In a Nutshell

Texas Mystery Lights – Flying Dinosaurs?

by on Dec.06, 2010, under Environment, Strange

Over many years, residents and scientists have speculated what causes the mysterious dancing lights around Marfa, Texas. The truly mysterious lights, sometimes called “ghost lights,” only appear a few times a year, but they have been photographed and videotaped, with no apparent simple explanation. It would seem that old common place explanations have run out of steam, stymied by the dances that cannot be explained by reference to tectonic stress or ball lightning. Yes, the lights seem to dance, splitting into two and, after the two separate, coming back together, as in square dancing. But “flying dinosaurs?’ That seems too far fetched, but the idea has at least one merit: It explains why the mysterious lights of Marfa, Texas, appear to dance.

Marfa Lights, at least when they are seen in warmer weather, sometimes display a strange splitting-rejoining behavior, a display that seems to defy scientific explanations. One cryptozoology author, however, Jonathan Whitcomb of California, has come up with the strange idea that those ghost lights are from bioluminescent predators that are hunting a common bat: the Big Brown Bat. Two of the strange flying predators glow brightly in one area, to attract insects. The two then separate for some distance, then turn back and fly back together. During the time those two predators are away, bats may fly into the area where there are more insects. That seems to be about the right time for the two glowing creatures to return and catch the bats, at least according to the cryptozoology author.

The main problem for the cryptozoologist seems to be a lack of eyewitnesses to glowing predators hunting bats in Texas. To his credit, however, his explanation seems to be the only one that explains why the lights separate and come back together.

More strange than that, Whitcomb suggests Marfa Lights are made by the same kind of nocturnal flying creature that is called “ropen” in Papua New Guinea; “strange” comes from what some cryptozoologists believe is the type of animal involved: a long-tailed pterosaur, AKA “flying dinosaur.”

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Jonathan Whitcomb

    The original early-December (2010) press release is at:

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/unmasking-a-flying-predator-in-texas-111374649.html

    “Unmasking a Flying Predator in Texas”

    The explanation for a predatory cause of the mystery lights includes these details:

    “. . . when one of the bioluminescent predators has been glowing for awhile, not far above the ground, it will be joined by another of its kind, which will then turn on its own glow. After insects have been attracted to that area, the two creatures will separate, which appears to distant human observers to be one light splitting into two. The predators will fly away from each other for some distance, then turn back and fly together. During the separation, bats may begin feeding on the concentration of insects before being caught from two sides by the larger predators.”

    James Bunnell, the scientist who may be the world’s leading expert on the Marfa Lights found this idea interesting, when he first heard of it. But he noted a number of kinds of “mystery lights” around Marfa that do not fit this kind of explanation.

    The recently published book (2nd edition of “Live Pterosaurs in America”) goes into more detail about this. Bunnell did not actually refute the predator-interpretation: It’s just that this particular theoretical hunting technique does not apply to all sightings; nevertheless, highly-intelligent predators are not usually confined to one type of behavior.

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