whitcomb

From the Amazon page:

Reports of huge flying “pterodactyls” in American skies have floated around the internet for years; but before about 2005, details were scarce. . . .  Universal pterosaur extinction has been an assumption; some pterosaur species are still living. The author, one of those American explorers who interviewed natives in Papua New Guinea, has been interviewing American eyewitnesses since 2004.


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The Van Meter Flying Creature

Yesterday I noticed a post by a skeptic who wrote about the legend of the Van Meter creature of 1903, a reportedly winged monster that frightened citizens in a small town in Iowa. (Actually, it appears there was more than one of the creatures.) I will not mention the pen name of the skeptic here, but she had previously written about me, assuming that I had been deceiving people about the ropen or living pterosaurs. She grouped me with those whom she proclaims are “deceiving people to undermine science.”

So perhaps I am not without bias when I first encounter any post by this woman, but I took notice that she again attacked the possibility of a modern pterosaur. Let’s look deeper than this outspoken skeptic appears to have looked. We’ll consider how bioluminescence might explain the strange reports from a century ago.

If the town of Van Meter, Iowa, stood alone with a series of sightings in the early 20th century, what about recent sightings? What about reported encounters with pterosaur-like animals in recent times, in the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Missouri? I doubt that Van Meter really stands alone.

Please consider what I wrote on page 31 of the third edition of my nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America:

Later I received an email from a man in Wisconsin.

” . . . wanted to tell someone about a sighting I had back in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. I grew up on a farm and picked cucumbers to make money as a kid. All of my sisters and brother did also. Anyways one late afternoon, I had just brought out the tractor to pick up the bags of cucumbers when I noticed a strange looking bird in the sky. . . . it looked like something straight out of the dinosaurs era. It scared the . . . out of me right away. I knew it was not a sand hill crane, which we have a few hundred migrating thru. What stood out was the long pointed head and the fact that there was a very long tail between the legs and with a ball shaped on the end of it. . . .”

On page 228 of the fourth edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God, I wrote about a sighting in Missouri:

On the afternoon of January 2, 2013, a U.S. Marine, who is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, saw something strange overhead. He told me, “I could not believe my eyes. It appeared to be several feet long, and had a very large wing span, perhaps 10 feet or more. It was gliding for the most part . . .”

It had a long head with a “cone protruding from behind its head.” He also told me it had “a very long tail with what I can only describe as a diamond shape at the end.”

In spite of the protest of one skeptic, the Van Meter flying creatures may have been nocturnal pterosaurs, related to others that have been reported more recently across the United States. If it’s not the same species, it may still be related, and bioluminescence may be the correct explanation for its glow.



Bioluminescent Flying Creatures in America

“It was late in the evening almost dark . . . I was walking from my car to my house [in Sun Valley] and something in the sky caught my eye. My girlfriend also looked up and right away said is that a bat . . . What caught my eye was the bright radiation like light coming from the belly of this Pterodactyl looking animal . . .”

Van Meter Creature

“The Van Meter Visitor” is a large paperback with 238 pages, on a subject whose main points could easily be summed up in a medium-length article, if no photos or sketches were included. This book has a generous selection of photos and other images, many of which are directly or indirectly related to the winged creature.

Van Meter Visitor – The Book

I don’t recommend The Van Meter Visitor for those who are ignorant of live-pterosaur investigations, for this book may keep those readers ignorant of the best explanation for the strange winged creature seen in Van Meter, Iowa, in 1903. But this book may nevertheless be useful for the reader open to the possibility that the authors of this paranormal book are themselves ignorant of the plausibility of live pterosaurs.


Book by Whitcomb: Searching for Ropens and Finding GodFourth edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God

From the back cover:

“Settle into a comfortable chair and prepare for what may become the most unsettling scientific discovery since Copernicus and Galileo.”


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