The giant-bat hypothesis no longer can fly. It hangs wrapped in naked bat wings, trying to hide from the piercing examination of reason. To put that in literal terms: Critics have failed to make any convincing argument for the giant fruit bat as an explanation for the many sighting reports of flying pterodactyls in the south Pacific, including in Papua New Guinea.
Does a “giant” bat with a tail one inch long explain a “pterodactyl” with a tail “at least” ten or fifteen feet long (Hodgkinson’s Finschhafen sighting in 1944)? Does that “flying fox” fruit bat with a wingspan of five feet explain a flying creature with a wingspan of 30-50 feet (Perth Creature of 1997)? What sighting does it explain, when we get right down to it? None?
The “flying fox” bat has been offered as a general idea to dismiss sightings that critics fail to examine in detail. No critic has offered that lame idea to explain a twin-engine plane’s near collision, at 6500 feet altitude, with a “pterodactyl” between Indonesia and Australia, in June of 2008. No critic has offered that idea to explain a report of a native man being carried up into a tree by a flying creature that ate him in front of his terrified fellow-villagers. No critic has offered that idea to explain the mysterious lights observed by the British biologist Evelyn Cheesman, on the mainland of New Guinea, many years ago.
In San Antonio, Texas, around 1986, two eyewitnesses were shocked at the flying creature they encountered one night. “We noticed something flying around across the road . . . flying just above the phone lines. It would go one direction, turn, and swoop back. The shape was wrong for any large bird of the area, and the size was much too large to be any bat I have ever seen . . .
From the Introduction in the third edition of the non-fiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America:
My American associates and I who have explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for living pterosaurs, intend no deceit; we intend only enlightenment. Ten expeditions, within sixteen years, have rewarded us with many eyewitness accounts and video evidence for what we believe is the bioluminescence of a flying creature; but we still lack a clear photo of a pterosaur. We have been labeled foolish, biased, and crazy; but the few who say “lies” reveal their own foolishness: Why would we work so hard, for so long, with so many opportunities to fabricate pterosaur sightings in so many remote jungles, and then admit that we never saw any clear form of a pterosaur? It is because we intend not to deceive but to enlighten.
In a rural neighborhood near Tacoma, in the state of Washington, a family has been dived on by flying creatures very unlike any bird or bat. They have come to call the “batlike” things “monkey birds,” although the creatures have no feathers.
We have seen and heard a strange nocturnal, bat-like creature . . . huge, light grey, skin with no fur, feathers or scales. It silently swoops down at you with giant bat wings . . . There were two of them together [strange flying creatures] and they seemed fearless of me when they swooped down at me more than once and returned way up to the top of the highest trees. I couldn’t get a look at the faces or eyes, mainly the huge grey bat wings approximately [four foot wingspans] are what I could see . . .
We see regular little common bats all of the time after dusk, so we know what they are like. We know owls, hawks, eagles and all of the normal flying creatures around here and these others [the flying creatures with four-foot wingspans] are definitely out of the ordinary.
But pterosaur-like flying creatures are not restricted to the Tacoma area. To the east, in central Washington state, late in 2007, police encountered an eyewitness who reported encountering a “pterodactyl.”
A 29-year-old Wenatchee man told police a pterodactyl caused him to drive his car into a light pole about 11:30 p.m. Thursday . . . When police asked the man what caused the accident, his one-word answer was “pterodactyl,” [Sgt. Cherie] Smith said.
“In [Socorro, New Mexico], me and a close friend . . . were hiking during the midday . . . We both looked up to see . . . a large flying animal . . . It had a 20-30 foot wingspan . . . It had a long tail with [a] seeming spike at the end. Its head was very pterodactyl shape with a fluted back pointy head.”
[In Texas] “Neither my brother or I was prone to being scared by anything outside at night. This night was different . . . We noticed something flying around across the road . . . flying just above the phone lines. It would go one direction, turn, and swoop back. The shape was wrong for any large bird of the area, and the size was much too large to be any bat . . . The wingspan was huge, anywhere from 6-10 feet across.”
For decades, reports of “pterodactyls” in New Guinea . . . were dismissed with the explanation that people were just observing [the fruit bats] Flying Foxes . . .
[Most] eyewitness sightings of apparent-pterosaurs . . . include a description of long tails. An American World War II veteran, Mr. Duane Hodgkinson, described the tail of the “pterodactyl” that he saw: “at least ten to fifteen feet” long. A villager on Umboi Island . . . said the ropen’s tail was seven meters long. A professional psychologist, Brian Hennessy, said that the creature that he saw [also in New Guinea] had “a longish narrow tail.” An Australia couple also saw a creature with a long tail. None of these eyewitnesses saw any feathers; each of them reported a giant creature. Fruit bats do not have long tails.
It seemed like it would be a fun activity for the seven native boys of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea. It was a short hike in kilometers, but a difficult climb up to the crater lake that they call “Pung.” Just a few minutes after they arrived at the lake, however, something unexpected also arrived: the giant ropen. The creature flew over the lake, and the boys ran home in terror, never to forget the horrible encounter.
One of those boys was Gideon Koro. Soon after the encounter with the ropen, he was interviewed by some American visitors who were curious about reports of an apparent pterosaur. The boy was still nervous to talk about the ropen but answered their questions.
About ten years later, Gideon was visited by another American, Jonathan Whitcomb, who asked more questions. The young man had grown up and was more at ease this time. He described the mouth of the ropen as “like a crocodile.” The tail length he estimated at “sefan meetuh” (seven meters, or twenty-two feet). He was sure that the ropen had no feathers but skin “like byung” (flying fox fruit bat).
Two other native eyewitnesses then made themselves known to the American interviewer: two of the other boys who had been terrified at the sight of the ropen on that day on the shore of Lake Pung. They verified the truthfulness of Gideon’s account.
Read “Gideon was terrified by the ropen” (with audio of the actual interview in 2004)
Also the “First interview of Gideon Koro”
Nonfiction cryptozoology book on living pterosaurs in the United States