Aug 042012
 

Insect-eating bats in Los Angeles County are common. I remember watching them dart over my head, after sunset, when I was a youth in Pasadena, California. I no longer watch for bats at night, although one of the furry little creatures recently seems to have turned up in a photo recorded by my game camera. I now watch for a pterodactyl in Lakewood.

I recently set up a game camera over a storm channel near where an apparent ropen (a modern pterosaur) was seen clearly in daylight. I believe the flying creature is nocturnal, like most ropens. But I have not yet gotten a photo of a ropen. I have seen a number of photos in which a blur is seen flying nearly parallel to the storm channel; at first, I thought they were large insect-eating bats, possibly the Big Brown Bat, but today I noticed that those blurs are part of a cloud of dust raised by the family dog that sometimes runs along the fence where the game camera is set up. Nevertheless, I have found one photo that may show a bat in flight.

blur (top) may be bat diving after insects in Lakewood, CA, July, 2012

The blur at the top of photo is probably not a bat, for it is too indistinct and floats to the left in subsequent photos over the next 0.4 seconds (I now believe it is a dust particle). I believe that the two tiny rods are insects, but the apparent orientation of the blur (seeming to fly toward the insects) is coincidental. I admit my mistake in my original interpretation of the above photo, but the investigation continues.

The long vertical objects on the left of the frame are vines growing on the east wall, down into the channel, similar to the vines on the right. At the bottom, the union of the east wall and channel floor shows channel direction (lower left to upper right).

strange photograph of a possible bat in Lakewood, CA

The long object on the left of the above IR-night photo might be interpreted as a flying insect close to the camera lens. The problem with that interpretation is that the light reflected from the strange object is similar in intensity to the light reflected from the vines in the middle of the frame, which are over thirty feet away from the camera. An insect close enough to make that large of an image would have had to have been much closer, and therefore should have been brighter than the leaves of those vines. In addition, a closer look at this long object shows no evidence of insect wing-flapping, at least from what I have seen.

image-processed photo - infrared night recording of an apparent bat in Lakewood

The above image I processed in three small places:

  1. apparent left ear of the apparent bat
  2. apparent right ear
  3. apparent leading edge of the right wing

(To see more detail, click on this photo and then click again on the left side, getting a second magnification.)

I greatly increased both contrast and lightening to those three small parts of the photo, so my own bat-head interpretation may have introduced a bias in this processed image. I know that the body of the apparent bat appears too long, but what else could this object be?

Do Pterodactyls eat Bats?

Of course, none of the above is evidence that “pterodactyls” (pterosaurs) prey upon bats in Lakewood, California. The general concept that modern pterosaurs prey upon bats is found in other locations and is still circumstantial. A ropen flying at night through a storm channel in Los Angeles County might be chasing after a rat or baby possum when it flies right past a bat. But we need to keep an open mind to whatever we find in future game-camera photos and future security video recordings.

Do Pterosaurs Really Live in Los Angeles County?

During my teenaged years in Pasadena, when I enjoyed watching small bats at night, my younger sister had a friend, Dianne. She told my sister about the big “pterodactyl” she had seen flying around the mountains north of Pasadena. I don’t offer that as evidence that pterosaurs eat bats, but as evidence for the following: The more people talk about reports of living pterosaurs, the more additional eyewitness accounts come to light, and the more likely that people will share their own encounters. Some of those encounters have been in Los Angeles County.

Modern Pterosaur in California

. . . she remembered something that happened at night, about a year earlier. She saw something fly through the storm canal, and she heard the dogs barking, one after another, as the creature must have been flying past the backyards . . .

Lakewood, California, Flying Predator

An apparent ropen was seen by a 38-year-old lady in her backyard, in Lakewood, California, on June 19, 2012, at about noon. She at first estimated the wingspan . . . at least six feet. The tail was long, perhaps four feet long, and the end of the tail had a triangular appearance that caused the lady to think “dragon.”

Jul 132012
 

An apparent ropen was seen by a 38-year-old lady in her backyard, in Lakewood, California, on June 19, 2012, at about noon. She at first estimated the wingspan at about five to six feet, later revising her estimate to at least six feet. The tail was long, perhaps four feet long, and the end of the tail had a triangular appearance that caused the lady to think “dragon.”

The lady’s husband told me that he had noticed an absence of possums in the past twelve months; they used to run along the phone lines often, but they seem to have almost disappeared. The only he has seen in recent months was not on the phone line but on a fence. The eyewitness saw the flying creature sitting on the phone line, so it seems likely to be a predator that eats possums and probably rats.

I found it significant that the sighting was above a storm channel that is about twenty feet wide and almost as deep. The size of the flying predator described by the eyewitness makes it seem reasonable that it could easily fly in that storm channel at night, provided it could see well in the dark, as some nocturnal animals can. In other parts of the world, the ropen is said to fly at night.

drainage canal where a living pterosaur was observed in Southern California

Nocturnal Ropen Appears in Daylight in Southern California

. . . over a storm drain in Lakewood, California, in clear daylight at about noon, a long-tailed featherless creature sat on a telephone line, making strange . . . noises.

Mar 192012
 

Science writer Brian Switek, in an August, 2010, post for the online Smithsonian Magazine, titled his remarks “Don’t Get Strung Along by the Ropen Myth.” He may have gotten unanimous approval for pointing out that a photo of a frigate bird is not evidence for living pterosaurs, but he got a stern rebuke for mentioning the word “hucksters” for those who search for cryptids many had assumed have been extinct for millions of years, especially those who have searched in Papua New Guinea for the ropen. The rebuke was from the cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb.

Ropen Ideas Shot Down by a Smithsonian Blogger

Brian Switek was correct in one point: The news reporter Terrence Aym fell into a serious blunder in referring to an image of a common Frigate Bird as if it were a ropen or pterosaur. (But Switek’s blunders are so serious that I will not even link to his blog post.)

In Whitcomb’s book Live Pterosaurs in America, the “Mesozoic Objection” in regard to the extinction of pterosaurs is criticized as follows:

What about the “Mesozoic” objection? One critic declares that a lack of “post-Mesozoic remains” (no fossils in “less-ancient” rock strata) proves a pterosaur could not live in modern times. But a subtle form of circular reasoning lies buried within this declaration about fossil rocks.

When a creature thought to have lived only in the Mesozoic time period is found in an undated stratum, what happens? That stratum is then labeled “Mesozoic.” So if a pterosaur fossil can cause it to be “ancient,” what can be reasonably concluded about an apparent lack of any pterosaur fossils in rocks not labeled “ancient?” Not a lack of modern pterosaurs. Standard-model labeling of strata relies a great deal on the axiom of ancient extinctions of certain organisms, and axioms are assumptions, not proven facts.

Pterosaur Extinction and Brian Switek

Switek seems to have entirely failed to comprehend what is entailed here. If the discovery of a modern living Coelacanth could have opened up the way for dating some Coelacanth fossils as being after the Mesozoic, the discovery of a modern living pterosaur could open up the way for dating some pterosaur fossils as also being more recent. This perspective was probably entirely overlooked by Switek.

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Third edition of the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America

Third edition of the non-fiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America, by Jonathan David Whitcomb, gives you details unavailable in online blogs: many eyewitness sighting reports in many states of the U.S.A.

From a review of the second edition (Amazon.com):

“This is an updated review of the book and I am changing my rating to 5 stars. This book has been on my shelf for almost a year now. I pick it up every now and then and a part of me becomes more impressed by the book every time. Yes, the skeptics will laugh at it, but I am a skeptic to. Admittedly, my main interest in the subject is based in romanticism. However, it is apparent that these pterosaur stories will not go away.” (book review by Stevie, Oct 23, 2011, second edition of the book)

Dec 162011
 

For those who have witnessed something like a living pterosaur, the various names for those strange flying creatures are numerous: demon flyer, ropen, dragon, pterodactyl, dinosaur bird, etc.

Demon Flyer

Setting aside the legends and traditional beliefs about the ropen, some native eyewitnesses have seen it up close, too close for comfort. But the point is this: “Demon flyer” is not the literal interpretation. This phrase probably came about from one or more Westerners who were too-deeply impressed with the negative aspects of the legends and the spiritual connotation.

Kongamato and Ropen

Apparent pterosaurs have various names in various countries of the world; in the United States, we sometimes hear “pterodactyl” and “dinosaur bird.” Regardless of the label an eyewitness attaches to a flying creature, let’s examine some of those encounters, worldwide, especially the kongamato and the ropen.

Old Dragons in Great Britain

“The woods around Penllyne Castle, Glamorgan, had . . . . winged serpents . . . An aged inhabitant of Penllyne, who died a few years ago . . . said it was ‘no old story,’ invented to ‘frighten children,’ but a real fact. His father and uncles had killed some of them, for they were ‘as bad as foxes for poultry.’ This old man attributed the extinction of winged serpents to the fact that they were ‘terrors in the farmyards and coverts.’”

Pterodactyl

Are some pterodactyls still living? That idea is controversial, to be sure, for where is the photograph to prove such a bold idea? But wait a moment. What does photography have to do with it? Where is photographic evidence that every kind of pterodactyl became extinct millions of years ago?

Dinosaur Bird

The pterosaur is known by several names in the United States: “dinosaur bird,” “flying dinosaur,” and perhaps the most popular “pterodactyl.” In Papua New Guinea, it is known by many names: “ropen,” “duwas,” “indava,” and “kor.” But what shocks many Americans and Europeans are eyewitness reports that these supposedly “ancient” and “extinct” flying creatures are alive and well and even flying over our heads on rare occasions.

Mar 182011
 

A hastily written article by a Terrence Aym, for the Salem-News (Pacific Northwest region), has given critics bird shot to shoot at the idea that the ropen is a pterosaur. Aym assumed the Youtube video showed just what it purported to show: a ropen; it was actually a misidentified Frigate bird. But that video is old news to living-pterosaur investigators, and misidentified sea birds are a far cry from how serious living-pterosaur investigations really began.

Duane Hodgkinson Pterodactyl Sighting

The World War II veteran Duane Hodgkinson has many web pages and blog posts written about his “pterodactyl” sighting on the mainland of New Guinea (now in the nation of Papua New Guinea) in 1944. He is also mentioned in at least one scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal of science. The Youtube video “Ropen-Pterodactyl American Eyewitness” (the veteran was interviewed by a cryptozoologist) has over a quarter of a million views. Hodgkinson’s story has fascinated many who have come to believe in his encounter with a “pterodactyl.”

How astonished were the two American soldiers when the giant featherless creature flew up into the air! Its wingspan was close to thirty feet; its tail, close to fifteen feet long. Its head had a long pointed head crest. Everything about the giant flying creature shouted, “non-bird and non-bat.” A Frigate bird it was not.

Where did that idea come from, that idea that apparent pterosaurs are nothing but misidentified Frigate birds? It came not from examining the sighting report of Duane Hodgkinson.

Frigate Birds and Misidentification

This post gives information on how the Hodgkinson sighting of 1944 has nothing to do with the Frigate bird. No bird was misidentified for a “pterodactyl.” It also mentions the 1971 live pterosaur sighting by Eskin Kuhn.

How are some critical sightings evidence of a live pterosaur, rather than a misidentified bird? Consider the 1971 Cuba sighting by Eskin Kuhn. Look at his sketch of the pterosaur with wings down, about to begin an upbeat-cycle of wing-flapping. Notice the legs, separate from the long tail. Also notice the large head crest at the back of the creature’s head. How obvious that this is not a sketch of a Frigate bird!

Dec 132010
 

Regardless of what some critics say about the concept of modern living pterosaurs, the hypothesis of Marfa Lights being from those cryptids is not soon flying away. Of course, not all nocturnal predators flying overhead need be living pterosaurs. Owls appear to be much more common, although acceptance of the hypothesis of barn owl bioluminescence is hardly common among biologists  (it is explained in the book by Fred Silcock: The Min Min Light). The strange flying predators thought to cause Marfa Lights—those creatures act more intelligently, at least sometimes, than barn owls, and that supports the more-revolutionary hypothesis of nocturnal bioluminescent pterosaurs.

The point about owls is that they are dull-minded, at least they seem to be specialized for individual hunting techniques rather than complex group behavior. Two barn owls often hunt together, of course; but do the two hunt in a truly coordinated manner, like whales that encircle schools of fish with bubbles? I doubt it. But the intelligence of ropen-like flying predators—that is a possibility, more likely even than highly intelligent barn owls.

Of course, the strange flying lights could be from multiple sources: owls and ropens. But the problem with that idea is simple: If large ropens fly over Texas at night, glowing barn owls might not live long glowing.