Category Archives: Ropen

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.


sketch by eyewitness Patty Carson

Dangerous Ropen in the USA?

I have several reasons for publishing reports of apparent pterosaurs, three of them listed here:

  1. To inform the public on issues related to evolution concepts
  2. To encourage more pterosaur eyewitnesses to come forward
  3. To help in protecting Americans from a potential danger

We now look at potential danger from ropen attacks in the United States. The following is taken from the fourth edition of the nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (SFRFG-4):

Although Marfa Lights in Texas have been occasionally reported to be friendly, a large ropen, in some areas of this planet, would love to take you out, to eat. According to Gerald McIsaac, author of Bird From Hell, people have been attacked in northern British Columbia, sometimes killed, by flying creatures he believes are modern pterosaurs.

“. . . One of the girls in the village was recently attacked by a pterodactyl. She had a campfire burning in her backyard and was attacked in the darkness. The animal made a whistling sound which was so loud her ears were ringing. That explains the origin of the local name Thunder Bird. She called me up, very upset, as people are laughing at her.” [pages 323-324 of SFRFG-4]

That area in British Columbia, Canada, is not too far removed from the northwestern United States, so we should not assume that no attacks will ever occur in the USA.

Missing Persons in the United States – Strange Cases

In the nonfiction book Missing 411 – Western United States & Canada, the author, David Paulides, reports many strange cases of human disappearances. Nothing in the book itself gives any direct evidence for attacks from large flying creatures, but still some of the cases appear to make sense when we apply that possibility.

When a small child goes missing, and he or she is later found (surviving or not), that distance from where the child went missing is greater than when older children or adults go missing. In other words, some of the stranger cases of lost persons are the opposite of what we would expect regarding the distance traveled. Those who would be much more capable of wandering away (lost) to a far distance are actually found to have gone a shorter distance than two-year-olds or other small children. Why are little ones, who can barely walk at all in a wilderness, found further away than those capable of walking much farther? The answer is simple: They did not walk to the found locations but were carried there through the air. Big people cannot be carried away as easily as little people can.

Bigfoot Comes in Second

I know the Bigfoot explanation for abductions by non-humans. But many cases in Mr. Paulides’s book also involve strange locations for shoes and clothing, separated from the person or body that was later found. Being carried away by a large flying creature and falling out of ones shoe or pants or jacket—that makes more sense than Bigfoots that quickly carry people uphill in extremely rugged terrain, dropping off shoes and clothing on the way up a steep mountain. Some Bigfoots may be extremely capable of getting themselves up challenging terrain, but carrying away all sizes of humans up almost inaccessible areas is too much.

A few cases may involve the Bigfoot, among these mysterious disappearances, but a large flying creature makes more sense, in many of the cases, when all things are considered.


sketch by eyewitness Patty Carson

Ropen (long-tailed pterosaur) seen by Patty Carson around 1965 in Cuba (Guantanamo Bay)


Giant Bird Conjecture

Some people speculate that huge birds, unclassified by science, have been responsible for some human abductions, through history. Perhaps that explains some of these missing-persons cases. But a small number of ropens, of a species that does not normally prey on humans, may also be an explanation. Whichever it is, we’d do well to watch for what may fly overhead.



Origin of Reports of Ropen Pterosaurs

Two American soldiers, in New Guinea in 1944, were hiking into the jungle west of Finschhafen, when they were shocked to see a huge creature fly into the air, not more than 100 feet from the soldiers. [a huge “pterodactyl” with a long tail]


“Nightmare” Attack in the Dead of Winter

Remember your worst nightmare? Were you glad to wake up? Be grateful. In the early morning hours of February 23, 2010, a few miles or so southwest of Marfa, Texas, the victims were terrified by what awakened them.


Missing Persons and Pterosaurs

The ropen may grab the person by the coat or pants or shirt or even by the shoes. That is why the body or living person found by rescuers has such clothing missing. It also explains why such clothing is found in other locations and why the pants are sometimes found inside out. The victim falls out of the clothing sometimes but not always.


Sightings in Southern USA

. . . it is a VERY RARE sight, but how can you mistake a pterodactyl? I have [researched this] . . . because I too have seen one, or what I believe to have been one, and there are many people who claim they have seen them. When I was around [ten years old] and on the way to a camp in North Carolina, I saw one soaring high in the sky. It was an amazing sight.


Ropen of the Southwest Pacific

These Americans have gone deep into the tropical rain forests  of Papua New Guinea, in the twenty-first century, to help in the cryptozoology searches for what appear to be living pterosaurs. [Blume, Guessman, Nation, Whitcomb, Woetzel]


Ropen – Modern Pterosaur

A more recent definition, which does not restrict the cryptid to any particular location, is “A modern pterosaur with Rhamphorhynchoid characteristics,” generally meaning a pterosaur with a long tail (from the book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition).