front cover of nonfiction book Searching for Ropens

Why it’s Hard to Videotape

or Photograph Ropens

Imagine that you’ve been given a school assignment to get a photograph of an automobile accident. You’ll have four months in which to obtain the photo but this must not be a staged or fake accident.

It must not be of an accident that occurred before the project was given to you. The photo must be taken by nobody but you. Does  this  seem  like  a  very  difficult assignment? Is it feasible?


To honestly succeed in photographing an actual automobile accident, you would probably need to spend many hours a day for many weeks, waiting at some location where automobile accidents are known to happen. What if, after waiting five weeks

at the intersection, an accident happens right in front of you, but you were not able to get the lens cap off in time to take the photograph of the accident? How would you feel?


The point is that photographing an event that is sure to happen may be very easy when we know when and where the event will take place. When we do not know the place or time, it is very hard. This is the case with research into the creature that some call ropen.


Be that as it may, many people on some of the islands of Papua New Guinea have seen these creatures.

With so many names, like duwas, ropen, wawanar, indava, and seklo-bali, this pterosaur or pterosaur-like creature may not be so rare. Why has the Western news media not yet been given a photograph or a videotape of this strange nocturnal “pterodactyl?” Are pterodactyls still flying around our night skies?

simple sketch of long-tailed pterosaur

Cryptozoology and Pterosaurs,

commonly called pterodactyls

Carl Baugh, of Glenrose, Texas, went to

two or three remote islands in Papua New

Guinea,  in two light  expeditions  in the

1990’s. On one of these trips he was able

to see, at a distance, what may have been

the ropen, also known as duwas, wawanar, indava, and seklo-bali.


Paul Nation went on two light expeditions to one or two of these remote islands, but by the end of 2002, he had seen nothing that could have been the elusive nocturnal creature that’s described like a pterodactyl.


In 2004, three Americans visited Umboi

Island and searched for the ropen. One of

them saw the creature one night. This one

sighting lasted for about two seconds and

was from a distance. One interpreter had

a similar sighting after the American had

gone to bed. (another vague distant form)


At least one or two other Westerners have

gone to one or two of these remote islands

in search of the pterosaur-like creature.


Jim Blume, originally from the U.S., has

been a missionary in Papua New Guinea

for about thirty years. He has interviewed

about 70 eyewitnesses of the creature. He

has been involved in a little searching him-

self. He has had only one sighting. It was

of a vague light near a beach. Considering

all the details, researchers believe this was

a juvenile ropen or a similar type creature.

This sighting by itself is hardly convincing

evidence to skeptics, of course.


Considering that fact that so many people

have gone to these remote islands, looking

for the creature that they hope is a living

pterosaur, and not one of them has ever

claimed to have had a clear view of any-

thing that resembled a pterosaur, it’s very

clear they are not using any dishonesty to

convince people pterosaurs are living there.

If during these many years,  one of them

had the desire to lie to promote the idea

that pterosaurs are still living,  it would

have been easy to say a  pterosaur-like

creature had been seen by one of them.


An examination of the efforts of these men

reveals the obvious fact that they hope to

show the world that pterosaurs still live. It

just needs to be done honestly.


Do all these seeming failures indicate that

the ropen is not a real creature? Why is it

so difficult for a Westerner to see them?

Let’s look at some reasons:


1) Ropens are nocturnal. For the most part,

     they come out when most people sleep.


2) These creatures are rare. As few as one

     giant ropen lives on Umboi (an island of

     about 900 square kilometers).


3) They live in dense tropical rain forests,

     for the most part. When they fly over- 

     head, tree cover prevents a sighting.


4) Those local people who see them on a

     regular basis, often see a ropen only

     once a month. We believe these men

     are those who are out at night often.

     Westerners usually stay on an island

     for only a few days or for 1-2 weeks.


5) Several eyewitnesses indicate that this

     creature glows brightly for only about

     five to six seconds at a time as it flies.

     Even without tree cover and being in

     in the right place at the right time, you

     could have  your back  turned when

     it gives off the brief light.


6) On Umboi Island, the large ropen is

     seen often by many local people. It

     is unpredictable to some extent, how-

     ever. It flies from mountain to moun-

     tain and from inland areas to shores

     on both the north and south sides.

     It’s hard to predict where it will be.


7) There is not yet any firm idea about

     where it sleeps.


This last point may be important for future expeditions. If we can find where one sleeps, we can photograph and videotape it.

simpler sketch of long-tailed pterosaur

New book: Searching for Ropens

(Quotation excerpts)


More about the book on living

pterosaurs (Southwest Pacific)


Grave robbery witnessed

by Michael of Opai


Recent expeditions of Paul Nation


Charles Darwin in the pterodactyl

book Searching for Ropens


Creationism and pterosaurs


Superstition as it relates to the

living-pterosaur investigations


Bioluminescence and the ropen


Living Pterosaur links


Gomlongon Village


Opai Village

Paul Nation on Umboi Island

Purchase the book online:

Searching for Ropens

Second Edition (2007)

  Destination Truth


In June of 2007, the SciFi channel aired the ropen episode of Destination Truth, with host Josh Gates. They videotaped what appeared to be one or more “ropen lights.” According to the author of Searching for Ropens (Jonathan Whitcomb), these resembled the lights videotaped by Paul Nation a few weeks earlier but in a different part of Papua New Guinea (much more to the west).

Paul Nation crossing a river on Umboi Island in 2002