What is a Ropen?
Pterosaurs Still Living: Ropens
Does a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur still live?
What are the flying creatures called “ropens” on Umboi Island?
How often we've been taught that all dinosaurs and pterosaurs became extinct millions of years ago, as if that were proven! But what if some are still living? Before you dismiss the concept of a modern pterosaur (in particular, of a long-tailed featherless Rhamphorhynchoid), consider the many eyewitness testimonies of those flying creatures. The following compilations of many eyewitness testimonies are taken in the context of a few of the second-hand accounts, with conclusions by Jonathan David Whitcomb. More than one species of long-tailed pterosaur may live in the Southwest Pacific, in modern times, even now. Reports of smaller ones, less than three meters in wingspan, in the Manus Island area of Papua New Guinea (second-hand accounts) might be juveniles of the same species as the larger ones on or around Umboi Island. We need much more information, at least in detailed sighting reports. We have reports of modern pterosaurs in other parts of the world including the United States: California, Washington State, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states. But for now we examine sightings in Papua New Guinea. Those who have searched for a large nocturnal flying creature in Papua New Guinea call it by the name known on  Umboi Island: “ropen.” With hundreds of cultures, and languages in Papua New Guinea, a real creature should have different names in different cultures. This is the case, with other names for large nocturnal flying creatures: duwas, kundua, kor, seklobali (also spelled “seklo-bali”), indava, and wawanar. But those names may refer to just one or two species. It is nocturnal, but a few reports of daylight sightings (1, 2, 3, 14, 24) reveal much about the shape and features of the ropen. After exploring Umboi Island in 2004, Jonathan Whitcomb (author of Searching for Ropens and Finding God) concluded that there is only one large ropen living continuously in the interior of Umboi Island, but many live on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. He believes that the big Umboi ropen is an older adult that has staked out the  larger mountains  and the  reefs that surround the island. It's probably not the same creature that was reported on Umboi Island in 1949: (11) grave robbery witnessed by Michael of Opai (an old man interviewed by Whitcomb). This island appears ideal for the species and large ropens may claim the interior mountains of some similar islands. The nocturnal creatures may do better when they can sleep in daylight in secure nesting areas on mountains close to the reefs of the coastlines. Described in terms that, to Westerners, suggest a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, the ropen lives in tropical areas of the southwest Pacific. (13, 14, 18, 19, 21) It’s main diet may be fish or other oceanic life that  it catches at night  with the  aid of a bioluminescence that may attract fish. (11) This bioluminescence seems to be controlled by the creature, within limits. It can be attracted to carrion. On Umboi Island, it used to be attracted to funerals, before coffins were used. (11, 19, 20, 21) In addition, the ropen is reported to carry giant clams into mountains where it feeds on them (18), but this idea (from the Woetzel-Guessman expedition) needs more investigation through expeditions. After Whitcomb learned of a cryptozoological search in North America, with observations in 2007, he came to believe that some ropens eat bats, although this may be only part of their diet in this undisclosed location in North America, and this could very well be a different species than the flying creature of Umboi Island. Most eyewitnesses of the ropen see only a glow as it flies over land (6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, 21, 23). The glow is also used to attract fish or other sea creatures at the surface of the sea at night (11). These two cases of light emission may or may not be of the same degree of luminosity. On Umboi, the light emission is brief: about 5-6 seconds (4, 5, 18).  It may begin quickly and end quickly (4) or dim gradually (5) until the light is gone. One native told explorers that the ropen’s light is never on for more than 5-6 seconds (18). It’s used over the sea (4) or near the beach (5), but it's usually seen over land and against a mountain background. The mouth of the ropen has been described by one native eyewitness (Gideon Koro) (1) as like that of a crocodile.  That is, it resembles the mouth of a crocodile compared with other fauna on Umboi Island (Gideon’s testimony is generally supported by 2 and 3). Others describe it as resembling a bill somewhat similar to a pelican's (21). Note that a crocodile’s mouth has some general similarity to the beak of a pelican in that it is relatively long and narrow. Teeth, or their absence, is rarely noticed. The ropen, with no feathers (1, 13, 19), is faster than birds, slower than airplanes. (12,18) Some ropens are described as brown (1, 22), “black or dark brown” (24), or a light reddish tan (13). One report indicates that on Umboi Island they are dark or dark-grayish with dark bluish spots (21), and outside Umboi Island some are tan brown with dark spots. (21) One Umboi eyewitness appeared to report that the length of the tail is similar to the "wingspan," (1) but he probably a misunderstood the English word “wingspan” and was referring to the size of one wing. (Gideon himself did not use the word “wingspan.”) Around Western Australia, the body may be a bit shorter than the tail (13). Some say the tail has a “diamond” or flange- shaped structure. (1, 2, 3, 21) while others have noticed no such detail but suggest it ends in a point (15). This difference in testimony is most likely due to a difference in point-of-view. When the creature is seen from another perspective, the flange is not visible as such (or at least it’s not as obvious a structure). A compilation of data from 128 of the more- credible sighting reports (up to the end of 2012) reveals that 28.5% of them include some kind of description of a structure that suggests a Rhamphorhynchoid tail flange. Very few of those reports, if any, suggested a tail ending in a point. A tradition in north-central Umboi Island was related to David Woetzel and Garth Guessman regarding the ropen's tail. Can the tail move or
Have all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs been extinct for a long time?
Garth Guessman interviewed Duane Hodgkinson
Copyright 2004-2014 Jonathan Whitcomb
bend? The tradition says that it is always straight except at the base where the tail connects to the body. This correlates precisely with the biology of the tails of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs. They could not (or cannot) move except by a few vertebrae closer to the tail base. This is more cryptozoological evidence that “basal” long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoids are extant, not extinct. Dorsal bumps or ridges are on the tail (1, 15) and on the back of the head, over the neck and back (1), although firsthand reports of this are rare. The wings resemble the wings of the  Flying Fox bat, at least somewhat (1,21). But local villagers are very much aware of the bat. (AKA “blak bokus” in the Tok Pisin language or “byung” on Umboi Island, in the Kovai language) There's no confusion between bat and the ropen. Some eyewitnesses report an appendage at the back of the head (14, 15, 21); Some report that the ropen has “hands” half-way up the wings (21). At a close to moderate distance, big ones can be terrifying to local villagers (1, 2, 3, 16, 17, 21). On Umboi Island, it has a wingspan of “seven meter” (twenty-three feet) (1). One seen over Perth, Australia, in 1997, had a wingspan of “30-50” feet (13). One seen in 1944, on the main- land of Papua New Guinea, near Finschhafen, had a wingspan close to 29 feet (14, 22). Some in northern PNG are smaller, (21) with wingspans of 3-6 feet. It is possible  that these smaller creatures may be a different species of ropen, or even another type of pterosaur, but it seems more likely they are juvenile ropens. The ropen of Umboi Island sometimes flies over the villages of Gomlongon and Opai (11, 19) or between the south coast of the island and Mt. Bel (and between mountains). It also flies to the northern coast where it will rest on a particular tree on a peninsula. (18) Two native hunters watched a ropen hold itself onto the trunk of a tree in an upright position (19). This may be one of the reasons that local legends refer to the ropen as being like a man or changing into a man. Young boys and men climb coconut trees by using a similar technique of holding onto the tree trunk. Aside from humans, probably the only living thing with two legs that is seen to hold onto a tree trunk, in an upright position, on Umboi Island, is the ropen. Although this apparent extant pterosaur on Umboi Island does not seem to be much of a threat to humans, there have been reports, in other areas of Papua New Guinea, of attacks on natives. One man died while trying to catch a ropen; after he found it sleeping on a beach, he tried to tie the creature to a log (19). Another man died when he was attacked in his garden (21). A number of the local villagers witnessed his body being eaten by the creature after they arrived to see what the noise was about (21). The creatures that are darker in color may be more aggressive (21). Since the early 1990’s, at least eight Americans have been to Umboi Island, either searching for ropens or interviewing native eyewitnesses. One of the early expeditions was near a small island in the northern part of PNG. In 1996, the missionary Jim Blume saw a small glowing form in  the night,  on a hill  overlooking a mangrove swamp. This is assumed to have been one of the smaller of the creatures reported to live in the Manus Island area, though the form was vague. (21) David Woetzel saw the ropen-light briefly in 2004. He saw no shape to the glowing object, but it was heading towards the Lake Pung area, where several eyewitnesses had previously seen a giant featherless flying creature. Paul Nation videotaped the “indava” light late in 2006, on the mainland, northwest of Port Moresby. The video footage was analyzed by the missile defense physicist  Cliff Paiva:  There was no common-place explanation for the videotaped lights. (See Contents of the scientific report on the apparent bioluminescent indava lights.) Sources In-person interviews by Jonathan David Whitcomb in 2004 (Papua New Guinea): 1)  Gideon Koro, Umboi Island (close, daytime) 2)  Wesley Koro, Umboi Island (close, daytime) 3)  Mesa, Umboi Island (close, daytime) 4)  David Moke, Umboi Island  (night, close) 5)  William Gima, Umboi Island  (night, close) 6)  Mark Kau, Umboi Island  (night, distant) 9)  Jonah Jim  (night, close) 10) Venice Conrad (night, distant), John Anton        (night, distant), Dianne Aisi (nt, dist), John         Lapu (nt, dist), Jefron Ambolis (nt, dist) 11) Others interviewed by Whitcomb 12) Young men of Tarawe Village (night, distant) Interviews by Whitcomb (phone or email) 13) Email communications between Whitcomb       and two Australians who saw an extremely       large flying creature over Perth in 1997. 14) Telephone, email, and correspondence inter-       views with a World War II vet. (Hodgkinson),       including survey with drawings and detailed       descriptions. The 1944 sighting was on the       mainland of New Guinea, near Finschhafen.      (See also #22: Hodgkinson 2005 interview) In-person interviews by Garth Guessman and David Woetzel in 2004 15) Jonah Jim  (night, close) 16) Villagers of Arot 17) Villagers of Tarawe 18) Other eyewitnesses in Papua New Guinea Various accounts of the ropen: 19) Videotaped interviews prior to 2004 (thanks       to Paul Nation, and to his son, Nathaniel,       and to Dr Carl Baugh, and to Jim Blume) 20)  Second-hand reports in various parts of PNG 21)  Telephone interview of Jim Blume by Garth         Guessman; Blume has spoken with about 70         people who’ve seen this creature in PNG.        Also an in-person interview in 2004. 22) In-person interview of Duane Hodgkinson,        June, 2005. (by Guessman) (see # 14) 23) Guessman interview of Jonathan Ragu of        Umboi Island. (2004) 24) Whitcomb’s 2006 interview with Mr. Brian        Hennessy (who is now a psychologist in        China) —he saw a ropen.
Native eyewitness describes the flight of a ropen
Ropen book, nonfiction