Are sightings of “pterodactyls,” or pterosaurs, from misidentifications?
Searching for Ropens
and Finding God
- fourth edition
by J. D. Whitcomb
Copyright 2014 Jonathan David Whitcomb
Flying fox bat versus ropen - media resources
SFRFG back cover
Up until the late 20th Century, the flying fox explanation was used to dismiss reports of large flying
creatures in Papua New Guinea, nocturnal creatures that some people called pterodactyls.
Investigations from 1993 through 1996 included brief expeditions, or interview sessions, with native
eyewitnesses in and around the island of Umboi. The natives had seen strange flying lights or large
featherless flying creatures larger than flying fox bats and obviously a different kind of animal.
Why are fruit bats not what was observed? Eyewitnesses do not describe creatures with no tails and
with wingspans of seven feet; they observe creatures with tails longer than seven feet and wingspans
greater than twenty feet. The first might be ascribed to misidentified flying fox bats; not the second.
The first is mostly hypothetical; the second correlates with what most eyewitnesses actually describe.
And those larger featherless flyers with long tails are also reported to catch fish, making them even
less like fruit bats. Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition, reveals why the ropen of
Umboi Island, and some other locations, differs from the fruit bats known as flying foxes:
“No flying fox can terrify a group of islanders by flying over a lake. Furthermore, fruit bats never grow
long tails, never eat fish, never glow at night, and never dig up the grave of a recently-deceased human
to carry away the body. What do fruit bats eat? Fruit. Think of a miracle of science fiction: If a fruit bat
grew to become longer than a village hut, it might devour the garden—but not the gardener. Now think
of reality: A fruit bat never impersonates a giant long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.”
How do flying fox bats differ from ropens? Consider:
1) Ropens glow at night; fruit bats do not.
2) Ropens are said to eat fish, clams, and carrion; fruit bats do not.
3) Large ropens have wingspans between ten feet and fifty-five feet; fruit bats are much smaller.
4) Large ropens have tails longer than seven feet; flying fox bats have tiny tails.
5) A ropen was seen holding itself upright on the trunk of a tree; fruit bats hang upside down from branches.
6) The ropen’s mouth has been described like that of a “crocodile” and the long beak of a bird; The mouth of
the Flying Fox looks like . . . well, a fox.
The book Searching for Ropens and Finding God makes it clear:
“Some critics interpret “pterodactyls” in Papua New Guinea as misidentified flying foxes: fruit bats. Take a
closer look. Around Gomlongon and Opai, villages on Umboi Island, they call this bat byung. Villagers have
no fear of byung, for when somebody catches one the reward is a bowl of tasty soup.
“When seven boys [around their early teenage years], soon to be men, hike up a mountain and immediately
run home in terror, a poor explanation is a surprise encounter with an ingredient of soup.”
Live Pterosaurs in
America - 3rd edition
- another nonfiction
book by Whitcomb
Paul Nation, of Texas,
on his expedition on
Umboi Island in 2002
It’s not just the general size. The ropen has a very long tail and a long neck.
Brian Hennessy, now
a psychologist, saw
a flying creature that
gave the impression
of being “prehistoric.”
His answers, on a
to him by Jonathan
Whitcomb, made it
obvious that it was
the same creature
seen by the soldier
during World War II.
Duane Hodgkinson, in
recent decades a
flight instructor, saw a
huge “pterodactyl” in
New Guinea in 1944.
Author J. D. Whitcomb
on his expedition on
Umboi Island in 2004