By living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb

The following are the words of a native of Papua New Guinea. He will begin leading an expedition, we hope within a few weeks, on Umboi Island. The ropen search will probably last longer than any previous living-pterosaur expedition ever conducted in this area of the world.

Be aware that what follows are answers to specific questions regarding health precautions for expedition members, videotaping times, and getting local village permission to search particular jungle locations.

Also be aware that not all of these plans and ideas are necessarily completely what I would agree with or with what my own priorities would be if I were leading a ropen expedition on Umboi Island. With that said, I expect that this native will have more success than I had when I searched for ropens on that tropical island.

1: Health=health & safety are paramount issues in any field related physical or chemical tasks. Thus, my boys have to know how to get right dose based on prescriptions. So 4 able young men who have a fair bit of education will be entrusted to do this job in 4 different expedition camps. THERE ARE MANY PRIMARY AND HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS IN TARAWE VILLAGE ON UMBOI ISLAND, WHO WILL BE NOMINATED TO DO THIS JOB.

Tropical jungle diseases like malaria, cold, fever and flu are common and their symptoms are quit easy to detect and will direct the boys on what drugs to take for cure.

Remember, any serious casualties and serious illnesses which we can not interpret will be referred straight to German built health center to Finchaffen across Vitiaz Strait through rough seas. If that referral needs serious medical treatment or operation, then the patient will be transported further to Lae city on the same speed boat.

2: Filming times=

(i) At dawn a close watch is essential. It starts at 4:30 am till 5:30 am when sun comes up. Within this 1 hour period is the time birds wake up from their nests and sing. This is the crucial time when Ropen has always been seen to fly over tree canopies from one place to another. Timing of 6:30 am – 7:30 am are to be considered too because anything can happen within this time frame as jungle darkness will be evident by tree canopies and mountain clouds and fogs cover.

(ii) at dusk all cameras will be manned vigilantly at 5:45 pm-7:00 pm because this is the period Ropen is hungry and would want to feed on anything edible. Locals believe that this is the time it returns to its home from hunting trips from place to place. 4:30 am-5:45 am is on crucial watching time too because of cloud covers that make jungles gloomy and dark too quickly. REMEMBER, ROPEN HAS A CHARACTERISTIC THAT FAVOURS THESE TIMINGS.

(iii) daylight filming is 100% on because anything can pop up during day. But occasionally, chances of filming Ropen during daylight is slim.

(iv) Camera flash lights are vital. Greg Hedger’s Panasonic Full HD camcorder (5.1 inch, 29.8 mm wide and 20.4 mega pixel) has potential to do this night vision job. I need 4 digital cameras with flash lights that will support this camcorder. At least 4 Canon cameras with 10.0 mega pixels will do. EVIDENTLY NO STILL CAMERAS TO AFFORD SO WILL EMPLOY NATIVES TO USE JUNGLE KNOWLEDGE ON HOW TO AMBUSH AND HUNT WILD ANIMALS DURING HUNTING BY HIDING HUMAN SCENT AND TRACES THAT WILL SCARE ITS APPROACH FOR BAIT THAT WILL LURE IT.

3: Permission for Sacred Sites=It is a MUST THING. I have to get special permissions to film and I have to do it because without release I might face obstacles. Some of these taboo grounds got human bones that are used for spiritual worships.

Bones are remainants of grave yard dug by ropen for its food. Taboo sites are attached with evil spells. Traditionally, if someone trespasses without permissions, he/she faces death. TO CATER FOR ANY OPPOSITION FROM CUSTOMARY LAND LORDS, I GOT TO PAY SOME MONEY TO MAKE EASY ACCESS TO THESE SPIRITUALLY POSSESSED ZONES. SO JUNGLE JUSTICE IS EVIDENT ON UMBOI ISLAND TERRAINS.


near Lab Lab on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea

Near Lab Lab on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea (2004 expedition by Whitcomb)



Ropen of Umboi Island

Just weeks after my 2004 expedition on Umboi Island, the cryptozoologists Garth Guessman and David Woetzel interviewed Umboi native eyewitnesses with systematic interview forms . . .


What is a Ropen?

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?


Books for LDS readers

With the Christmas gift-giving season approaching, I offer the following three nonfiction books that I have written, each of them about evidences for non-extinct pterosaurs, what many Westerners call “pterodactyls.”


Books by Mormon Authors

This includes the cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens and Finding God.


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Flying Creatures Attack Farm Animals

On April 12, 2016, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Winston Churchill said, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” although he may have borrowed the idea from George Santayana (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The concept is not restricted to famous events in history. Farmers often learn from experience, and large flying creatures that are said to have attacked domesticated animals in previous centuries might return to attack farm animals in the present. That deserves attention.

From the book Dark Highway

Much of the paranormal book Dark Highway, by Dan Kenyon, seems to be about UFOs and ghosts, although lake monsters and Bigfoot have been thrown in. The subtitle is “Utah’s Strange Tales,” and some of the stories are indeed strange.

Here is the contents page:

Contents of "Dark Highway" by Dan Kenyon

Table of Contents in the paranormal book Dark Highway


The chapter on dragons appears, at first glance, to be more about monsters that swim than monsters that fly. Chapter five, however, is about cryptids, and here is where a dragon flies into view.

On page 48, it tells of a large black figure sitting on a rock, witnessed by a father and son who had been watching for deer. (The sighting was reportedly in the “Mahogany area” of Utah, wherever that may be.) But what was supposed to have been a black bear suddenly stretched out a pair of wings and flew up into the air. The man estimated the wingspan: around fourteen feet. When the creature was on the ground, it appeared to have been four to five feet tall. Nothing was mentioned about any tail, but the dark color and big wingspan bring to mind the ropen.

Yet a full reading of the fourth chapter of the book reveals a sighting that is far more astonishing, so shocking that many readers may dismiss the report as a complete fabrication. I believe the author got the story from an old newspaper article, so let’s look at a small part of that:

Prehistoric Monster

Half Bird and Half Reptile Carries Away Live Horses

A terrible, nameless, unclassified creature of the animal world is exciting the curiosity, wonder, and fear of occasional visitors to Stansbury Island, in the southern portion of Great Salt Lake.

This monster, for it can be called nothing else, has lately, is it said, been seen by several persons, but the best account [of] its characteristics and movements is given by Martin Gilbert and John Barry, two hunters who this week returned from an expedition over the island, in the course of which they studied the habits of this hitherto unheard-of-creature for three days.

. . . In size it is simply tremendous . . .

Its wings were bat-like . . .

. . . we saw that it carried in its great jaws a large horse . . . badly crushed and mangled. . . .

"Prehistoric Monster" newspaper article of 1903: the Pittsburgh Press

From a newspaper article in the Pittsburgh Press, September 3, 1903


I’m not suggesting that this old newspaper story is an accurate account, but in light of a more recent sighting of a flying creature, a few miles south of this island, perhaps the old story did not come entirely from an imaginative invention in the mind of a bored newspaper professional. It now seems that the old tale may have originated from a real encounter with a flying creature in this area of Utah. Whether or not it is the same species as the animal seen in the “Mahogany area” of Utah is a matter of speculation, but something strange has been flying over this area south of the Great Salt Lake.


Photo by Andrey Zharkikh

A large hill on Stansbury Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah (Flickr photo courtesy of Andrey Zharkikh)


Sighting Eight Miles South of Stansbury Island, Utah

Almost a century after the above extraordinary report, three boys were playing in a yard one night, in the farming community of Grantsville, Utah, about eight miles from the southern end of Stansbury Island. At around 10:30-11:30 p.m., the nearby farm animals became greatly disturbed, making alarming sounds, as if they were in danger.

That was about the time that 12-year-old Dallin Roberts saw something very strange in the sky. At first, he could not understand what he was observing. He soon realized that it was a flying creature. Two things struck him as very odd, however: the enormous size and the glowing body of the flying animal.

The other two boys soon got a look at the flying creature, and all three of the boys were astonished. The light coming from the flying creature did not always remain on. I turned off for a short while, but it soon turned on again, revealing that the creature had flown up much higher into the night sky, while the light had been off. It was a dark night, so the boys could not see the strange creature except when it was glowing.


Potential Attacks on Domesticated Animals, by Ropens

I recently got a question from a member of a Facebook group: “Living Pterosaurs of the World.” It was in response to a Youtube video of two interviews I had with eyewitnesses last year. These two young men testified that the local farm animals went “crazy” with fright, making a lot of noise, when a very large glowing flying creature flew overhead one night.

Ropen Eyewitnesses

Do pterosaurs still live? In the 21st Century? Don’t rush to any conclusion; get the facts, then judge credibility. . . . Soon after interviewing Gideon [a native eyewitness on Umboi Island in Papua New Guinea], I learned that two of the other witnesses were present with us. Wesley is a brother to Gideon and answered my questions without hesitating. . . . We also need to realize that the islander-eyewitnesses who answered our questions, did not repeat the legends of the ropen. They simply answer our questions as to what they saw.

Ropen Attack in the Dead of Winter

What could be worse than any nightmare? In the dead of night, you are awakened by what you fear most, glaring down at you. . . . Race out of your bedroom; it’s after you. Race out the front door; it follows. Search for a place to hide; it’s too late. You are exposed, surrounded by many monsters ready to feast. You have fallen into their trap. Your family is scattered, chased across the freezing countryside. You are alone. You are Eptesicus fuscus, a Big Brown Bat.

The Giant Ropen

From the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America (Acknowledgements section) Whitcomb says: “To the eyewitnesses who’ve bravely come forward, telling us of apparent living pterosaurs, I dedicate this book. They deserve to be heard.”

Pterosaur Flying Creatures

So who do you call? I hope you’ll contact me, Jonathan Whitcomb. As far as I know, I am the only person on earth who has devoted anything like a full-time effort, over years, to interview eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs or ropens, promoting the idea that these flying creatures are not extinct but very much alive.


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The Fiery Flying Serpent of the Bible may have been a long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid, related to the modern-day ropen. Some ancient reports of long-tailed flying dragons may be of similar species of modern pterosaur, in earlier human history. But for now let’s consider the more recent encounters with these apparent pterosaurs, especially North American sightings.

At the end of 2012, I compiled data from 128 sighting reports, 74% of which I had direct contact with the eyewitnesses, usually involving email communication. In each of these 128 reports, I believed the sighting was more than 50% likely to have been an actual encounter with a living pterosaur. In some cases, I was over 80% sure.

Much has been written on some of the sightings from 1944 through the end of 2012. Let’s now consider more recent reports, all of which were encounters since 2012. This is just a small sampling.

Before getting into those details of particular reports, however, let’s go over some of the statistics.

Of the worldwide sightings (the 128), the ratio of long-tail/lack-of-long-tail is about 20-to-1, namely 41% long-tail and 2% no-long-tail. For those encounters in the contiguous 48 states of the USA, the ratio is not so dramatic, 38% to 5% in favor of long tails, but it is still significant. Ropens dominate in numbers, in the United States of America and elsewhere.

For all 128 of the sightings worldwide, 28.5% of them involved an observation of something like a Rhamphorhynchoid tail flange, with some descriptions including a word like “diamond” (shape). This correlates with the frequent reporting of a long tail on an apparent pterosaur.

Now for a few particular recent sighting reports in North America:

Hanover County, Virginia, sighting in early July of 2015

Three members of a family saw a strange flying creature that brought to their minds the word “dragon.” It had a “large wingspan and long pointy tail.” [contacted Jonathan Whitcomb by email]

Columbia Station, Ohio, sighting in the spring of 2015

“A medium to large bird with no feathers and a long tail with a ball at the end.” [contacted Whitcomb by email]

Richmond, Virginia, sighting in early April of 2015

“It looked to be about 10 feet across and its tail was long with a triangle point!” [two eyewitnesses]

Los Angeles County, California, sighting in December of 2014

“I saw it around 9am this morning today. It was a giant black bird of some types. I live very close to San Fernando and Fletcher but I usually help out my cousin who lives here in Atwater most the week.

“Anyway, after the rain settled I saw this big black bird figure fly over an electrical post. I could compare the size to a couple of pigeons because there was some flying by it. It was just huge. A big beautiful thing. It had a long tail but it was a different color than what was reported. it was black… I think it was a pterosaur. I called the Los Angeles Zoo but they put me on hold and I didn’t want to leave a message.” [email contact with Whitcomb]


Sketch of pterosaur seen and drawn by Eskin Kuhn

Eskin Kuhn’s sketch, 1971 sighting, Cuba




Dragon Pterodactyl Living in California

A 38-year-old woman in a residential neighborhood of Lakewood, California, just northeast of Long Beach, reported a “dragon-pterodactyl” that had no feathers but a long tail with a “dragon” “triangle” at the of that tail.

“Long Pointy Tail”

“. . . large wingspan and long pointy tail . . . Wings had the distinct ‘pterodactyl’ architecture on the trailing edge.” [Hanover County, Virginia, early July of 2015]

Pterosaur Sightings Data for the USA

What do I mean by “more credible sightings?” Each sighting report in this compilation (including the 90 here examined) was judged by me to be more than 50% likely to have been an actual encounter with a living pterosaur.

Ropen – Flying Creatures

In the United States and British Columbia, with many sightings in the USA

Flying Fox Bat or the Ropen?

Up until the late 20th Century, the flying fox explanation was used to dismiss reports of large flying  creatures in Papua New Guinea, nocturnal creatures that some people called pterodactyls.

The Fiery Flying Serpent and the Ropen

Searching for  Ropens and Finding God [the book] is . . . about pterosaurs with long tails, apparently real animals that live in our modern world.

Jonathan Whitcomb’s Ropen Research

The tail is what riveted me, you could see the shape on the end . . . it stuck straight out.

Long-Tailed “Flying Dinosaur” or Ropen

In third-world countries, it is called by many names. In Papua New Guine, the creature may be called “Seklo-bali” or “indava” or “Kor” or “duwas.”

Jonathan Whitcomb in Papua New Guinea

My interpreter Luke Paina and I were there to  videotape or photograph a ropen.

Searching for Ropens and Finding God

The prayers of family, friends, and other Americans were answered when I found Luke Paina,  who became my interpreter, bodyguard, and counselor.

The Ropen of Papua New Guinea

All seven boys ran home in terror, for that ropen had a mouth “like a crocodile” and a tail that one of the eyewitnesses estimated to be “sefan meetuh” long (about 22 feet).

Ropen in Cuba

Sketched by the eyewitness Patty Carson “The Gitmo Pterosaur” or American ropen in Cuba was seen alive in 1965

“Pterodactyl” in New Guinea, in 1944, was apparently a ropen

. . . the same  species of flying creature that natives of nearby Umboi Island call “ropen.”

Live Pterosaurs and the Ropen

The ropen is described in ways that actually lead to two words: “dragon” and “pterosaur,”


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Farewell to Duane N. Hodgkinson

On January 10, 2015, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I tried phoning Duane Hodgkinson last year, in the summer or early fall as I remember; nobody answered. I have just learned that he passed away on September 19. He will be missed.

His sighting in New Guinea in 1944 (before these islands became the independent nation of Papua New Guinea) deserve attention. Yet I feel we need to see his report in the context of other sightings of large flying creatures in the southwest Pacific. Consider what I now quote from the nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition:

By telephone and letter, Hodgkinson told me more [about his sighting]. . . . while the native guide was ahead of them on the trail, he and his friend stopped in a clearing. The two soldiers heard a “crashing” noise in the brush, and when they looked toward the uphill side of the clearing they saw the creature take off into the air. Before this takeoff, it was unseen. A wild pig, which had caused the noise, then ran to the downhill side of the clearing, into the taller brush; apparently, it had startled the “pterodactyl,” which then circled above the clearing. [page 25 of SFRFG]

. . . [Duane Hodgkinson] revealed that he had noticed no detail of the long tail he had seen, but the tail was indeed long. [in 2005, in an interview, he revealed his rough estimate for tail length: “at least ten or fifteen feet”] . . . The creature, which Hodgkinson first assumed was a bird, flew up from the edge of the clearing and, as it circled, fifty to one hundred feet above the men, presented a “perfect side view” of itself—obviously no bird. [page 26]

Sighting in Perth, Australia

(Continued quoting of the nonfiction book on ropens)

Soon after I had questioned Hodgkinson, an Australian lady told me about a flying creature she and her husband . . . had observed near the coast of Perth. . . . [top of page 31]

Soon after the sighting, the lady was open about it and tried to spread the news, but people accused her of dishonesty, people who did not know her, so she kept quiet about it for years. When she realized my work was serious, she replied . . . “Whatever people may think, the fact remains that my husband and I both saw that creature. My husband, being a scientist, took in things from the sighting that I [did not] take in.”

I requested her husband’s account and he soon replied: [page 32]

“As I am to understand that my wife has been corresponding with you concerning a certain sighting we witnessed near the coast of the Indian Ocean in Perth, Western Australia, she has encouraged and prevailed upon me to add my perspectives . . .

“We had been walking in the evening and had just crested a hill and were on the down slope along a major thoroughfare. In the distance, I perceived an object in the sky. . . .

“Soon I was able to determine that it was some sort of flying creature, and my first thought was that it must be some very large bird. I was very new to the area at the time and unfamiliar with the native creatures . . .

“. . . its progress had brought it closer and while its shape did resemble a bird, I thought by now that from its apparent distance, it must be the largest bird I had ever witnessed. . . .

“Within a minute or so it had reached our position and was about 250 or 300 feet above us and slightly inland. The area was moderately well lit and I saw that it seemed to be a light reddish-tan color. It did not appear to be covered with feathers but had a leathery texture.

“Soon after it passed us, it flew over a more brightly lit sports area which highlighted even more the leathery appearance, also bringing more detail to view. The wings were the most definite leathery feature. They were shaped in a triangular arch, similar to a very elongated shark fin.” [This man estimated the wingspan of the strange flying creature at 30-50 feet.]

Ropen sighting by seven natives of Umboi Island

We rested while someone went for Gideon. These curious villagers rarely see a Western visitor: probably their first encounter with a ropen hunter. [page 74 of SFRFG]

Gideon arrived . . . the same Gideon I saw and heard in Paul Nation’s video . . .

[Question by Whitcomb] “You told them about when you went up to the mountain where there was a lake . . .”

Gideon nodded many times.

[Whitcomb] “All right. . . What lake was that?”

He appeared surprised at my ignorance and said, “Pung.”

[Whitcomb] “Did you notice . . . did it have wings?”

With a smile, Gideon said, “Yeah.”

[Whitcomb] “It had wings. OK. About how large were the wings . . .”

Gideon said, “Sefan meeta.” . . . [seven meters is about 23 feet]

[Whitcomb] “OK. Did it have a tail?”


[Whitcomb] “It had a tail. OK. How long was the tail?”

Gideon looked at the ground to his left for five seconds; from the way he glanced back and forth at the ground a few times, I concluded that he was imagining the tail and estimating its length. He looked back at me and said:

“Sefan meeta long.”

“Seven meters?”


One year later, I would analyze this interview and realize the weakness of trying to communicate with villagers about “wingspan.” . . . Gideon meant that one wing by itself was seven meters long.

When I asked about feathers, he gave me the puzzled look.

[Gideon] “There’s no feathers.”


World War II veteran who had seen a huge ropen

Eyewitness of a ropen: Duane Hodgkinson

Other ropen eyewitnesses could be mentioned, but these two from western Australia and this native from Umboi Island support the testimony of Mr. Hodgkinson. The ropen is a real flying creature, seen by natives and Australians and Americans, on occasion, in the Southwest Pacific.



Passing of Duane Hodgkinson

Within the past twelve years or so, the testimony of Mr. Hodgkinson has been vindicated by reports from other eyewitnesses in the southwest Pacific, many others.

“Pterodactyl” reported alive in Papua New Guinea

A study by an American cryptozoologist  suggests that the “pterodactyl” described by the World War II veteran  Duane Hodgkinson was a real creature, of a species living in coastal areas  of Papua New Guinea.

Ropen questions and answers

We do not yet have enough eyewitness reports to determine variations of species of the long-tailed featherless flying creatures that we call “ropen.” The Perth creature may be a different species than the ones observed by Duane Hodgkinson (1944) and by Gideon Koro (~1994), based upon the apparent differences in rations between wingspan and length of tail.

Honesty in Ropen Searching

A different kind of attack has been launched, as an American paleontologist has dismissed the ropen as a “fake” pterosaur and dismissed me, Jonathan Whitcomb, as one who practices deception. [A reply to accusations]


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Sightings in West Virginia Area

On November 17, 2014, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Where the Kanawha River of West Virginia joins the Ohio River—that’s where we find the community of Point Pleasant, and that’s the center of a strange series of sighting reports of the Mothman. That’s also where three persons in one family saw, in October of 2014, what was probably a glowing ropen. I doubt that it was a coincidence, but the Mothman stories let’s put aside for the moment.

Before getting into the ropen sighting, consider the countless caves and abandoned mines in West Virginia: countless places for strange nocturnal flying creatures to hide in daylight.

gated entrance to an abandoned mine in WV

One of many entrances to old mines in West Virginia (not all of them are impassable)


Facebook message from Ricky:

I don’t know any [cryptozoologists] personally so I’m resorting to you guys because you guys know about something that was closest to what I and my family saw tonight.

This happened to me about an hour ago. My dad, my baby sister, and I were outside in the hot tub. We were just talking and my sister was counting the stars . . . she spots this giant winged creature flying across the sky . . . It was WAY UP in the sky, and it’s wings were flapping slowly, so explaining that it was a large creature high up rather than a small creature flying low. But it was glowing.

Looking back on the experience, Ricky was upset that he did not run to get his cell phone and capture a video or photo of the flying creature, but at the time of the sighting he assumed that he would eventually be able to find some commonplace explanation. After the creature had flown away, Ricky came to realize that his family had witnessed an incredible event.

Continuing Ricky’s Facebook message:

I live just a couple miles from Point Pleasant, so my first guess was to resort to reading Mothman articles. But I mean, it just didn’t match what I saw. I need help determining this. I was doing research about “flying, glowing creature sightings at night” and came across you and these creatures, but these are all the way on the other side of the country? I have no explanation and that’s why I’m scared, open minded (which isn’t usual), and curious to figure this out. . . . it was way high up, definitely bioluminescent, a light orange. . . . I’d say it had at least a 25-30 ft wingspan. But it was so high up that that’s all u could make out were the wings, and that they were flapping so slowly.

Message (on a Facebook group-forum) that I, Jonathan Whitcomb, sent to Ricky:

Hi, Ricky. Thank you for sharing your experience with us here. Many other eyewitnesses have seen similar flying creatures, probably even the same species. Some of them fly in your part of the country.

Another man reported a large flying creature, maybe the same species, in West Virginia a few years ago. He saw that it was catching bats. His email address was not working, however, when I tried to contact him, and he has not contacted me since.

Email that I sent to Ricky on October 21, 2014:

I think I understand something of what you have been going through. Have you been looking online for a report of a large glowing creature that was seen close to your part of the country? Ropens can fly long distances and have been reported across North American. Some reports are of daylight encounters and others are at night. One clue that might help you: Some of the sightings do not include any appearance of the glow that  we know the creature is capable of producing. They do not glow all the time.

I later asked him about how long the sighting was and if a tail was visible. He replied:

[Length of sighting was] at least a minute. I mean it came into sight at least a half mile from us and we watched it until we couldn’t see it anymore. I guess I didn’t take any pictures because one, we were in the hot tub and didn’t have my phone but [now] I wish I jumped out instantly and went inside and got it. And two, at the time, I didn’t think it was [a] big enough deal to go get my phone. Like I thought I’d figure out what it was as I looked at it longer.

Taken in the context of many eyewitness sightings across the country, including reports from Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, I believe Ricky and his family did see a bioluminescent flying ropen.

Caves and Mines of West Virginia

From a brief online search, I see that West Virginia has its share of caves. It also is said to have thousands of abandoned mines, since the coal industry is well over a century old there. Probably nobody knows all the openings to those countless abandoned mines, leaving countless potential hiding places for the ropens to sleep in daylight.



Recent Pterosaur Sightings

Also sightings in two other states: New Mexico and Oklahoma

New Book on Ropens – Live Pterosaurs Worldwide

Expect references to the Biblical fiery flying serpent and the Flood of Noah. I added “finding God” to the title of the third edition to avoid offending anyone wanting only cryptozoology, a reader who would be offended to find a little religion, however limited; it’s continued in this fourth edition: finding God. Yet this is not mainly about religion, not in the usual sense. It’s less likely to take you to church than into the lives of ordinary persons who have encountered extraordinary flying creatures, and into the lives of Christians who have risked their health, even their lives, in searching for living pterosaurs.

Do Dragons Live in Caves?

Many species of bats live in countless caves around the world, but what about larger flying creatures, the ones long thought extinct according to generations of Western traditions? What about ropens, called by some persons dragons?

Ropen Lights in Southern California?

. . . the mud caves of the Badlands are exposed. Some of the caves, according to the video, are “more than a mile” long. Yet even if that length is exaggerated, many openings, including ceiling holes, would make the caves ideal for a family of nocturnal flying predators or scavengers, an ideal bedroom to hide in the daylight.

Ropen Expedition by Woetzel and Guessman

Stopping to refuel at Kampalap, they learned that villagers occasionally see the ropen as it leaves a cave, most recently three weeks earlier. . . . The creature flies to a promontory north of the village, landing and waiting on a tree top before flying out to the reef.


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Ropen Search by Destination Truth

On January 26, 2013, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

The first-season television broadcast of an episode of Destination Truth (on the SyFy Channel), in 2007, involved a search in a jungle in Papua New Guinea, looking for a dinosaur-like animal that somebody suggested might be an iguanodon. That was on the island of New Britain, just east of the smaller island of Umboi (home of the ropen).

In the first half of the third episode, broadcast in 2007, a Destination Truth team searches for a ropen in Salamaua, Papua New Guinea. I found it interesting that they sometimes used the word “ropen,” even though that word is used by Kovai-speaking natives on the island of Umboi; in other villages in other areas of Papua New Guinea, “ropen” means nothing or something other than a large featherless nocturnal flying creature that glows.

Josh Gates seems to lead all the expeditions, in all seasons of Destination Truth, and he often does well in working through problems that would cause most people to give up entirely. In the ropen episode, the expedition team began searching for a promising cave on the eastern coast of the mainland of Papua New Guinea. At first, they were led up into a jungle by a native guide who eventually admitted that he was not sure where the cave was located: the trees were the wrong size. Josh took charge and led the team out of that jungle, and they discontinued using that guide.

When the explorers did find a cave, Josh led the camera operator in exploring it. They found bones, eventually many human bones, and quickly exited that cave. To their credit, the team then set up four video cameras to continuously monitor what was around the cave, in four directions.

They located a distant flying light, something far beyond the cliff, something quite bright (considering the distance). The video recording of that flying light was later taken back to the United States for analysis. The two video experts found nothing common about the image: not a camera aberration, not anything that would discredit the bioluminescent-flying-animal idea. I praise the Destination Truth team for that successful episode.


During the ropen expedition of 2007, Josh Gates discovers many bones in a cave. They appear to be human bones.

Josh finds many bones, possibly human, in the cave


The Destination Truth expedition team videotaped, in Salamaua, Papua New Guinea, a strange flying light

Flying light image from one of the video camera recordings in Salamaua


Destination Truth Ropen Episode

I’m thinking about a particular native who was interviewed by Josh Gates, during the Destination Truth expedition of 2007: Fabian.

Science and Modern Pterosaurs

But what do all those numbers mean? What can we learn? Perhaps the most important is that no hoaxes played any significant role in the sighting reports.

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