Local Names for

Living Pterosaurs

Do pterodactyls live in Papua New Guinea?

If so, natives should have names for these

creatures; many languages mean many names.



According to a native, interviewed in the presence of Paul Nation, (1990’s), “duwas” is another name for “ropen.” One of the ropen investigators, Jonathan Whitcomb, maintains that the word “duah” is not a native word but a Western distortion of “duwas.”




It has been known to carry away children, and has a burning secretion that can make a burn mark on a tree (mainland of Papua New Guinea). This creature gets its name from the sound it makes: glee’-key-oik.




Glowing creatures fly from Mount Hamya, on the mainland of Papua New Guinea, to the coast. Two of them were videotaped by Paul Nation in November of 2006. One of the natives who saw an indava in the river-bottom described the size in terms of a “small yellow airplane,” according to Nation. One of Nation’s fellow explorers, Joseph Kepas, confirmed the “airplane” size, and investigators believe the indava is the same kind of pterosaur as the ropen.




According to the explorer David Woetzel, this is the same kind of creature that is called “ropen” on Umboi Island. His investigation indicates that the word “kundua” is the word used in the northernmost Mbula-dialect area.



The people speaking Kovai dialects on Umboi Island call it “ropen,” and for Westerners, this is the best-known name for the nocturnal pterosaur-like creature of Papua New Guinea. Jonathan Whitcomb, author of Searching for Ropens, believes there is only one giant glowing ropen on Umboi but a few smaller ones live on the island.


This is a Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed) pterosaur, according to investigators, and one eyewitness, Gideon Koro, described the size to Whitcomb, including an estimate of tail-length: seven meters.




According to Pastor Jacob Kepas (father of Joseph Kepas), this is what they call it in his home village on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. It means “he who carries his own bed with him.” Kepas saw one of the creatures one night when he was a child. Glowing drops or particles fell from the pterosaur-like creature as it flew over his village. Kepas was interviewed, in 2004, by the ropen investigator Garth Guessman.




Whitcomb learned this name from a native sailor who told him about the dragon who “owns the land and the sea,” according to the legend. This tradition comes from the small islands southeast of Umboi Island (south of West New Britain Island).


In Indonesia, west of Papua New Guinea, reports of creatures with names like “ahool” and “orang-bati” suggest a relationship with creatures Westerners call “ropen.” In particular, the orang-bati is said to have a long thin tail and bat-like wings (like a pterosaur).