A Ropen by any Other Name

By modern-pterosaur researcher Jonathan Whitcomb

One skeptic, writing a very long online article, mentions what I have written about related words in some of the many village languages in Papua New Guinea. He says that “ropen” means bird in one language but fruit bat in another. He then writes, “Well, there you have it,” as if it supports his declaration that a significant number of sightings of apparent pterosaurs in that area of the world could be from misidentified birds or bats. But he misses the point:

“The complexity of hundreds of languages and dialects however, makes research challenging.” [from Ropen on creationwiki]

The critic who referenced that page on Creation-wiki did not take into account the purpose of that paragraph: We cannot reasonably rely on a multitude of languages and expect that any particular word, apparently for a particular flying creature, must relate to a particular species.

During the past fourteen years of my investigation into reports of apparent extant pterosaurs observed worldwide, I have relied on the descriptions in those eyewitness reports more than on the labels used for the animals people have seen. In fact, I generally give very little thought to the label an eyewitness gives to what was seen, especially regarding how I might interpret the possibility that it was a modern pterosaur.

I suspect that the critic himself was overly concentrating on word usage in various languages. I believe that he has an extreme bias against the possibility that one or more species of pterosaurs has survived into the present and that my associates and I have found significant evidence for their existence. This bias has caused the skeptic to make a number of mistakes, including errors of fact in his writings.


Look at a Photograph of a Modern Pterosaur

Even better than words of description may be a photo or a sketch drawn by an eyewitness. Consider the following old photograph that has been verified authentic by two scientists:

recently deceased pterosaur ("pterodactyl") in an old photograph

The photograph now called “Ptp” – That’s a real animal, according to two scientists


Please be aware that Clifford Paiva and I (Jonathan Whitcomb) do not say that the animal photographed was some kind of ropen, but it is obviously a modern pterosaur (or else the most incredible fake model of one ever constructed in history). We say that it was more likely some species of Pterodactyloid rather than a long-tailed ropen.

Regarding the skeptical speculation that those soldiers constructed an elaborate model, a fake pterosaur that had wing folding suggesting what scientists would not discover until many years or even decades later, consider this: How do you account for the estimated number of persons now living who have had some kind of encounter, during their human life times, with a modern pterosaur? That number of persons is between about 7 million and about 128 million.

Old speculations that have appeared like scientific declarations—those have been shot down, especially the popular “Photoshop” conjecture. The following are from the first edition of the nonfiction book Modern Pterosaurs:

Notice the missing fingers in Figure-11. CLK suggests that this is evidence for a hoax, using Photoshop. But how could digital manipulation cause those fingers to disappear? How else except in pasting a rifle-image onto an image of a soldier holding his arm to one side?

Notice the problems that jump out like the clown of a jack-in-the-box. Why would any hoaxer search for some old Civil War photo that might have a soldier holding out his arm as if holding a rifle but without the rifle? Why would any American Civil War soldier stand for a photograph while holding out his arm as if holding onto his rifle but without the rifle? How could any soldier in military history be so foolish as to hold out his arm, as if holding his rifle, when he had forgotten to bring the rifle for the photograph?

That missing-fingers point suggests CLK is unqualified to testify about a potential digital hoax. [Ptp was NOT created through the use of Photoshop.]


The Underwood & Underwood Photograph Discovered

I had seen the Ptp image with a border around late May of this year, but on June 2, 2017, I recognized the words “Underwood & Underwood” printed on the border. I soon recognized how important this discovery was: evidence that Ptp is indeed a very old photograph, for that company went out of business many decades ago, decades before Photoshop existed.

modern pterosaur photo with a border that includes "Underwood & Underwood"

The border on the left side gives the name of the company that published this photograph: Underwood & Underwood. They distributed this photo probably before the 1920’s and may have received it from an independent photographer who could have recorded it before about the year 1870. Evidence within the photo itself suggests it was before about 1870, for an apparent stabilizing prop was used under the beak of the animal.



copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb


Ropen eyewitness

American World War II veteran observed a very large ropen in New Guinea.


Photo of a Modern Pterosaur

Notice that the important subjects of the photo, the strange winged animal and the soldiers—all of them are in reasonably good focus, a characteristic of Civil War photography. Now look more closely at the head. It has a number of similarities to what we might expect of a Pteranodon head. It’s not 100% like what we see in Pteranodon fossils, perhaps, but why should a 19th-century pterosaur be 100% like what we have already discovered in Pteranodon fossils?


Ropen of Umboi Island

“How greatly have eyewitnesses on Umboi Island helped in our investigations of apparent nocturnal Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea!” Jonathan David Whitcomb


Civil War pterodactyl photo

The following are taken from the nonfiction cryptozoology book Modern Pterosaurs, but before getting into it we need to be clear about the difference between the genuine original photo (now called “Ptp”) and the more-recent hoax photo for a TV show around the year 2000.


Discovery of a modern pterosaur in a photograph

The most vocal skeptic of this photograph has suggested that it was a physical model, constructed to look like a pterosaur. Since the discovery of its publication by Underwood & Underwood, however, that idea now appears to have serious problems, far more serious than the skeptic had imagined.


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