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Season 3 Episode 23

Flying Monsters

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jun 03, 2009 on The History Channel
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Episode Summary

If there is one place on earth that could be home to a prehistoric flying monster, it is Papua New Guinea. These islands to the north of Australia are the closest thing to a real "lost world" and eyewitnesses here claim that a terrifying monster is circling above them. Natives call this creature the "Demon Flyer," but its twenty-foot wingspan, gray leathery skin and crested head appear to be only one thing--a living pterosaurs.moreless
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  • This episode is titled "Flying Monsters." Some of the interviews were interesting, as was the expedition trek. But the overall production was very poorly constructed, leaving viewers with a false impression.moreless

    The "Flying Monsters" episode of MonsterQuest came about because of reports of giant flying creatures that glow with what some cryptozoologist researchers believe is bioluminescence. Some investigators believe the creature is a pterosaur.

    The MonsterQuest expedition on New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea, was not the first time a Westerner has searched for a giant nocturnal flying creature in the Southwest Pacific. It was preceded by at least nine expeditions (1993-2008) in Papua New Guinea, searches for what American cryptozoologists call "ropen." Many short video clips from these expeditions were used on the show; but why did the producers not give credit to those expeditions? I did not notice even a hint that previous expeditions even happened.

    A key member of the MonsterQuest expedition team was Garth Guessman, who had explored a nearby island, in 2004, searching for the ropen. I spoke with my friend Guessman by phone, the day after the June 3rd "Flying Monsters" broadcast. After the team had arrived at what became their camp site, all of them were tired, even exhausted. Guessman talked about changing sleeping patterns and how they needed to stay up to watch the sky. He was told by the others that they were there to film, not to do research. While the others slept, my friend observed a strange light. In the morning, the others dismissed his account.

    Near the end of "Flying Monsters," two distant lights (at night) are shown to be, in daylight, two campfires of local natives. But those two lights had nothing to do with the strange light observed by Guessman while the others were sleeping. There was no mention of that in the edited show.

    Another American interviewed on this episode was Duane Hodgkinson, a World War II veteran who had an incredible sighting on the mainland of New Guinea in 1944. MonsterQuest started to show a dramatic recreation of that sighting, but cut it off before many details were revealed. In reality, many cryptozoologists are aware that Hodgkinson described a very long tail on the creature: "at least" 10-15 feet long. But the "Flying Monsters" episode was mostly about the idea that these strange creatures are an unknown bat.

    The Flying-Fox-fruit-bat interpretation of eyewitness reports of giant pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea was shot down years ago. Almost none of the details of daylight sighting accounts suggests any similarity between ropens and giant fruit bats (except that they are both featherless and nocturnal), even if the seven-meter-long tail of one observed ropen is an exaggeration; yet the show included dramatic exclamations of Western "explorers" who marvel at a group of fruit bats flying above their heads. The end of "Flying Monsters" shows a small bat that the MonsterQuest team caught in a net. But how is a well-known bat with a wingspan of inches related to an unknown animal, with a pterosaur-like headcrest, with a very long tail, and with a wingspan over 30 feet?moreless

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