Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 16th, 2009
The following expedition update (which arrived late last night) is via Bill Gibbons, the author of the forthcoming Coachwhip Publications book on Mokele-Mbembe.
Garth Guessman called on his satellite phone from Papua New Guinea this afternoon–it was early morning for him.
Garth has come back out of the jungle, met up with the MonsterQuest team, and purchased supplies for the trip. After a little filming today, the whole crew is going back with Garth into the deeper jungle to stay for another week. Garth is working with pterosaur expert Dr. Dave Martill from the University of Portsmouth and a bat expert….
Garth was excited to report that they have found a cave near a waterfall where they can set up cameras. From the natives description, this sounds like a Ropen roosting location for them. The nationals in this area are fairly superstitious and believe that the pterosaurs are some spirit of the dead or spirit that takes the dead. As animists, they blur the lines between spiritual and physical, so to them a spirit is different from what we think of as a “spirit.” It is not a ghostly spirit being without a body–to them a spirit can have a body.
Garth recently learned that some of the locals killed and ate a Ropen a few decades ago–probably in the 1960s. They killed it with bow and arrows, which was difficult as the animal was so big, but it was resting on the ground when they ambushed it. Afterward they tried to cook the body. They just couldn’t seem to get it to cook, so they gave up and ate it at least somewhat raw and bloody. The hunters described it as having huge leathery wings like a bat, but with a long thin beak full of teeth and stood as big as a man. Garth is hoping for the opportunity to interview one of the older men who was a member of the party that killed and ate the pterosaur. It seems ironic to think of someone making a meal out of an invaluable scientific discovery!
The next seven days or so will pretty much be the time during which they might just see and film a Ropen. ~ Bill Gibbons.