More ‘dino’ sightings in Papua New Guinea
Published: 23 August 2012 (GMT+10)
Following on from his 2008 article Theropod and sauropod dinosaurs sighted in PNG?, in January 2012 the author Brian Irwin along with Russell Cook (both Australians) travelled to West New Britain in Papua New Guinea to investigate further reports of animals presumed to be extinct. Here is an account of their conversations with eyewitnesses—local people who claimed to have recently seen dinosaur-like creatures.
Figure 1: The author, Brian Irwin (left), with Russell Cook (right) at Gasmata, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, with locals Fabian Amon (second from left), and Matthew—local politician and interpreter (second from right).
Sauropod sightings in the south and north of West New Britain
1. Ambungi Island Sightings
The inhabitants of Ambungi Island1 and the surrounding region have observed unusual animals that resemble sauropod dinosaurs since the mid-1990s. Ambungi Island is located about two kilometres south of the south coast of West New Britain, approximately midway between Kandrian and Gasmata. It is only since the 1920s that Ambungi Island has been populated.
Swimming with a sauropod?
A local man named Alphones Likky (interviewed on 15th January 2012—see Figure 2) claimed to have seen a sauropod-like creature in 1995 while he was spearfishing on the reef on the south side (unpopulated) of Ambungi Island.
Figure 2: While diving on a reef off Ambungi Island in 1995, Alphones Likky (far left) was startled to see a large sauropod-like creature about five metres away.
Alphones was facing south at the bottom of the reef stalking fish when, he says, he heard the sound of something crashing into the coral behind him. When Alphones turned around he was startled to see a large animal at close range, a distance of approximately five metres (c. 15 feet), fully submersed in the water. He says it moved slowly past from left to right and entered the left of two underwater caves located on the south side of Ambungi Island. (See Figure 3.)
Figure 3: An artist’s reconstruction of the animal seen entering an underwater cave on the south side of Ambungi Island.
Seeing the creature at such close range and being in the water with it, Alphones was terrified.
Alphones described the animal as having a long neck and tail and four legs, with the hind legs being longer than the front legs and the feet resembling those of a duck. The length of the animal was estimated to be four metres from the front legs to the end of the tail, with a height of two to three metres. The animal’s skin was stated to be dark brown, the texture of the skin could not be determined. The head of the creature was described as being small and similar to a snake’s head; no teeth were observed and the eye was described as being similar to the eyes of other animals. Dermal frills were observed on the animal’s back and tail, but not on the neck. The creature’s movement was described as being slow, with the tail moving noticeably. The neck of the creature was horizontal for the duration of the sighting, which lasted about 10 seconds. Seeing the creature at such close range and being in the water with it, Alphones was terrified. Wanting to escape with his life from this ordeal, Alphones promptly surfaced to reach his canoe and left the area quickly. He certainly didn’t hang around in hope of getting a glimpse of the creature’s body above the water!
Figure 4—At the foot of the cliff on the south side of Ambungi Island near the two underwater caves referred to in the main text. Above: Russell Cook, donning the mask and snorkel, is preparing to take a quick look at the cave entrances, and the nearby coral. Below: As Mr Cook enters the water, part of the entrance to the left cave (the one the creature was seen entering) can be seen at right. (These two photos guided the artist’s illustration of the background landscape of Figure 3.)
The two underwater caves on the south side of Ambungi Island are separated by a distance of approximately 20 metres. The left cave has a circular entrance and has a height of about 2.5 metres. The right cave has a triangular entrance and also has a height of about 2.5 metres and appears from the outside to be considerably larger than the left cave. Neither cave has been explored because of the unavailability of sophisticated diving and lighting equipment.
A dinosaur in the garden?
In 1999 the second good sighting of one of these creatures occurred, however on this occasion the animal was observed on the land.
Alice Pasington (interviewed on 14th January 2012) was working alone in the garden on the south side of the island when she claims to have had an unusual encounter. From a distance of about 40 metres, Alice observed one of the creatures and estimated the total length to be about three metres. (See artist’s reconstruction in Figure 6.)
Figure 6: An artist’s reconstruction of the three-metre animal that Alice Pasington says she saw while working in the garden about 40 metres away.
The colour of the animal’s skin was reddish-brown and white around the breast area. The texture of the skin appeared smooth and dermal frills were seen only on the tail. The animal moved slowly with its neck nearly vertical and Alice saw it feeding on a plant with a rough-textured leaf (see Figure 7).
Alice then observed the animal turn around and walk to a small cliff, where it dived into the sea. During this time, the creature was followed at a distance and did not seem aware of Alice’s presence. After the animal had left the garden, Alice observed the five-toed footprints in the ground and later showed these footprints to other residents of Ambungi Island. The animal may have entered the garden from the beach on the western side of the island during the night. From the above description, it is possible that it may have been a juvenile specimen of the same type of creature as the other sightings, based on its size, colour, footprint and smooth skin texture.
Sleeping on a rock
Once the animal heard the sound of people, it moved from the rock back into the sea.
In 2007, Jasinta Pitim, another resident of Ambungi Island, observed the profile of a large animal sleeping on a rock on a reef on the south side of Ambungi Island. The animal was described as having a long neck that was curved back near its body, which was dark-brown, with skin described as being like a crocodile, and with dermal frills. Jasinta hurried home and told her husband Joe (interviewed on 14th January 2012), who travelled to the location, where he saw it too. Once the animal heard the sound of people, it moved from the rock back into the sea. Back in 1997 Joe and Jasinta observed a similar animal while travelling from Ambungi Island to Malengo Island in a canoe. From a distance of approximately eight metres the head and neck of the creature were visible for a short period of time.
Similar animals have also been observed on islands close to Ambungi Island.
Figure 8: Joe and Jasinta Pitim observed a large aquatic animal sunning itself on a rock on a reef off Ambungi Island in 2007. They had seen the head and neck of a similar creature protruding above the sea while travelling by canoe ten years earlier.
2. Gasmata sighting
A creature similar to the one(s) observed around Ambungi Island has also been seen once near Gasmata. One afternoon in August 2004, three adults—Fabian Amon (see Figure 1), Simon Patolkit2 (Figure 9) and Margaret Patolkit—along with some children observed a sauropod-like creature on the south side of Dililo Island, an unpopulated island used mainly for farming by the local people from Gasmata.
Figure 9: The gentleman at the far left of this photo is Simon Patolkit, who along with his wife Margaret and others observed a huge creature in the sea off Gasmata. (See Figure 10.)
Simon was interviewed on 13th January 2012 at the location of the sighting and Fabian was interviewed on 18th January 2012. Both of their accounts of the sighting were very similar.
Simon, Margaret and Fabian were diving for fish on the reef on the south side of Dililo Island when they heard an unusual sound in the water and noticed that the fish were scattering. They became somewhat frightened by this incident and left the water for the safety of the land. A short time later, while sitting on some rocks, they observed part of an unknown animal above the water about 40–50 metres away and travelling in an east-west direction parallel to the coast.
The creature had a large body and a neck estimated to be three metres long that was horizontal and close to the water. No tail or legs were visible and the total length of the visible portion of the animal was about eight metres. The head was like a crocodile or lizard and the eye was described as being ‘big’. The colour of the animal was uniform brown and the skin had a rough texture. The animal was described as having a ‘saw’ in the middle of its back, which consisted of 4 or 5 dermal frills. Observation time lasted about one minute during which time the creature moved slowly until it submersed itself fully in the water.
Figure 10: An artist’s reconstruction of the creature observed at Gasmata Reef. It held its head and neck (about 3 metres long) just above the water and was described as having a ‘saw’ in the middle of its back. The visible part of the creature was estimated to be about 8 metres (26 feet) in length—but its total body length was likely considerably greater, given its tail was submerged and out of view.
3. Possible theropod sighting in the north of West New Britain
A small theropod-like creature that local people have dubbed ‘Doren’ has been repeatedly observed around Benaule Village3, which is located approximately 25 km east of Kimbe on the north coast of West New Britain. The creature has been seen quite frequently for many years, with a close encounter reported in November 2010.
Pastor Ken-John was sitting on an ‘outhouse’ toilet at the Tabernacle Of Worship church during the day when he observed the profile of the head and upper torso of the ‘Doren’ appear only one metre away, just outside. The head was described as being like that of an aircraft (presumably like the profile of the nose of a jet, such as a 747) and the colour was medium brown. The animal has also been seen on the seashore near the church grounds by local people, where it comes ashore during high tide and travels back to the sea during low tide.
Figure 12: Pastor Ken-John stands by the sea in the grounds of the Tabernacle of Worship church, showing where he says the ‘Doren’ comes ashore at high tide. With him are Ben (the landowner) and John.
The ‘Doren’ has been observed eating crabs and digging up vegetables from a garden.
A distinctive footprint of the ‘Doren’, which is described as being about 25cm long, is often seen in the sand by the sea. The left foot of the creature was drawn in the sand by a local person (see Figure 13). During the wet season, the ‘Doren’ travels inland along a creek to a mountain. The ‘Doren’ has been observed eating crabs and digging up vegetables from a garden near the church—apparently looking for worms and other invertebrates to eat, as it doesn’t normally eat the vegetables it unearths.
Figure 13: The footprint of the ‘Doren’—as drawn in the sand by Ben (Figure 12).
Figure 14: A scan of pages from the 2003 evolutionary dinosaur handbook by H. Richardson, Dinosaurs and prehistoric life, showing a scientific illustration of Herrerasaurus (on the right-hand page). Click for larger image.
When walking, the ‘Doren’ uses four legs. However, when running the creature is reported as using rear legs only and as being able to outrun a human. It seems from the descriptions that the ‘Doren’ might be best identified as a Herrerasaurus.4
Reports alone are ultimately not enough to conclusively establish the fact that some dinosaurs are still alive today. However, if these are eventually backed up by hard evidence, the finding of living dinosaurs should not be such a surprise to people, considering that some animals and plants that were believed to be extinct for millions of years have been discovered alive. These discoveries include the Coelacanth fish (discovered in 1938) and the Wollemi Pine tree (discovered in 1994). For Christians it should be less surprising still, as the authority of the Bible is a solid basis for believing that humans have lived at the same time as dinosaurs (whether or not some dinosaurs still survive); because Genesis teaches that the heavens, the earth, and everything in them was created in that six-day period about 6000 years ago. The remains of dinosaurs (some of which are still ‘soft and squishy’, with identifiable proteins) would be no older than the Genesis Flood, which occurred about 4,500 years ago.
- The author acknowledges the help of Paul Pilpilis, one of the owners of Ambungi Island, who checked the accuracy of the text for the Ambungi Island sightings. Return to text.
- With regards to the same witness (Simon Patolkit) cited here as in our earlier article, Simon is reporting the same dinosaur (a sauropod) on the reef at Gasmata for this article and the previous article in 2008. Fabian Amon witnessed the sighting of the sauropod at the same time as Simon Patolkit and we were able to interview Fabian (when Simon was not present) to ensure the information provided by Simon was accurate. Return to text.
- The author acknowledges Tony Puana, a local politician in WNB, who provided the initial information about the theropod-like creature sighted at Benaule Village. Return to text.
- From a scientific illustration in the book: Richardson, H., Dinosaurs and prehistoric life, Dorling Kindersley Ltd, London, UK, 2003. Return to text.