July 7, 2006, revised pr. rel. - The flying light seen
one night in 2004, in Papua New Guinea, by a New
Hampshire businessman, was a living pterosaur, ac-
cording to the newly published book “Searching for
Ropens.” David Woetzel was watching the sky, for
a creature known, by natives of various languages,
as “duwas,” “kundua,” “seklo-bali,” and “kor,” but on
the island Woetzel was exploring, it is “ropen.” The
horizontal movement suggested it was no meteor.
The book, by Jonathan D. Whitcomb, a Californian
forensic videographer, compares the sighting with
other ropen sightings on Umboi Island. The author
noted that the flying light seen by Woetzel soon
disappeared behind a mountain where natives had
previously seen the creature both at night and in
the daylight. Whitcomb’s book declares that the
daylight sightings strongly suggest the light comes
from a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.
Long-tailed featherless creatures seen in coastal
areas of Papua New Guinea had previously been
thought, by some skeptics, to be misidentifications,
that eyewitnesses had seen Flying Fox fruit bats,
even though the bats have almost no tails. But two
natives described a ropen holding itself upright on
a tree trunk (fruit bats hang upside down), and the
ropen has an apparent bioluminescent glow that
it may use to catch fish. The nocturnal creature
might also use its light to navigate over land.
Although Whitcomb admits there is not yet any
photograph to prove pterosaurs still live, or any
body to disprove textbook declarations that the
last pterosaur died 65-million years ago, his book
tells of a native tradition that ties the ropen’s tail
to the tail of a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur. It
was astonishing to Garth Guessman, Woetzel’s
fellow American explorer on Umboi Island, when
they learned of the tradition. The two Americans
are now credited with uncovering this correlation
between the ropen and some pterosaur fossils.
According to Guessman, a native named Dickson
explained to them a tradition about the ropen’s tail:
inflexible, except where it connects to the body. It
relates to what is known about the long tails of the
pterosaurs known, by scientists in that field, as
“Rhamphorhynchoids,” according to Guessman.
Those pterosaurs were unable to move their tails
except where it connects to the body.
Press Release for New Hampshire
Ropens or other kinds of living pterosaurs have been seen around the world.
More News Releases on Living Pterosaurs:
Refutation of the pterosaur hoax idea
Pterosaurs are more likely living creatures than hoaxes
Live Pterodactyl - nocturnal creature flying at night
News: Glowing Featherless Creature Flies in Papua New Guinea
Whitcomb himself had gone on his own expedition
to Papua New Guinea, only a few weeks before
the Woetzel-Guessman expedition, and to the same
island: Umboi. But earlier in 2004 he interviewed an
American eyewitness of a ropen. Duane Hodgkinson,
a flight instructor living in Livingston, Montana, was
a soldier in New Guinea during World War II. He has
maintained that he saw a huge long-tailed “pterodactyl”
in 1944, near Finschhafen. The World War II veteran’s
description resembles the one given by an Australian
couple who had seen a giant featherless creature that
flew over Perth (Western Australia) in 1997. Whitcomb
noted similarities to native accounts recorded by some
earlier explorers in Papua New Guinea, from 1994 to
2002, and by the Baptist missionary James Blume.
According to the missionary, around Manus Island (to
the north of Umboi) the ropen has a wingspan of 3-4
feet, but in other areas it may reach 10-15 feet. This
may not be conclusive, as Whitcomb suggests there
may be limitations in first-hand eyewitness encounters,
and at least one human death has been reported with
an attack from a creature near Manus Island. On the
mainland and on Umboi some eyewitnesses estimate
the wingspan at well over twenty feet, including the
ropen seen by Hodgkinson.
Some eyewitnesses, in some areas, say the creature
has a long beak or mouth and no feathers.
Fossils of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs have long
tails. Some sightings of ropens indicate the modern
flying creatures have head crests, even though few
Rhamphorhynchoid fossils show that feature. Also,
two ropen eyewitnesses described dorsal ridges, and
that may be uncharacteristic of the fossils. Whitcomb’s
book acknowledges differences and that ropens grow
larger than the specimens of Rhamphorhynchoid
fossils, but it emphasizes that the “diamond” on the
ropen’s tail may relate to the tails of those fossils.
Whitcomb, an independent videographer who records
evidence for attorney firms, seeks funding for a major
expedition to videotape a ropen.
James Blume is a missionary in Wau (mainland of
Papua New Guinea). Garth Guessman is a profes-
sional for public safety in Southern California, and
David Woetzel has been a business executive in
More About Living Pterosaurs:
This relates to the disputation about pterosaur
extinction that is taught in schol textbooks.
Please email Jonathan Whitcomb if you have
a comment, or would like to help or would like
to report a sighting.
Do Ropens, Extant Pterosaurs, Eat Bats?
“In the summer of 2007, I learned that Guessman and Woetzel had found a new area to search for
the cryptid we call "ropen" (I assumed it was still in Papua New Guinea). When I learned that they
had seen many bats and apparent ropens flying, at night, over the same valley, at the same time,
and that the sightings were throughout the year . . . The ropens must be catching bats.”