Just off the eastern coast of Papua New Guinea, in the Bismarck Archipelago, are the small islands of Rambunzo and Umboi. These two islands are said to be the home of the Ropen, which when translated from the indigenous dialect literally means, Demon Flyer. The Ropen is a large bird like creature said to posses a narrow, tooth-filled beak, webbed feet, a head crest and a long tail, which culminates in a diamond-shaped flange. This description fits that of the presumed-extinct Rhamphorhynchus, a pterosaur with a wingspan of 3-4 feet. Shortly after World War 2, as the western missionaries began to penetrate the deep jungles and remote islands of Papua New Guinea, sightings and encounters with the Ropen began to circulate. Some of these sightings put the Ropen’s wingspan as large as 24 feet; however it is believed that this attribute is actually that of another flying retiled said to inhabit the islands, known as the Duah.
Feared by the natives of Papua New Guinea as well as the near by Solomon Islands, the Ropen is believed to be primarily a nocturnal hunter. Living an almost bat-like existence deep within the mountainous caves found throughout Rambunzo and Umboi, the Ropen is rarely seen during the day light hours. Possessing a highly evolved sense of smell and scavenging for food when the opportunity arises, there has been more than one account of these “Demon Flyers” attacking funeral processions in order to devour the corpse. This taste for decaying human flesh is a trait which the Ropen share with their African cousins the Kongamato.
Perhaps the strangest feature of the Ropen is a reported bio luminescent glow admitted by the flying reptile. Most reports involving the so called “Ropen Lights” place the creature as having a soft to semi bright glow while flying over coastal regions. The light is said to begin near the base of the head and travel down a line on the side of the creature before reaching the diamond shaped tip of the tail. It is unclear as to why the Ropen would have such a feature, however one reason may be to attract bugs or fish, which are thought to make up most of the Ropen’s diet. Sightings of the Ropen have been reported as resently as 2004 with possibly dozens of reports left un documented by the locals.
The Physical Evidence
Besides the numerous reports each year of Ropen sightings, there remains little to no evidence of the Ropen’s actually existince. Some photo evidence of the Ropen has been captured over the years however most prove to be to fuzzy or unclear to serve as any concrete proof. An intriguing sea chart dated 1595 warns mariners of a variety of "sea monsters." It depicts two flying creatures with a long necks, head crests, ribbed wings and fantastical tails (split on the end like a flipper) flying above the islands of New Guinea. One is even shown as having dermal bumps. (Sweeney, James B., A Pictorial History of Sea Monsters, 1972, p. 42.)
While stationed northwest of Lae, near Finschaven, Papua New Guinea, Army calvery member Duane Hodgkinson reported a strange encounter in 1944. Walking through a clearing in the forest around noon in August, he was startled by a crashing in the bushes, he stood there stunned as he watched a large reptilian bird like creature rise from the ground, fly into the air, circle him several times and then fly away. Hodgkinson, a pilot in the army, estimated that the wing span of the creature was at least 20 feet. He also recalled that the beast was a dark gray in color, with a long serpentine nice, fierce beak, and had a distinctive head crest.
Jonah Jim, a native of Akure Village related a sighting he had in which the ropen had flown over not far from where he stood one night. He mentioned the bright glow and that he could see that it had a long tail.
A member of the Opai Village on Umboi Island known only as Leonard, states that on many occations he and his fellow villagers witness the Ropen fly over Opai Village about once a month. It has been noted that the villiagesrs whom have no community electricity and spend most of the night time hours in doors would generally miss fly overs by the Ropen except for the occasional few.
The Stats– (Where applicable)
• Classification: Avian Reptile
• Size: 1 to 2 feet in length with up to a 4 foot wingspan
• Weight: unknown
• Diet: Meat, mainly fish and other sea life
• Location: Papua New Guinea and neighboring islands
• Movement: Flight
• Environment: Mountainous Caves, Coastline, and Dense Jungles