|Sub grouping||Bat, bird, or pterosaur|
|Country||Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia|
|Habitat||Mountain streams, and surrounding forests|
An Olitiau is a gigantic cryptid bat (or flying reptile) hypothesized to exist in Central Africa. 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. The name may be used by the Ipulo to refer to demons in general rather than to the creature itself.
Olitiau are said to have 6–12 ft (2–4 m) wingspans. Their body is allegedly black, though their wings have been described as either dark brown or red. Their lower jaws are said to contain 2-inch (50 mm) long, serrated teeth with equal spacing between each tooth.
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. He called it "the granddaddy of all bats". The Sanderson incident is often used as an example of a Kongamato sighting.
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.
- 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.
- A surviving pterosaur. 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.
In popular culture
The Olitiau was the subject of an episode of Lost Tapes entitled "Cave Demons". It was shown as a giant bat. Curiously, it is described as coming from the Tora Bora caves in Afghanistan, rather than Cameroon. 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.
- Karl Shuker. The Beasts That Hide From Man. New York: Paraview, 2003. Pp. 84-107. ISBN 1-931044-64-3
- George M. Eberhart. Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. Volume Two N-Z Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002. Pp. 405-406.
- Rickard, Bill; Mitchell, John (2007). A Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena. New York: Penguin Group. p. 358. ISBN 1-84353-708-7.
- 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.
- "Cave Demon". Animal Planet. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Dialogue copy from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- 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.