The Ropen, meaning "demon flyer", is a cryptid thought to be either a giant bat, or more commonly, a pterosaur on New Guinea Island. It is said to produce bioluminescent light, possibly to attract fish.


The Ropen is a flying 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 anywhere from 12 to 100 feet.


As is often the case with cryptids, the Ropen's true identity is subject to debate. Some believe it to be a Rhamphorhynchidae-like creature (a pterosaur with a diamond shape tail), 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 frigate birds). Flying lights in Papua New Guinea have been reported by not only natives but by Western visitors. 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.

Reported Sightings

In 1944, former American fighter pilot Duane Hodgkinson was station in Papua New Guinea during World War II. As he and another military man were moving through thick vegetation, they heard a loud, startling sound. They came to a clearing and a creature made a few steps through the trail and took off. Duane was astonished at the time because according to him, it was a “pterodactyl.” It lad a long snout on it, a long appendage coming out the back of its head, and great, big wings.

In 1986, the location of a former military base in Papua New Guinea was also the sighting of a killing by the Ropen. A man was gardening, and the creature; a very large one evidently, came down and picked him up, flew to about 40 feet off the ground, dropped him, by the time he hit the ground he was either dead or incapacitated. The creature picks him back up, takes him up into a large tree, and eats him in front of the village.