Ropen Expedition Update

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 16th, 2009

The following expedition update (which arrived late last night) is via Bill Gibbons, the author of the forthcoming Coachwhip Publications book on Mokele-Mbembe.

Garth Guessman called on his satellite phone from Papua New Guinea this afternoon–it was early morning for him.

Garth has come back out of the jungle, met up with the MonsterQuest team, and purchased supplies for the trip. After a little filming today, the whole crew is going back with Garth into the deeper jungle to stay for another week. Garth is working with pterosaur expert Dr. Dave Martill from the University of Portsmouth and a bat expert….

Garth was excited to report that they have found a cave near a waterfall where they can set up cameras. From the natives description, this sounds like a Ropen roosting location for them. The nationals in this area are fairly superstitious and believe that the pterosaurs are some spirit of the dead or spirit that takes the dead. As animists, they blur the lines between spiritual and physical, so to them a spirit is different from what we think of as a “spirit.” It is not a ghostly spirit being without a body–to them a spirit can have a body.

Garth recently learned that some of the locals killed and ate a Ropen a few decades ago–probably in the 1960s. They killed it with bow and arrows, which was difficult as the animal was so big, but it was resting on the ground when they ambushed it. Afterward they tried to cook the body. They just couldn’t seem to get it to cook, so they gave up and ate it at least somewhat raw and bloody. The hunters described it as having huge leathery wings like a bat, but with a long thin beak full of teeth and stood as big as a man. Garth is hoping for the opportunity to interview one of the older men who was a member of the party that killed and ate the pterosaur. It seems ironic to think of someone making a meal out of an invaluable scientific discovery!

The next seven days or so will pretty much be the time during which they might just see and film a Ropen. ~ Bill Gibbons.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

8 Responses to “Ropen Expedition Update”

  1. graybear responds:

    It’s very interesting to hear more on the Ropen expedition, giant flying things are one of my enthusiasms. I’ll be looking forward to hearing more, especially if any of the Ropen eaters are ever interviewed.
    I still think that most if not all of the contemporary pterosaur sightings (when not simple misidentifications) are actually giant bats. It would be great to find out for sure.

  2. CalebKitson responds:

    This is great news! I hope they can get some hard evidence!

    And I have never heard of a bat with a long beak full of teeth…

  3. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    It sounds like they will have some good interviews now let’s hope for some footage of these things! *crosses fingers*

  4. cryptidsrus responds:

    I too am optimistic about this expedition. Like I said before, even if they come up empty-handed, I still love the show! Press on forward, Garth!

  5. graybear responds:

    CalebKitson, “And I have never heard of a bat with a long snout full of teeth.”
    Neither have I, nor have I ever heard of a bat six feet tall. So what? Bats have evolved to take advantage of every food source from fruits to insects to fish to pure blood. The shape of a bat’s mouth and teeth is a direct result of its eating habits (see Darwin’s finches). A bat the size of these reported ropen would be forced by its energy requirements to eat large amounts of whatever it eats. This could easily result in bats with a snout and teeth. To me it simply makes more sense to look at a contemporary animal which resembles the ropen i.e. large bats, and theorize in a local adaptation which could result in the reported animals than to theorize that a true pterosaur has been hiding out and missing from the fossil record for 65 million years, without ever having spread from its very limited range and become known worldwide as an existing animal. The continents were still mostly joined when the pterosaurs last lived. If the pterosaurs survived, there should be evidence of them on every continent and in the fossil record. And there isn’t.
    This is not to say that I wouldn’t be tickled pink if the expedition came back with a recognizable pterosaur descendant. Party at my house if that happens! I just think that bats are a better hypothesis.

  6. Scott C. responds:

    Oh man, I’m pumped! This could be it!

    What they should NOT do, though, is camp out for a week at one site that looks feasible to them. I say, do whatever needs to be done to get a local to secure a sighting. I’d bet anything (were I betting man) that there are locals who could guarantee a sighting, the team just has to make that happen.

  7. juliebird responds:

    An averaged person-sized bat with teeth? I wish it could be so; but not likely. Who says an average person is six feet tall anyway?

  8. Roddy Hays responds:

    Hmmmm, interesting. I find it challenging to think how these creatures, whether they be pterosaurs or a new species, have evaded science for so long. Are we looking at a real animal or a Fortean species But then again, most here would seriously believe that Sasquatch and his ilk survive and live, and there is little trace of them.

    That being the case, how about a quantum leap into the imagination? Suppose the Ropen and their ilk, in turn, really do exist, either as a new species or as a descendant of a bygone era. Suppose that over the centuries their range has reduced, as happens with so many species, and that their stronghold now is the caves and mountains of PNG, and that the Australian and US sightings are migrants, born astray by wind, such as happens to many species of birds.

    As humans, we may not see as much of them as we should wish, simply because they seem to be a nocturnal species – this would explain the scarcity of sightings, especially if they typically occur in the mountains of PNG. When they do pass us by in more civilized surroundings, they disappear without trace, much like Sasquatch, their senses and skills honed to a fine edge by centuries of intrigue.

    How could they have survived for so long? There may be many reasons, their ability to fly away from danger and change, their seeming affinity with caves (fine places to ride out climate change, asteroid impacts and nuclear winters, and also to hibernate in should they be in the mood), their liking for carrion (a good way to survive when all else is dying around you) and a metabolism, which possibly, could be of a mega-reptilian nature – an ability to withstand a lack of food for a very long time. I think the Ropen might be a real species, the last of their kind, and they live in a different time-frame from us, reduced to a tiny stronghold in a very remote area. I think the key to their survival, above all else, is longevity. If a crocodile can live over 100 years, how long can a Ropen live? 200 years? Maybe more?

    Give your imagination rein, and now think that maybe, centuries ago, these creatures were slightly more abundant than they are now, and with their bio-luminescent mouths and penchant for dwelling in caves, they became the basis for the myth of the dragon. 30 to 50 foot wingspan? Standing upright? Devouring human flesh? Mouths aflame? Typically found in mountainous regions? What other species of animal, alive or dead, has ever come closer than the elusive Ropen to fitting the bill?

    Indeed, could some of the many thousands of unexplained radar contacts over the years be attributed to Ropen? If a radar can pick out a single seabird, I suspect a Ropen would present a definitive target, but one which easily eludes factual detection when pursued by humans. Particularly at night.

    Just a thought, anyway. Imagination’s a fine thing. 🙂

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