One little post cannot do justice to all the cryptozoological evidence for the bioluminescence of at least some species of pterosaur that still live on this wonderful planet of life. Non-extinct glow-in-the-dark pterodactyls? With too much evidence to fit into one blog post? And am I, Jonathan Whitcomb, declaring that more than one species of pterosaur is now living? Precisely.

If we had space here, we could get into how we know this bioluminescence is intrinsic (rather than a glow beyond the control of the animal possessing it). Ropen bioluminescence is under at least some control, and the large flying creature that glows as it flies over Umboi Island, in Papua New Guinea, appears to decide when to turn on that glow. It lasts for only a few seconds and appears, in this particular species, to never vary in that length of a flash: five to six seconds.

Since we have room for only an introduction, we’ll begin with the ropen of the southwest Pacific. We’ll then touch on three related subjects:

  • Marfa Lights
  • “Fire-breathing” dragons
  • Fiery flying serpent (Bible)

Ropen of Papua New Guinea

The following is a videotaped interview I had with an old man in Opai Village, Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2004, during my expedition on that tropical island:

Michael, a native of Opai Village, tells Whitcomb about a grave robbery

From this testimony, it seems that a large bioluminescent scavenger lives on Umboi Island. Yet by itself this interview I had with this old native does not appear sufficient to convince many Western skeptics that the ropen is a gigantic bioluminescent pterosaur. After all, Michael did not see any wings on the animal but only a light associated with a grave robbery. We need to dig deeper.

I led the first of the two Umboi Island ropen expeditions of 2004. The majority of the natives I interviewed had seen only a flying light, not any form or features of the ropen. So why think that the flying light seen over this tropical island on some nights is a modern pterosaur? It’s not just the traditions about this flying creature. Some islanders have seen the shape and features of this animal.

A few eyewitnesses have seen the ropen at a closer range, including four natives whom I interviewed a few days before I finished my expedition on Umboi Island. I was delighted to return to the mainland of Papua New Guinea with videotaped interviews of three islanders who had seen the ropen clearly in daylight. I had no doubt that it was a large living pterosaur.

So what is the connection between a flying creature that appears to be, in daylight, a pterosaur and a flying light after sunset? A few eyewitnesses have seen both the glow and the pterosaur shape. Let’s consider the testimonies of two Umboi Island eyewitnesses: Jonah Jim and Jonathan Ragu.

Both of these men had witnessed a flying ropen, although the sightings were in different years (2001 and 2004) and in different parts of Umboi Island. Both Jonah Jim and Jonathan Ragu chose the Sordes pilosus when given a choice of dozens of silhouettes of birds, bats, and pterosaurs to choose from. Both men saw the shape and features of the ropen and also a glow coming from the animal’s body. These two sightings connect the flying light with an apparent pterosaur.

Marfa Lights in Texas

Not all mysterious lights appearing near Marfa, Texas, are car headlights on a highway. A few times each year the strangest lights appear, although they stay for only about one or two nights at a time. Why do they not generally appear for three or more nights in a row? After all, they keep coming back every few weeks throughout the year. They behave in a way strongly suggesting they are a group of bioluminescent flying predators and intelligent ones at that.

They hunt whatever they hunt in an area of desert at night for a night or two and then move on to another area of Texas or south to Mexico. The evidence is circumstantial—I’ve never heard of anyone catching one of the creatures—but nevertheless it is broad and deep, this circumstantial evidence.

By the way, many of the sightings of living pterosaurs in the United States are in Texas, and a small portion of those reports include descriptions of a glow coming from the flying creatures.

Fire-Breathing Dragons

Those cryptozoologists who have long studied eyewitness accounts of living pterosaurs—they generally believe that some of the old legends of fire-breathing dragons come from, or are inspired by, sightings of large bioluminescent pterosaurs in early human history.

Fiery Flying Serpent

We also believe that Old Testament references to fiery flying serpents are accounts of human interaction (however unpleasant) with long-tailed (Rhamphorhynchoid) pterosaurs that are bioluminescent.

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Gitmo Pterosaur of Cuba - eyewitness and artist Patty Carson

The “Gitmo pterosaur” of eastern Cuba (sketch by an eyewitness)

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Glowing pterosaurs may attack farm animals

At around 10:30-11:30 p.m., the nearby farm animals became greatly disturbed, making alarming sounds, as if they were in danger. . . . That was about the time that 12-year-old Dallin Roberts saw something very strange in the sky. . . . He soon realized that it was a flying creature. Two things struck him as very odd, however: the enormous size and the glowing body of the flying animal.

Modern pterosaurs and the ropen

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have received reports directly from eyewitnesses who report encountering living pterosaurs on five continents . . .

Long Tail of the Ropen

The Fiery Flying Serpent of the Bible may have been a long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid [a “basal” pterosaur], related to the modern-day ropen.

Bioluminescent flying predators in Texas

“Reports of unusual lights east of Marfa extend back to the 1800s. . . . the author finds that while most of the observed lights in this area can be explained, about 3 percent are truly mysterious and of unknown origin.”

Live pterosaur book review

A number of the sightings suggest bioluminescence. I really did not expect that. Glow in the dark pterosaurs in the USA? It just gets weirder.

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Nonfiction book on modern pterosaurs

Please support this investigation by purchasing your own copy of the nonfiction cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition). Thank you.

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Flying Creatures Attack Farm Animals

On April 12, 2016, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Winston Churchill said, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” although he may have borrowed the idea from George Santayana (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The concept is not restricted to famous events in history. Farmers often learn from experience, and large flying creatures that are said to have attacked domesticated animals in previous centuries might return to attack farm animals in the present. That deserves attention.

From the book Dark Highway

Much of the paranormal book Dark Highway, by Dan Kenyon, seems to be about UFOs and ghosts, although lake monsters and Bigfoot have been thrown in. The subtitle is “Utah’s Strange Tales,” and some of the stories are indeed strange.

Here is the contents page:

Contents of "Dark Highway" by Dan Kenyon

Table of Contents in the paranormal book Dark Highway

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The chapter on dragons appears, at first glance, to be more about monsters that swim than monsters that fly. Chapter five, however, is about cryptids, and here is where a dragon flies into view.

On page 48, it tells of a large black figure sitting on a rock, witnessed by a father and son who had been watching for deer. (The sighting was reportedly in the “Mahogany area” of Utah, wherever that may be.) But what was supposed to have been a black bear suddenly stretched out a pair of wings and flew up into the air. The man estimated the wingspan: around fourteen feet. When the creature was on the ground, it appeared to have been four to five feet tall. Nothing was mentioned about any tail, but the dark color and big wingspan bring to mind the ropen.

Yet a full reading of the fourth chapter of the book reveals a sighting that is far more astonishing, so shocking that many readers may dismiss the report as a complete fabrication. I believe the author got the story from an old newspaper article, so let’s look at a small part of that:

Prehistoric Monster

Half Bird and Half Reptile Carries Away Live Horses

A terrible, nameless, unclassified creature of the animal world is exciting the curiosity, wonder, and fear of occasional visitors to Stansbury Island, in the southern portion of Great Salt Lake.

This monster, for it can be called nothing else, has lately, is it said, been seen by several persons, but the best account [of] its characteristics and movements is given by Martin Gilbert and John Barry, two hunters who this week returned from an expedition over the island, in the course of which they studied the habits of this hitherto unheard-of-creature for three days.

. . . In size it is simply tremendous . . .

Its wings were bat-like . . .

. . . we saw that it carried in its great jaws a large horse . . . badly crushed and mangled. . . .

"Prehistoric Monster" newspaper article of 1903: the Pittsburgh Press

From a newspaper article in the Pittsburgh Press, September 3, 1903

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I’m not suggesting that this old newspaper story is an accurate account, but in light of a more recent sighting of a flying creature, a few miles south of this island, perhaps the old story did not come entirely from an imaginative invention in the mind of a bored newspaper professional. It now seems that the old tale may have originated from a real encounter with a flying creature in this area of Utah. Whether or not it is the same species as the animal seen in the “Mahogany area” of Utah is a matter of speculation, but something strange has been flying over this area south of the Great Salt Lake.

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Photo by Andrey Zharkikh

A large hill on Stansbury Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah (Flickr photo courtesy of Andrey Zharkikh)

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Sighting Eight Miles South of Stansbury Island, Utah

Almost a century after the above extraordinary report, three boys were playing in a yard one night, in the farming community of Grantsville, Utah, about eight miles from the southern end of Stansbury Island. At around 10:30-11:30 p.m., the nearby farm animals became greatly disturbed, making alarming sounds, as if they were in danger.

That was about the time that 12-year-old Dallin Roberts saw something very strange in the sky. At first, he could not understand what he was observing. He soon realized that it was a flying creature. Two things struck him as very odd, however: the enormous size and the glowing body of the flying animal.

The other two boys soon got a look at the flying creature, and all three of the boys were astonished. The light coming from the flying creature did not always remain on. I turned off for a short while, but it soon turned on again, revealing that the creature had flown up much higher into the night sky, while the light had been off. It was a dark night, so the boys could not see the strange creature except when it was glowing.

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Potential Attacks on Domesticated Animals, by Ropens

I recently got a question from a member of a Facebook group: “Living Pterosaurs of the World.” It was in response to a Youtube video of two interviews I had with eyewitnesses last year. These two young men testified that the local farm animals went “crazy” with fright, making a lot of noise, when a very large glowing flying creature flew overhead one night.

Ropen Eyewitnesses

Do pterosaurs still live? In the 21st Century? Don’t rush to any conclusion; get the facts, then judge credibility. . . . Soon after interviewing Gideon [a native eyewitness on Umboi Island in Papua New Guinea], I learned that two of the other witnesses were present with us. Wesley is a brother to Gideon and answered my questions without hesitating. . . . We also need to realize that the islander-eyewitnesses who answered our questions, did not repeat the legends of the ropen. They simply answer our questions as to what they saw.

Ropen Attack in the Dead of Winter

What could be worse than any nightmare? In the dead of night, you are awakened by what you fear most, glaring down at you. . . . Race out of your bedroom; it’s after you. Race out the front door; it follows. Search for a place to hide; it’s too late. You are exposed, surrounded by many monsters ready to feast. You have fallen into their trap. Your family is scattered, chased across the freezing countryside. You are alone. You are Eptesicus fuscus, a Big Brown Bat.

The Giant Ropen

From the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America (Acknowledgements section) Whitcomb says: “To the eyewitnesses who’ve bravely come forward, telling us of apparent living pterosaurs, I dedicate this book. They deserve to be heard.”

Pterosaur Flying Creatures

So who do you call? I hope you’ll contact me, Jonathan Whitcomb. As far as I know, I am the only person on earth who has devoted anything like a full-time effort, over years, to interview eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs or ropens, promoting the idea that these flying creatures are not extinct but very much alive.

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A 38-year-old woman in a residential neighborhood of Lakewood, California, just northeast of Long Beach, reported a “dragon-pterodactyl” that had no feathers but a long tail with a “dragon” “triangle” at the of that tail. She sent me an email, within hours of her sighting on June 19, 2012, and described her encounter:

“[At 11:45 a.m., I was] sitting under my gazebo playing on my computer in Lakewood, CA. My dog started going crazy barking and whining . . . I got up after 30 seconds or so . . . I walked out from under the awning and lost my breath when I saw this huge dragon pteradactal looking thing. I scared it because when he saw me he jumped off the telephone wires and when he opened his huge wings . . . I watched him fly across to a large tree and go inside [the canopy of that tree].”

Except for its size, this flying creature resembles the ropen seen flying into the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Orange County, California, in 2007. That flying creature flew only a little above the road on the west side of that nature center and the creature was the same length, nose-to-tail-end, as that road: thirty feet.

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storm channel in Lakewood, California, near where a ropen perched in 2012

The storm channel near where the ropen was perched on June 19, 2012

Baby Pterodactyl in Lakewood, California?

For Lakewood residents, don’t leave your Chihuahua overnight in the backyard, at least not if your backyard is bordered by a storm channel. . . . When she was gazing at the creature, she felt like running into the house from fear, but her curiosity kept her rooted to where she was standing . . .

Nocturnal Ropen Appears in Daylight in Southern California

. . . she and her husband were interviewed by the cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb. She estimated the wingspan at five and a half feet. Whitcomb realized that she could not have seen a Frigate bird, sometimes mistaken for a pterosaur, for the lady described a long neck and a “triangle on his tail, like a dragon.”

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The “dragon” sighting in Switzerland, by Christopher Schorerum, may be related to modern sightings of certain flying lights. I mentioned this in the second edition of Live Pterosaurs in America:

Woetzel’s paper includes an account . . . the eyewitness was Christopher Schorerum:
“On a warm summer night in 1619 . . . I saw a shining dragon of great size in front of Mt. Pilatus [Switzerland] . . . [flying] rapidly . . . with a long tail, a long neck, a reptile’s head . . . [the creature] scatters sparks.”

Of course nobody has a scientific test to verify that Christopher Schorerum saw a large flying creature that was glowing over central Switzerland. But we do have eyewitnesses in modern times, many ordinary persons from various countries, of various cultures, believing in various religious traditions, and speaking various languages. The descriptions they have given me, however, descriptions of flying creatures that Western traditional teachings proclaim are long extinct—those are not nearly so varied. And some of the descriptions of flying lights may be related to what was seen by Christopher Schorerum.

Jacob Kepas, native of Papua New Guinea and a Baptist minister, has helped several America cryptozoologists in exploring on the mainland and on Umboi Island; they interviewed many eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs. When he was about twelve years old, he himself saw a seklo-bali, as it flew overhead one night, in his village on the mainland of Papua New Guinea, near Wau. In a videotaped interview in the city of Lae, late in 2004, he described to Garth Guessman and Mary Blume the sparkles that fell from the flying creature as it flew over Jacob’s village. It may have been similar to the falling “sparkles” that Christopher Schorerum had seen three centuries earlier.

Many oceanic organisms use bioluminescence, and a few non-equatic organisms do as well; mechanisms may differ, but the result is organically-produced light. Perhaps the falling particles observed by Schorerum and Kepas (and others) relate to a different mechanism of bioluminescence in pterosaurs: perhaps a secretion or secretions that produce glowing in the surface of the creatures’ bodies but which sometimes drop off of their bodies during flight.

Real Dragons

Set aside the word “dragon,” . . . as we consider the fiery flying serpent of the Old Testament. A common explanation includes a ”burning” wound from a venomous bite and a ”snake.” But what does the record actually say about “fiery serpent?” Those animals bit many of the Israelites and many died from those bites. What scripture makes a direct reference to any detail about any bite or detail about those bites in general? I have never seen any such scripture. “Fiery” is used for the animal, not for the bite on a victim. Why should anyone object to the suggestion that bioluminescence was involved, with small long-tailed winged creatures that glowed while they flew at night? Many accounts suggest bioluminescent Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs still live, albeit nocturnally, in a number of areas in this modern world.

Schorerum does not stand alone, in his sighting of a glowing dragon, for many eyewitnesses support his declaration. Whether called “dragon,” “pterosaur,” “flying dinosaur,” or “pterodactyl,” these long-assumed-long-extinct flying creatures still live among us, even if they are mostly active only at night.

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From Chapter Two of the third edition of the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America:

When I returned from Papua New Guinea, in 2004, I knew almost nothing about reports of apparent pterosaurs, or “dragons,” in California. I . . . assumed they live [in the western Pacific] because of the vast tropical wildernesses, providing them warmth, food, and seclusion. I also assumed that the few reports that I had read [“pterodactyls”] were of a few stragglers from Central America. But after publishing many web pages about living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, I received emails and phone calls from eyewitnesses: sightings in California, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland-Virginia border, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Washington State. I became a believer in American pterosaurs.

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Real Dragons?

On April 1, 2011, in fiery flying serpent, by Jonathan Whitcomb

The English word “dragon” has been used for many old stories and legends, from languages around the world. But regardless of what word was translated into “dragon,” the stories themselves may give us clues about what people encountered long ago. Some critics of live-dinosaur and live-pterosaur ideas suggest that ancient people may have found fossils and then invented stories, pure fiction, about dragons, based on the old bones they had found. That may sound logical on the surface, but where is the evidence for such a speculation? I have seen no evidence of that. What we have are the stories themselves and something else in addition: the Bible.

Set aside the word “dragon,” for the moment, as we consider the fiery flying serpent of the Old Testament. A common explanation includes a “burning” wound from a venomous bite and a “snake.” But what does the record actually say about “fiery serpent?” Those animals bit many of the Israelites and many died from those bites. What scripture makes a direct reference to any detail about any bite or detail about those bites in general? I have never seen any such scripture. “Fiery” is used for the animal, not for the bite on a victim. Why should anyone object to the suggestion that bioluminescence was involved, with small long-tailed winged creatures that glowed while they flew at night? Many accounts suggest bioluminescent Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs still live, albeit nocturnally, in a number of areas in this modern world.

Marfa Lights, Dragons, and Pterosaurs

Dragons in southwest Texas? If a new conjecture about Marfa Lights is correct, a group of bioluminescent flying predators may live in these mountains, visiting the Marfa area every few weeks, as part of a large area that the predators cover in their hunting. One part of their diet may be the Big Brown Bat, although scavenging for dead animals, at night, may be a part of their mysterious nocturnal behavior.

Seklo-bali Dragon

Some investigators believe that this creature [the seklo-bali] is similar to or the same as the wawanar (dragon) around the Pilio Islands or the ropen of Umboi Island. It could also be the same as the indava. The bioluminescent glow at night probably inspired at least some of the dragon legends in some areas of the world.

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