Marfa Pterosaurs? You’re Getting Warmer!

In Hunting Marfa Lights, the author, James Bunnell, noted that mystery lights can appear at any season of the year. His detailed data shown in “Table B1” seems on the surface to indicate Marfa Lights have no special preference for warmer weather, for they sometimes fly around on winter nights. Closer examination, however, reveals something Bunnell may have missed: Those mystery lights appear mostly on warmer nights, in general. In the winter, they rarely appear on colder nights, seeming to like more moderate winter nights.

Marfa Lights Like Warmer Nights

The data recorded by James Bunnell is priceless. The 52 sightings recorded by his cameras, from late in 2000 through late in 2008, give us detailed weather data, including the temperatures when sightings began, what he calls “at start.” I list totals, by percentage of total, for four temperature gradations:

1. 32 F or colder: 11.5%
2. 32.1-39.9 F: 4%
3. 40.0-49.9 F: 11.5%
4. 50.0 or higher: 73%

That coorelates well with nocturnal hunting by predators that prefer reasonable temperatures, obviously. Could this be related to ground temperature in a way supporting some kind of energy from the earth? Bunnell’s data does not smile on that conjecture, for when the total sightings are subtotaled by season of the year it shows 43% in the Spring, hardly a season to be noted for high ground temperature. By comparison, only 19% of the sightings were in the summer.

Bioluminescent Organisms

Bioluminescence in jellyfish, cuttlefish, octopus, fireflies, Min Min owls, and ropens.

Cheesman Lights and Pterosaurs

Evelyn Cheesman, a British biologist well-respected for her discoveries of new species in the southwest Pacific, early in the twentieth century, also discovered a strange flying light deep in the mainland of New Guinea, north of the area where Paul Nation videotaped indava lights seven decades later. In recent years, both lights have been suggested to be from the bioluminescence of ropen-like flying creatures that some investigators believe are living pterosaurs.

Unmasking a Flying Predator in Texas

A revision and update of the late-2010 press release by Jonathan Whitcomb

In southwest Texas, local residents have speculated  about dancing devils or ghosts. Scientists have  preferred something along the lines of ball lightning  or earthlights, nevertheless all apparently scientific  explanations have tripped over the resemblances to  line dancing. If atmospheric energies or tectonic  stresses cause the displays, why do two lights  horizontally separate for a long distance before  turning around and flying back together?

Glowing Pterosaurs

The evidence for living pterosaurs (including perhaps bioluminescent ones in North America) includes rare sightings of the creatures in daylight, when they are obviously non-bird and non-bat. This deserves serious consideration, in light of the continuous invesigations that continue to involve new sighting reports.

New Ideas About Marfa Lights

I don’t know about any recent Marfa Lights sightings, but new web pages and posts keep popping up, many of them related to sightings of flying creatures resembling pterosaurs.

Intelligence of Marfa Lights

In the nonfiction book Hunting Marfa Lights, the author, James Bunnell, reports several sightings that involve flying lights that seem to chase a car at night. The problem for the author (who had not seriously considered a biological interpretation of Marfa Lights) was that the best explanation seemed to be “Fata Morgana mirage,” and that did not well fit all the car-chasing reports, including his own encounter on a highway one night.

Ghost Lights or Marfa Lights Alive

It also mentions how unlikely it would be for ghosts to consistantly visit those fields near Marfa, for so many years, but never stay very long. The strange flying lights hang around for only one or two nights, then disappear for weeks on end. This would be expected of a group of bioluminescent predators that return regularly to various territories in southwest Texas and Mexico. But it makes no sense for ghosts.

Bioluminescent Predators in Texas

The flying Marfa Lights of southwest Texas have been compared with the ropen of Papua New Guinea. There the lights have been correlated with appearances of large and giant long-tailed flying creatures, featherless and resembling Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs. . .

Reply to the Houston Chronicle

I know that I could have gotten a  much better reception from the  major media by writing a press  release about the possibility of  barn owls causing Marfa Lights.  But this is a time for putting  politics in the back seat; both Mr.  Bunnell and I have rejected that  owl-interpretation for the type of  mystery lights he calls “CE-III.” 

Claudia Feldman uses the word  “pterosaur” only once; yet  “dinosaurs,” five times. But I  mention “dinosaur” as what  eyewitnesses sometimes say, and  Feldman gives no hint that there  has ever been any eyewitness of  any creature like either one.

Her article puts my qualifications  into question, emphasizing that I  have seen neither Marfa Lights nor living pterosaurs. But for seven  years eyewitnesses of the apparent pterosaurs have contacted me  about their encounters, and some  of those encounters have been in  the respectable state of Texas. So  how am I qualified to write about  the possibility of live pterosaurs  flying in southwest Texas? I  represent eyewitnesses of those  creatures, and I am the only one  who can compare descriptions  with data from other accounts  from around the country and  around the world, including those  encounters involving flying lights.

Living Pterosaurs More Popular Than Live Dinosaurs

At least with online reports, living pterosaurs appear to be more popular than live dinosaurs. One somewhat speculative area is on the Marfa Lights of Texas. To quote briefly from one page of the “Searching for Ropens” page:

“Although there is only indirect evidence, by late 2010, that the mysterious flying lights of Marfa, Texas, (those that are classified as “CE-III” by the scientist James Bunnell) are caused by bioluminescent pterosaurs, that  possibility is so extraordinary that it deserves a thorough scientific investigation. What a discovery it would be if those flying lights were found to be actual pterosaurs!”

I found a number of other pages, not related directly to Marfa Lights but related to living pterosaurs:

New Zealand Pterosaurs

With so many reports of living pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, why should there not be living pterosaurs in New Zealand? What would keep large flying creatures from reaching that those large islands?

“The bird that bit Catherine” involves a child who was reading while sitting on a fence. “She became aware of a little creature sitting next to her,” but gave it little attention at first. She thought it to be just a small green bird with a long tail. When it became noisy, she tried to shoo it away, whereupon the creature bit her finger, spread its leathery wings, and flew away. She then realized how unusual it was and ran to tell her father that she had seen a “dinosaur.”

Model Pterodactyl Shot Down

The concept here is that model “pterodactyls” cannot explain most sighting reports of living pterosaurs. They just don’t fit. Who reports what they believe to be a surviving prehistoric flying creature when that “creature” sounds like a model airplane? The sound would make it obviously not a living creature, I think.

On the subject of glowing pterosaurs, what about the kor of northern Papua New Guinea, or the ropen of Umboi Island, or the indava deep in the mainland? Each name, whether or not of the same species, refers to a large flying animal described like a pterosaur, and each is said to glow and to eat: often fish or clam, sometimes animal or human. A mechanical pterodactyl might be made to light up, as it flew in a civilized part of the world; but no mechanical model would use its glow to help it catch fish in a remote tropical wilderness.

I think that really does “shoot down” the concept that model airplanes are what people have been seeing. What do you think?

Ghost Lights or Marfa Lights Alive?

The Modern Pterosaur blog by Norman Huntington (a pseudonym used by author Jonathan Whitcomb) has another post about Marfa Lights, this one about the improbability of those lights being caused by ghosts, not that many people actually believe in that. The expression “ghost lights” has been just an expression, not to be taken seriously.

. . . this idea that ghost lights are actually ghosts, that Marfa Lights are from spirits of the dead who come to this part of Texas to glow and fly around. Assuming ghosts regularly make bright light, which I do not believe, why would they fly over those empty fields around Marfa, Texas? If there were something about a location that attracted ghosts, would it not be a specific location like a house? Why do CE-III Marfa Lights fly over such a large area?

It also mentions how unlikely it would be for ghosts to consistantly visit those fields near Marfa, for so many years, but never stay very long. The strange flying lights hang around for only one or two nights, then disappear for weeks on end. This would be expected of a group of bioluminescent predators that return regularly to various territories in southwest Texas and Mexico. But it makes no sense for ghosts.

Are Marfa Lights Nocturnal Scavengers?

Huntington/Whitcomb, in this other post, mentions how Marfa Lights may be scavengers, taking the place of vultures but at night. He mentions that bats may not be the only things eaten by the predators, and compares the flying lights of Texas with the kongamato of Africa and the ropen of Papua New Guinea.

 There is nothing unscientific about the hypothesis that Marfa Lights are caused by the bioluminescence of flying predators.

More About Marfa Lights

On another post by Huntington/Whitcomb, he mentions some researchers, including James Bunnell, and Edson Hendricks. Also a press release “Unmasking a Flying Predator in Texas.”

I know that James Bunnell of Texas and Edson Hendricks of California have done extensive studies of the more mysterious Marfa Lights. Both men seem to be well educated in science, with years of experience in their respective fields. Yet it has been pointed out that neither one is a biologist, and the conjectures and hypotheses of bioluminescence in Marfa Lights calls for a biologist.

Some people ascribe the most active and mysterious lights as supernatural. The problem with that assumption is that it can color how we interpret details about the sightings. Marfa Lights, the ones called “CE-III” by James Bunnell, are mysterious, to be sure. But the degree of weirdness may relate to the assumption that they come from non-living energy sources like, or related to, earth lights or ball lightening or Northern Lights. But when we consider the predator theory, the lights no longer appear so weird, though they remain exciting as a potential discovery for science.

As a review, I have written about Marfa Lights before:

Headlights and Hard Heads Knocking Marfa Lights

So why do some blog writers and blog-post commenters still insist that all mysterious lights seen around Marfa are from car headlights? What could it be other than careless thinking? For those who would like to really learn the truth about what is known and about the possibility (however probable or improbable) of Marfa Lights coming from large bioluminescent flying predators, read one or both of these nonfiction books: Hunting Marfa Lights by James Bunnell and Live Pterosaurs in America, second edition, by Jonathan David Whitcomb.