Pterosaurs Still Living
Two Ropen Expeditions in 2004 on Umboi Island
Three American cryptozoologists, Jonathan Whitcomb, David Woetzel, and Garth Guessman, search for the ropen of Papua New Guinea
cartoon sketch of a short-tailed pterosaur sketch of a long-tailed pterosaur
Copyright 2005-2016 Jonathan David Whitcomb
Two Expeditions in Search of Living Pterosaurs
All three of the explorers returned to the United States convinced that the ropen is a real animal and a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur
Thank you to Garth Guessman and David Woetzel for the use of the photos on the right side of this web page. And thnk you to these two American cryptozoologists for their wonderful work in Papua New Guinea in 2004.
Jonathan Whitcomb returned to the U.S. on October 15, 2004, after staying two weeks on Umboi Island. Although he obtained no photos or video footage of ropens, he found important eyewitnesses whose testimonies he recorded and later analyzed.  He gave the first film camera (to be given out) to one of the leaders in the village of Gomlongon. On October 17th, David Woetzel and Garth Guessman left the U.S. with a few additional cameras for the local islanders to use in photographing the ropen. Yes, “the ropen.” An amazing finding of the Whitcomb-Paina expedition was that only one large ropen lives continuously in the interior of Umboi Island. Later analysis, however, suggests one (or more) additional members of their species visits this island, on occasion, from the mainland or other islands. One more surprise: This is a Rhamphorhynchoid! The ropen is indeed a long- tailed “basal” pterosaur, but it’s much larger than any known fossilized species of this type. Whitcomb was told that the tail is seven meters long.
Woetzel and Guessman visited some of the same villages as Whitcomb plus additional mountains and villages on the northern side of the island. They spoke with many eyewitnesses and learned that the traditions in one area of Umboi Island correlate perfectly with what Western scientists know about  the internal structure of the tails of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs. This was exciting new evidence that the ropen is a indeed Rhamphorhynchoid. These two American explorers gave out some low-cost cameras to a few natives on Umboi Island, in certain villages. Woetzel and Guessman hoped that at least one of those villagers would be able to photograph the ropen. (The Americans interviewed one native who said that only one ropen light is seen at a time.)
American explorer on the tropical rain forest island of Umboi American creationist explorer David Woetzel in Papua New Guinea American Garth Guessman witnessing and exploring in Papua New Guinea in 2004 Native Baptist minister Jacob Kepas (left) and American Baptist missionary James Blume (right) in Papua New Guinea The ropen carries giant clams out of the reef and far up into the interior of Umboi Island, according to the natives Large wooden carving of an apparent flying creature in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea PNG native Luke Paina was interpreter, bodyguard, and counselor to American Jonathan Whitcomb The native Gideon Koro told Whitcomb about the gigantic ropen that had flown over Lake Pung Native Wesley Koro was also interviewed by Jonathan Whitcomb. The tail had a "diamond" shape on it
It seems the biggest triumph in the Whitcomb-Paina expedition was with the interviewing of three key eyewitnesses in a remote village near Mount Tolo. Gideon Koro, his brother Wesley, and Mesa Augustin—all three testified that they together, with four other boys, saw the ropen fly over Lake Pung. The use of the word diamond suggests that the flying creature was a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur with a tail flange related to the structures found at the end of the tails of some “basal” pterosaur fossils. How could the tail actually be 23 feet long? It seems like an exaggeration, for that would make the probable wingspan even greater in size. Yet take that in context with other sighting reports in the southwest Pacific and it relates to what other eyewitnesses have said. Duane Hodgkinson and his army buddy, in 1944 on the mainland of New Guinea, saw a long-tailed “pterodactyl” that had a tail length estimated to be “at least ten or fifteen feet” long.
Guessman and Woetzel, in their 2004 expedition on Umboi Island, were shown the shells of the giant clams that had been carried far inland by the ropen, according to the natives. This is in harmony with those eyewitness accounts that describe a huge size to the flying creature of the night. The Americans saw a connection with the name seklo-bali, which means “he who carries his bed around with him.”
After leaving Umboi Island (which is called Siasi by the people of Papua New Guinea), Guessman and Woetzel spent some time in the capital of Port Moresby. There they examined and photographed native art: wooden carvings that suggested large flying creatures. By itself, those works of art have little evidential value in support of the concept of living pterosaurs, of course, but taken in context with the sightings it makes sense.
Paul Nation of Texas crosses a river on Umboi Island during an expedition in 2002 PNG native Luke Paina (left) and Jonathan Whitcomb (right) waiting for a ship in Lae, Papua New Guinea, in 2004 Native village leader Mark Kau, seen here with his two young sons, helped make the first expedition of 2004 a success
Luke Paina, of the city of Lae in Papua New Guinea, became the interpreter, bodyguard, and the counselor to American Jonathan Whitcomb, during their expedition on the tropical island of Umboi. On one night, near Gomlongon, Luke saw the flying ropen light.
Mark Kau, shown here with his two sons in 2004, greatly helped in the first expedition of that year as Whitcomb and Paina needed assistance in their excursions into the jungle interior of Umboi. Mark had a number of sightings of the ropen light, for years.
Jacob (or “Jakob”) Kepas (left) and American missionary Jim Blume (right) were of great help in the second expedition of 2004. In fact, Kepas was the interpreter for Woetzel and Guessman, and Blume helped set up the plane flight to Umboi.
Family and friends of Mark Kau of Gomlongon Village, Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2004
The two Umboi Island expeditions of the year 2004 were organized and carried out seperately, with no financial or organizational relationship between them. They were independent, yet their findings were later shared and compared.
Mark Kau (right) and family and friends pose for the American videographer Jonathan Whitcomb by the family house just west of Gomlongon Village.
Paul Nation (of Texas), shown here crossing a river on Umboi Island, gave essential preparation help for the two American-led expeditions of 2004.
The second expedition of 2004, led by Woetzel and Guessman, was under the support of Genesis Park, a Christian organization for promoting knowledge of evidences supporting the Bible’s record of the creation, giving God credit for the wonderful life on this planet. These two American explorers were searching for more than the ropen. They also sought to teach natives about Jesus Christ.
Paul Nation and his son Nathanael explored Umboi Island in 2002, hiking along jungle trails with local native guides. Unfortunately, they did not see the ropen or the light of that creature as it sometimes flies over this tropical island at night. Late in the 20th century, Paul had been in the pioneer expeditions in Papua New Guinea, which were led by Carl Baugh (of Texas) and the missionary Jim Blume.
paperback nonfiction cryptozoology book "Searching for Ropens and Finding God" - fourth edition - by forensic videographer Jonathan David Whitcomb Back cover of the nonfiction paperback cryptozoology cross-genre book "Searching for Ropens and Finding God" - 4th edition
Get your own copy of Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition) and dive into the adventures of seeking modern living pterosaurs, supporting evidence that these wonderful flying creatures are not simply “primitive” relics of the ancient past. They live today, in many parts of the world. In chapters seven through fifteen you’ll learn much more about these two Umboi Island expeditions of 2004, including the adventures and dangers encountered on this tropical island. Yet you’ll find much more in these twenty-four chapters and extensive appendix: modern-pterosaur sightings in Africa, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, and in North America. Sightings in the USA include encounters in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, etc.