What Flies in Papua New Guinea?

In some areas of Papua New Guinea, natives know of a large flying creature unlike the Flying Fox fruit bat but also unlike any feathered bird. It has various names, depending on the tribe and language of the native who is interviewed:

  • Ropen
  • Seklo-bali
  • Kor
  • Wawanar
  • Indava
  • Duwas

During my expedition in Papua New Guinea, in 2004, I interviewed many natives, including three eyewitnesses who had been terrified at their encounter with the ropen. The young men were teenagers ten years earlier, when they had hiked up, with four other friends, to the crater lake called “Pung.”

Crater lake "Pung" where seven native boys saw the giant ropen in 1994

From the introduction in the nonfiction cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens (second edition) we read:

Yes, I did search for giant living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, and I criticize the philosophy that causes Westerners to thoughtlessly dismiss any eyewitness report that suggests a living pterosaur; I censure nobody, however, for simply doubting such creatures still fly, for the idea defies an entrenched Western belief. About the ropen, believe what you will; what do I think about this creature? Such is the power of the testimonies of the eyewitnesses I’ve encountered, that it’s as real to me, almost, as if I had stared it in the face. How can I deny the credibility of the eyewitnesses I’ve interviewed? With no other reasonable interpretation of these testimonies, I believe the ropen is a living pterosaur.

From the ebook Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea:

We must begin with the basics: What is a pterosaur? It’s not really a type of dinosaur, although it’s associated with them. The flying creature is called “pterodactyl” by many non-scientists; some Americans call those featherless fliers “dinosaur birds” or “prehistoric birds.”

Most pterosaur fossils fit into one of two types: long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid or shorter-tailed Pterodactyloid. Those two types differ in other ways, not just tail length, but that’s a subject for a book on pterosaur fossils.

In modern eyewitness reports, long-tailed pterosaurs outnumber short-tails, at least four-to-one. Standard models of extinction make this ratio appear strange, for the long-tailed variety were thought to have dwindled before the short-tailed pterosaurs became dominant, at least that’s the theory. Nevertheless, the ratio is significant in modern sightings, appearing consistent regardless of the culture or beliefs or education of the eyewitness.

Some sightings of strange flying creatures are actual encounters with modern living pterosaurs, contrary to deep-seated Western traditions about extinctions. A minority are hoaxes and some sightings are misidentifications. But those eyewitness reports that are obviously neither hoaxes nor misidentifications—those encounters deserve our attention.

Ropen of Umboi Island

[A native eyewitness, around 2009, was] on an outboard motor [probably a banana boat] as early as 9 am when we saw a giant creature floating along the coastline near Bunsil Bay . . .  Its body was submerged under the sea but its tail was emerged. I saw that its tail is about 6-7 meters long . . . with sharp diamond shape [probably at the end of the tail].

Flying Creature

Most of these flying creatures fly at night, although some sightings are in the daylight. Please be aware that a sighting in the day does not mean that what was observed must be a creature normally out in daylight. It may have been frightened out of sleep during the day.

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About Jonathan Whitcomb

American cryptozoologist who interviews eyewitnesses from various parts of the world
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