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.”
Common barn owls may be responsible for many of the reported “ghost lights” in the United States. According to the nonfiction book author Jonathan Whitcomb, of Long Beach, California, the Gurdon Light of Arkansas, the Ghost Light of Masters Knob (Tennessee), and the Hornet Light of Missouri are all strange flying lights whose behaviors resemble those of Tyto Alba, the barn owl.
The idea that some barn owls have intrinsic bioluminescence is not original with Whitcomb; the Australian Fred Silcock has done extensive research on certain sightings of Min Min lights in Australia. The sightings that especially caught the attention of Silcock were those that suggested hunting barn owls and those in which a glowing barn owl was actually observed.
Whitcomb carried Silcock’s findings over onto the America continent, comparing characteristics of various strange lights. Many of those flying lights were seen over railroad tracks, with the same weaving motions common with barn owls. The conclusion seemed obvious.
But Whitcomb is an author of cryptozoology books about living pterosaurs, not owls. He has explained that a minority of the reports of American ghost lights do not suggest owls but something far stranger. In Marfa, Texas, the mystery lights have fascinated investigators for many years. But the behavior or the lights does not suggest owls but ropens, and that nocturnal flying creature is said to be a living pterosaur of Papua New Guinea. The ropen is not yet classified by Western science but is a cryptid like the Bigfoot and Nessie.