The Ropen as a Modern Rhamphorhynchoid

Page 206 of "Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific"

What is a Rhamphorhynchoid, also called a basal pterosaur? A definition by a non-scientist could be “a long-tailed pterodactyl.” Why believe that the cryptid called ropen is a modern version of that kind of pterosaur? It’s not just the long tail on a reportedly featherless flying creature. Sighting reports of apparent “pterodactyls” often have a description of the end of the tail, and a common word used is “diamond.”

In truth, “science” has never proven that all species of pterosaurs became extinct millions of years ago. Let’s look at a few excerpts from two scientific papers about reports of modern pterosaurs.

Scientific Paper by Jonathan Whitcomb

Standard models of evolution assert that all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs became extinct long ago and that their fossils are evidence for unlimited common ancestry, the extinction of the vast majority of species opening the way for those more fit to survive. . . . [but] investigations of reports of creatures whose descriptions suggest Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs in remote areas of Papua New Guinea were carried out between 1994 and 2007. . . .

The search for living pterosaurs is cryptozoological. Cryptozoology is the study of “hidden” or “unclassified” zoological species or possible species, especially in the early discovery stages. A number of expeditions in recent years have collected and analyzed eyewitness testimony, primarily in Papua New Guinea . . .

Jonah Jim and Jonathan Ragu, both [natives] of Umboi, made separate sightings in different areas of Umboi. However, both described a glowing, flying creature. When shown many illustrated silhouettes of birds, bats, and pterosaurs, both chose the Sordes Pilosus, a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur as best fitting what they had seen (Woetzel-Guessman expedition).

Page 206 of "Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific"

From the scientific paper “Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific”


Scientific Paper by David Woetzel

Over the years Biblical scholars have speculated about the nature of the creature described in the Authorized Version as “the fiery flying serpent.” . . . recent cryptozoological research provides new insights into the identification and characteristics of this creature. Moreover interviews and personal observations from a 2004 expedition that I led to Papua New Guinea convinced me that a fiery flying serpent still survives on a remote island there. . . .

Described as a nocturnal creature, the Ropen possesses two leathery wings like a bat with “hands” on each wing, a long tail with a diamond-shaped flange on the end, and a prominent beak. The creature is thought to still inhabit the islands of New Britain and Umboi, located in the Bismarck Archipelago.



Ropen on Dragon Blog

What is a ropen? A modern flying dragon? Could it be a misidentified flying fox fruit bat? True science requires we be specific: Ask a specific question that gets to a critical point.

A Long-Tailed Rhamphorhynchoid

What are the flying creatures called “ropens” on Umboi Island? . . . The following compilations of many eyewitness  testimonies are taken in the context of a few of the second-hand accounts, with conclusions by  Jonathan David Whitcomb.

Destination Truth Ropen Episode

Josh Gates leads an expedition team into a jungle in Papua New Guinea, as they search for evidence for a modern pterodactyl.

Ropen Bioluminescence in New Guinea

Let’s compare the words of four witnesses: three natives on Umboi Island and one British biologist on the mainland of New Guinea. Each describes flying lights: on two sides of Umboi and on the mainland to the west of Umboi.

Brian Hennessy Sighting of a Ropen

He said that no feathers were discerned by him but he could not be sure: It may have had feathers that he could not distinguish under the conditions of his sighting.


Neutron Capture in Carbon-Dated Dinosaur Bones? That’s Way Too Awkward

hug feels awkward between two T-Rex friends

hug feels awkward between two T-Rex friends

Awkward Explanation for Carbon-14 Dated Dinosaurs

Some scientists are feeling awkward trying to get their hands around a T-Rex type dinosaur that appears much younger than it “should be.” The Allosaurus remains in question were excavated in 1989 in Colorado. This type of large theropod dinosaur was supposed to have lived 150-155 million years ago, according to popular theory, during the late Jurassic period. The carbon dating of this monster, however, has those scientists running for cover, trying to find an explanation. One suggestion is neutron capture.

That might look plausible, if it were just one dinosaur buried near some uranium deposit. But carbon-14 dating has been done on quite a few dinosaur fossils excavated in North America, with EVERY piece of EVERY dinosaur bone found to have that radioactive isotope of carbon. It is practically impossible that every one of those fossils (excavated from Alaska, Colorado, Texas, and Montana) just happened to be buried next to uranium. Other problems also eliminate the neutron-capture speculation: See Carbon-14 and Dinosaur Bones. Let’s look at another angle to this young-dinosaur “problem.”

Indoctrination: Dinosaurs Died out “Millions of Years ago”—Really?

Consider these words from the nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition, available from online book sellers):

Four years before George Washington was elected to his first term in the United States, Cosimo Collini made the first pterosaur-fossil examination in Europe. Nobody knew anything about radiometric dating in 1784, not even Benjamin Franklin, but Mr. Collini recognized something special about this creature.

What Collini did not recognize was this this general kind of flying creature might not be extinct. He had no personal experience with any living animal like it, and so he just assumed the fossil was of a type of animal that was completely extinct.

In other words, he jumped to a general conclusion about ALL SPECIES of that general kind of animal. If he had done even a little research into reports of flying dragons, he may have come to a different conclusion about the universal extinction of pterosaurs, but maybe that would have appeared too unscientific, even back then. What educated person would use the ancient word dragon?

That also applies to dinosaur discoveries in the 19th century. Almost everybody just assumed they were finding fossils from very ancient kinds of creatures. That assumption has continued into recent decades, BEFORE any carbon-14 testing was done on dinosaur bones. It’s now time for us to take a closer look, for the widespread belief in ancient dinosaur extinctions comes from Western indoctrination.


Forget about groundless speculation about neutron capture creating carbon-14 isotopes in dinosaur bones across North America. It’s time we asked biologists in museums and in universities to submit dinosaur and pterosaur fossils for carbon-14 radiometric testing. Let us be brave with whatever truth we discover.



Radiocarbon conference presentation censored

A team of researchers gave a presentation at the 2012 Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore . . . they gave 14C [carbon-14] dating results from many bone samples from eight dinosaur specimens.

Radiometric Dating of Recent Dinosaur Bones—Censored

After the conference, those two [chairpersons] gave no warning that everything by that group would be removed from the official website, leaving no trace that the presentation had ever taken place

Scientific Testing of Dinosaur Bones—Carbon-14 Methods

A lecture was given in a geology conference in Singapore, in 2012, with carbon-14 dating of dinosaur fossils the subject. All the bones were found to have that isotope of carbon, a shocking finding, but there it is . . .


More on the Scientific Paper “Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific”

Scientific paper by J. D. Whitcomb, top of 1st page

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 of "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”]



Scientific Papers on Living Pterosaurs

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.

Living Pterosaurs and Paleontology

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.

Scientific Paper on Living Pterosaurs

“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 . . .]

Science and Pterosaurs

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.

Marfa Lights in Relation to Bioluminescence

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.


Scientists and Live Pterosaurs

tree-lined Yakima River in rural Washington state

What do scientists think about pterosaur sighting reports? Many of them have probably never heard about any relevant research. We need to remember that searching for live “pterodactyls” is still within the realm of cryptozoology, for we don’t yet have any living or recently-deceased animal to examine. For now, let’s see what one biology professor has done in searching for a bioluminescent living pterosaur and then consider the origin of the extinction idea and then see what scientific analysis has been done on recent data from pterosaur sightings.


Bioluminescent Flying Creatures in Washington State

From the third edition of my book Live Pterosaurs in America:

Late in 2007, I received an email from Peter Beach, a biology professor . . .

“I went on a short trip to the Yakima River this summer . . . because there was a [sighting]. We were unable to get a picture but we saw many . . . flashing lights. I would have assumed that [they] were fireflies but we [don’t] have them in Washington. One of the flashes took off from a big tree overhanging the river and made a kind of flashing coma turn. Many flashes were parallel to the river. . . .

. . . “Prime hunting grounds for fish-eating birds. Only these things fish at night with bioluminescence. At first I thought I was just seeing shooting stars, but they were all parallel to the river and close to the horizon. Next I noticed that when the cloud cover came in, I could still see the flashes. They were under the cloud cover. Whatever they are, I suggest that they are at least unknown to science, night flying, bioluminescent, flying creatures about the size of an eagle or big hawk . . .”

In August of 2008, I received another email from the professor:

“During the short expedition I led with the O’Donnells, mid-July [an expedition more recent than the one mentioned above], we saw three hours of bioluminescent ‘shooting stars.’ The last hour was the most interesting in that there were two light blasts about 200 ft. apart, about 50-100 ft., above the river. The blasts were followed by screeches from about a dozen or so agitated nighthawks in the general area. I think the Rhamphorhynchoids, if that is what they were, were feeding on the nighthawks as the nighthawks were feeding on the flying insects.”

tree-lined Yakima River in rural Washington state

Yakima River, in the state of Washington


Origin of Universal-Pterosaur-Extinction Axiom

Many scientists take this axiom for granted, but pterosaur extinction, regarding every species, is clearly a basic assumption, not a proven fact. In the ebook Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, I wrote:

The first discovery of a pterosaur fossil by a Western scientist, in 1784, was decades before Charles Darwin began writing about his ideas on extinctions and evolution. Before Darwin, Western scientists had assumed that all species of pterosaurs were extinct for a simple reason: Those who discovered the fossils had no experience with any similar animal that was living.

Since 1784, universal-pterosaur-extinction has been taken for granted, as the years turned into decades, throughout the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century. The breadth of this assumption expanded, from generations of regurgitated proclamations, but the depth has always been shallow, with no real evidence of any kind.

I know that some paleontologist will point to fossils as if their specimens prove the extinction of all species of pterosaurs that ever lived upon the earth. Nonsense! Not only are new species or organisms being discovered in fossils but new species are also being discovered in living creatures. Regarding pterosaurs, nobody, not even a paleontologist with a university diploma, can reasonably display their fossils as if that display were proof of extinction for species for countless species for which we have no fossils.


Statistics on Credible Pterosaur Sightings

Long tails dominate. Of those eyewitnesses who specified tail length or the presence or absence of a long tail, 95% reported a long tail. This alone discredits any skeptic’s insinuation that the sightings are mostly hoaxes, for few, if any, hoaxers would report a long-tailed pterosaur. Films and television have given us images of pterosaurs without long tails, with few exceptions. Hoaxers would not likely report something contrary to what is commonly seen in film or on television.

Overall statistics for wingspan estimates also count against any major hoax involvement. For those eyewitnesses who made estimates of wingspan, 31% (23 out of 74) reported sizes greater than seven feet but less than fifteen feet. If many hoaxes were involved, this range (7-15 feet, non-inclusive) would have been much less . . . [7-15 feet is much too big for Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs but too small for a hoaxer to use to shock anybody or to convince many persons that a non-bird was reported.]

. . . Of all the sighting reports compiled into the database by the end of 2012, those in which eyewitnesses were sure of the lack of any feathers was 21% but those eyewitnesses who thought it only probable (that there were no feathers) was 25%. . . . If hoaxes played a major role in the sighting reports, an insistence on lack of feathers would dominate. This is the opposite of what the overall data shows for this characteristic. Eyewitnesses who are positive about featherlessness are outnumbered by those who are not positive about it. . . .

From these three factors, we see that no hoax or hoaxes played any significant role in the 128 reports analyzed.


Live Pterosaurs and Science

This goes into details about scientific analysis of wingspan estimates.



cover of "Live Pterosaurs in America" - third edition - by American Jonathan David Whitcomb

Nonfiction cryptozoology book; paperback; third edition

How are sightings in the United States related to those in the southwest Pacific? How do some apparent nocturnal pterosaurs pertain to bats, and how are bats irrelevant? How could modern living pterosaurs have escaped scientific notice? These mysteries have slept in the dark, beyond the knowledge of almost all Americans, even beyond our wildest dreams (although the reality of some pterosaurs is a living nightmare to some bats). These mysteries have slept . . . until now. [From the Title page of Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition]