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Dinosaurs In Literature, History and Art: Polynesian Bird Man Likely a Pterosaur Representation....Page 46

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If it is difficult for paleoentologists to recreate or to identify pterosaur species from a few bones, (and it is) it is doubly hard to identify pterosaur representations from ancient artistic representations, particularly when its from a photo rather than from an in person examination. For example, there are a number of birds that look similar to various species of the pterosaurs, among them; pelicans, storks and herons, which could make a positive species identification difficult.

Here, with this piece we believe that a positive pterosaur identification can be made because; in addition to the closeness in appearance of the artifact to a number of pterosaur species, the artifact also clearly features a "batlike" wing more typical of pterosaurs than of birds (IMHO).

This piece is Polynesian, from Easter Island. The Pacific Island group includes Easter Island and Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is the site of many eyewitness accounts over the years of Ropens or pterosaurs, with wings spans described as ranging from 3 to 4 feet all the way up to the size of a piper cub airplane.

When describing the Ropen, a characteristic often mentioned by eyewitnesses that are most often not included in pterosaur recreations by paleoentologists are dermal humps along the back. This ancient piece also appears to include dermal humps.

Below we include a few types of pterosaurs/pterodactyls that we believe are similar to the artifact in order to validate our proposal that the artifact better fits an identification of pterosaur than an identification as a bird. We've also included some information about the New Guinea sightings.

The Artifact

Wooden effigy of a bird man. (Peabody Museum, Harvard University)

"Tantalisingly, little is known about Easter Island traditions, including the annual election of the Bird Man however it has been suggested that the Bird Man was the chosen representative of Makemake and that the contest for fetching the first egg determined his selection". Jane Resture

"Along with the North American and African collections, the Oceanic holdings (this piece is from that collection) are among the highlights of the Peabody Museum. The collection, numbering approx. 23,000 objects, includes many rare items dating to the 18th century, collected by Boston merchants, traders, and researchers on their Pacific Voyages"...Peabody Museum

Researcher, Whitcomb's Book, Searching For Ropens, Asserts Pterodactyl Reported In Papua New Guinea

An investigator who explored Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, declares that a large flying creature reported by an American soldier in 1944 is the same species of long-tailed featherless creature known as ropen.

For Immediate Release

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LONG BEACH, Calif./EWORLDWIRE/Aug. 14, 2006 --- A study by a forensic videographer suggests that the "pterodactyl" described by the World War II veteran Duane Hodgkinson is a real creature that lives in coastal areas of Papua New Guinea.

Jonathan Whitcomb, of Long Beach, analyzed a videotaped testimony of Hodgkinson in 2005 and maintains that the veteran saw, near Finschhafen, New Guinea, in 1944, what natives of nearby Umboi Island call a ropen.

Whitcomb explored Umboi Island in 2004, and, after failing to find a ropen, videotaped native eyewitnesses.

In his new book, "Searching for Ropens," he asserts that the nocturnal creature is a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, commonly called a "pterodactyl."

Whitcomb disputes the traditional Western interpretation of the pterodactyl sightings as misidentifications of Flying Fox fruit bats. Natives described how one ropen held itself upright on a tree trunk, but the fruit bats hang upside down from branches. In addition, the ropen eats fish and has a long tail, unlike the Flying Fox.

According to standard models of science, all pterosaurs became extinct by about 65-million years ago. Although Whitcomb admits having no photograph to disprove textbook declarations that all pterosaurs are extinct, he disputes the idea that the ropen is an unknown bat


His book examines an investigation by the explorers Garth Guessman, a Southern California firefighter, and David Woetzel, a New Hampshire businessman. Their 2004 expedition, a few weeks after Whitcomb’s, uncovered a native tradition about the ropen’s tail: It moves only near the tail’s base. This, says Guessman, relates to fossil-pterosaur anatomy.

Jim Blume, a missionary in Wau, on the mainland of Papua New Guinea, has also investigated reports of the giant flying creatures. His interviews with natives reveal that the tails of the nocturnal creatures have flanges somewhat like eel tails.

Around Manus Island, the wingspan is said to be three to four feet, but may reach ten to fifteen feet in other areas. Whitcomb’s book mentions a few ropens that are even larger, including the one seen by Hodgkinson.

Whitcomb found no indication of any hallucination or hoax with the American veteran. He also noted that the native eyewitnesses he interviewed mentioned no supernatural elements and that their descriptions resemble those given by Hodgkinson.

Whitcomb, a 57-year-old independent videographer who records evidence for attorney firms, completed his book after one year of compiling and analyzing eyewitness testimonies. He supports a major expedition to videotape a ropen before the end of 2007.

See Also:

Genesis Park Article Excerpt

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"The dozens of interviews conducted on this expedition provide important information on the Ropen. Witnesses were carefully questioned about the timing of sightings; details about the creature were carefully recorded; and the credibility of these villagers was tested.

For example, black and white profiles were placed before them showing the silhouettes of eagles, vultures, bats, and various pterosaurs (including rhamphorynchoid and pterodactyloid varieties). We even included a secretary bird with a long feathered tail.

Eye witnesses consistently picked out the pterosaurs. After carefully collating the dozens of interviews, Guessman and I came up with a composite of most likely characteristics possessed by the Ropen. These are reflected in the rendition shown in Figure 10. (not shown here)

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"For example, most native reports (though not all) mention a broadening at the end of the tail. Similarly, a slight majority of witnesses recollect having seen a head crest.

It is interesting that the eyewitness reports from Owangi Village and a carved statute both highlight the dermal humps (a feature unknown in the world of pterosaur paleontology but depicted on the Sennacherib plate)

Dave Woetzel The Fiery Flying Serpent

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