Do Ropens, Extant Pterosaurs, Eat Bats?

By the modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan David Whitcomb

This was originally published, many years ago, on: [no longer functioning]

Verizon discontinued personal web page service, so it is republished here, with relatively minor grammar corrections and English improvements.

Introduction to Modern Pterosaurs [addendum]

Two types of featherless vertebrate creatures now fly through our night skies in various areas of the world: bats and pterosaurs.


Do Ropens, Extant Pterosaurs, Eat Bats?

Recently, investigators have noticed a relationship between bats and ropens

By Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the nonfiction cryptozoology books Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition) and Live Pterosaurs in America

For years, my associates and I have been trying tell the public about living pterosaurs.
The old flying-fox-fruit-bat explanation had been soundly disproven, for many eyewitness reports and native accounts reveal a long-tailed fish-eating creature with a head crest like that of some pterosaurs, and a bioluminescence brighter than any classified bioluminescent organism; also, it clings to tree trunks in an upright posture.

The fruit bat of the southwest Pacific islands—the flying fox, the largest bat in the world—has almost no tail, no pterosaur head crest, and no bioluminescence; also, it hangs from tree branches upside down. Nevertheless, it now appears that there is a bat connection but a connection differing from anything that I, or Garth Guessman, or David Woetzel, had considered when we explored Umboi, a remote tropical island in Papua New Guinea, in 2004, searching for living pterosaurs.

In the summer of 2007, I learned that Guessman and Woetzel had found a new area to search for the cryptid we call “ropen” (I assumed it was still in Papua New Guinea). When I learned that they had seen many bats and apparent ropens flying, at night, over the same valley, at the same time, and that the sightings were throughout the year, it became obvious: The ropens must be catching bats. How could ropens be spending so much time flashing their ropen bioluminescent flashes throughout the year if they were not catching food? And what food could they be catching in the sky at night that would satisfy the hunger of a large pterosaur? Not insects.

Early in 2008, I was surprised and saddened to hear of the death of the young cryptozoologist Scott Norman (natural causes, not during any expedition). On learning of his living-pterosaur sighting (he saw one just months before his death), I was again
surprised: While assisting the “expedition” team that included Guessman and Woetzel, Norman saw a large apparent pterosaur flying not in Papua New Guinea but in the United States of America. Extraordinary! The bats that were flying where investigators regularly saw ropen-like-flashes were obviously not fruit bats of Papua New Guinea. They were apparently one or more species f bats common (not necessarily numerous) in the Western United States.

Sherlock Holmes unravels many mysteries quickly: solving them in a few seconds or a few days; I solve a few mysteries, unquickly: in days, or months, or years. Between the early spring and late summer of 2008, it gradually dawned on me: Some of the eyewitnesses who report apparent pterosaurs in the United States have said that they observed flying bats at about the time they saw apparent pterosaurs. In fact, at least one or two of the eyewitnesses whom I personally interviewed mentioned bats.

And those who have said nothing about bats—those eyewitnesses live in areas where bats may be common. American ropens, apparently, do not necessarily need to catch fish; they can catch bats. And catching bats at night brings up another point: Why else would American ropens be nocturnal?

The ropen is still, as of late-2017, living within the realms of cryptozoology, although I’m sure it is living. But when the day comes that a photograph or video footage of a ropen starts to peal away the label “cryptid,” I believe that the American ropen will be seen to be a bat-eater, not a bat.

[Sidebar in original web page]

Cryptozoology Book

Bats and Pterosaurs


A key eyewitness in Southern California has come forward with a report of a giant flying creature in a wildlife refuge. The sighting, in the summer of 2007, was of a long-tailed featherless creature like the ropen of Papua New Guinea. It was reported to Whitcomb one year later, too late, probably, to search for the cryptid in that area.

In the northwestern United States, several cryptozoologists have recently seen one or more apparent living pterosaurs. The secret location was visited by a biology professor who returned with two other cryptozoologists for verification. The location is secret.

Several ropen seekers have been periodically visiting a third area on the West coast of the U.S., where apparent ropens fly at night. Most sightings are of small bats but the larger creatures obviously differ. Scott Norman had what may have been the most dramatic sighting of what looked like a Pteranodon.

Copyright 2008-2017  Jonathan Whitcomb

Contact Whitcomb to report a sighting


Bioluminescence of modern pterosaurs

This mentions barn owls and an author, Fred Silcock, but only briefly. It lists a few names that natives have for flying creatures that glow at night in Papua New Guinea.

Pteranodon photograph

This is not about the hoax-photograph, with Civil War reenactors, done for the Freakylinks TV series that was on the Fox Network from 2000-2001. [Rather, it’s about the “Ptp” photograph that has been verified to have an actual image of a modern pterosaur.]

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