Marfa lights: new insights

I recently interviewed two eyewitnesses of the Marfa Lights of Texas. One was a young man (G.) traveling through Texas early in 2010; the other (H.), a long-term researcher of the Marfa Lights. After each interview, I became more convinced that these strange flying lights are closely related to the ropen lights of Papua New Guinea.

Sighting by a traveler

G. described one of the lights as many miles away (at least apparently), flying around in the same general area, far above the ground. This light lasted for well over an hour (approaching dawn), during which time several other lights (apparently closer) appeared to the left. The group of lights here behaved somewhat differently, seeming, perhaps, to interact with each other, at least with my interpretation of the descriptions. At least once, the first light dived toward the ground.

Sighting by an investigator

H. described one of his sightings as in close range, for one of the lights flew down into some nearby bushes (H. was on or near the Marfa Lights viewing platform at the time). The light scurried about in the bushes, like what would be expected of an “animal.” It then flew up into the air and quickly disappeared.

Problems with “ball lightning,” “atmospheric,” and geologic-cause interpretations

A common description of genuine Marfa Lights (those obviously not car headlights) is that they dance. Two or more lights seem to interact at times, sometimes weaving in and out, sometimes seeming to make one light divide into two. In other words, there is regular coordination. This can be explained easily by attributing the lights to living entities, not easily to non-living objects.

When two or more predators hunt together, they move and position themselves in predictable patterns. Whales may circle schools of fish; lionesses may partially surround a herd of antelopes. I believe that some of these American ghost lights, including the Marfa Lights, involve flying creatures that use special patterns of flight (and sometimes special patterns using their bioluminescence) to catch bats. One of those patterns involves two of the creatures flying towards each other: The bats fly away from one predator only to be caught by the other. To fly toward each other, two predators first fly away from each other, then turn around for the coordinated attack.

I have been told that the mountains near where many Marfa Lights fly are of volcanic origin and that this relates to geologic characteristics that contribute to the creation of the lights. Why, then, would the researcher (probably one of the top experts on the ML) have seen one of the lights fly far from the mountain and scurry around in some bushes near the observation platform? Doesn’t that seem much more like a predator that has left the common hunting ground for a moment? How could the mountain have caused that flying light?

When have distinct glowing flying balls interacted like they were dancing and then scientifically been demonstrated to be ball lightning or natural atmospheric effects? I don’t mean speculated to be; I mean demonstrated to be. I know that human subjective reasoning can play tricks on us sometimes, but what if our intuitive reasoning (intelligent-entities interpretation) is correct in this instance? Why not consider the possibility that these dancing lights come from living things? Some descriptions of American ghost lights includes the word “fireflies.” Let’s keep an open mind to the possibility that a new scientific breakthrough will include the discovery of a flying bioluminescence more powerful than even a thousand fireflies. And let’s coordinate our reasoning so we may someday discover the true nature of these strange lights.

(The discovery of an animate source for the lights will not necessarily show the flying creature is a “dinosaur bird” (AKA “pterosaur”), but the possibility is exciting, whatever it is.)

Getting more up to date, the first explanation that tied Marfa Lights to sightings of living pterosaurs was about the bats that live year-round in southwest Texas: the Big Brown Bat. It was thought that this bat was the main reason for the Marfa Lights flying the way they did. More recently, there have been other suggestions about what the flying predators may be eating. This is in addition to bats, not instead of bats.


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  3. I read a book by Bunnell. He does not believe the flying lights near Marfa are owls. I don’t think they are owls too because owls don’t act like that when they fly around. But I also know that there are many places where flying lights are, some in the United States, like Marfa. If the lights fly like owls then maybe that’s what they are. If they fly like something else, maybe they are like the ropen of Papua New Guinea. Those animals are like pterodactyls with long tails and they make a bright light when they fly at night.

    If the ropen is not a pterodactyl, then why do some Americans keep going to Papua New Guinea? Why do they spend all their money to take those expeditions? Why do they come back with videos of flying lights? Why do the scientists say that those lights are not anything else like meteors or airplanes or camp fires or flashlights or car head lights? If the scientists cannot explain what those lights are, maybe they are what those natives say that they are: pterodactyls.

  4. An interesting point that was brought up as a possible explanation is the volcanic mountains. Not because they could explain the lights but because of the many caves found in volcanic rock that could potentially harbour such creatures during the day.

  5. That is a good point about possible hiding places for the predators, Josiah. If I recall correctly, this investigator (“H”) was the one who brought up the possibility of caves in those volcanic mountains, during our phone conversation. He was not, however, prepared to consider the possibility of bioluminescence in flying animals; I hope that he will open his mind to that in the future.

    A critical part of this predator hypothesis is not actually in where the predators sleep during the day (they could live in caves many miles away, perhaps in Mexico); it is in where the Big Brown Bats sleep, and that could include caves in those hills and mountains near Marfa, Texas.

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