Flying Creatures in a Cryptozoology Book

“Winged Wonders” is the chapter on flying creatures in Williams Gibbon’s cryptozoology book Missionaries and Monsters, and wonderful indeed are those huge apparent pterosaurs (“pterodactyls” or “flying dinosaurs”) in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. I recommend this cryptozoology book that has a spiritual undertone. It is filled with cryptid-encounter reports from long ago and more recently. Some of the information about reports from Papua New Guinea (about the ropen and the “Duah”), however, is outdated and needs clarification.

On page 78 of Gibbon’s book, we read, “villagers of Gumalong, on the mainland, observed a huge Duah as it flew from Mount Bel, across the jungle valley, then directly over the village as it headed out to sea.” I would like to make some corrections here, even though the sighting mentioned appears to be a true encounter with a giant flying creature (or two sightings which have been confused and fused in their details).

Based on my experiences in the village mentioned, I think a better spelling is “Gomlongon,” based on my memory of how those villagers pronounced it; the word skips off their tongues so easily and quickly that we can easily miss the details and simplify the word. This village is not on the mainland but on Umboi Island, the island called by the people of Papua New Guinea “Siasi.” How do I know that Gibbons is not referring to another village (and another sighting), a village on the mainland? I interviewed many natives in villages within sight of Mount Bel; that mountain is near Gomlongon Village, on Umboi Island. For almost two weeks, my base camp was in the morning shadow of Mount Bel, at the edge of Gomlongon, next to the Baptist Church.

Perhaps this account in “Missionaries and Monsters” comes from confusing two encounters, one of which involved the name “duwas.” I know Gibbons uses the word “Duah,” but I think that comes from another mistake: The correct word is “duwas.” I have written much about that elsewhere, however, so I will leave that subject of “duwas” versus “Duah” aside for now.

young lady describes flight of ropen, probably at Lab Lab, Umboi IslandPerhaps the sighting mentioned in Missionaries and Monsters (” . . . it flew from Mount Bel . . . it headed out to sea.”) was the one described by this eyewitness (the young woman motioning with her hand), notwithstanding this video seems to have been recorded in Lab Lab (east coast of Umboi Island). If so, that might explain the word “duwas” in the report, for Lab Lab has natives with languages different from that of Gomlongon, where the giant featherless flying creature is called “ropen.”

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About Jonathan Whitcomb

I'm a passionate investigator of reports of living pterosaurs throughout the world. I explored part of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2004, interviewing many natives who had seen the ropen.
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