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.”
Meteor Crater, known by scientists as “Barringer Crater,” forty-three miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona, is now recognized as a meteorite impact crater; but for decades it was believed to have been caused by a volcanic explosion. Daniel Barringer, early in the twentieth century, suggested that the crater came from a large meteor collision with earth. Skepticism continued until the middle of the twentieth century, when is was proven that an impact was involved, not any form of volcanism. Science rarely remains dormant for long, as scientists replace old theories with new.
In October of 2004, at about 10 p.m., on Umboi Island (known by natives as “Siasi”), in Papua New Guinea, David Woetzel, an American cryptozoologist, was searching the sky for any sign of the flying animal that natives call “ropen.” He and his American associate Garth Guessman, had been searching in vane for days, but their luck now changed. Woetzel saw something bright flying almost horizontally, toward a crater lake a few miles away. What was flying? He said, “. . . almost golden and shimmering around the edges. . . . There was no [meteor] tail.” It was large enough to have had a long tail, if it had been a meteor, for Woetzel also described the angular-size as about 20%-25% the size of a full moon. But the place where the flying light disappeared is significant, for it strongly suggests what that light was.
A few weeks before the Woetzel-Guessman expedition, the American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb was exploring Umboi Island (but only in the south-central area). He found three eyewitnesses who had seen the giant ropen flying in daylight. Where? Over Lake Pung. The flying creature was described as without any feathers, with a tail “seven meters” long, and a mouth “like a crocodile.”
So how does this strange giant-pterosaur-like creature (natives call it “ropen”) relate to the strange light flying towards this crater lake, a few weeks after the interviews of these eyewitnesses? Other eyewitnesses were interviewed by Woetzel, Guessman, and Whitcomb, and some of them described the creature that they had seen: a large flying creature that was glowing as it was flying over Umboi Island. Apparently the ropen has an extraordinary bioluminescent capacity, revolutionary to modern concepts of bioluminescence. But science does progress, as extraordinary as is the concept of a modern bioluminescent pterosaur.
Reports of living pterosaurs in the United States of America are no longer confined to reports from cowboys in ninteenth-century Arizona or a police officer in twentieth-century San Bernito, Texas. According to one cryptozoologist, Jonathan Whitcomb, there may be 1400 eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs seen in the United States, during the past three decades. The problem is this: He does not actually have 1400 reports, but only a tiny fraction of that. He estimates “1400” from the statistics that show that the great majority of eyewitnesses never tell any cryptozoologist about what they have seen.
Where Whitcomb got into trouble was in the possibility of circular reasoning, for other cryptozoologists seem to have taken him into account for his “1400” eyewitnesses. On the other hand, what if he exaggerated, getting ten times too many? Then we would have 140 eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs in the United States. If Whitcomb is correct in his belief that these are nocturnal creatures, then 140 sightings would mean that many pterosaurs could be flying through our skies at night, every night. They would just not be seen every night, at least according to the thinking of that one cryptozoologist.
But regardless of whether there are 140 or 1400 American eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs, why are there so few Americans (or anyone else in the world) who are looking into this?