two buildings and jungle background; near Lab Lab, Umboi Island, Papua New GuineaUmboi Island, Papua New Guinea, showing Gomlongon Village and Lab LabPterosaurs
Still Living

Umboi Official Sees Ropen Light

Pterodactyloid pterosaurRhamphorhynchoid pterosaur

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Bioluminescent flying creature seen by Steven Cottingham near Lab Lab.

His description indicates that it was the living pterosaur called “ropen.”

Steven Cottingham was the government's Officer-In-Charge (Kiap) of Umboi and surrounding islands in 1972, when he saw, near Lab Lab, a strange light. He visited many villages on Umboi, during his 18-month stay, but the night he saw the 4-5-second glow stuck in his memory.


At about 7:00 p.m., after fishing off the reef, Cottingham saw the glow: a light moving horizontally “across the top of the coconut palms.” The object’s slow wavelike motion was unlike any other light he had ever seen.


He  revealed,  “It was  too high  and covered  too much distance  to be  a person  walking with  a lantern,  but I checked at daybreak to see if there was a walking track on a hill behind the coconut palms. There was nothing at that height. The coconuts were on flat ground.”


The light was a “dull orange. Not as round as the moon, but bigger than what a Coleman lantern would be.”

Gomolongon Village and Lab Lab on Umboi

Island, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea


Steven Cottingham was mystified by what a native told him was a “spirit light,” until he searched, in 2007, for web pages about Umboi Island, and learned about many others who have seen the ropen lights.

book "Searching for Ropens" (second edition) - front coverbook "Searching for Ropens" (second edition) - back cover

Read the second edition of the book Searching for Ropens, (Living Pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea), nonfiction. It has been expanded and improved, with new chapters and eyewitness testimonies. Purchase it online.

Lab Lab, Umboi Island, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea