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The Ropen

The Fire of the Dragon

This is the name given by the people of Umboi Island to a large flying creature. Other places in PNG have also had pterosaur sightings, including XXXXXX and Lau.

The sightings from Umboi Island forms 2 types. The daytime sightings are of  a giant tailed, featherless creature that sounds like a Rhamphorhynchoid, an extinct long-tailed pterosaur. Jim Blume, a missionary in Papua New Guinea for thirty years, has interviewed many witnesses. According to Blume, the Ropen has a long tail with some reports describing a flange at the end of the tail. The wings are much like a bat’s, and there are “hands” half-way up the wings. Some Ropens grow to have a wingspan of twenty feet, though in the northern islands it seems they are smaller with a three to four feet wingspans. The bill is like that of a pelican but there is a stiff comb at the back of the head,  All in all that is a pretty good description of a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

The other type of sighting is of nocturnal. The Ropen it is claimed, is bioluminescent! Most Ropen sightings on Umboi Island are from a distance at night.  The five-second bioluminescent glow that is usually seen when the creature is about one hundred meters over land. It is presumably an adaptation to assist feeding. The only testimony I have found linking the 'nocturnal lights' and the daytime pterosaur is from Jonah Jim. He was with his family one night when they saw the creature flying toward Lake Pung. He was close enough to report the typical pterosaur-like form with a long tail. He also said it glowed. If true this is very important, because we have found the fire of the Dragon!

Umboi Island Sightings

In 1994 seven boys were hiking up to the
crater lake Pung. Within a few minutes they were terrified to see the giant ropen fly over the lake. Three of these young men were interviewed  while being  videotaped by a American explorer in 2004. There stories appeared consistent and credible.

Before coffins were used on Umboi Island, human bodies were buried in leaves. But there was a problem: Sometimes a grave would be opened while the villagers slept. In 1949, in Gomlongon Village, a boy named Michael witnessed one of these strange grave robberies. A glowing object came to the grave and, in the morning, the grave was empty.  Jonathan Whitcomb interviewed Michael in 2004. The videotaped testimony of the old man is now used as evidence that the ropen of Umboi Island is no fruit bat.

Other PNG Sightings

Garth Guessman, a Southern California firefighter, interviewed Jacob Kepas in the city of Lae, Papua New Guinea. When Jacob was a boy, living in a village on the mainland, around the city of Wau, he saw a large flying creature briefly one night. Local people call it the Seklo-bali which means “he who carries his own bed with him.” It may refer to the giant clams that some say are the food of the creature. If the seklo-bali were to carry a giant clam inland for feeding, it could look like it was carrying its bed.

Reports from westerners in PNG extend as far back as WWII. Duane Hodgkinson, now a flight instructor from Livingston, Montana, was stationed near Finschhafen, in PNG during 1944. He was XXXXXXXXXX When he and his friend walked into a clearing they were amazed to see a large creature flew up into the air. The men soon realized that it  was  no  bird  that  started  to  circle  the clearing. It had a tail “at least ten to fifteen feet long, and a long appendage at the back of its head. (apparently, a pterosaur). Hogdgkinson said its wingspan was about as large as a piper cherokee. The World War II veteran has been inteviewed a number of times and his story has been consistent.

There are stories of a Ropen killing an adult human in 1985. In a village west of Finschhafen, a man was working in his garden when he was alledgedly attacked by a Ropen. When the other villagers came to see what the noise was about, they claim they saw the creature carry the man into a large tree where it ate him! Credibility is stretched somewhat by this one! To lift a 50 or 60 kg man into the air would require a very large and powerful creature.