dirt drawing showing part of the head of the ropenPterosaurs
Still Living

Gideon was Terrified by the Ropen

Pterodactyloid pterosaurRhamphorhynchoid pterosaur

Gideon Interview, 2004


Enlightening and dramatic testimonies in the book Searching For Ropens include the interviews of a young man named Gideon. (Gideon had been quite nervous when  interviewed around 1994). In 2004 (October 7), Jonathan Whitcomb, a U.S. forensic videographer, interviewed Gideon on the remote island of Umboi in Papua New Guinea. He confirmed the reliability of the young man’s testimony that he saw a giant pterosaur-like creature when he was with several other boys years ago. There is nothing in the recent interview that would suggest any dishonesty or gross errors in what this young man reported to Whitcomb.


When asked about the ropen’s head, he replied that he did not have a good look at it. What he did see was a series of bumps or ridges, starting at the back of the head, and continuing over the neck, back, and tail.


Gideon revealed to Whitcomb that the creature had an enormous tail. When he was asked for an estimate of the length of the tail, he thought for a moment and then said “seven meter”. (He had also mentioned “seven meter” when he was asked about the wing-size. When Whitcomb asked if the tail length was similar to the wings, Gideon replied in the affirmative. (Whitcomb later realized that Gideon probably meant the size of one wing rather than wingspan.)


When talking about the tail, Gideon volunteered the description of a “diamond” being part of it. This suggests the ropen is a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur. The other two young men who were briefly interviewed by Whitcomb confirmed this “diamond” on the tail. Whitcomb did not suggest or  bring  up  the  subject  of  a “diamond”. The drawing that Gideon made in the dirt (at the end of the interview session) didn’t show anything that Whitcomb identified as a “diamond.” Gideon could have made an oversight.


From this and other eyewitness accounts and other sources of information, Whitcomb now believes that there is only one ropen living in the interior of Umboi Island and glowing at night, and that it is a giant Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, much bigger than any fossilized Rhamphorhynchoid.


Contrary to critics, the idea that living pterosaurs still fly over some islands of Papua New Guinea is not well countered by any reference to the large bat know as “Flying Fox.”  On the islands where there are accounts and testimonies of very large flying creatures, the natives are perfectly aware of Flying Foxes. They have another name for this fruit bat, but natives of Umboi Island use the word “ropen” for a larger nocturnal flying creature that is a predator and scavenger. The witnesses from this remote village who describe the ropen they saw in the daytime, refer to a tail with a “diamond” at the end. The Flying Fox has no tail in any way resembling this description. And it does not attain nearly the size of “seven meters.”

Read the second edition of the book Searching for Ropens, expanded and improved, with new chapters and eyewitness testimonies.  See also the comments by readers of the first edition.




Beware of critics who ignore eyewitnesses such as the natives Gideon Koro, Mesa Augustin, and Wesley Koro; they may also ignore Western eyewitnesses such as Duane Hodgkinson and Brian Hennessy. (And criticisms of 19th Century newspaper accounts are irrelevant to late 20th Century and early 21st Century sightings.)

Pterosaurs Still Living, Home            Umboi Island Eyewitnesses             Web Map             Video of Gideon Koro            More about Gideon’s account

Gideon - medium shot

Whitcomb interviewed Gideon on Oct 7th, 2004.  The young man described a giant “ropen” that he and five of his friends had seen over a crater lake (Pung)  about ten years earlier.

Gideon agreed with the crude outline of the head drawn by Whitcomb and continued it with his addition: bumps or ridges beginning at the back of the head and continuing along the neck and back.

book "Searching for Ropens" front coverGideon Koro - medium closeup

According to the forensic *videographer, Jonathan Whitcomb, who interviewed Gideon, “I found this witness to be extremely credible. There is no reasonable alternate possibility other than that this young man honestly told me what he had experienced. Two others who were also present when the sighting was made upheld Gideon’s account of the giant flying creature.” (*certified court videographer) The ropen is nothing like the Flying Fox fruit bats of Papua New Guinea.

Wesley KoroMesa Augustin

Others saw the ropen and verified what Gideon had said. Mesa and Wesley added that the tail had a “diamond” on it.