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
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.