The Woetzel-Guessman Expedition

On February 19, 2011, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

David Woetzel and Garth Guessman succeeded in their 2004 expedition on Umboi Island, even though they failed to get a clear view of a ropen, for their interviews with native eyewitnesses proved of great worth in their cryptozoological investigation. To the expedition of these two American creationists, I devoted a chapter, in my nonfiction book Searching for Ropens (this book is in its second edition, with the third edition now being written). Woetzel and Guessman deserve more credit than a brief reference in Wikipedia, so I quote from the book, although only in brief summary:

Kepas [interpreter] accompanied Guessman and Woetzel to Umboi Island, but rather than take a boat, as I had, they flew in a small plane, searching the landscape as they passed over the center of the island. . . . they flew directly to the northern coast which they followed to the air strip at Lab Lab.

Here the three ropen investigators met Peter (Pita) Ake, magistrate of Mararamu Village, and the four men took a banana boat along the northeast coast. . . . 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 the tree tops before flying out to the reef.

Guessman, Kepas, Peter, and Woetzel continued on the banana boat northwest, leaving it near Aupwel, where they were greeted by many local villagers. An older man, Patrik Sual (whose ancestors lived near or on Mount Sual) told the investigators that he sees the ropen once a month, only from a distance; it flies from mountain to mountain. . . .

[In the first major trek on foot] . . . passing between the mountains Barik and Sual, they arrived at Arot Village where they made friends with local men and prepared for the excursion up to Bono, the crater lake of Mount Sual.

Guessman interviewed Jonathan Ragu, of Mararamu Village, who saw a ropen in July of 2004, when he and his daughter were at a beach. Between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. . . . it flew away from the northwest coast of Umboi Island, heading toward Tolokiwa Island (northwest of Umboi). Glowing brightly red and white from the head and trailing edges of the wings, it flew fast, at tree-top level. . . . nose-to-tail length was eleven feet. From thirty-four silhouettes of bats, birds, and pterosaurs, Ragu chose the Sordes Pilosus, a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

They had many more interviews with eyewitnesses and explored some of the central areas of Umboi Island. They stayed for a few more days than my own two-week expedition, which was a few weeks earlier than their expedition. Woetzel had a sighting of the ropen light one night, briefly and at a distance. That deserves another quote from the book.

 Woetzel reported to me, “My sighting was so quick that it was impossible to get a video–maybe two seconds. The light was very different from what Garth and Pastor Jacob saw. I suspect theirs was a meteor. I also saw some meteors while on night watch. They were whitish in color and had a tail. But this thing was different. It went about as fast as a meteor, but it was very different in coloration . . . almost golden and shimmering around the edges. It looked like an old-fashioned street light in the fog. There was no tail and it was flying horizontally from Mt. Barik toward Mt. Tolo.”

Woetzel continued, “I . . . saw it streaking across the horizon and disappearing behind Mt. Tolo. The size, color and speed made it immediately stand out as unlike any other thing I’ve ever seen in the sky. . . . Woetzel estimated the angular size to be 20%-25% of a full moon and said, “. . . larger than any meteor I’ve ever seen.”

For an introduction to ropen expeditions in Papua New Guinea, read “Basics on Living Pterosaurs . . .” (It includes a correction to a mistake about Woetzel’s ropen-light sighting.)

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Missionaries and Monsters

On December 20, 2010, in fiery flying serpent, Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

William Gibbon’s nonfiction cryptozoology book Missionaries and Monsters has a chapter on “Winged Wonders” (with reference to the Biblical “fiery flying serpent”). Before getting into details about living pterosaurs, here is part of the publisher’s information:

Bill [Gibbons] collects reports of mystery animals from missionaries and others, with chapters on lake monsters, sea serpents, unknown apes, and the possibility of living dinosaurs. Some of these cryptids look like species from the fossil record, while others (like the “Nepal Dragon” sighted in 1980) don’t resemble known species at all.

I recommend this book for its many eyewitness accounts of cryptids from around the world, some of which suggest living dinosaurs and pterosaurs. I’d rate the book “4.5 stars out of 5.0” and hope to some day research some of the reports in the “Winged Wonders” chapter (those I have not yet researched), and I encourage other cryptozoologists to investigate reports of living pterosaurs in the southwest Pacific.

That said, certain details about the flying creatures called “ropen” and “Duah” I do not recommend be repeated without reference to more recent living-pterosaur investigations in Papua New Guinea, from expeditions more recent than those on which Gibbons has relied.

Before getting into details, from pages 76-78, on which I disagree, let it be known that I agree that different varieties of modern pterosaurs live in Papua New Guinea. And varieties of basic types of classified organisms (the non-cryptids) commonly include different sizes: elephant seals out-weigh harbor seals; anacondas out-length gopher snakes; Goliath beetles out-bug boll weevils. Strange as it sounds to Westerners ignorant of living-pterosaur investigations in Papua New Guinea, I believe (as do at least some of my associates) that different species of pterosaurs, of different sizes, fly over jungles of the southwest Pacific, including more than one species in Papua New Guinea.

Hundreds of isolated villages and hundreds of village languages are scattered across Papua New Guinea. Gibbons seems to have relied on reports from Carl Baugh, perhaps without adequately considering the reports from more recent explorers (Paul Nation, David Woetzel, Garth Guessman, and me). Regardless, general references to words in native languages of Papua New Guinea need to be taken in context with this diversity of languages, and “ropen” and “duwas” (regarding pterosaur-like flying creatures) come from different languages.

Duah,” to the best of my knowledge, is not a flying-creature word in any village-language in Papua New Guinea (although in Tok Pisin it means “door”). “Duah” probably comes from some American who assumed that “duwas” was a plural for the giant flying creature known in various parts of the country. So when Gibbons refers to the “Duah” and the ropen, it seems that the comparison should actually be between the duwas and the ropen.

But another problem flies up here: The word “ropen,” when used for a featherless flying creature that is not a bat, is the word used in various villages on Umboi Island, where there is probably no other word for any similar creature; likewise, if a researcher were to interview natives in villages where “duwas” refers to a featherless flying creature larger than fuit bats, those natives probably would have no other word for any similar creature. In other words, the difference between a duwas and a ropen is probably only the difference between the spellings of “duwas” and “ropen,” and those different words tell us nothing about size-differences of flying cryptids in Papua New Guinea.

So rejoice in the good news of some apparent diversity in pterosaurs in the southwest Pacific. The bad news? We are still mostly ignorant of many biological details, notwithstanding random references to flying creatures (of various reported-sizes) connected to various words in various languages. How much we have to learn about these amazing non-extinct flying creatures of Papua New Guinea!



cryptozoology book, nonfiction, on living pterosaursLive Pterosaurs in America, by Jonathan David Whitcomb, is a nonfiction book in the true genre of cryptozoology. Read the astonishing accounts in the words of the eyewitnesses themselves. Sightings are examined in detail, and they are from many states, including California, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, and other states. This book has sold better than any other cryptozoology book about living pterosaurs, on from late 2009 through mid-2010.

Bored with life, or know someone who is? Thrill to these encounters with flying creatures that some outdated American cultural traditions teaches us are long extinct. They are not extinct but very much alive.

For some teenagers and pre-teens, this book on living pterosaurs is a sure cure for boredom, with accounts of interviews conducted by both old and young American cryptozoologists, including one of the age of only twelve years.

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Wikipedia and “Tiny Minorities”

On July 20, 2010, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Of course undue attention to the opinion of “tiny minorities” may be inappropriate in the biography of a living person (BLP), in an encyclopedia or similar publication; but with a giant like Wikipedia, there is an unspoken policy that resembles this: The virtual policy of “popular opinion rules.” This unofficial policy comes unavoidably from the nature of Wikipedia: an open platform for writing and editing.

I would not change Wikipedia; I would encourage knowledge and understanding of popular opinions in Western culture. Wikipedia makes many research projects much easier, but we need to remember that it comes mostly from writings of those who comply, at least to some extent, to popular models; concepts not based on standard axioms of developed nations are not portrayed in a positive light, in general, if they are portrayed at all.

So what do I suggest about Wikipedia? Use it when popular Western ideas are not a problem; do not use it to research something unorthodox at its roots. Of course, I am thinking about modern living pterosaurs. In particular, consider those Americans who have investigated eyewitness reports that suggest extant pterosaurs. Wikipedia has a somewhat informative page on the ropen; it includes informative reference URL’s as well (mostly quite positive towards researchers and investigators).

But the Wikipedia page itself tells us little about the investigators; it mentions names: “Carl Baugh, Paul Nation, Jonathan Whitcomb, David Woetzel, and Garth Guessman,” mentioning that they are American creationists who seek to “discredit mainstream scientific views on the age of the Earth.” As of July 19, 2010, almost nothing else is said about them, although Baugh has his own Wikipedia page (very negative about him, by standard BLP policies). So let’s now consider those three investigators who do not have their own pages on Wikipedia (Nation, Whitcomb, Woetzel, and Guessman), using CreationWiki:

Paul Nation

As a living-pterosaur investigator, Paul Nation, of Granbury, Texas, conducted brief expeditions in Papua New Guinea in 1994 (with Carl Baugh), 2002, 2006, and early 2007 (Nation became involved in living-pterosaur expeditions because of his professional experience handling large ratites–flightless birds like ostriches–and their eggs). The earlier two expeditions were searching for the ropen of Umboi Island; the latter two, for the indava of the mainland interior.

Jonathan Whitcomb

While viewing an expedition video by Paul Nation, he noticed a high level of credibility in the testimonies of eyewitnesses of what is called the ropen of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea. He then became involved in living-pterosaur investigations, exploring part of Umboi Island in 2004. Although he failed to see any ropen, he interviewed native eyewitnesses. In 2006, Whitcomb wrote the book Searching for Ropens. In it he criticizes the standard model of universal and ancient pterosaur extinction and criticizes the General Theory of Evolution.

David Woetzel

David Woetzel, a New Hampshire businessman, is an active cryptozoology explorer, having searched for the Mokele Mbembe in Africa and the ropen in Papua New Guinea. His 2004 expedition to Umboi Island, with Garth Guessman and Jacob Kepas, resulted in detailed interviews with villagers. In addition, Woetzel himself saw what investigators believe was a bioluminescent ropen (a living pterosaur) one night as the distant glowing form flew behind a mountain. Like Whitcomb, Woetzel has written a scientific paper about living pterosaurs (both articles being published in the peer-reviewed Creation Research Society Quarterly).

Garth Guessman

Garth Guessman, of Southern California, explored (with David Woetzel and Jacob Kepas) Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea in 2004, searching for ropens. This resulted in one brief and distant sighting by Woetzel and in many formally conducted interviews with native eyewitnesses.

Guessman’s knowledge of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur fossils allowed him to notice an important clue about the ropen‘s classification. The two explorers learned that the native traditions describe the ropen‘s tail as being stiff, never moving except near where it connects to the body. 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.

Strange Flying Creatures — Lack of fairness from critics

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Science and Clear Thinking

On June 15, 2010, in philosophy, Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” I believe Nikola Tesla was thinking clearly when he said that. I also believe that we need clear thinking in the scientists of today, at least as much as in the time of Tesla. It appears to me difficult to define, although its opposite appears easy to expose. Perhaps we should be grateful for extremes that help us to distinguish between foggy and clear thinking. I suggest a couple of examples.

A few years ago, a critic of living-pterosaurs investigations appeared offended that I had, on one of my own web pages, included a link to a creationist site; he demanded that I remove that link, insinuating that I should not be taken seriously because of that link. I now suggest that those who can be offended by such a thing should consider this: Bias is not necessarily confined to those who disagree with you.

I later found a site produced by another critic; he used the words “lies” and “stupid” in his URL, with the content of his site ridiculing me and my associates. Not to repeat much of the content, I simply refer to part of it: He declared that “John Whitcomb” had been sponsored by Carl Baugh and led a group of creationists in an expedition in Africa; I have never gone by the name of “John,” have never been sponsored by Carl Baugh for anything, have never led any group of creationists on any expedition anywhere, and have never set foot in Africa.

Regarding his URL, I have told the truth, not lies; I hope that he was simply ignorant of my intentions. I make no comment about “stupid,” although I sometimes admit that my general intelligence may be inferior to that of some of my readers and my education may seem less impressive than that of some of my critics (not, it seems, this one), but let’s return to “clear thinking,” for that is the subject.

I admit this subject cries for me to dig more deeply and learn more about human thinking, but one thing is obvious: We need to listen to each other, regardless of previous disagreements and regardless of differing labels. Truth can be found in the thoughts of those appearing to be most ignorant and foolish. Even my own most vehement critic did reveal some truth about me: My last name is “Whitcomb” and I am active in promoting the concept of modern living pterosaurs; this critic may have actually helped promote awareness of the case for living pterosaurs.

By the way, I did explore a remote island in Papua New Guinea (north of Australia) in 2004. I traveled to P.N.G. alone and found an interpreter on the mainland, before taking a small ship to Umboi Island. I interviewed many eyewitnesses of the ropen. My associates and I are convinced that this nocturnal flying creature is a modern Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

My critic may have confused Papua New Guinea with a small country in Western Africa. He may also have confused me with John C. Whitcomb who wrote The Genesis Flood many years ago. He may also have been confused by my assistance from Paul Nation, who was once a close associate of Carl Baugh. He may also have been confused about the two expeditions of 2004, for the second one was led by two American creationists and they followed my expedition by only a few weeks.

After I had replied to this web site, stating the inaccuracies, changes were made, including the correct spelling of my name: “Jonathan Whitcomb.” The newer page mentions nothing about my being in Africa. I appreciate that correction.

But many other inaccuracies were added, related to sightings and the living-pterosaur investigations. For example, the two indava lights videotaped by Paul Nation in 2006 were compared with high-speed UFO’s (the two lights were actually sitting motionless on the top of a nearby ridge). The critic mentioned those videotaped lights “flying in the sky above the peaks of volcanoes located on Umboi Island created by creationists possessing fake credentials.” (I suspect he was trying too hard to cram too many criticisms into one sentence.) At any rate, the videotaped lights were on the mainland of Papua New Guinea, nowhere near Umboi Island. I’m afraid that the critic has a problem with clear thinking, for he still tends to become confused.

I don’t know why this critic uses the words “lies” and “stupid” for me and my associates; I assume that it is also from some kind of confusion.

More: objective evaluation of eyewitness reports and the nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America (published by Createspace; written by Jonathan David Whitcomb) This is a cryptozoology book.

Objective interview methods of Guessman & Woetzel (2nd Umboi Island expedition of 2004)

Objective Ministries” is a parody or hoax. The university is nonexistent. There’s no “objectiveministries.”

Jacob Kepas of Papua New Guinea, Baptist minister, explorer, and cryptozoologistLate in 2006, Pastor Jacob Kepas (a Baptist minister) was interviewed by Paul Nation, in a hut in Tawa Village, deep in the mountainous interior of the mainland of Papua New Guinea. Kepas had recently climbed up a hill adjacent to a cliff where some of the nocturnal flying creatures sleep during the day. He was accompanied by a local villager who confirmed that what was on that cliff was indeed an indava, the creature that glows at night.

During the videotaped interview, Kepas and his guide described how they had observed the sleeping winged creature. They had tried to videotape it from the hill they had climbed, but the resulting footage was poor, perhaps from a combination of inexperience of the camera operators and the distance involved (Kepas was observing it through binoculars). But even with binoculars, Kepas had been uncertain that it was the creature that they sought until his guide climbed up higher for a better view, confirming that it was an indava.

But that was not the first time that Kepas had observed a strange flying creature. When he was a boy, in another area of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, he had seen a seklo-bali as the glowing creature had flown overhead. Researchers believe that the seklo-bali, ropen, and indava may be closely related or even the same species of bioluminescent flying creature, apparently living pterosaurs.

Regarding the objectiveness of Kepas, in his 2006 sighting of what was identified as an indava, consider this: Kepas himself voiced his uncertainty that what he was observing was the creature that they had sought; the distance and viewing angle made identification difficult. After the other man had climbed higher, obtaining a better viewing angle, it was confirmed to be an indava. This confirms that Kepas is capable of objectiveness in his observations, for he did not force a conclusion when the conditions were inadequate for certainty.

In this 2006 expedition, Nation and Kepas were flown into the remote mountainous area by missionary pilot Jim Blume, who has been a great help, for many years, in living-pterosaur investigations.

See also “Fight With a Kor in Northern Papua New Guinea”

This Baptist minister has worked with the Baptist missionary James Blume, in assisting American ropen searchers and in helping the living-pterosaur investigations in general.

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Objectiveness in the investigations

On April 15, 2010, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

How easy it is to snatch at anything that seems to support ones view! Galileo snatched hold of a tidal hypothesis that he hoped would be evidence for the Copernican model (sun-centered solar system); it was wrong. More recently, one living-pterosaur investigator tried to shore up the story of what I call the “Tunnel Pterodactyl.” It now seems obvious that signs of a hoax outweigh anything that may be said in favor of that story. But tunnel vision can be seen in the investigations and research of scientists and cryptozoologists of all fields and philosophies. Galileo’s mistake about tides does not mean that the sun revolves around the earth.

I recently came to the conclusion that the Naga Fireballs of the Mekong River (Southeast Asia) are probably the bioluminescent glow of large insects. I briefly researched a few reports of these glowing orbs with hope that they may be related to the kor of Northern Papua New Guinea or the ropen of Umboi Island. It now appears to be no close connection except that there is another not-yet-classified bioluminescent creature, a cryptid awaiting to graduate from cryptozoology into zoology.

Maintaining the quality of objectiveness in our investigations requires constant vigilance, regardless of how deeply we believe in the foundation of our work.

See also Objectiveness in Cheesman Sightings

Strange Flying Creatures and Bulverism

Objective Ministries” seems to be a parody, and there is no such organization: “objectiveministries”