Live Pterosaur Media Center Live Pterosaur Media Center Jonathan David Whitcomb Whitcomb Expedition Paul Nation, of Texas, had visited Papua New Guinea twice when, in 2003,  he sent Jonathan Whitcomb videos of expeditions from the 1990’s and  2002. A few Americans had searched on Umboi Island and elsewhere for  the ropen, a flying creature they were convinced was a living pterosaur.  They failed to see any obvious pterosaur but videotaped eyewitnesses.  After reviewing the video footage, Whitcomb also became a believer.   In Papua New Guinea, the large flying creature of the night, known as  ropen” on Umboi, is known by various names among villagers of various  languages, but it is distinguished from the Flying Fox fruit bat by its ability  to glow as it flies and by its reputation for robbing human graves. The glow  is thought by some cryptozoologists to be from bioluminescence.   After looking at Paul Nation’s videos, Whitcomb hoped to go on an  expedition with him, but by the summer of 2004 he was planning his own  expedition on Umboi Island, for Nation could not go that year, and  Whitcomb had applied too late to participate in a ropen expedition being  organized by two other American cryptozoologists for the end of the year.     Like many Americans, he grew up in a culture in which pterosaurs, more  often called “pterodactyls,” were often portrayed in films and on television  as giant Pteranodons, from the 1933 “King Kong” to the 2001 “Jurassic  Park III.” Before mid-2004, Whitcomb therefore assumed that the large  flying creatures described by natives in Papua New Guinea were some kind  of short-tailed Pterodactyloids, for long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid fossils  are generally smaller than the Pteranodon-like varieties.   He was therefore surprised at the sighting report he received on September  10th, just days before his flight to Papua New Guinea. An Australian lady  sent an email to Whitcomb, informing him of the sighting she and her  husband had in Perth in 1997. He replied, asking if they might have  mistaken legs for a tail. She replied, “We believe it did have a tail, and don't  believe they were feet, but actually a tail.” They estimated the wingspan at  30-50 feet, far larger than any fossil of a Rhamphorhynchoid.  After four flights from Los Angeles, Whitcomb arrived at the city of Lae,  where he found an interpreter for the Tok Pisin language. The two of them,  according to Paul Nation’s instructions to Whitcomb, took a small ship to  Umboi Island and became acquainted with local villagers. In Gomlongon,  village leaders were given gifts, including sling shots (for shooting down  Flying Fox fruit bats for soup), school supplies, old American magazines,  and new guitar strings.  Whitcomb’s originally planned on hiking into the island interior to video-  tape a ropen in daylight. After a week of failure, being unable to get to the  most desirable mountain, he changed plans, videotaping eyewitnesses of  the ropen, which was more appropriate to his professional experience as a  forensic videographer: obtaining testimony while videotaping a witness.   After interviewing many villagers on Umboi Island, Whitcomb noticed two  things that suggested a real creature was involved, rather than hoaxes or  embellishments.  1. Most eyewitnesses had only an indistict view from a distance 2. No superstitions were included in testimonies Should a real creature make occasional appearances in an area with some  human observers, most sightings would probably be poor, because people  would be too far from the creature. Whitcomb found the great majority of  witnesses did not see any form or features of the ropen, only a flying light,  making the overall evidence favoring a real creature, not hoaxes.   In addition, natives of Umboi have legends and traditions about the ropen,  some of them appearing to Westerners to be superstitions. A native hoaxer  would very likely use superstitious elements in a description, for natives  are unaware of what parts of legends are obviously superstitious to those  outside their culture. But Whitcomb found only one witness who included  superstitions in his testimony, and that witness was the only interviewed  person who was portrayed to Whitcomb, by other villagers, as one who is  less trustworthy; he was also the only one who wanted to be paid.                                                          ### The opinions expressed are those of Jonathan David Whitcomb. Media professionals may use these paragraphs in whole or in part for news distribution. Where indicated, an image may also be used by the media. More on Pterosaurs Mount Barik, Umboi Island Ropen Sighting by Woetzel Whitcomb Expedition on Umboi Island, 2004 Duane Hodgkinson (right) Gideon Koro interviewed by Jonathan Whitcomb in 2004 Working as an independent forensic  videographer for attorney firms  helped Jonathan Whitcomb gauge  the honesty of native eyewitnesses  who had been interviewed while  being videotaped in Papua New  Guinea, (mostly on Umboi Island).  Many native eyewitnesses he  interviewed in Opai Village, etc.  Barik is one of several mountains,  on Umboi Island, where the ropen  might sleep in daylight. It is said to  fly from one mountain to another  and from a mountain to a reef. Use of the above image requires permission from Garth Guessman Duane Hodgkinson was interviewed  by Whitcomb in August of 2004, by  emails and phone calls. The credibility  of the American World War II veteran  strengthened Whitcomb’s resolve to  explore Umboi Island to search for the  nocturnal ropen. Luke Paina, interpreter (left), and Whitcomb wait for ship at Lae Whitcomb believes the Gitmo pterosaur is a modern living Rhamphorhynchoid,  probably related to the ropen of Umboi Americans who have searched in Papua New Guinea for living pterosaurs