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Sub groupingBat, bird, or pterosaur
First reported1932
CountryCameroon, Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia[1]
HabitatMountain streams, and surrounding forests[1]

An Olitiau is a gigantic cryptid bat (or flying reptile) hypothesized to exist in Central Africa.[1] The word, Olitiau likely comes from a fusion of the Ipulo words “Ole” and “Ntya”, a name for ceremonial dance masks used to represent demons.[2] The name may be used by the Ipulo to refer to demons in general rather than to the creature itself.[1]


Olitiau are said to have 6–12 ft (2–4 m) wingspans.[1] Their body is allegedly black, though their wings have been described as either dark brown or red.[1] Their lower jaws are said to contain 2-inch (50 mm) long, serrated teeth with equal spacing between each tooth.[2]

Claimed sightings[edit]

While hunting hammer-headed fruit bats in southern Cameroon, Ivan T. Sanderson claimed that an Olitiau swooped down on him and his hunting companion, Gerald Russell, along a mountain stream in 1932.[1] He called it "the granddaddy of all bats".[3]

Possible explanations[edit]

Several explanations for the Olitiau have been proposed and are listed as follows:

  • Hammer-headed bats have the largest wingspan of any bat in Africa: up to 3 ft (1 m). It is possible that a large Hammer-headed fruit bat, when viewed close up for an instant, can appear larger.[1]
  • A member of one of the larger known species of bats, such as the Hammer-headed bat, could experience abnormal growth, becoming larger than average size.
  • An unknown large bat species - Karl Shuker followed Sanderson in suggesting the animal may belong to the suborder microchiroptera.[1]
  • A surviving pterosaur.[1] Although Ivan Sanderson insisted that what he saw was a bat, there is some evidence to suggest that pterosaurs (extinct since the Cretaceous) had hair or hairlike structures known as pycnofibers.[1][4]

In popular culture[edit]

The Olitiau was the subject of an episode of Lost Tapes entitled "Cave Demons". It was shown as a giant bat.[5] Curiously, it is described as coming from the Tora Bora caves in Afghanistan, rather than Cameroon.[5] It also appeared in the video game The Secret Saturdays: Beasts of the 5th Sun as a humanoid ally. The character Chico in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker suggests that Olitiau is evidence pterosaurs exist to this day.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Karl Shuker. The Beasts That Hide From Man. New York: Paraview, 2003. Pp. 84-107. ISBN 1-931044-64-3
  2. ^ a b George M. Eberhart. Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. Volume Two N-Z Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002. Pp. 405-406.
  3. ^ Rickard, Bill; Mitchell, John (2007). A Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena. New York: Penguin Group. p. 358. ISBN 1-84353-708-7.
  4. ^ Kellner, A. W. A.; Wang, X.; Tischlinger, H.; De Almeida Campos, D.; Hone, D. W. E.; Meng, X. (2009). "The soft tissue of Jeholopterus (Pterosauria, Anurognathidae, Batrachognathinae) and the structure of the pterosaur wing membrane". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 277 (1679): 321–329. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0846. PMC 2842671. PMID 19656798.
  5. ^ a b "Cave Demon". Animal Planet. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
  6. ^ "Dialogue copy from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2013-07-27.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ivan T. Sanderson. Animal Treasure. New York: Viking, 1937. pp. 300–301.
  • Ivan T. Sanderson. Investigating the Unexplained. Englewood cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972. pp. 39–44.
  • Bernard Heuvelmans. Les Derniers Dragons d’Afrique. Paris: Plon, 1978. pp. 436–445.