Indava and ropen of Papua New Guinea

By the living-pterosaur author and expert Jonathan D. Whitcomb

Since Paul Nation’s 2006 video recording of two lights on a ridge deep in the mainland of Papua New Guinea, cryptozoologists have a new name for the ropen: “indava.” It’s not that everything about the glowing indava is identical to ropen lights; indeed, the indava seems to glow for many more seconds than the apparently giant ropen that flies between mountains on Umboi Island. But both creatures have been described, by local natives, as giant flying creatures.

Evelyn Cheesman appeared to have no thought about pterosaurs when she observed the strange glowing objects that flew near the top of a mountain ridge. The British entomologist would surely have been interested in the explanation of “large flying animal” if the local villagers had said anything; but they were reluctant to talk about the lights. Nevertheless, Cheeman wrote about the mystery in her book, The Two Roads of Papua (published in 1935). Her observations were a few mountains to the north of Paul Nation’s later observations. She probably never dreamed that those flying lights were the bioluminescence of large flying creatures that were not classified in Western science.

Since the Cheesman lights were so close to the area where native village call flying lights indava, it’s quite likely that they are of the same species of flying creature. The ropen of Umboi Island, however, may be a related species or the same species but a pterosaur that has a different habit in the use of its intrinsic bioluminescent capacity.

By the way, Paul Nation never saw the form or features of the flying lights he videotaped late in 2006 on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. His video footage, however, was later analyzed by the missile defense physicist Clifford Paiva, and found to be quite unusual. The lights were not a paste-on hoax. Neither were they from common sources:

  • Not meteors
  • Not camp fires
  • Not flash lights
  • Not car headlights
  • Not airplane lights


Plate 22 in Cliff Paiva report

One of the images from Paiva’s analysis of the indava-lights video footage


English biologist Lucy Evelyn Cheesman

The British biologist and explorer Evelyn Cheesman


Other Books on Modern Living Pterosaurs

You probably won’t find the phrase “living pterosaur” in Cheesman’s book The Two Roads of Papua; you’re more likely to find a ropen in the middle of the day, taking a sun bath in your backyard. But other nonfiction books do mention modern pterosaurs, and the following are just a sample:

  • Searching for Ropens and Finding God – with much about the expeditions on Umboi Island
  • Big Bird – mostly about strange flying creatures in Texas
  • Bird From Hell – living pterosaurs in one area of British Columbia, Canada
  • Live Pterosaurs in America – sightings in many states of the USA


7 Replies to “Indava and ropen of Papua New Guinea”

  1. Richard Muirhead (British cryptozoologist) brought my attention to Cheesman’s old book. Please note what Cheesman herself wrote about the strange lights in the dense rain forest:

    “Even if they [local natives] had strong flashlights . . . there could be no incentive for bushmen to stand at intervals–and I reckoned there would have to be nearly thirty individuals–for two or three miles along a ridge, flashing them where they could not be seen by one another.”

  2. Hi,

    Concerning the date:

    In March 2007 Paul Nation flew to Los Angeles Int. Airport and transfered from a domestc flight from Texas to an international flight to Papua New Guinea. During his hold over between flights I took him out to dinner and gave him a few supplies (binoculars, infra-red maglight lens, etc.). That was the providential trip when Paul saw and video taped the bioluminescent flying creatures for the first time after 12 years of research.

    Three weeks later in April (& possibly extended to May) 2007 he returned on a follow up trip where he saw the creatures much less and did not get any video footage. I was pleasantly shocked that he was able to make a second (very expensive) trip so soon.

  3. Hi, Garth

    I remember that you or Paul (or both of you) had told me about that meeting you two had near the Los Angeles Airport. But I think there is a little mistake about which expedition is which. Is it possible that Paul went on three expeditions within a period of a few months? I thought it was only two. Here is part of an email I got from him soon after the first expedition, in which he recorded video of the two lights deep in the interior of the mainland:

    From : Paul Nation < . . .>
    Sent : Saturday, November 18, 2006 12:58 AM
    To : Jonathan Whitcomb . . .


    “I do not know if you get much information through Garth, so I thought I would send you the lates . . . After several days of rain Saturday cleared off and we were able to hike higher up the mountain to the “high garden site”. . . . I saw two out of the three [reported types of] ‘glow’ . . . Sunday morning around 4:15 am due East of our site I observered a single white glow. . . . Tuesday night (after a couple days of rain) the skies cleared and about 7:15 pm the top eastern side of Mt. Hamya started glowing in the mist. . . . Another couple days of rain and then we moved on to Tawa village. . . . The second and higher up the mountain glow, flew up and over the ridge and out of sight. While the first glow went out.” [surely these were the two lights videotaped, with the footage later sent to the physicist Cliff Paiva]

    Here are my notes about the second expedition:

    “Paul Nation’s expedition in March, 2007
    Phone conver. betw JDW and PN, Sun, March 25, 07

    “P.N. got back to the U.S. about March 18th. He
    spent about two weeks in P.N.G.. He was in the
    same area as last November (Tawa area).”

    I just found a Book-of-Thoth posting that I had made at about that time:

    Thu Dec 07, 2006 [posting date]
    Book of Thoth
    General announcement of the
    results of the 2006 expedition:

    In Granbury, Texas, on November 20,
    2006, Paul Nation was interviewed
    by Jonathan Whitcomb, who found his
    testimony highly credible and his
    video footage completely convincing:
    Earlier in the month, in a remote
    area of the interior of the mainland
    of Papua New Guinea, Paul had video-
    taped the bright glow of what the
    local villagers call “indava.”

  4. Concerning my recent comment about the date of Paul Nation’s first expedition, my memory is that I interviewed him in his home in Texas in late November of 2006, right before Thanksgiving. I videotaped him during our interview and I brought a copy of his video footage back to California.

    I am embarrased that I have found no record of this in my personal journal; nevertheless, I believe that the above email (from Paul), my note about the second expedition, and my posting on Book of Thoth (all three above) confirm my memory of the approximate interview date in Texas, very soon after Paul had returned from his first historic expedition deep in the interior of the mainland of New Guinea.

    It seems that there are two plausable explanations for the Los Angeles Airport meeting: It was right before the second expedition or it was late in 2006, right before the first expedition.

    Garth: Could you check your records to clear up this misunderstanding? Thanks.

Comments are closed.