By Jonathan Whitcomb
A member of the Facebook group Living Pterosaurs of the World recently asked the following question (quoted here only in part):
“Would it seem likely to you that pterosaurs prefer to sleep in unexplored caves whenever they might be available? Perhaps the National Speleological Society might be helpful in locating unexplored caves. . . .”
This deserves attention, but it’s a deeper subject than one might suppose.
Part of the purpose of the National Speleological Society is “working every day to further the exploration, study, and protection of caves and their environments . . .” I doubt that they would be anxious to provide to non-members massive data on locations of unexplored caves. Inexperienced explorers often die or get injured or cause trouble for rescuers, and much of the cause is often from ignorance and an overly adventurous spirit. The wise course is usually to leave cave exploring to experts, unless you want to go through the ropes of learning alongside members of the NSS and become a member yourself.
Most modern pterosaurs, if not all of them, are at least mostly nocturnal. This includes long-tailed ropens, which appear to outnumber the short-tailed pterosaurs. This means they must be sleeping in daylight hours, at least for many of those hours. In the uncommon minutes when they are disturbed from sleep, they can sometimes be seen flying in daylight, but those are more the exception than the rule. These flying creatures are nocturnal.
So where do they sleep?
Dragons in Caves
We have many legends and stories of dragons that live in caves.
- Dragon of Wawel Hill (Poland)
- The dragon that lived under Varlaam Monastery (Greece)
- “fire-breathing” dragons of Postojna Cave (Slovenia)
- “Dragon Cave” in Richmond Township, Pennsylvania
- The monk St. Beatus, who took over a cave from a dragon (Switzerland)
- Love story of Jia yuan and Ai (and a dragon cave in China)
- Dragon cave on Stansbury Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah
Of course any skeptic may take one legend and ridicule it, dismissing it as 100% fictional because of one or two fantastic declarations in the story. But it takes very little intelligence to be a complete skeptic. Can objective reasoning allow for the possibility that at least some of the legends may contain some truth? Of course.
The above list of seven caves is tiny indeed, but each of those caves has been associated with the word dragon. Considering how greatly they vary is location, we would do well to consider the possibility that not everything in every story has no origin in fact. We need to keep an open mind.
What is Needed for Sleeping?
Let’s get to the root of the problem: Where would you look for a safe sleeping spot in daylight? It would need to be out of sight, hidden from interfering intruders and nosy neighbors. What about a cave?
Would a pterosaur be attracted to a cave that is popular with humans? The last place a large flying creature would want to sleep would be where humans like to explore. Even if it’s not a dragon-slaying Beowulf, a human poking into a cave is bad news for a sleeping ropen.
In reality, just a shallow cave on a cliff will do, especially if its covered by brush or the foliage of a tree. What human would guess that such a hidden place even existed? And even if a human discovered it, from a flyover by a toy helicopter (with video camera), such a hiding place could be too difficult to reach for a creature with no wings.
When people think of a cave, the first picture coming to mind could be a huge maze of caverns like Mammoth Cave in Kentucky or Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. But when a ropen thinks of a cave, what comes to its mind? Perhaps a small outcrop of rock on a cliff or a culvert under a little-used road in a remote area of a desert.
R.K. also told me about a fisherman who died after fighting off (and killing) one of the creatures; it seems that local natives believe the kor attacked the fisherman to eat him (larger kor are said to catch and eat young crocodiles and turtles). . . . it followed him to shore where a sea cave runs into a crevice . . . Badly wounded . . .
“. . . it was the japs [Japanese military] on the island who were attacked by the kor. They [Japanese soldiers] apparently shot several wounding them then followed them to cves [caves] and blew [blew up] the entrances. They called ships fire on the hills and pounded them for several hours.”
“In 1995 I had a very close encounter with something similar to a Pterosaur in southern Minnesota. . . . I headed down to ‘my’ fishing spot. . . . It was dusk by the time I decided to head back home . . . . an outcropping or a cave (. . . either a shallow cave or a deep outcropping) as I got near it I heard something … like clicking or tapping . . .”
My associates and I believe that most, if not all, ropens are nocturnal. They are uncommon, if not rare, and are rarely reported in Western countries like the United States, for a living pterosaur contradicts generations of universal-extinction indoctrination. . . . So where might a ropen hide in daylight? On Umboi Island, some natives say that the ropen (or ropens) lives in a cave.
. . . they could be related to the ropen lights of Papua New Guinea, the Marfa Lights of Texas, and the glowing objects entering and exiting caves near a river in Oregon.
After much searching, the team found a jungle cave, which Josh Gates entered. Human remains he found in that cave, but no ropen, fortunately. So what’s the point here? Natives have traditions that those large nocturnal flying creatures live in caves, and Mr. Gates was following up on a clue from what people have said, a common technique in cryptozoology.