“Big Bird” in Draper, Utah

ropen sightings were near here in Draper, Utah

By the modern-pterosaur author Jonathan D. Whitcomb

On June 26, 2017, my wife and I met with several eyewitnesses in a neighborhood of Draper, Utah, (in the southern part of the Salt Lake Valley) a few miles west of the Wasatch Mountains. Each of the four persons we talked with lived within about 300 yards of each other and a little south of the Swire Coca Cola complex, which is in northwestern Draper. These four wish to be anonymous, at least for now.

The flying creature involved, which may be more than one animal, appears to be an American Hammerhead Ropen. Some of the words that came to the minds of eyewitnesses, after the sightings in this neighborhood, were these:

  • dragon
  • hammer (shape of the head with a crest)
  • big bird

Bioluminescence appears to be involved, as in many ropen sightings worldwide. The June 21st sighting seems to be not an isolated encounter but part of a general flight pattern in Western Draper. Consider some of what each of these four persons told me and my wife.


Between 35 and 55 years old, she is the mother of two children who also have had some kind of encounter with the flying creature at some time within the past few months, either seeing or hearing it. I gave her a copy of my recent nonfiction cryptozoology book, Modern Pterosaurs (about the Civil War photograph of an apparent Pteranodon that was living in the 19th century).

At about 11:00 p.m. on June 21, 2017, she saw the strange thing fly over her house. She was baffled, unable to come up with a sensible-sounding explanation. It reminded her of what her children had seen with her in movies: not something that is supposed to be still alive.

She might have dismissed it as some kind of drone aircraft, except that it was flapping its wings. She was struck by the lack of feathers and lack of hair on the tan-colored creature, which flew about 50 feet above the ground, over her backyard. She later searched online and found what looked very much like her “big bird.”

Perosaur Sketch by Eskin Kuhn
Kuhn saw two pterosaurs in Cuba, in 1971

The above sketch was seen by Eyewitness-A, after her sighting. It’s very much like what she had seen.



This twelve-year-old boy was on his back in his backyard in western Draper, Utah, on a warm night in mid-June of 2017, when the huge creature flew overhead. He later learned that his uncle, who lives nearby, had also seen the same animal flying over that same neighborhood, earlier in the year.

The boy told me (Jonathan Whitcomb) that the flying creature had a head that reminded him of a hammer. After he drew a sketch, I realized he was referring, at least in part, to the angle of the head crest. This led me to conclude that he had seen an American Hammerhead Ropen, similar to what was seen by Patty Carson in Cuba in 1965 and probably by Eskin Kuhn (also in Cuba) in 1971.


This man lives in the same neighborhood as the first two eyewitnesses mentioned above (A and B). It flew over his backyard three times in one night, early in 2017, appearing to be searching for something. I believe it was hunting, for many family pets are kept in backyards in this neighborhood.

He described a glowing outline of the animal, suggesting to me that the flying creature was bioluminescent. It was flying too high to have been lit up from ground lighting.

Hearing a Screech

I talked with a teenage girl who also lives in this neighborhood. She heard what she believes were the sounds of a cat being attacked in the large yard next to her backyard. But the cat cry was quickly cut short as the girl heard a terrifying screech, a sound she compared with the screech of a velociraptor from a movie. She was sure that the sound was not from a raccoon. She also compared it with a girl screaming very loudly.


Copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb (“Big Bird in Draper, Utah”)


Big bird-like animal in Hawaii

I am glad to find this website that shows others have seen something similar to what we saw– we thought we saw a pterodactyl on the Big Island of Hawaii!


Ropen critic and the Ptp photograph

One skeptic, writing a very long online article, mentions what I have written about related words in some of the many village languages in Papua New Guinea. He says that “ropen” means bird in one language but fruit bat in another. He then writes, “Well, there you have it,” as if it supports his declaration that a significant number of sightings of apparent pterosaurs in that area of the world could be from misidentified birds or bats. But he misses the point . . .


Objectivity and bias with the Civil War pterosaur photograph

. . . he [the critic] seems to have fallen into a severe combination of bias issues including both confirmation bias and belief perseverance, regarding his ideas about the old photo that is now known as “Ptp.”


Civil War Soldiers and a Monster Pterodactyl

Before giving a brief history of our investigations of this old photograph, I present a recent discovery related to the source of what we now call “Ptp,” what some people would call the “Civil War” Pteranodon photo.


Apparent Civil War era photograph

In January of 2017, the physicist Cliff Paiva and I agreed that the old photograph now called Ptp has a genuine image of a modern pterosaur. Since January, we have found additional evidence for its authenticity, which is what should be expected for something that is genuine rather than a hoax.



Living Pterosaurs and the 1944 Sighting

side-by-side front covers of two cryptozoology books by Whitcomb

By modern-pterosaur researcher Jonathan Whitcomb

For a moment, let’s set aside my recently published book Modern Pterosaurs and see what one skeptic has written about a few pages in my older book Searching for Ropens and Finding God.

A critic of our investigations has written that the army buddy of the late Duane Hodgkinson (DH) was a “biology professor” who denies seeing a pterosaur in that jungle clearing in New Guinea in 1944. How misleading are those statements! To begin, consider the following points:

  1. I interviewed DH a number of times
  2. Garth Guessman also interviewed him a number of times
  3. The critic never interviewed DH
  4. Nobody, apparently, has ever interviewed the army buddy of DH

Reference to Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition)

The critic refers to my book, declaring that it says that the army buddy of DH was a biology professor. That is patently false, even though the critic uses that reference with pages “24-28.” Not once is the word professor found in any of those pages of my book. Read pages 24-28, if you have a copy of the fourth edition. Notice that the mistake in not a simple error in the critic’s referencing page numbers: Those pages are about that subject at hand. Any person who will carefully read my nonfiction Searching for Ropens and Finding God should not insert a word from his or her imagination into a published comment, as if that word were in one of those pages in my book. That critic has done just that, falsely called that soldier a professor.

I mentioned that the army buddy of Duane Hodgkinson had some education in biology, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt when I called him a “biologist.” I did not know, when I wrote that word in that page of my book, that a skeptic would some day see biologist on page 28 and take the word professor from his imagination and declare that professor was in that page of my book. I now wish that I had written “biology student” rather than “biologist,” but that editing will have to wait for the next edition. Yet the other blunder made by the critic, which seems technically less glaring a mistake, is far more toxic in leading people away from the truth about what happened in that jungle clearing in 1944: what was observed by those two soldiers.

Was it a Ropen in New Guinea in 1944?

I believe that Garth Guessman and I see this in the same light, having both interviewed the World War II veteran a number of times over a period of years. DH’s army buddy saw the same thing that DH saw, on that day in 1944 in a jungle clearing west of Finschhafen on the island of New Guinea. That biology student just did not want to talk about it.

I have seen this reluctance often, during my investigation over the past 14 years. American eyewitnesses are usually hesitant to admit that they saw a living pterosaur. Some cases are extreme, including this one.

Contrary to what the critic has written in his online publication, I never said or insinuated that DH’s army buddy was distracted and so did not see the animal. Anyone who carefully reads those pages in my book should not make that mistake made by that critic. Let’s look at what is actually printed in Searching for Ropens and Finding God (4th edition) rather than what swims around in the imagination of one skeptic:

What if Hodgkinson had seen something other than what he thought he had, for some unknown reason. A strange bird or bat, however, fails to explain the strange reaction of the other soldier, the man who was educated in biology; it fails to explain why “Well, George, we saw it,” was answered with, “No, we didn’t!”

What I did not include in the book was what DH said right after his buddy again apparently tried to deny what they had seen. DH said something like, “How stupid can you get?” That was said within seconds of so of the sighting.

In other words, if the thing that flew up from that jungle clearing could have been some kind of bird or bat then the biology student would surely have suggested that possibility. Apparently that man decided to pretend that they had seen nothing at all, and the reason is obvious: Why invite people to call you “crazy” or “liar?”

That is not a recent idea I’ve had. Here’s the next paragraph in my book:

Notice that he [the soldier who had some education in biology] did not say it was a bird or a bat; he just denied that they had seen it. A generalized misidentification fails to lift off but a giant long-tailed pterosaur flies perfectly well here, even if it does drop a bomb on standard biology.

In other words, the critic fell into a confirmation bias. He was looking for anything he could find that would discredit the idea that pterosaurs are still living on the earth. When he found out that a man appeared to deny that he had seen a pterosaur, the critic jumped to the conclusion that the man had not seen what the man next to him declared they had seen. The truth, however, is far different from what the critic wants to believe.


A few months after his expedition in Papua New Guinea, Garth Guessman interviewed eyewitness Duane Hodgkinson near Livingston, Montana

Garth Guessman (left) and the World War II veteran Duane Hodgkinson (videotaped interview in 2005)


Confirmation Bias Against the Possibility of Extant Pterosaurs

I’ve seen other examples of confirmation bias that this critic has fallen into. It comes up repeatedly in his online page. One simple example is in his belief that a word that exists in two different languages in Papua New Guinea (the word ropen) appears to be relevant. He says, “This seems like a very relevant piece of information.” In reality, it is entirely irrelevant, and here is why:

In one language, ropen means a nocturnal flying creature that glows at night (in the Kovai language of Umboi Island); in another language, in another area of Papua New Guinea, ropen means “bird.” In the real world, when one word exists in two languages, the meaning can differ; it often does. Even in the same language, a word can be used very differently for people in different areas. How surprising for an American to hear an English citizen call a column of children walking down a sidewalk a “crocodile!” And that is in the same language: English.

Confirmation Bias and a Photograph of a Modern Pterosaur

For many years, the critic had an image of Ptp on his online page. He declared that it was a hoax from a television show. I communicated with the critic, earlier this year (2017), and revealed to him his mistake: Two photographs are somewhat similar, but the other one came from a TV show, not the photograph he displayed. He then corrected the long-standing error.

The photograph that we now call “Ptp” is not the same photo that was created for the Freakylinks TV show. That hoax photo, however, was modeled after the older photograph, with apparent reenactor Civil War soldiers playing their acting parts to help make the fake image.

But the critic may have then fallen into belief perseverance, or something like it, assuming that Ptp was also a hoax. A person can sometimes fall into both confirmation bias and belief perseverance.

For years, his web page declared that the Ptp photograph was a hoax from a TV show. After learning his mistake, and correcting it on his online publication, however, he held onto his idea that Ptp was a hoax. He searched for every possible thing that could cast doubt on its authenticity. I strongly suspect he had fallen into belief perseverance.

I don’t recall seeing any transition stage of his updating his critical online article. I did not see any version of his page that simply admitted his mistake about confusing the two photos, a version that did not proclaim that Ptp was a hoax. That in itself is suspicious.

Research by Paiva and Whitcomb

My fellow researcher Clifford Paiva suggested that I write a small book about Ptp. The result was Modern Pterosaurs. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

We have found much evidence for authenticity for Ptp, over a period of months.


More credible of the two apparent Civil War photos of a large pterosaur and some soldiers

The photograph now known as “Ptp” – declared authentic by two scientists



Keep an open mind regarding evidences for modern pterosaurs, and beware of shallow half-truths that appear to be evidences against the possibility that not all species of pterosaurs are extinct.


Copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb (“Living Pterosaurs and the 1944 Sighting”)


Photograph of a “Pterodactyl”

In my recently published nonfiction book Modern Pterosaurs, I refer to that long online article that is extremely negative towards living-pterosaur investigations. I labelled that page BAMPP (big anti-modern-pterosaurs page), which is how I refer to it now.


Book about modern pterosaurs

Once you know what’s been flying overhead, what people around the world have been encountering, you’ll be better prepared to see and understand the details in Ptp. You should then appreciate what has always been available to those with eyes to see. . . .


Scientists examine a photograph of a modern pterosaur

Cliff Paiva found the two evidences shown above [in an image]: shadows that were consistent (yellow arrows) and a vertical eye slit (vertical pupil like in a cat or a reptile)


Jonathan Whitcomb's cryptozoology book "Modern Pterosaurs"

New nonfiction cryptozoology book Modern Pterosaurs by Jonathan Whitcomb


From the first chapter in Modern Pterosaurs:

In the summer of 2014, a well-known biology professor at a Midwestern university wrote a scathing blog post about my online writings concerning apparent modern pterosaurs. It included ridiculing the lack of photos of the creatures on my web pages. Whatever pages he had seen, it appears he failed to notice the ones that examined the photo now called Ptp.


Jonathan Whitcomb Interviewed by Dave Scott (Podcast Radio)

Logo for the podcast "Spaced Out Radio"

The Spaced Out Radio Show featured Dave Scott interviewing me, for two hours on the night of December 18, 2014, Pacific Standard Time, in a podcast called “Pterodactyls exist in 2014?” The following is part of the beginning of that interview.

Logo for the podcast "Spaced Out Radio"

Dave Scott:

. . . every now and again you get these topics . . . that just excite you. It’s this one for me. . . . Dinosaurs were said to have gone extinct 50, 60 million years ago. . . . however, what if, and just what if—think of the possibilities—what if not all of them are extinct?

Take the pterodactyl. People between the United States—right now—towards South America, over in New Guinea believe that the pterodactyl is still alive and that they are breeding. There might not be a lot of sightings of them, but people say they exist. Scientists will tell us something different . . . “Nope; they’re gone; they’re done . . .” but people are still seeing them.

This is why tonight we’ve brought Jonathan Whitcomb aboard. He’s a cryptozoologist and he’s on the hunt for the pterodactyl. Jonathan, welcome to Spaced Out Radio; how are you this evening?

Jonathan Whitcomb:

Oh, great, Dave. I’m so delighted to be here with you!


And we’re delighted to have you as well. OK, I’m going to hit you with the million-dollar question, right off the bat: Are pterodactyls alive in 2014?


Yes, they are alive indeed. In fact, my associates and I believe there are more than one species in different parts of the world. It’s incredible but we’ll get into that: explain how that happened. Yeah, they are alive.


That just amazes me that they are so hidden and yet regular science does not believe that they are alive; but I suggest that’s why there [are] cryptozoologists, like yourself, out there who are experienced in looking for this type of animal.


Yeah. I guess, to begin with, we should mention that a definition in the dictionary always includes the word extinct, so no matter what dictionary you use you’ll always find the word extinct, so technically, if we’re going by the dictionary, you know, we can’t do anything, but what we’re seeing here is that actually the creatures that are known commonly as pterodactyls and officially known by scientists as pterosaurs, that they actually do have representation in modern times . . .

The problem with discovery is multiple: They’re mostly nocturnal and the Western scientists have just assumed they’re all extinct. Well, the fact is that apparently a number of the types that we know from fossils are, unfortunately, . . . extinct, we have a very narrow band of types of pterosaurs . . . with particular types now, with particular types of head crests. So basically, in the general sense, yeah, pterosaurs . . . are extinct, but there are certain narrow ranges of species that are still alive.


From one who listened to this podcast:

. . . Jonathan David Whitcomb, did an incredible interview last night on his research concerning living pterodactyls. It’s awesome to think that the world is so much bigger than we think and that there are more discoveries to be made!


Jonathan Whitcomb videos on YouTube

In 1944, in (Papua) New Guinea, Duane Hodgkinson and his friend saw a “pterodactyl” with a wingspan similar to a Piper Tri-Pacer (29 feet).

Honesty and reports of modern pterosaurs

Within the past few weeks, three web sites have caught my attention, each with a page accusing me of dishonesty. Two of them appear to be based on the other . . .

Weirdness and Whitcomb’s book on live pterosaurs

. . . as a child I was rather obsessed with dinosaurs, as many young boys are, and read everything I could find on them, and I thought I knew about Pterodactyls, Pteradnodons  and a few others like the Rhamphorhyncus. So I recalled they were all Pterosaurs, and looked up the Order. First surprise is technically they were not dinosaurs at all . . .  I wanted to read about people who had been chased by pterodactyls! . . . then suddenly found that there actually was a “Living Pterosaur” research community, a fringe even within cryptozoology.

Podcast-Radio Interview in 2012

We first had fossils that were discovered in Western science . . . in 1780’s . . . about the time that George Washington became president. . . . Since then, scientists have continuously discovered new fossils . . . delicate kind of bones, so a lot of times they’re just crushed . . .


Blog Radio Broadcast on Aug 18, 2013

Susan Wooten's drawing of the large pterosaur she saw in South Carolina

I am scheduled to talk on Monster X Radio this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. California (Daylight) time (11:00 pm, UTC, Coordinated Universal Time):


Possible subjects could include one or more of the following (although I may have only limited control):

  • Pterosaur Sightings Worldwide
  • “Pterodactyl” Encounters in the United States
  • The Ropen of Papua New Guinea
  • Common Characteristics of Descriptions
  • Bioluminescence of Modern Nocturnal Pterosaurs
  • Sizes of Reported Pterosaurs
  • Credibility of Sighting Reports
  • Origin Philosophies, Religion, and Science
  • Extinction of Pterosaurs or not
  • Possible Hoaxes
  • Possible Misidentifications

I would be delighted to talk about pterosaur sightings in Papua New Guinea and how they may relate to encounters in other parts of the world. The ropen has been my specialty for years.

For those who would like to ask questions of me, on this online radio show, I believe you can call in at around 5:00 p.m. (California time) at this number:  (347) 326-9859 (“Press 1 to talk.”)

This seems to be a New York area code, so here is the Eastern Daylight Time when the show starts: 7:00 EDT. Calls for questions may be made in the second hour, if I understand correctly.


The two-hour interview last night went well. The first hour covered expeditions and sightings in Papua New Guinea and typical sighting descriptions of apparent pterosaurs in the United States. In the second hour, Susan Wooten and Laura Dean called in and gave their sighting reports, with descriptions of the flying creatures they had observed in South Carolina and Arkansas respectively.

Bioluminescence and flying lights were discussed in both hours of the interview.

The title of the interview talk show is “Living Pterosaurs with Jonathon Whitcomb” (my first name is really spelled “Jonathan.”)

Host Shane Corson afterwards told me, “. . . it was a fabulous and very informative show thanks to you! We have had great feedback so thanks again!” I am grateful to Shane and Johnny and to Susan and Laura for making this talk show a success.


Susan Wooten's drawing of the large pterosaur she saw in South Carolina

Wooten’s sketch of the creature she saw in South Carolina