Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.

Reading through The Anomalist this morning, I ran into a link of a post over at Helium. Titled “Found alive: Two dinosaur species in Papua New Guinea [with videos]“.  So yes. I instinctively clicked on the link.

I’ve seen those videos of the supposed pterosaurs or what many think is the cryptid creature called the Ropen. The native cryptid of Papua New Guinea, the Ropen, is supposed to be a large featherless creature that has been terrorizing the locals for decades.

From Wikipedia:

The Ropen is a flying cryptid[1] alleged to live in the vicinity of Papua New Guinea.[2] According to the book Searching for Ropens, it is “any featherless creature that flies in the Southwest Pacific, and has a tail-length more than 25% of its wingspan.” On Umboi Island the word “ropen” refers to a large nocturnal creature that glows briefly as it flies.[3] The ropen is the subject of folklore (like a man but also like a spirit) but it’s believed by some natives to be a real animal.[4] Descriptions vary, but it is often said to be batlike,[5] and sometimes, Pterosaur-like;[6] although pterosaurs are believed to have been extinct for 65 million years.[7][8] The ropen is believed to be nocturnal and to exhibit bioluminescence.[9][10] Purportedly it lives on a diet of fish,[11] though there have been some reports of the creature feasting on human flesh, especially grave robbery.[12][13][14]

Article from Helium:

Dateline: Papua New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Ocean—The Ropen (‘demon flyer‘) is a monstrous creature that’s terrified the natives of Papua New Guinea for thousands of years. Another smaller creature, the Duah-possibly related to the Ropen-haunts some of the far flung outlying islands.

Now sensational eyewitness reports—collected by determined exploration teams seeking strong evidence of the creatures—have led serious researchers to the conclusion that two distinct animals exist.

The descriptions of both monsters match that of fabled pterosaurs—ferocious flying dinosaurs thought to be extinct for 65 million years.

The hunt for the glowing dinosaurs

Jim Blume and David Woetzel are two daring researchers that have explored the dangerous regions—including the treacherous outlying islands—where the prehistoric monsters are known to hunt their prey.

Not only have these two compiled eyewitness accounts of the creatures from frightened natives, and physical evidence of gigantic nesting sites in some of the mountainous cliff areas, both men have personally witnessed the soaring creatures—and Woetzel even shot some video footage of one.

First brought to the attention of Western missionaries following WWII, the often nocturnal flying creatures are described as having large bat-like wings, an elongated beak filled with razor teeth, sharp, tearing claws and a very long whip-like tail with a split or flange on the end.

Reports from natives and investigators indicate that the creatures glow in the dark and are clearly visible in the night sky. This phenomenon—called the ‘Ropen light’—was observed at length and videotaped by researcher David Woetzel. [1]

It’s hypothesized the bio-luminescent glow assists the creatures’ efforts to hunt and catch fish—their primary diet—in the deep darkness of the tropical night.

The evidence for two types of living pterosaurs

Although the Ropen and Duah have strikingly similar physical characteristics, the giant Ropen inhabits Papua New Guinea while the smaller Duah stays relatively close to the outlying islands.

Other than actual modern-day sightings of the two, a surviving 16th Century maritime chart lends credence to the hypothesis of two distinctly different creatures.

The 1595 chart cautions sailors about ‘sea monsters’ and depicts various coastal regions of Earth where monsters might be found. In the area of Papua New Guinea, two ‘sea monsters’ are illustrated: one is much larger than the other, yet both have almost identical physical traits. Each have long necks, prominent head crests, tails ending with a flipper like appendage and ridges along their backs. They are shown flying above an island. [2]

Despite the general consensus amongst orthodox zoologists that the creatures don’t exist, those that have actually traveled deep into Papua New Guinea’s primitive rain forests and tiny offshore islands are convinced the creatures are living there now—especially since they have seen them firsthand.

Furthermore, strong evidence exists that one type is very big with impressive 20-foot plus wingspans, while the smaller, island dwellers have 4 to 4 1/2-foot wingspans.

Blume and Woetzel are convinced that two different types of pterosaurs exist and the indigenous natives concur. The locals insist the Duahs are not Ropens.

Prehistoric throwbacks: the Dimorphodon and Rhamphorhynchus

Mounting evidence supports the contention that the large Ropen are living Dimorphodon pterosaurs, with dermal bumps and a head crest; while the numerous sightings of the smaller creatures that inhabit the caves of the islands dotting the Bismarck Archipelago are that of the supposedly extinct Rhamphorhynchus-a pterosaur with a wingspan of about 3 to 4 feet.

Blume’s investigations indicate that wingspans of some of the pterosaurs may reach 10 to15 feet, though several other investigators point out that natives have encountered Ropens with much larger wingspans. [3]

Most intriguing of all, the living pterosaurs may not be exclusive to Papua New Guinea. Similar creatures have been sighted and reported on and off for centuries throughout Central Africa.

The natives in the Congo, Zambia, Angola, Kenya and Zaire call the creatures ‘Kongomato.’ They assert the reddish African version has large, leathery wings, sharp claws, a split tail, and prominent teeth. [4]

While humans smugly believe they are the masters of this planet, the original rulers may still command some of the darker corners of this shrinking world.

It’s difficult to judge the true size on an object from a considerable distance. Especially if said object was floating through the skies, with no other objects in the background to compare it with. Judging size and distance in these cases can be extremely difficult to get right. So I was searching for any information on the local bird species in Papua New Guinea to see if any of them could be a match for what was seen gliding above the shore.

Guess what?

I found a bird that could possibly be the culprit. The Frigatebird.



Frigatebirds are large, with iridescent black feathers (the females have a white underbelly), with long wings (male wingspan can reach 2.3 metres) and deeply-forked tails. The males have inflatable red-coloured throat pouches called “gular pouches”, which they inflate to attract females during the mating season.

Frigatebirds are found over tropical oceans and ride warm updrafts. Therefore, they can often be spotted riding weather fronts and can signal changing weather patterns.

These birds do not swim and cannot walk well, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs.

Could a Frigatebird be mistaken for the mythical Ropen, or even a pterodactyl ?

  • GL

    Definitely looks like the frigatebird. Wikipedia also notes that the frigatebird has “the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird.”

  • JP

    A frigatebird, of course!
    The “pterodactyl” is debunked, at least for me.

    Good catch, Javier!

  • Elfishgene

    Saw this myself and instantly thought it’s a frigate bird…honestly some people 😛

  • Dufftown Davie

    i like to keep an open mind but this is obviously just a frigate bird,case closed, the great thing about this site is,it doesnt just bombard you with supposed u.f.o sightings as fact,javier debunks most of these stories as hoaxes or misidentifications,leaving only the trully mysterious stories unsolved, in this day and age,with science explaining most things,its good to know theres still things we cant explain,keep up the good work,

  • DonBondo

    Frigate is my guess as well. However, I’ve seen some pretty realistic radio controlled pterodactyls (flying dinos). They actually move their heads too.

  • terry the censor

    Definitely frigatebird. But these videos won’t go away, they’ll continue to be linked by creationists and other kooks because the comments are closed and what’s up there now is all “ropen!” this and “ropen!” that.

  • PNG wantok

    I am an ornithologist with extensive experience New Guinea. There is no doubt the video shows a frigatebird. The Ropen myth has taken a life of its own, started on no evidence and some local boys pulling the leg of naive visitors to their village. The myth has persisted with those eager to believe, but there is no evidence. Knowing the hunting prowess of the Papuan people, if there was any animal out there they could shoot or trap, they would have by now and there would be plenty of bones available as evidence. These guys are great hunters and fishermen. Any piece of meat that large would not elude them. Ropen is a total falsehood.

  • Scott McMan

    they’ll continue to be linked by creationists

    What do creationists have to do with it?

    Also, what does “ropen” mean?

  • Scott McMan

    So, a ropen is what they call one of these flying creatures, correct? I’ve been caught just watching and not reading or I would have known that.

    Live and learn

  • redngreen

    Feel pretty stupid now, don’t you jbondo! haha I couldn’t resist.

  • terry the censor

    > What do creationists have to do with it?

    young-earth Creationists strive to show dinosaurs are recent, therefore the fossil record and by extension geology don’t contradict their very literal interpretation of the Bible.

  • The debunking of these Frigate Birds videos is old news:

    That “Living Pterosaurs” newsletter is dated July 30, 2007, with a reference to Frigate-bird videos at the bottom of the page. That said, those who have explored remote areas in Papua New Guinea, searching for living pterosaurs (by the name “ropen” or any other name), give a very different account: nocturnal flying creatures with wingspans over 18 feet, tails as long as 22 feet, and no feathers. In addition, the ropen (by whatever name) glows at times. None of these things is consistant with a misidentification of a Frigate Bird.

  • With Frigate birds as a sideline, here is a bit more about living-pterosaur investigations:

    To answer PNG wantok:

    The ropen “myth,” did not start with “local boys” “pulling the leg” of visitors. The serious investigations by American cryptozoologists began from the eyewitness account of the American World War II veteran Duane Hodgkinson. It was supported by the two Australian eyewitnesses in Perth, Australia, and the psychologist-eyewitness Brian Hennessy.

    Those four eyewitnesses catapulted the living-pterosaur concept into the many expeditions that have uncovered evidence that local natives tell the truth about giant nocturnal flying creatures, flying animals which have no feathers but which have long tails.

    Those four eyewitnesses (two of which give their names) make the case, not idle belief in a native “myth.”

  • Everyone who sees these videos as obvious Frigate birds is correct. I first wrote about that problem years ago; I was one of those frustrated Youtube viewers who could not get my comments accepted for those videos: It seems like any comment with “Frigate bird” was not allowed, at least in the beginning and with one or two of those videos.

    As far as I know the person who submitted those videos as if evidence for ropens or living pterosaurs is not and never has been a friend or associate of any of the serious American cryptozoologists who have explored in Papua New Guinea, looking for the ropen and interviewing eyewitnesses: Paul Nation, Garth Guessman, David Woetzel, and me (Jonathan Whitcomb).

  • Someone mentioned “no evidence” for the existence of the ropen. Well, the creature has many names, among different tribes in different villages across the southwest Pacific. We English speakers are using the word “ropen,” which comes from the Kovai language on Umboi Island (I was there, interviewing eyewitnesses late in 2004).

    Paul Nation (a cryptozoologist from Texas) videotaped two “indava lights” deep in the interior of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, late in 2006. The video footage was analyzed, a few months later, by Cliff Paiva, a missile defense physicist. Look up some of those words and names through a Google search and notice the evidences on a number of web pages. Evidence for large bioluminscent flying creatures in Papua New Guinea is not hard to find, and it has nothing to do with Frigate birds.