I was watching a show the other night called “Monster Quest,” wherein an impersonal team conducts searches for various cryptozoological creatures such as Champ, the yeti, or the Mongolian death worm. This particular episode focused on the Ropen.
The Ropen is supposedly a large, leathery flying predator native to Papua New Guinea which sets itself apart from other creatures through a twenty-foot wingspan and bioluminescence. Supposedly it greatly resembles a glow-in-the-dark pterosaur.
Part of the expedition was a representative of “Genesis Park,” a creationist organization that seeks to prove dragon-like creatures of mythology as proof that humans and dinosaurs lived alongside one another, a la The Flintstones. In order to help push the
asinine notion theory that pterosaurs still live in Papua New Guinea, something that was mentioned when someone pointed out that there’s no evidence that pterosaurs were bioluminescent, this particular man claimed that fossils don’t tell us the whole story and so we can’t possibly know that.
That claim is highly presumptuous. It’s true, fossils simply can’t tell us everything, however, given what they can tell us–how the skeletons were put together, diet (teeth), muscle size and arrangement (imprints on the bones)–we simply can’t make wild guesses just because the fossils don’t specifically say “no.” As I pointed out at Florio’s, I can claim that the fossil T.rex “Sue” was a devout Shinto, there’s nothing specific in her fossils that says otherwise, but I don’t get to complain when people point and laugh at me.
In case you’re curious, the Ropen is most likely a combination of folklore, hysteria, and misidentified hornbills, which are massive birds that have been compared to pterosaurs before.