Still Living

Jonah Jim’s Ropen Sighting

Pterodactyloid pterosaurRhamphorhynchoid pterosaur

Interview with Jonathan Whitcomb


After Whitcomb interviewed Gideon, Wesley, and Mesa, the team left Akure Village to return to Gomlongon. After getting back to the main road, they met a young man who worked in the fields there. Jonah Jim related a sighting he had in which the ropen had flown over not far from where his family sat one night. The brightly glowing creature had a long tail.


Since this testimony followed shortly after the interviews with the  three young men who saw the ropen in the daytime, and Jonah’s account seemed to be just a repetition of information already recorded, Whitcomb, at first, failed to recognize its importance: The glowing form that flies around Umboi Island is the same creature that resembles a pterosaur. The ropen light of the night is the glow produced by the same creature or kind of creature seen by Gideon, Wesley, and Mesa.


Jonah also mentioned an old photograph of the ropen but Whitcomb had no time or means to investigate that lead.


Interview with Guessman and Woetzel


Later in 2004, Garth Guessman and David Woetzel interviewed Jonah Jim and learned much more. The young native was shown many silhouettes of birds, bats, and pterosaurs. From among them, he chose the Sordes Pilosus as the closest to what he had seen. (This is a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.)

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Mount Tolo, near the crater lake Pung

Mount Tolo, near Lake Pung (Umboi Island)


Jonah Jim works not far from Lake Pung, the same crater lake where Gideon and his friends saw the ropen. But Jonah Jim’s sighting was at night; he saw the ropen glowing brightly.

Not all reported pterosaur sightings in Papua New Guinea seem to be of Rhamphorhynchoids. From 1989 through 1991, three Americans saw creatures flying in the daylight over New Britain Island (just east of Umboi Island). Their descriptions suggest Pterodactyloids, perhaps even the species called “Pteranodon.”


For much more information, see the second edition of the book Searching for Ropens (on sale beginning around June, 2007). This book gives details on Guessman’s interview of Jonah Jim.