Ropen – a Living Pterosaur

By nonfiction cryptozoology author Jonathan David Whitcomb

Why is this post, about eyewitness accounts of apparent living pterosaurs, published on a chess blog? There is no connection between the Dragon variation of the Sicilian chess opening and legends of large flying dragons except with one thing: the word dragon. I’m using all the online resources available to me, for I am determined to publish what I have discovered in a narrow field of cryptozoology. Yet there’s more.

Success in Chess Competition and Clear Thinking in General

I believe that the kind of thinking that results in winning many chess games may be partially translated into clear thinking in other areas. I don’t mean that it happens automatically, not at all, for I am aware of serious thinking problems in two of the world’s greatest grandmasters of their time. Away from the chess board they both showed signs of serious defects in their thought processes. And yet I believe that it is possible for a chess player to use some of his or her clear thinking over the board, translating it into something useful in another field.

Can a Species of Pterosaur be Non-Extinct?

Even some of the most skeptical critics who insist that all pterosaurs became extinct many millions of years ago—those skeptics can end their remarks with something similar to this:

Even if a species of pterosaur is found to be still alive, it would not disprove standard models of evolution.

I would frame it this way:

Even if my associates and I prove that not all pterosaurs are extinct, our critics’ ideas about evolution are correct and our ideas about evolution are incorrect.

The critics of our investigations may never make a statement that is close to the above, but from the many years that I have been involved in this field of cryptozoology, the second of the above statements appears to me to be close to what the critics are thinking.

Why do I express my opinion about what my opponents are thinking? It’s common, with a paleontologist or other skeptic, for the critic to write more sentences that ridicule the religious beliefs of me and my associates than to write about fossils. In fact, one paleontologist wrote a long post that was extremely negative about me, and yet you will find not one mention of the word “fossil” in his post.

My associates and I do have one thing in common with critics who insist that we are completely wrong about some pterosaurs being still alive: We all believe that it’s at least possible that some pterosaurs are still alive.

What is a Ropen?

I began my investigation of reports of apparent living pterosaurs in 2003, putting over 10,000 hours into it over the past 13 years. At the end of 2012, I compiled data from 128 of the more-credible sighting reports, and then I analyzed the results.

The great majority of sighting involve a featherless flying creature with a long tail. In fact the ratio is about twenty-to-one in favor of long tailed ones: 41% report the presence of a long tail; 2% report the absence of a long tail.

An eyewitness may not have a clear view of the head of a flying creature, at least not a clear-enough view to notice the presence or absence of a head crest. Nevertheless, of those 128 compiled reports, 24% reported the presence of a head crest and only 3½% reported its absence. That’s a seven-to-one ratio, suggesting many of the rest of the sightings may also have been of a flying creature with a head crest.

ropen-pterosaur - Patty Carson drew this sketch

An eyewitness sketched what she saw in Cuba

With that said, the main distinguishing characteristic that causes an apparent living pterosaur to be called “ropen” is the long tail, especially if it has a structure at tail end that suggests a Rhamphorhynchoid tail flange.


I am not proclaiming that all 128 of those sighting reports were from encounters with modern pterosaurs. But with so many similarities in the descriptions given by eyewitnesses from various cultures, various languages, and various philosophies, I find it practically impossible that none of those 128 sightings were from a modern pterosaur. The descriptions differ too greatly from the appearances of birds and bats and they coincide too closely with a pterosaur.

By the way, statistical analysis of those 128 reports makes it clear that no significant portion of those sightings could have come from hoaxes. But that deserves a separate post.




front cover of the paperback cryptozoology book on pterosaursCryptozoology book on modern pterosaurs (nonfiction, paperback)

Cryptozoology book on ropens and other modern pterosaurs

Reader comments from the fourth edition (in part):

“If you’re interested in cryptozoology and wonder if dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures exist today, this is an excellent book for you to read. I found it to be a fascinating read. I’m hoping that in the future the researchers would be able to photograph this amazing creature and post these photos for the whole world to see.” [five stars]

“Astonishing! A memoir of extended research concerning ropens (pterosaurs), beginning with testimonies and videos of strange nocturnal lights in Papau New Guinea, and continuing with eyewitness accounts in other regions, including in the United States.” [five stars]


Pterosaur Cryptozoology Books

Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition)

Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition)

Introduction to Living Pterosaurs

A thirteen-minute mini-documentary on eyewitness accounts of modern pterosaurs, including the long-tailed ropen

Living Pterosaur

An eyewitness of a long-tailed living pterosaur on the island of Bougainville, New Guinea, in 1971, Mr. Brian Hennessy, who is originally from Australia, is not crazy. In fact, Hennessy is a psychologist.

The Ropen of Umboi Island (and elsewhere)

[in 2004] “I left the Gomlongon Village . . . with my interpreter and some local guides. We arrived at Akure Village . . . I waited [for] Gideon. [While videotaping him, I asked] about his experience [with] the giant ropen about ten years earlier. . . .”


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