LONG BEACH, Calif., Dec. 6, 2010 — For generations, the mystery lights of Marfa, Texas, have entertained residents with their strange dancing. On some warmer nights, a ball of light seems to split into two, which will separate and fly away from each other before turning around and flying back together. They have recently been linked to flying lights in the southwest Pacific, lights that natives of Papua New Guinea testify are from large flying creatures.
In southwest Texas, local residents have speculated about dancing devils or ghosts. Scientists have preferred something along the lines of ball lightning or earthlights, but all their 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 coming back together?
Now a cryptozoologist from California has explained the dancing lights of Marfa. Tales of spooks may hold a spark of truth, for recent research implies intelligence directs the lights: Bioluminescent flying predators may be hunting at night and catching a few unlucky Big Brown Bats: Eptesicus fuscus.
According to Jonathan Whitcomb, a cryptozoology author in Long Beach, California, 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.
Whitcomb was a forensic videographer, in 2004, when he traveled to Papua New Guinea, hoping to videotape the glowing nocturnal "ropen," said to be a large flying predator and scavenger. Although he did not see the creature, he interviewed many natives, who impressed him with their credibility and amazed him with what they had seen. Whitcomb became convinced that the ropen is a pterosaur, commonly called by Americans "pterodactyl" or "flying dinosaur."
After returning to the United States, he wrote many web pages about the concept of modern living pterosaurs in the southwest Pacific. He was surprised at the response: emails and phone calls from eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs in the United States.
He analyzed the eyewitness accounts of those flying creatures and wrote a nonfiction book: "Live Pterosaurs in America." The second edition of that cryptozoology book has just been published (ISBN-13: 9781456341350).
Although Whitcomb admits that Marfa Lights may come from an unknown bioluminescent bird or bat, he says, "It is more likely than not from a creature similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea, and my associates and I are sure about the ropen: It is a pterosaur."