The Ropen, meaning "demon flyer",is a cryptid thought to be either a big bat, or
more commonly, a pterosaur on New Guinea Island. It is said to produce a light, possibly to attract fish. The Ropen is cryptid alleged to live in the vicinity of the Indonesian Papua province and the nation of Papua New Guinea. 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 the Island, the word "ropen" refers to a large nocturnal creature that glows briefly as it flies. 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. Descriptions vary, but it is often said to be batlike, and
sometimes, pterosaur-like—although pterosaurs are generally accepted to have been extinct. The ropen is believed to be nocturnal and to exhibit bioluminescence. Purportedly it lives on a diet of fish, though there have been some reports of the creature feasting on human flesh, especially from grave robbery.It is reported to have a wingspan anywere from 12-100+ft.
Despite popular myth, the Ropen itself was not fabricated by creationists. It was first sighted in 1935 by famous biologist and entomologist Evelyn Cheesman, who believed in evolution , and was well respected in the scientific community.
As is often the case with cryptids, the Ropen's true identity is subject to debate. "The first sighting by Cheesman described the Ropen as glowing anomalies, very different from the pterosaur discription.
In New Guinea, Cheesman briefly investigated the mysterious flying lights now called ropen lights" decades before the late-20th Century and early 21st Century ropen expeditions. In her book The Two Roads of Papua, she dismissed the possibility that the lights are from 'any human agency.'"
Recently, many organizations have come out claiming that the Ropen's pterosaur sighting were fabricated by creationists. While some websites even claim that the Ropen itself was a creationist creation - an entirely false accusation as renowned entomologist Evelyn Cheesman, who believed in evolution first sighted the creature.
Some believe it to be a Rhamphorhynchidae-like creature (a pterosaur with a diamond shape tail), a position usually taken by people who do not know what pterosaurs actually looked like, while others suggest that the Ropen is a misidentified bat (e.g. flying foxes, which are large fruit bats than can have wingspans up to two metres (six feet)), or frigatebird. Flying lights in Papua New Guinea have been reported by Western visitors, lacking any equivalent in new guinean mythology. Evelyn Cheesman, an entomologist, mentions them in her book The Two Roads of Papua (published in 1935): "baffling" lights that lasted "about four or five seconds."
The book Searching for Ropens says that the "ropen" light of Umboi Island lasts for about "five seconds." There is also said to be a creature called "Duah" that is said to be another kind of ropen, but with a 20 foot wingspan and a bony crest on its head. However the creature referred to as "Ropen" has a 1-meter wingspan, not 20 feet. According to Searching for Ropens the correct word is actually "duwas," and it is just another name, in a different language, for the same creature.
- Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 1-57607-283-5
- Whitcomb, Jonathan (2006) Searching For Ropens: Living Pterosaurs In Papua New Guinea, WingSpan Press, ISBN 978-1595941534
- Shuker, Karl P. N. (2010) Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times, CFZ Press, ISBN 978-1-905723-62-1