By the modern-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb
Last month I got an email from a man who lives in Gahanna, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. He and his teenaged son were driving near their home at 6:45 p.m. on December 19, 2016, when a large creature flew over their car, giving them a quick but close view. It had a wingspan greater than the width of their car.
I communicated with the man, whom I will call John, through several emails, and on January 6, 2017, I interviewed him by phone. I believe they saw an American Ropen, although my associates and I still don’t have enough information on the North American sightings to say much about species for this kind of modern pterosaur in this part of the world. John told me the following about what his son told him about the tail:
. . . the creature whipped it around…he said it had sharp projections on the tip…but it was moving so fast he said he just got a glimpse of it . . .
During my phone conversation with John, he told me that his son saw some kind of structure at the end of the tail. That strongly suggests to me that they saw a ropen.
Before ending our telephone interview, we decided that he should be anonymous. “John” has a number of college degrees related to biology and works in a profession in which he could be the subject of ridicule if his sighting was made public with his name and place of employment. (I know these details myself, however.)
But the main point is this: They saw a flying creature that was far bigger than any bat, very unlike any bird, and appearing to be a pterosaur.
John told me, in one of his emails:
. . . it is still so vivid in our memory…you could see the bumps of its skin and the claws on its feet. we stopped but of course it vanished.
He also said,
. . . now that we have seen this we are so much more believers in that there are many things out there most people have never seen and will never see but they are there.
He told me, in our phone interview, that this area of Ohio has many limestone caves and his neighborhood has many kinds of wildlife.
Other Pterosaur Sightings in Ohio
This ropen-sighting area, in a suburb of Columbus, is just over 100 miles from Antwerp, Ohio, where two sightings were reported a few years ago, encounters over or near a bridge on the Maumee River in the summer of 2003 and a year earlier.
Yet another pterosaur sighting was much closer to the late-2016 encounter in Gahanna, Ohio: only 4.5 miles away, near the corner of Westerville Road and Denune Avenue, in the northern part of Columbus. What a proximity! That was in the winter of early 2014, probably just before sunrise.
After finding this report on my computer, I wrote the following email to John:
Thank you very much for the talk we had by phone yesterday. This morning, I was looking through my records of sightings in Ohio and found that I had forgotten about an important report, very relevant:
A lady and her daughter were at a bus stop early in the morning, in the winter of early 2014, when they saw a large “pteradactyl” fly right by them, at about the same height above the ground as the one you saw last month. Here’s the thrilling part:
This was at Westerville Road and Denune Avenue, less than five miles from where you had your sighting. This appears to me to be about 4.5 miles southwest of your location.
This means we need to support local investigations in your area, for this is too much for coincidence. Even if it’s only one ropen in that general area, it deserves immediate attention. I’ll be writing about this [including publishing blog posts], and looking for help, within the next few days.
. . . the ropen continues to survive skeptical attacks, despite declarations about extinctions. The most obvious extinction, however, is that of a page on Wikipedia.
. . . a number of eyewitnesses have reported apparent live pterosaurs in Ohio, regardless of the apparent lack of newspaper headlines. Probably unknown to many news media reporters and editors, sighting in neighboring states may be of the same species . . .
After only a few minutes of their arrival, however, the giant ropen, flew just over the surface of Lake Pung. All seven boys ran home in terror, for that ropen had a mouth “like a crocodile” and a tail that one of the eyewitnesses estimated to be “sefan meetuh” long (about 22 feet).
Three separate encounters in Ohio:
- Kenton (2010)
- Mount Vernon (2005)
- Antwerp (2002 and 2003)
Antwerp, Ohio, actually had two sightings, in consecutive summers.
The tragedy of strange missing-persons cases—that compels me to write about my interpretation of the more mysterious aspects of these disappearances, especially because so many of these lost individuals are children.
The ropen is described in ways that actually lead to two words: “dragon” and “pterosaur,” depending on culture and taste. But notice the word noticeably absent: “extinct.” Many people are convinced that they are alive because they have seen them flying over their heads.
. . . ropens continue to fly overhead, continuing to shock humans who had assumed that all pterosaurs had become extinct millions of years ago.