January 22, 2015
A limited revision of Searching for Ropens and Finding God, the fourth edition, does include new material at the end of the appendix, an interview I had with Professor Peter Beach and with the nonfiction author Milt Marcy. Consider now the following, taken from the book itself.
Yet this is not mainly about religion, not in the usual sense. It’s less likely to take you to church than into the lives of ordinary persons who have encountered extraordinary flying creatures, and into the lives of Christians who have risked their health, even their lives, in searching for living pterosaurs. Our disbelief in the General Theory of Evolution has freed us to search far and near, and for years, with a firm belief that God’s purposes will prevail.
My interest in tropical reptiles extended beyond my caimans. I sometimes visited the Alligator Farm, then located by Knott’s Berry Farm, to gaze at crocodilians from around the world. The largest was a Nile Crocodile, resembling a man-eater; most were American alligators. But I felt my hunger unfulfilled, photographing reptiles in cages. Why was I fascinated by those creatures? Even today, I’m unsure. The point? I read all I could about them, feeding on books not only about crocodilians but about their habitat: the tropics.
In one of the interviews, Eunice, a school teacher’s wife, described to Carl Baugh an attempted grave robbery. One night, in April of 1993, near the northwest coast of Umboi Island, after a large funeral procession arrived at the burial location, from the sea approached a flying creature with a tail that glowed red like burning embers glow. About two hundred mourners were awake when it flew overhead. The islanders banged pots and yelled, whereupon the intruder flew into a nearby swamp and the light disappeared.
I realize that a flying fox fruit bat can be thrown at any report of a living pterosaur in the southwest Pacific; I also realize that I may have been negligent in failing to ask Mr. Hodgkinson if he had seen such bats in New Guinea. But what difference does it make, really? No flying fox has a tail longer than about an inch or so, and nothing could make the puny tail of a fruit bat look like a tail at least ten or fifteen feet long.
Soon after I had questioned Hodgkinson, an Australian lady told me about a flying creature she and her husband, who wish to be anonymous, had observed near the coast of Perth. . . . “We do know that it was definitely a living creature. . . . It was very big . . . looking at it from the ground as it soared over to the right of us. We would not have been able to see what it was if the ground lighting had not lit its underside as it was a huge dark shape in the night sky. . . . We could clearly see it coming and stood rooted to the spot watching it as it drew closer and, as it came to a point to the right of us and above, the ground lighting lit it up and that was a stunning moment for the both of us.” [wingspan estimated at 30-50 feet]
She rarely sat for long; but one evening, as she leaned over the veranda, gazing at the distant hills, deep in a tropical rain forest of New Guinea, a light caught her attention. Why was it below the top of the ridge, below that village? It disappeared but another light appeared, then more. But why in a horizontal line and why were the flashes four to five seconds long? She became fascinated by those lights.
For me it was not for adventure, and I doubt that adventure was the big motivator for the other eight men, although occasional adrenaline probably helped each of us get moving. Something deeper was pulling me forward and I know myself best, so I’ll try to explain, as best I now recall, some of my thoughts at the time . . .
Four flights, beginning at the Los Angeles International Airport, would take me to the final urban destination, the city of Lae. The first leg was across the Pacific Ocean, and I’ll never again sympathize with the person who doubts the Flood of Noah, asking what happened to all the water.
My offer of 200 kina per week (equal to $70 US) was accepted gladly, but Joe and Luke wanted to know my plans. They had never heard of the ropen, and when I mentioned the size of the creature, their faces spoke volumes, without any reference to a 65-million-year-old extinction. Luke suddenly realized why a stranger was offering him an easy job with generous pay. Joe’s face said, “Will I ever see my brother again?” I told them my camera worked from a distance; still, it took some explaining before they felt assured that I valued safety.
As Luke and I settled in, many villagers came to meet us, so I gave out the gifts from Paul Nation and me: magazines for Rodney Newman, who enjoys reading English; colorful bed sheets for Delilah Kau; guitar strings for two Baptist teenagers who accompany church singing; paper, pencils, and things for the Gomlongon elementary school; and supplies for the nearby first aid station.
My zeal to find a ropen made the weight on my shoulders light . . . for a few minutes. One of the men insisted he carry my backpack. This later proved fortunate, as we tread a precarious path along a stream and up a steep hill. . . .
Descending to the streambed, we were struck by the smell. Further upstream we rested at the hot springs where odorous gas bubbled to the surface, evidence this really was a volcanic island. After pumping the water through my purifier and enjoying the surprisingly mild flavor, I wondered how far the stream would lead us up toward Mount Tolo and Lake Pung.
On Sunday, October 3rd, according to Mark’s request, I videotaped meetings of the Baptist Church. These humble Christians practice the teachings of Jesus. One day, for example, my rations were low, and when the Kau family learned that I wanted to buy food, they were disappointed, thinking I wanted food from a store—there is no nearby store. When they realized I wanted only fruit, another Opai woman heard and gave me, not a banana, part of the tree, with countless bananas. Luke and I ate well for days.
On October 6th, routines were interrupted by a surprise. Mark delivered the news: We were summoned—not a request—to Gomlongon. Although he did not say “court,” I noticed an air of formality. I’ve had enough experience with jury service and even with testifying as an eyewitness in court. I can smell that air.
. . .
The sighting of a glowing “dragon” in England, around 1987, could be dismissed, for it was just a ten-year-old girl watching the stars, and that’s just one story. The two sightings of huge glowing flying creatures in the San Fernando Valley could be dismissed, for they were near Hollywood (the land of fictional creations), and that’s just two stories. The glowing creatures flying in the Caribbean could be dismissed, for they appear like nothing in any biology textbook, and that’s just two sightings. But scan the landscape of sighting reports and see what few other humans have seen for the past two centuries: Trees connected by underground roots, revealing the edge of a forest. How many eyewitnesses there must be who never contacted me about appearances of glowing flying creatures!
In the summer of 2007, in clear daylight, a giant ropen appeared to be chasing a flock of birds over a wildlife sanctuary near the University of California at Irvine. That may relate to the two “dragons” reported in California newspapers in 1891, creatures that were also called “pterodactyls.” They were reported to have devoured mudhens in a pond “at two or three champs of the jaws.”
“I scared it because when he saw me he jumped off the telephone wires, and when he opened his huge wings they sounded like heavy fabric (like you would imagine out of a dragon movie). I watched him fly across to a large tree and go inside. I saw him very closely and know what I saw!!”
Expect answers in this book: why my associates and I traveled to a remote tropical island to search for living pterosaurs and why only a few professors have given us any hope that they still live. What about adventures, with danger, failure, and success? Yes, expect those, but I hope my readers will discover more than adventure—a purpose in life—as worthy a purpose as I have found.
Youtube video to introduce people to this work in cryptozoology
Why do so many of these disappearances involve two-year-olds?
According to Dr. Dennis Swift, who in recent decades has specialized in these discoveries of ancient artifacts, thousands of these works of art were excavated, turning Julsrud’s mansion into “the museum that seared scientists.”