Results of Investigations Concerning Pterosaur Sightings In Papua New Guinea:

Computer Image Processing of the Paul Nation Video (Including Characterization of Pterosaur Optics, Flight Dynamics, and Bioluminescence)

The complete scientific report includes pterosaur-vision and flight characteristics. The following excerpts of the

report are confined to the videotaped lights. It’s been edited, simplified, and explained by Jonathan Whitcomb.


(Excerpts of original report are on the left; explanations and comments by Jonathan Whitcomb are on the right.)



     Pterodactyloid pterosaurs are primarily large animals (wingspan 2-11 meters, or greater) that flew in at all altitudes and with varied velocities. The “rhamphorhynchoid” pterosaurs have long tails, which confer dynamic stability while permitting a sub-stantial degree of in-flight maneuverability (Wellnhofer, 1991; Witmer et al., 2003).1


The “rhamphorhynchoids” in this study are somewhat restricted due to lack of complete fossils and scientifically corroborated eyewitness accounts.  Areas of analysis in this paper include pterosaur visual optics, flight dynamics and bioluminescence. Principal focus of this study is the nocturnal flight dynamics, vision (electro-optical systems analysis) and the  general physical characterization of the animal in flight, level and at angle-of-attack.  Of course this predatory flyer has been previously assumed extinct.  Notwithstanding, this assumption is currently the subject of global investigations in general, and Papua New Guinea in particular. . . . the potential error in the extinction assumption is primary issue of this paper’s technical assessment. For the image processing section of the paper (Section V) image processing utilized SCION Corporation’s Advanced Image Processor (also used by U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and by U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Laboratory), PhotoShop and general Office 2000 software.  Research team members include field researchers Garth Guessman, Jonathan Whitcomb, Dave Woetzel and Paul Nation (who provided the video).  It is through the untiring and persistent efforts of these brave men that this paper is dedicated. Dr. Harold S. Slusher of the University of Texas at El Paso (Physics Department) provided the technical editing required within disciplines of flight dynamics. Digital camera frames at 30 frames per second have been used by Mr. Paul Nation to obtain optical data from [the mainland of] Papua New Guinea.  The results of the investigation indicate that pterosaur-like animals are a reality and a very significant challenge for [some of] the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea.

Because of conclusions based only on fossils of pterosaurs, we who have investigated the living-pterosaur phenomena had, at first, assumed that reports of giant “pterodactyls” in the Southwest Pacific may have come from sightings of living Pterodactyloids. But by 2005, it had become obvious to us that only living Rhamphorhynchoids could reasonably explain the overall data from the eyewitness testimonies: Consistent is the mention of long tails (Pterodactyloids are short-tailed).


One night, in late 2006 on the mainland of Papua New Guinea, Paul Nation videotaped two lights that we believe are the bioluminescent glow of creatures very similar to the ropen of Umboi Island. (On this part of the mainland, the creature is called “indava.”) Jonathan Whitcomb (a 2004-explorer and author of the book, Searching for Ropens) interviewed Paul and made digital copies of the video, giving one to Garth Guessman, who gave the video footage to Cliff Paiva for detailed scientific analysis of the lights.


Paiva used sophisticated image processing computer technology in studying the video. His report included more than just an analysis of the two lights, however: With the assistance of Professor Harold Slusher, more details of eyewitness testimonies were confirmed feasible, in particular the possibility that some pterosaurs may have had good night vision.


Some pterosaurs may also have had the capability of lifting over one hundred pounds; this relates to diving onto prey and using the momentum to pull it into the air. The reason for this study is that a few reports indicate that some 20th Century creatures on the mainland of Papua New Guinea, occasionally attack people. Adult humans have been reported to have been lifted off the ground: one in the mid-1980’s and one in the mid-1990’s.

Clifford A. Paiva, Missile Defense Physicist, BSM Associates

California City, CA 93505


Harold S. Slusher, Professor, Physics Department

University of Texas at El Paso


BSM Associates Technical Monograph 2007-1

Still image taken from about half-way through the video footage. Ropen investigators believe that these are two (living) giant Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs.

Although Cliff Paiva has not published this scientific report (except as it is here, online), there are books about living dinosaurs and pterosaurs. See the book reviews by Jonathan Whitcomb (including a book review on the Min Min light of Australia).