Ropen – Is it a Myth or Fantasy?

On August 22, 2014, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Why do critics of these investigations proclaim so ardently the religious beliefs of cryptozoologists who interview eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs? The latest skeptic to join in criticizing online reports of ropens and other non-bat featherless flying creatures—that appears to be a biology professor in Minnesota, although I will not mention his name here. His blog post he titled “There are no living pterosaurs, and ‘ropen’ is a stupid fantasy.”

That professor made many mistakes in his post, including the end of his first paragraph: “There’s just one fanatic.” He was referring to me, Jonathan David Whitcomb. Nothing is said about the following brave cryptozoologists who have explored remote jungles in Papua New Guinea, putting their health in jeopardy, perhaps even risking their lives:

  • Garth Guessman
  • David Woetzel
  • Paul Nation
  • Jacob Kepas

Other names could be mentioned, but the above explorers have searched for living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea during the past ten years, and each of them is a dedicated believer in the Bible and in literal understanding of important passages in Genesis. I too believe that Adam and Eve were the first humans on this planet, with no non-human parents before them (meaning NO ape-like ancestors of humans), and I too believe in a literal worldwide flood. In addition, we all believe that the ropen is a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, NOT a myth or fantasy. Ropens are for real.

So why was I singled out by that biology professor in Minnesota? Three of my associates (Guessman, Nation, and Kepas) have explored in Papua New Guinea more than I have. I will not go into details about my gospel faith here, but one religious principle of which I am often aware is this: “Where much is given, much is required.” I have been given a great deal, including the time, health, and opportunities to write blog posts (and traditional web pages), books, and one scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal of science. Because of those generous gifts from God, I have been able to write well over a thousand blog posts, in the past eleven years, about many aspects of modern pterosaur investigations. The quantity of my online writings can catch the attention of a critic.

I feel it’s time to quote what I’ve already written in my nonfiction books:

Last paragraph of the introduction in Searching for Ropens and Finding God

Believe what you will about modern dragons, about living pterosaurs, about giant glowing ropens. But the power of the testimonies of the eyewitnesses I’ve encountered, over the past ten years, including many credible natives I met on Umboi Island, makes that flying creature as real to me, almost, as if I had stared a ropen in the face. How can I deny the credibility of the eyewitnesses I have interviewed? With no other reasonable explanation, I now believe in modern dragons, in living pterosaurs, in giant glowing ropens.

Title Page of Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition)

Since the two ropen expeditions of 2004, in Papua New Guinea, more Americans have learned of the living-pterosaur investigations and the many resulting eyewitness interviews. Many web pages have sprung up, many of them by explorers themselves. But despite other web pages, by scornful critics who never went anywhere and never interviewed anyone, those two expeditions, and those that preceded and followed them, are causing an awakening, opening human minds in the birth of a new perspective: Universal pterosaur extinction has been an assumption; some pterosaur species are still living.

From the preface of Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea

I believe in living pterosaurs and hope they will soon be officially discovered. More important, I believe in you, that you can soar above dogmatic assumptions about extinctions. I hope that you already understand that we are more than a by-product of culture: Our existence transcends the boundaries of the human cultural assumptions that have shaped our beliefs.

Now is the time for us to listen carefully, to think clearly, and to act accordingly rather than simply react when a cultural belief is contradicted: now, not after the official scientific discovery of modern living pterosaurs.


The following Americans have searched for ropens or eyewitnesses in PNG: Whitcomb, Woetzel, Nation, Guessman, and Blume

Some of the Americans who have helped in the ropen searching and investigations in Papua New Guinea, since 2003 – Thank you to them and to their families and friends who supported them



Pterosaurs, “No Evidence,” and Poop in the Freezer

One critic, a biology professor in Minnesota, insists there is “no evidence,” in my writings, for any living pterosaur. What does he mean? . . . If I were to respond, in one posting, to all his negative comments about my writings, my religion, and my personal motivations, it would be a long posting indeed.

“Don’t Get Strung Along by the Ropen Myth” – a Reply

Notice the Smithsonian blog post by Brian Switek, dated August 16, 2010: not one reference to an eyewitness sighting report. Switek says “such anecdotes,” without mentioning what he is talking about. He says much about the religious beliefs of Blume and Woetzel, as if that counts against their ideas, but why does he say nothing about what caused those expeditions: eyewitness reports?

Ropen – Is it a Pterosaur?

How often we’ve been taught that all dinosaurs  and pterosaurs became extinct millions of years  ago, as if that were proven! But what if some are  still living? Before you dismiss the concept of a  modern pterosaur (in particular, of a long-tailed  featherless Rhamphorhynchoid), consider the many  eyewitness testimonies of those flying creatures.

Pterosaur Experts

. . . Guessman recognized that this relates to the stiffening extension rods of Rhamphorhynchoid vertebrae: all but a few vertebrae are locked into stiffness; the few that are flexible are near where the pterosaur’s tail connects to the body.


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A few weeks ago, I sent emails to many professors of biology at four major universities in the western United States: a survey form about the ropen of Papua New Guinea. The questions were so controversial that I guaranteed each professor complete anonymity and I’ll not now even divulge the names of the universities. Those university faculty members needed to feel secure that their responses could not be traced to them.

It has been many days since the last email was received from a biology professor (in reply to the survey questions), so we can assume no more responses will come in. The overall response was under 2% of the total professors who were sent the questionnaire.

Not one biologist gave any hint of any prior knowledge of cryptozoological investigations of reports of pterosaur sightings. Half of those responding gave no probability of any species of extant pterosaur; the other half, only a very small probability. The average chance was given to be 1.5%. I believe this would have been much higher if all those surveyed had known about what has been done in the investigations over the past twenty years, even though the work was in the realm of cryptozoology.

The critical point is this: Even without knowing about the investigations into pterosaur sightings, those university biology professors who responded did not give a zero probability for the existence of a modern living pterosaur species.

Peter Beach, Biology Professor

One professor of biology who is well aware of the living-pterosaur investigations is Peter Beach, whose experiences in searching for bioluminescent ropen-like flying creatures is recorded in the third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America:

“I went on a short trip to the Yakima River this summer . . . We were unable to get a picture but we saw many . . . flashing lights. . . . 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. . . . 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, with a head knot . . . [appears] to be a “weird bird” as it perched in the tree, according to our confidant in Washington [State] who drives by the tree to work. Says he saw it a couple of times this summer, early in the morning.”

(Peter Beach was not one of the biology professors who received the survey.)

peaceful river scene at night, in Washington state - Photo by Strychnine

Night scene of a river in Washington State


Not all biology professors are totally convinced all pterosaurs are extinct

A recent survey of biology professors in the USA reveals not all of them are completely convinced that all species of pterosaurs became extinct by 65 million years ago. Although less than 2% of the professors replied to the survey, the response to the question of the possibility of modern living pterosaurs ranged from 0% to 5%, averaging 1.5%.

Not Extinct – Pterosaur Sightings

Although Mr. Kuban does not suggest that all sightings of “modern pterosaurs” in Papua New Guinea are misidentifications of Flying Fox fruit bats, he says, “It’s likely that at least some southern hemisphere sightings of ‘pterosaurs’ are explained by fruit bats.” He then admits, “Of course, no bats are known to be bioluminescent, or that have wing spans of 25 feet.” He then gives no explanation for the creature’s bioluminescence or giant size.

Pterosaur Sighting or What?

If Duane Hodgkinson and his army buddy did not see a “pterodactyl” in that jungle clearing west of Finschhafen, New Guinea, in 1944, what did they see? It could not have been any mechanical toy, for it was too big and sophisticated and too early in history. It could not have been a bird, for it had a wingspan of about thirty feet and a tail at least ten or fifteen feet long, even if it had feathers.

Nocturnal Pterosaur Sighting

The animal I saw had an 8-10 foot wing span, the wings were bat-like in shape, the inside had that wavy type of look. The body was about 5-6 feet in length, the neck about 1-2 feet in length, the head was about four feet in length, and the head was key for me: it has a crest that was about 2 feet in length, fit that of a pteranodon.

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Do live pterosaurs “disprove evolution?”

On March 29, 2010, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I sometimes encounter a criticism such as this: “A living pterosaur would not disprove evolution. It would just be another example of an ancient species that survived.” That appears simple and airtight, appearently proving me and my associates to be fools to think that an extant pterosaur would relate to the conflict between “religion and science.” One problem with that reasoning is with the word “evolution.” That word some people assume to precisely refer to gradual shifting of biological forms; few people know that the word itself is a shape-shifter. Another problem relates to “disprove,” a word appropriate to mathematics or to science (not to the popularity of a philosophy). In addition, the “conflict between religion and science” is a phrase referring to a conflict between two extremely conflicting philosophies (1); but a conflict between a general belief in God and a belief in the efficacy of sound scientific principles for making discoveries—that is nonexistent: There is no conflict.

In a conversation about biology, “evolution” may refer to different concepts. Unfortunately, those engaged in conversation often fail to realize or distinguish the differences, or fail to appreciate the significance. The limited changes in sizes, shapes, and colors for the same basic kind of organism, commonly observed changes—that kind of evolution has been observed by Darwin and many others. But that is not the kind of change needed to cause one organism to have a future descendant that will be a completely different kind of organism, for example, a mammal with a liver having an ancestor that did not have a liver.

For those who insist that a general definition of “evolution,” a definition like “gradual change over time,” is sufficient in a conversation about biology, consider Professor Peter Beach (2). Over a period of time, the opinion held by this biologist, about Darwin’s ideas about Common Descent, changed dramatically, for his original confidence in Darwin’s philosophy of unlimited common ancestry decreased until it had evaporated. His opinion gradually changed over time, and that process of thinking involved biological brain functions. But how far removed is that kind of evolution from the usual concepts! The real problem is with the vagueness of “evolution.” I suggest, to those who would communicate about the conflict between life-origin philosophies, that we be precise: Use “unlimited common ancestry” when appropriate and other phrases for other concepts. Never converse with the word “evolution” without prior agreement on what is meant by that word.

What is the problem with the word “disprove?” When this word comes up regarding extant pterosaurs (3), their relationship to unlimited common ancestry, the true subject is not scientific but philosophical. Darwin’s idea that there is no limit to common ancestors (as we trace back family trees into the past)–that is a philosophy, and a philosophy cannot be proven or disproven. How serious here is the problem in reasoning! What a problem! Those who think that they are talking about something scientific are blind to the nature of what they are trying to protect: their philosophy.

I will not dwell upon the “conflict between religion and science.” There is no such thing. What some people sometimes refer to is a conflict between strict Naturalism philosophy and the Genesis-account of Creation and the Flood of Noah, especially the philosophy of the “Young Earth Creationist” (YEC). Contrary to the declarations of some of my critics, extant pterosaurs do relate to such conficts, for those who have not already settled their hearts into a philosophy will find that modern pterosaurs fit better with literal concepts in Genesis than with universal common ancestry.

1 Opposing philosophies

2 Brave biologist: Peter Beach

3 Extant Pterosaurs in an issue of Creation Research Society Quarterly

See also Marfa Lights, New Enlightenment


non-fiction book Live Pterosaurs in AmericaDid you know that living pterosaurs have been reported in North America, even in the United States? Read the many eyewitness sighting reports  by purchasing a nonfiction book on Amazon or from the publisherLive Pterosaurs in America.

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