Reports of Live Pterosaurs
in the Southwest Pacific
These Americans have gone deep into the tropical rain forests
of Papua New Guinea, in the twenty-first century, to help in the
cryptozoology searches for what appear to be living pterosaurs
Papua New Guinea
Does a live pterodactyl fly over villages of some
southwest Pacific islands? Many testimonies
suggest nocturnal long-tailed creatures (called
“Rhamphorhynchoids” by some) having names
like “ropen” and “duwas” (Don’t confuse with
“duah,” a Western mistake), live in coastal areas
of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, as well
as on the islands of Umboi and Manus. A similar
one was seen, in 1971, over Perth, Australia.
Introduction to the Philosophies
Both negative and positive reactions to these living-
pterosaur investigations deserve attention. Huge flying
pterosaurs, non-extinct, with no photo in a newspaper,
no news flash on television—that does seem odd. But it
deserves careful attention, not a brusk dismissal.
Western cultural/scientific views on pterosaur extinction
needs reevaluation. “Standard models” of science are
often taught in Americans schools and colleges as if they
were unchallengeable fact. In reality, they are simply
the more popular theories or ideas based on the more
widely disseminated philosophy. In some educational
circles, any idea appearing to contradict “Naturalism”
is avoided or ridiculed. That in itself may be a major
part of the problem that prevents many professors from
investigating reports of apparent living pterosaurs or
even just gaining access to those reports.
Ancient extinctions of all pterosaurs and dinosaurs, an
idea repeated constantly in the media and in education,
supports the philosophy of Strict Naturalism. “Living
Pterosaur” research is a niche of cryptozoology and is
considered non-standard by many biologists, although
some Naturalists are involved in cryptozoology.
Most of those most active in this research are labeled
“Creationists,” although not all of them are as out-
spoken as the Young Earth Creationists David Woetzel
and Garth Guessman. Although these investigators may
have some differences in religious philosophy, they use
scriptures, such as the book of Genesis, at least as a
source of clues, if not as a complete foundation for their
The philosophical contest between Creationism and
Naturalism should not be confused with any idea of
conflict between religion and science. We need to under-
stand that every scientist has a philosophy on which to
start with: a foundational axiom. Many researchers use
Strict Naturalism, or the philosophy that denies any
miracles or Divine intervention in the universe. This
itself is not scientific but a philosophy on which some
stand, in interpreting any data that is observed.
Creationism accepts many miracles such as are found
in scriptures. It also assumes that natural operation of
laws or physical processes are predictable and very
consistent, in the present and since the formation of
Many of the most notable scientific advances have
been made by those who believed in either Biblical
Creation or Intelligent Design, namely: Isaac Newton,
Galileo, Johann Kepler, Francis Bacon, Lord Kelvin,
George Washington Carver, William Herschel, Michael
Faraday, Samuel Morse, Charles Babbage, Wernher von
Braun, Joseph Lister, Louis Pasteur, etc. Nobody need
reject any scientific work only because the scientist
believed in the Bible or in some intelligent Designer.
Intelligent Design, without organized religion and
without scripture, is a recent movement but an ancient
philosophy or foundation of belief.
Duane Hodgkinson’s sighting of the “pterodactyl” on
the mainland of New Guinea, in 1944, has given us a
dramatic source of information on the amazing ropen.
During the Second World War, two soldiers, including
Duane Hodgkinson, had stopped on a trail west of
Finschhafen on the mainland of what was then New
Guinea (now Papua New Guinea). Just after entering
a clearing, they saw a huge creature take off into the
air. It was obvious to Hodgkinson: a “pterodactyl,”
with a wingspan of over twenty feet; the other soldier
had been a biology student before the war, and he
would have preferred to pretent that they had seen
nothing at all.
The appendage at the back of the head of the huge
flying creature caught Hodgkinson’s attention. He
was interviewed in 2004, by Jonathan Whitcomb,
through emails, phone calls, and a survey form that
Whitcomb had prepared. Hodgkinson choose from
among various silhouettes of possible head crest
lengths (and other variations of appearance), and
the final resulting composite of the head was not
like any bat.
Introduction to the Sightings
Native Eyewitness of Ropen
Glowing Nocturnal Flying Creatures
Many of the eyewitness reports suggest some intrinsic
bioluminescent capability in these pterosaur-like flying
creatures. The following lists only a few eyewitnesses
of strange flying lights in the southwest Pacific (one
kind of flying night light is called, on Umboi Island,
“Blume has spoken with about 70 natives who have
seen apparent giant living pterosaurs in Papua New
Guinea. Much of what extant-pterosaur investigators
know about Blumes native-interviews comes from the
telephone interview by Guessman.”
Leonard of Opai Village, Umboi Island
“He sees the ropen fly over Opai about once a month.
Jonathan Whitcomb, another ropen investigator,
noted that these villages have no . . . electricity and so
most of the people . . . [at night are] indoors.”
Luke Paina, interpreter for Whitcomb
“. . . saw the ropen briefly as it flew across the western
side of Mount Bel on the evening of October 5, 2004
near Gomlongon Village.”
American Explorer David Woetzel
“. . . was so quick that it was impossible to get a video—
maybe 2 seconds . . . almost golden and shimmering
around the edges. It looked like an old-fashioned street
light in the fog.” [Whitcomb interviewed Woetzel]
David Moke (interviewed by Whitcomb)
“ . . . without warning or sound, the sea was lit up with
a brilliant light. . . . The light source was unseen. After
about five seconds, it gradually became dimmer until
all was again dark.” (Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea)
Mark Kau (interviewed by Whitcomb)
“. . . Of his several sightings in 2002, once, the creature
was flying towards Mount Bel and once, away from it.”
Jonah Jim near Owangai, Umboi Island
He was interviewed by Jonathan Whitcomb and, a few
weeks later, by Guessman and Woetzel.
“The young native was shown many silhouettes of birds,
bats, and pterosaurs. . . . he chose the Sordes Pilosus as
the closest to what he had seen.”
Steven Cottingham, government official
“Steven Cottingham was the government's Officer-In-
Charge (Kiap) of Umboi and surrounding islands in
1972, when he saw, near Lab Lab, a strange light.”
Lights and Creatures
The great majority of ropen sightings involve the “ropen
light.” Most of the witnesses get no clear view of any
form though many can give some description of the
colors or the direction of light's flight.
The natives' testimonies of the ropen light were found
to be very credible, in late-2004, by the forensic video-
grapher Jonathan Whitcomb, finding the mannerisms
and composure of the villagers strongly supporting
what they told him.
Had they had any desire to promote any tourism or to
attract researchers to their village, they surely would
have given some detail other than just a moving light
at night. If they had any inclination to lie, they would
have said something about a dragon or a flying animal
or a flying man (their supersitions or traditions may
include reference to a flying man-like spirit). But the
vaste majority of eyewitnesses see only a flying light,
which would be expected of villagers who live on an
island mostly covered with tropical rain forest that has
a large bioluminescent nocturnal flying creature. The
honest native eyewitnesses report nothing but lights.
But a minority of eyewitnesses have seen a large or
giant flying creature, something differing greatly from
the Flying Fox fruit bat.
Jonah Jim is an important witness in tying the flying-
light phenomenon to those sightings of creatures that
strongly resemble living pterosaurs. He noticed both
the glow and the form of the creature, including a long
tail: a pivotal testimony in this investigation.
Several things distinguish shooting stars from ropens.
The ropen lights:
Fly at low elevation, just above tree canopy
Fly close to horizontally
Fly to and from particular mountains & reefs
Sometimes light up a beach or village
Consistently last for 5-6 seconds
Rob graves, when wooden coffins are not used
When close, are seen to have wings & long tail
Whatever produces this light has characteristics that
suggest a biological origin. In former times, when the
human burials involved wrapping bodies with leaves
instead of using secure wooden caskets, the lights were
sometimes seen close to or at the grave sites at night.
The bodies would be found missing from their graves
the next morning. In more recent years, burials with
caskets, which are difficult to open, are common. The
grave robbery problem seems to have greatly declined.
The light seems to be produced by a scavenger or by
a creature that scavenges when it can.
There have also been reports of attacks: large or giant
flying creatures attacking natives in Papua New Guinea.
Some of the encounters have caused human deaths, in
particular on the mainland west of Finschhafen.
Pterosaurs are not “Flying Dinosaurs”
A common misunderstanding involves calling
pterosaurs “flying dinosaurs.” They are quite a
different kind of animal, not a type of dinosaur.
They are portrayed together in films and on
television, as if all species lived anciently and
became extinct before humans existed. No!
Paul Nation and Carl Baugh, in the 1990’s and in 2002,
interviewed native eyewitnesses of the ropen of Umboi
Island. Making friends with natives on this island of
Papua New Guinea helped prepare the way for the two
expeditions of 2004, in which both professional and
scientific interview methods were employed by the
American cryptozoologists Jonathan Whitcomb, Garth
Guessman, and David Woetzel.
Eyewitness describes flight path of the ropen that flew
over Lab Lab village on the coast of Umboi Island
Composite sketch from Hodgkinson’s detailed
multiple-sketch questionnaire (2004)
“My living-pterosaur research began in 2002,
when I communicated with a missionary in
Venezuela regarding natives living near the
Erebato River. I became fascinated by his
account of why those natives never drink the
water from that river.
“Long ago the natives in that area were some-
times attacked by a “giant bat." On at least
one occasion, it killed somebody. Once, it
was seen, soon after a killing, defecating into
the river. (’Erebato’ means bat feces.) This
may have happened many generations ago,
but the people still remember it to the extent
that they do not drink the water from that river.
“In 2003 I began communicating with Paul
Nation, of Texas, who had explored in Papua
New Guinea twice before, including in 2002.
We planned on exploring Umboi Island some
time in 2004, to search for the creature called
ropen (also known as “duwas”). Unforeseen
circumstances left Paul out of the expedition,
so I traveled to Papua New Guinea alone, in
September of 2004.
“I have interviewed many eyewitnesses in the
villages of Opai, Gomlongon, and Owangai.
There did not appear to be any ulterior motives
with those natives, only the simple desire to
help me by answering my questions. I found
almost all the testimonies very credible.
“Two other American cryptozoologists, David
Woetzel and Garth Guessman, traveled to
Papua New Guinea a few days after I had
returned to the States. They also interviewed
important eyewitnesses of the ropen on this
remote island of Umboi.”
David Moke, of Opai Village, was fishing with a
local magistrate one night. Without warning a
brilliant light flashed above their canoe, lighting
up everything around. After about five seconds,
it gradually became dimmer until it was dark.
2002 Expedition of Paul Nation
Paul Nation (shown crossing a stream) and his son
Nathanael (taking the video of this crossing) searched
for the elusive nocturnal ropen, on Umboi Island, in
2002, without any direct success.
Ropen Episode of Destination Truth
Late in 2006, the Mandt Brothers production
team consulted with Jonathan Whitcomb on
their upcoming 2007 expedition to Papua New
Guinea. In that expedition, the American team
was shocked at the ropen light, but not too
shocked to videotape it for the TV show.
But Destination Truth was not the first team
to videotape the ropen light, for just a few
weeks earlier, late in 2006, Paul Nation had
videotaped the same kind of light, deep in
the interior of mainland Papua New Guinea.
Five-second Bioluminescent Flash
Pterosaur sketch by Eskin Kuhn: Cuba, 1971
Indava Lights videotaped by P. Nation
Paul Nation had searched for creatures that he
was told were described like huge pterosaurs.
Local natives call it "indava" (deep in the remote
mountainous mainland interior of Papua New
Guinea). In two previous expeditions, Nation
had failed to see any bioluminescent ropens
on Umboi Island; but on his third trip to Papua
New Guinea, he tried another location and so
became the first American explorer to videotape
this kind of glowing creature: the mysterious
Scientific Analysis by a Missile Defense
Physicist: Clifford Paiva
Giant Pterosaur Over Perth, Australia
In Perth, southwest Australia, at about 10:30 pm, in
December of 1997, a couple was taking a walk when
they noticed a “huge creature flying . . . it had a
ruddy reddish brown leathery skin . . . . a long tail
and a wingspan that we estimated at between 30-50
feet across . . .” Not only are both those testimonies
credible in themselves but several details correlate
with eyewitness testimonies of local people in Papua
Two Indava Light near Tawa Village
From video by Paul Nation, 2006
Sketch by Eskin Kuhn, eyewitness of two pterosaurs
he saw in daylight, in 1971, at the Guantanamo Bay
military installation in Cuba. Another eyewitness,
Patty Carson, has reported the same apparent
species at that location but about six years earlier.
Copyright 2011, 2012 Jonathan David Whitcomb
Pterosaurs in Georgia, USA: A lady in the state of
Georgia has reported at least two creatures that are
probably the same species, flying in daylight
Jonathan Whitcomb was interviewed by the radio-
television host Richard Syrett, in May of 2012, in
Long Beach, California.
Other cryptozoologists interviewed for this episode
of the television show include Garth Guessman and
William Gibbons. This episode should air in October.
“The Conspiracy Show” and Pterosaurs
“With all the negative reactions to reports of living
pterosaurs, how refreshing to have a television talk
show about the subject, with interviews of those who
support the research and investigations!”
Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition -
the best-selling cryptozoology book about
reports of modern living “pterodactyls”
Copyright 2010 Sandra Paradise