Is the ropen story of Michael of Opai Village

a legend or an account of a real event?

“Maikel” of Opai Village on Umboi Island in

Papua New Guinea, appears to be an ordinary

old man living in a small community of humble

people. Perhaps nobody in the “civilized” world

would know he existed, except for an interview he had with an American in 2004. It was this interview, conducted by a forensic videographer, that brought this old man into a dramatic investigation of one of the strangest scientific quests of modern times.


In 1949 an event occurred that was not at all

unprecedented on this island but which is far

removed from the experiences of people of Western societies. The common practice in

funerals at that time was for the body of the

deceased to be  wrapped in leaves.  On this

night of  this particular funeral gathering, how-

ever, things did not go at all as expected.


Michael was one of the witnesses of a strange

light that  came to the  grave in  Gomlongon

Village where the body of a man was buried.

He could not see any details of what created

the light.  It is  the tradition  of the islanders

that this light is from a creature called “ropen”.

The next day, villagers went to the grave to

find it open; the body was missing.


To the villagers, it was just another case of the

ropen taking a body up to the mountain for the

purpose of eating it. American researchers do

not have any reasonable alternate theory for

this phenomenon. In addition, Michael did not

seem to be attempting to promote any legend

or support any local tradition during his inter-

view. He simply reported what he had seen.


The fact that other reports of grave robbery

resemble Michael’s testimony doesn’t detract

from his credibility.  The things he said and

the things he did not say strongly suggest an

honest testimony of what he saw long ago. 


Whitcomb, author of Searching for Ropens,

thinks the glow of the ropen is caused by an

intrinsic bioluminescence: The ropen is a

living Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur that

glows. Perhaps this is one origin of flying-

fire-breathing-dragon legends.

Michael is one of many people who have seen

the ropen light on Umboi Island. Most do not

see any form to it. An online video of Michael is available; judge his credibility yourself.

From an interview given by Jonathan Whitcomb, certified court videographer

(and investigator of living-pterosaur reports in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere)

Jonathan Whitcomb, who interviewed Michael

in 2004, believes the ropen is a living pterosaur

with a long tail. He has no opinion on the idea

that the creature seen by Michael might be the same individual that is still seen on the island.

(Maybe a newcomer, the present big ropen)

The people of Opai Village where Michael lives

(fascinated by their images on the LCD screen)