Do Dragons Live in Griffith Park?

In the first five months of 2013, a total of four apparent pterosaurs have been reported in two separate sightings over the Interstate-5 Freeway, just east of Griffith Park. Both sightings were reported to me directly from each of the two eyewitnesses.

Early in the morning of March 3rd, a lady driving in a northbound lane saw three “dragons.” Ten weeks later, another lady, also driving in a northbound lane, saw a “pterosaur.” The second sighting, at 4:00 p.m. on May 13th, was only a mile and a half south of the first one.

Both eyewitnesses contacted me by email within hours of their sightings and answers my many questions over a period of several days. Although I found a number of differences in what they described, I found enough similarities to declare the two sightings involved the same species of ropen. My associates and I believe this kind of flying creature is an extant Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

The first eyewitness, who is anonymous, saw three long-tailed flying creatures, not far to the southeast of the Los Angeles Zoo; she noticed the tails were long, thin, and ended in some kind of thickness. The second eyewitness, Devin Rhodriquez, saw one flying creature, and noticed.

Rhodriquez said, “I did see its head crest and the membranous charcoal gray/teal undertone skin. No feathers, and the wings were pointed and never flapped. It glided through the air with its wings in an arched position.”

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Los Angeles River winds near east side of Griffith Park in Southern California - photo by DB's travels

Los Angeles River, near where four apparent pterosaurs were observed in two sightings, ten weeks apart in 2013, over the I-5 and just east of Griffith Park (photo courtesy of DB’s Travels)

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Possible Pterosaurs East and North of Griffith Park

These were not the first reported sightings around Griffith Park, although they might be the closest. San Fernando Valley has also had its share of sightings in recent years, with one in Sherman Oaks and one in Sun Valley.

From the third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America:

“I just wanted to let you know that my girlfriend and I saw a creature . . . that baffled us [on the night of Sep 21, 2009]. It was a very large, winged creature that was gliding maybe 100 yards above us. We stared at the creature in disbelief because it was so strange . . . it didn’t look like a bird really . . . my girlfriend has 20-20 vision and she told a few minutes later that it had lights on it. That didn’t strike me as right so I asked her if she was sure and she said they weren’t lights exactly, but that the wings had a glow or reflection.” [Sighting in or near Sherman Oaks, California]

“It was late in the evening, almost dark . . . I was walking from my car to my house (Sun Valley) and something in the sky caught my eye. My girlfriend also looked up and right away said, “Is that a bat?” But she wears glasses so she has trouble seeing how close objects are. What caught my eye was the bright radiation like light coming from the belly of this Pterodactyl looking animal. I seen it fly right above us maybe 150-200 feet and this thing wasn’t no bat; it was bigger with large wing span, and when it flapped its wings it was kind of a slow lazy flap kind of gliding through the air. The animal radiated light from the bottom like when something is wet and you flash a light on it the light reflects back and shimmers . . .” [Sun Valley, CA]

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Pterosaurs in Griffith Park

The point about this part of Los Angeles is the two sightings, ten weeks apart, over the Interstate-5 freeway that runs north-south on the east side of Griffith Park and the proximity to the Los Angeles River.

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Non-Extinct Pterosaurs in Los Angeles

In the first sighting, three creatures were seen to have long tails with a structure at the tail end; no head crest was visible, probably because of a poor viewing angle for such. In the second sighting, one creature was seen with a head crest; no tail was noticed, probably because the eyewitness was concentrating on the head.

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Recent Reports of Pterosaur Sightings

Reports of “flying dinosaurs” or “pterodactyls” have accelerated during the past year or so, probably because more and more eyewitnesses are becoming aware of the research of cryptozoologists like Garth Guessman and me, Jonathan Whitcomb. Some reports are of sightings that happened months ago or even years ago, accounts of flying creatures described like what scientists would call “pterosaurs.”

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Manta Ray Versus Pterodactyl

A recent blog post (Frontiers of Zoology) by the cryptozoology researcher Dale Drinnon proclaims that many reported sightings of apparent pterosaurs come from a big oceanic Manta ray fish jumping out of the water. One problem with that interpretation, for pterosaur sightings worldwide, lies just beneath the surface: The great majority of such flying-cryptids were not above any major body of water.

It’s not just that apparent pterosaurs are not often seen over a sea or an ocean—fresh-water stingrays live in some rivers—those “prehistoric” flying creatures are seen most frequently flying over land, and California has its fair share of sightings.

Lakewood Ropen

The sighting of an apparent pterosaur in Lakewood, California, on June 19, 2012, illustrates this problem with the Manta ray conjecture. The storm channel bordering the backyard where the long-tailed creature was observed—that channel rarely has more than an inch of water, except after rain, and there was no rain on June 19th.

But there’s more. The lady who witnessed the apparent Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, what she called a “dragon-pterodactyl,” did not see it leaping up out of the channel and then falling back down. She saw the creature perched above her head on a phone cable. The ropen then flew off and entered the canopy of a tree. That shoots down the flying-fish hypothesis.

Over the past ten years or so, a number of similar sightings have been reported for areas north of Lakewood, but the granddaddy of California ropen sightings may have been near the University of California at Irvine, in 2007.

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

From the nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition) we read:

In July of 2008, I received a phone call from a man who reported a very large flying creature, seen one year earlier, in Orange County, less than one mile north of the University of California at Irvine. He described the dark gray or black animal as 30 feet long, with 15-16 feet of that being a tail. He saw the creature fly “at low altitude,” in front of his car, over the road (Campus Drive), into the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, in daylight.

We might doubt that size of a ropen in Orange County (I believe it), for the estimated size is astonishing. But similar creatures, huge flying creatures, have been reported flying over San Diego and near San Diego. And those apparent Rhamphornynchoids were also flying over land.

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Long-tailed pterosaur of Cuba (left) and photo of a Manta ray fish (right)

Sketch of the “Gitmo Pterosaur” of Cuba, compared with photo of a Manta ray fish

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Misidentified Manta Rays?

One of the problems with that suggestion is this: No example is given that meets the conditions related to a Manta ray fish jumping out of the water. [Apparently nobody has ever seen a leaping ray fish and called it "pterosaur" or "pterodactyl."]

Work for Intellectually Disabled

In Signal Hill, California, work is available for adults whose mental handicaps prevent them from normal employment. For sixty years, Advocacy for Respect and Choice has provided jobs and training and essential-skills education to persons who used to be labeled “retarded.” (The word “retarded” is now politically incorrect.) The organization now operates at a complex at 4519 East Stearns Street.

According to a mother of a 44-year-old recipient, “My son loves it here. He says he goes to work every day, and he gets paid every two weeks . . . this makes him very happy. To him its a real job.” Workers with mental handicaps enjoy repetitive tasks that others would find too monotonous, like simple assembly tasks or packaging products.

Hillside Enterprises

Representing the Interests of People with Intellectual Disabilities in the Long Beach and Greater Long Beach Area

What Flies Along Storm Channels?

If your backyard borders the San Gabriel River, you might want to put your Chihuahua indoors before the sun sets, if a recent eyewitness report from Lakewood, California, is true. Something predatory may be flying along storm channels in Southern California, and we’re not talking about a hawk or an owl. Strange to tell, but it seems to be a flying cryptid, as in “cryptozoology.”

First, the more recent sighting, on June 19, 2012, was in Lakewood, California, at about noon, in a backyard that borders a storm channel that is about twenty feet wide. A lady was irritated at the constant barking of her dog, and walked out to see the reason. On the phone line near the edge of the channel, about twenty feet from her head, was a strange winged creature that caused the lady to think “dragon pterodactyl.”

Fighting the urge to run away into her house, the terrified woman was just curious enough to stare at the long-tailed featherless flying creature. The “dragon-pterodactyl” was more frightened than curious from the encounter and flew away into the canopy of a nearby tree. The woman and her husband immediately jumped into their car and drove around looking for the featherless flier, but with no success. They did succeed to finding information online: The creature is called “ropen.”

The woman estimated the wingspan at about six feet, perhaps more, and the tail length at about four feet. The end of the tail had a “triangle” that suggests a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur flange, but the woman simply related it to a “dragon” tail-end.

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storm canal south of where an eyewitness in Lakewood, California, saw a ropen

Storm channel that runs through a park in Long Beach and is connected to the storm drain over which an apparent ropen was seen perching on a phone line, on  June 19, 2012

This storm channel empties into a bay in southeast Long Beach, seventeen miles from where another storm channel empties. That other one runs very near where a giant ropen was reported flying in daylight, in 2007, near the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, in Orange County. That ropen was much larger, with an estimated length of thirty feet. In that part of California, perhaps you should put your Great Dane indoors at night. Ropens are said to be nocturnal predators.

Lakewood, California, has a Flying Predator

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.

How did a Dragon get to Lakewood?

The eyewitness in Lakewood estimated its wingspan at about six feet (perhaps more) and it flew away from her when she used a loud voice. But there have been fewer possums in that neighborhood, at least the ones that used to run along the phone lines at night, far fewer.