Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology – A Global Guide

At a list price of $75, the Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology is not for everybody, but for cryptozoology readers who visit libraries it is priceless; I found a copy in the main branch of the Long Beach (California) Public Library. This is one of the twelve reference works awarded special acclaim, in 2006, by the American Library Association; regarding the selection process, the RUSA states, “The titles . . . represent high-quality reference works that are suitable for small to medium-sized libraries.”

Keep in mind the publishing date: January 6, 2005, just a few weeks after the two ropen expeditions of 2004. The book was surely written before the author, Michael Newton, had any reasonable opportunity to become aware of critical new insights that my associates and I had obtained in those two expeditions. In addition, much more has been learned since 2005.

An astonishing 2744 cryptids are included in this massive reference work, from accounts and stories and resources from around the world; a few of those suggest modern living pterosaurs. Please do not judge this book negatively because of the insights gained within the last nine years, regarding the ropen of Papua New Guinea and similar pterosaur-like cryptids in the southwest Pacific. Encyclopedias are not expected to remain completely up-to-date forever.

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Nonfiction book by Michael Newton: Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology, A Global Guide - copyright 2005 - published by McFarland & Company

Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology – A Global Guide (by Michael Newton)

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Geography

Let’s consider new insights, regarding the ropen; but we first need to be clear about geography. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is now an independent state, a nation that includes the eastern portion of the island of New Guinea (the second-largest island in the world). Sometimes the three-word designation for the country is used incorrectly, as if it designates a particular island, which is does not. When you want to refer to the largest island in that part of the world, regardless of political boundaries, just say “New Guinea.”

When you’re in PNG (literally or in conversation) and you want to refer to the main area of that country (the eastern part of the island of New Guinea), just say “the mainland.” The western area of that island is part of another nation and that is another subject.

Ropen of Umboi Island

Westerners use the name “Umboi” for what people of PNG now call “Siasi,” or “Big Siasi.” (I noticed a couple of mispellings for “Umboi” in the Encylopedia of Cryptozoology.) Some villages on that island use the word “ropen” for the large glowing creature that flies around at night. I know of no other island in which a local language uses that word in that way, contrary to what seems to have come from sources that contributed to this encyclopedia.

The word “ropen” is surely not a compound word formed from “demon” and “flyer,” whatever the original language involved (although some native, years ago, may have used “demon flyer” as a quick answer for an inquisitive Westerner); Michael Newton does not explicitly state that in his cryptozoology book, but something like that could be implied.

Unfortunately, some web pages now proclaim “demon flyer” as if it were a translation of the word “ropen,” which it surely is not. For those who like to cling to that direct-translation idea, consider this: The native Baptist minister Jacob Kepas comes from a village in the Wau area of Morobe Province, and he told the American explorer Garth Guessman, in a videotaped interview in late-2004, that the word “ropen,” where he comes from, simply means “bird.” Few persons, anywhere, consider all birds to be demons.

We Westerners need to remember the consequences of learning one word in one village language in this area of the world in which hundreds of languages have complex relationships. A word in one village can have a different meaning (closely-related or not) from that same word in another village, and completely different words often have the same meaning, of course, in another local language. How different is that from the USA, where one language dominates!

Duwas versus Duah

Duah” is probably a distortion from some Westerner who heard the word “duwas” and thought of “duah” as the singular; it is not. The only real word I know (in the southwest Pacific) that is close to “duah” is the Tok Pisin word for “door.” To the best of my knowledge, there is no animal, real or unreal, that in a local PNG language is called “duah.”

In 2003, while examining Paul Nation’s video footage from expeditions through 2002, I noticed an interview from around 1994. A native described how fish were stolen, one night, from a camp where his father had been sleeping. The man interviewed said, “In our language we call it ‘duwas.'” I believe he recognized that “ropen” on Umboi Island has basically the same meaning as “duwas.”

Conclusion

The Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology, with all its wonderful details about thousands of cryptids, carries on the questionable speculation that two different names in Papua New Guinea refer to two types of ropen, which is unlikely. Nevertheless it reveals how seriously some investigators and explorers consider the possibility that a strange unclassified flying creature lives in the southwest Pacific.

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front and back covers of "Live Pterosaurs in America" nonfiction book

Live Pterosaurs in America, third edition (by Jonathan David Whitcomb)

A Specific Cryptozoology book: Live Pterosaurs in America

From the Title Page:

Reports of huge flying “pterodactyls” in American skies have floated around the internet for years; but before about 2005, details were scarce. When an eyewitness was named, the interviewer was often anonymous; even when an eyewitness was credible, and the account published in a newspaper, the story was ridiculed, discouraging others who had also seen strange flying creatures. Where could eyewitnesses go? What a predicament for them! Who would believe their reports? [before 2005—now it’s believable]

From the Introduction:

This book might make a few Americans uneasy to walk alone at night; my intention, however, is not to frighten but to enlighten as many readers as possible to know about live-pterosaur investigations. Those who’ve been shocked at the sight of a flying creature that “should” be extinct—those eyewitnesses, more numerous than most Americans would guess, need no longer be afraid that everyone will think them crazy, and no longer need they feel alone. Those of us who’ve listened to the American eyewitnesses, we who have interviewed them, we now believe. So, if you will, consider the experiences of these ordinary persons (I’ve interviewed most of them myself) and accept whatever enlightenment you may.

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