“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.



Pterosaur Sightings Reported in Utah

town of Grantsville, Utah, with a car driving away on a street

Sightings of apparent pterosaurs have often been reported in California. We also have reports from Oregon and Arizona and the middle states of America. What about Utah? Consider the following, part of a sighting report:

Sighting in Grantsville, Utah

When I was [a boy of] 14 years old, I lived in Grantsville, UT.

. . . One night, my brother [and my] step-brother . . . and I were sitting on top of a small exercising trampoline that we had dragged to the top tier of the play ground structure [for their apartments]. . . . we stared up at the night sky . . . [My brother] suddenly noticed something and started yelling something about a giant bird . . . At around the same time, the animals in the farm next to us started going berserk. [My step-brother] followed quickly after Dallin . . . yelling [something] similar . . .

Whatever it was they were yelling about was behind a tree from my angle and I certainly was entertaining the idea that they were trying to fool me. So I was slightly reluctant as I began sliding down the slide to see what [it] was about.

As I was reaching the bottom of the slide they both stated that said giant bird had just vanished. “A likely story” I thought. After looking around for a bit, we climbed back up the slide and onto the trampoline at the top of the playground. There were both very amazed at what had happened whilst I was still skeptical. Suddenly as I looked up at the night sky, the farm animals started up again and then I saw it. The ropen.

A beautiful phoenix soaring above me in the night sky and soon after disappearing as if into thin air. I was awestruck. I began to wonder what type of animal this was. But within minutes higher up in the sky I saw it again and appeared soaring above us and then vanished again.

I had a very scientific mind for my age at the time and soon developed a theory that this creature was a bioluminescent and nocturnal bird that would “disappear” using the same effect that happens to our eyes when we are in a bright room and suddenly the lights go out. There is a space of time where we can see nothing. I decided it used this to help it hunt. I did not even hear about ropens until nearly a decade after.


town of Grantsville, Utah, with a car driving away on a street

Grantsville, Utah (photo by Garrett)


Sighting in Provo, Utah; excerpts (mid-2009 encounter)

At about 6 am, on the porch of a trailer in Provo, Utah, a young couple looked up at the sky at what at first looked like a plane.

But then I realized it wasn’t a plane. . . . no noise from it. I thought I could see a rounded, long beak/nose and a giant body. I would maybe compare it to a bat or a pterodactyl, I didn’t see any feathers. It was hard to tell because it was kind of shadowy, I guess, is what I would describe it as. Or blurry, like it was blending in with the sky or surroundings. But it wasn’t invisible, it was just hard to see details. It’s coloring was grayish brown, dark, maybe even black, which I think helped the shadowy, blurry camouflage thing it did. It’s wings looked like a bats wings and it was pretty big, not as big as a plane like I first thought. Maybe the size of a small plane, like one that sprays pesticide on crops, or a little smaller.

. . . The strangest thing about it was how it flew. It looked like it was swimming through the sky, kind of gliding. It undulated through the sky, and I think it was going pretty fast, although the way it seemed to just swim through the sky made it look like it was going slow, leisurely. . . .

Special thanks to the researcher Albert Rosales for this reported sighting in Provo, Utah



non-fiction 360-page paperback "Searching for Ropens and Finding God"


Searching for Ropens and Finding God – third edition of the nonfiction book by Jonathan David Whitcomb — cross genre: true-life adventure, spiritual, religion-science — what may become the most unsettling scientific discovery since Copernicus and Galileo: living pterosaurs of the modern world

“Notwithstanding the delay in the official scientific discovery, eyewitnesses from around the world continue to encounter these flying creatures: featherless, long-tailed, often larger than any known bird” (from Amazon page)