The following are brief excerpts from my scientific paper, published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly (Volume 45, Winter 2009, pages 200-212):
Most ropen sightings are of a bright but brief glow that moves approximately horizontally at about 330 ft (100 m) above ground level, often against a mountain background. . . . Of the nine American expeditions (1994–2007), six resulted in at least one sighting of the light. . . .
While both ropen lights and meteors are fast-moving flashes of lights in the sky, several characteristics distinguish them (Whitcomb, 2007). For example, Abram of Opai Village, Umboi Island, described a ropen light that flew down to a reef and stayed at or near the surface of the sea before flying back toward Mount Bel (Whitcomb interview) . . . Analysis of 2004-expedition records suggest that many suspected ropen lights move away from Mount Bel early at night but toward it late at night.
. . . Kuban (2007) suggests that rather than “ropen” being a pterosaur, it is likely a creature such as a bat. However, villagers have another term for the flying fox fruit bat—“byung” (Whitcomb, 2007). . . . one description that suggests a structure at the end of the tail . . . similar to that found on fossil Rhamphorhynchoids. Information also was obtained about what we believe is bioluminescence emitted by the creature. Both 2004 expeditions included interviews designed to avoid leading the witnesses and to elicit answers revealing sighting experience rather than interviewer bias. . . .
Guessman and Woetzel prepared and administered formal interview procedures with a two-page questionnaire and a sketch page of 34 silhouettes of bats, birds, and pterosaurs, although the formal process was not used for all eyewitnesses. My interviews were less formal, relying on opportunities that arose with each eyewitness. For future work, I recommend beginning with this open-format questioning to take advantage of unique opportunities with eyewitnesses (the interviewer using a foreign language) and then following up promising leads with a questionnaire and sketch page (using interpreters). . . .
At about the time I was interviewing Hodgkinson in 2004, I found an old Internet forum posting in which an Australian lady was trying to persuade participants in a cryptozoology forum that she had seen a giant, living creature that looked like a pterosaur. . . . The couple was walking together between two suburbs at about 10:00 p.m. when they first noticed the flying creature. As its gliding brought it closer, the couple was shocked, for it had a “lizard appearance” and a reported “size” between 30 and 50 ft (9–15 m). The lady declared, “It was definitely a living creature . . . We would not have been able to see what it was if the ground lighting had not lit its underside.” . . .
At least one species of rare nocturnal flying creature—the ropen—lives in the southwest Pacific. Fossils of long-tailed pterosaurs show features similar to those related by some eyewitnesses, especially of the ropen’s tail: a “diamond” that may be a tail-end flange and the reported motion of those tails, also similar to Rhamphorhynchoid tails. The largest ropens, probably extremely rare, may attain sizes up to 50 ft in wingspan. Those size descriptions alone, from credible eyewitnesses of three nationalities, make it unlikely that the sightings were misidentifications of birds or bats.
[The above are scattered excerpts from the scientific article written by Jonathan David Whitcomb: “Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific”]
Page 206 (top) in Volume 45 of the Creation Research Society Quarterly
This scientific paper also mentions the sighting by the eyewitness Brian Hennessy.
Article by David Woetzel: “The Fiery Flying Serpent” (Volume 42 of CRSQ)
Over the years Biblical scholars have speculated about the nature of the creature described in the Authorized Version as “the fiery flying serpent.” The nexus of modern archaeological discoveries, ancient historical accounts, and recent cryptozoological research provides new insights into the identification and characteristics of this creature. Moreover interviews and personal observations from the 2004 expedition that I led to Papua New Guinea convinced me that a fiery flying serpent still survives on a remote island there.
. . . It should be noted that some commentators have held that the flying serpent is merely a snake that springs from the high branches of a tree and then glides through the air like a flying squirrel (Wiseman, 1972, pp. 108-110). These flying snakes are mentioned by the 18th century author Niebuhr as he traveled through Arabia (Niebuhr, 1792, p. 334) and are still known today through southeast Asia (Roach, 2002). Modern species are not particularly venomous, nor are they remarkably bright in coloration, so it is unclear why they would have been called “fiery” if this were the actual creature referenced. From a creationist perspective, it would seem that the pterosaur interpretation of these verses is at least as reasonable as the alternatives.
. . . The traditional interpretation of attacking venomous snakes (Edersheim, 1995, p. 133) faces another challenge. The biblical account indicates that many of the Jews died (probably many thousands). Obviously, God could miraculously do whatever He wishes, but one has a hard time envisioning the people being pursued across the wilderness by slithering poisonous snakes. Common snakes should have easily been avoided.
[The above are scattered excerpts from the scientific article (also in CRSQ) written by David Woetzel: “The Fiery Flying Serpent”]
Most ropen sightings are of a bright but brief glow that moves approximately horizontally at about 330 ft (100 m) above ground level, often against a mountain background. Based on interviews from the 2004 expeditions (Tables I and II), an estimated several hundred Umboi Islanders have seen this light.
David Woetzel led the second 2004 Umboi Island expedition, with Garth Guessman and native interpreter Jacob Kepas. He had previously been on an expedition in central Africa, in a search for evidence for a living dinosaur.
“According to Gideon Koro, who speaks some English, a few minutes after they had arrived at the lake, ‘it came down.’ . . . When I asked about the tail length, he pondered, seeming to recall and estimate; then he said, “seven meetuh.” [seven meters . . .]
The names of eyewitnesses include Mesa Augustin, Cottingham, William Gima, Brian Hennessy, Duane Hodgkinson, Jonah Jim, Mark Kau, Jacob Kepas, Gideon Koro, Wesley Koro, David Moke, Paul Nation, Jonathan Ragu, and David Woetzel.
Before we begin, be aware that James Bunnell, a retired NASA engineer, has given countless hours during eight years of his life (2001-2009) to investigating the more mysterious types of Marfa Lights, the glowing objects that cannot reasonably be explained away as car headlights or ranch lights or any other common glow at night.