Nocturnal Flying Predators in Texas

 North America, Pterosaurs  Comments Off on Nocturnal Flying Predators in Texas
Dec 132010
 

Regardless of what some critics say about the concept of modern living pterosaurs, the hypothesis of Marfa Lights being from those cryptids is not soon flying away. Of course, not all nocturnal predators flying overhead need be living pterosaurs. Owls appear to be much more common, although acceptance of the hypothesis of barn owl bioluminescence is hardly common among biologists  (it is explained in the book by Fred Silcock: The Min Min Light). The strange flying predators thought to cause Marfa Lights—those creatures act more intelligently, at least sometimes, than barn owls, and that supports the more-revolutionary hypothesis of nocturnal bioluminescent pterosaurs.

The point about owls is that they are dull-minded, at least they seem to be specialized for individual hunting techniques rather than complex group behavior. Two barn owls often hunt together, of course; but do the two hunt in a truly coordinated manner, like whales that encircle schools of fish with bubbles? I doubt it. But the intelligence of ropen-like flying predators—that is a possibility, more likely even than highly intelligent barn owls.

Of course, the strange flying lights could be from multiple sources: owls and ropens. But the problem with that idea is simple: If large ropens fly over Texas at night, glowing barn owls might not live long glowing.

Pterosaurs Possible in Marfa, Texas

 North America, Pterosaurs  Comments Off on Pterosaurs Possible in Marfa, Texas
Dec 092010
 

A recent press release about the ghost lights of Marfa, Texas, has an interesting final word: The last paragraph, in the last sentence, ends with the word “pterosaur.” Most of the press release uses the phrase “flying predator,” with only indirect reference to the possibility of a group (flock?) of pterosaurs in southwest Texas. That last word is the clincher. It reveals that this animal, or hypothetical animal, is a cryptid, possibily related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea.

One blog mentioning this news is Modern Pterosaur.

The concept of nocturnal bioluminescent flying predators has gained ground with some American bloggers. The national press release earlier this week (“Unmasking a Flying Predator in Texas“) brought out the comments, some negative, some positive. (from Norman Huntington, administrator of the blog)

Another blog is Frann’s Plan.

I’d read about ropens in the past, but didn’t think they could live in the desert. I hope they [stay] over near Marfa. . . . As long as they graze on bat-sized creatures I’ll be happy. The bioluminescence is very cool, I hope to see these guys one day. (from “The Desert Rose” a blogger)

From my original press release:

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.”

See also Marfa Lights – Sarcasm or Soaring Predators?

Nov 082010
 

Some would call it “pterodactyl,” some would call it “a big bird,” some would call it “flying dinosaur.” But descriptions, including “featherless” and “long-tailed” suggest what people see is a pterosaur, regardless of textbook declarations about extinction. Some critic might say, “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” Of course that makes sense. Search history and discover the total lack of evidence for universal extinction of all types and species of pterosaurs. Evidence for living pterosaurs, however, jumps out at us from all periods of human history, whether the eyewitnesses used the word “dragon” (in old times) or “pterosaur” (in recent times); eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs make the case, and part of that case is in Texas.

Marfa Lights in Texas

It has been suggested that the mysterious flying “Marfa Lights” in southwest Texas are from bioluminescent flying predators that are hunting the Big Brown Bat. Some of the lights may be just that, although there are other creatures that could also be prey for large nocturnal flying creatures, including snakes. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors that make the bat-hunting hypothesis appear promising.

Large Nocturnal Flyer in San Antonio, Texas

Around 1986, in northwest San Antonio, two young eyewitnesses were disturbed by a strange flying creature that appeared to be entirely out of place.

“. . . something [was] flying around across the road . . . just above the phone lines. It would go one direction, turn, and swoop back. The shape was wrong for any large bird of the area, and the size was much too large to be any bat . . .” [from the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America]

Mar 112010
 

I’ve never been to Marfa, Texas, where dancing ghost lights have intrigued residents and visitors on countless nights for countless years; what causes the strange lights has defied logical explanation. But I have spoken with an eyewitnesses, Ed Hendricks, who for years has carefully investigated the lights. I appreciate his intense struggle to unravel a mystery that seems to defy unraveling; I respect his skill, talent, and educational qualifications; I acknowledge his careful observations, recorded in detail and shared. Nevertheless, I suggest something rarely, if ever, mentioned to explain Marfa Lights, perhaps as shocking as ball lightning or as eerie as dancing demons: a species of large flying creatures, intrinsically bioluminescent.

The puzzle cries for a solution; Mr. Hendricks and I agree. I respectfully disagree with his general assumption (something like an atmostpheric phenomenon, non-living). I credit him for his work, but credit the Marfa Lights to the flights of cryptids, notwithstanding they differ from flights of birds and bats. Why do they seem, at times, to dance? Why do two lights fly apart, then turn and fly back together? The dance sometimes appears complex but the purpose is simple. It’s just their technique: a way to catch bats.

Whatever the bioluminescent creatures are that make those lights, they may be the only ones who have worked harder in this area than Mr. Hendricks, with one possible exception. And just as this human researcher spends much time (pondering and writing) away from those fields just south of Marfa, the cryptid spends much time (searching for bats) away from those fields. Hendricks and others have tried to find what causes those lights, but bats flying just south of Marfa (and elsewhere) may try even harder to not be found by those lights.

But how could a flying creature glow, and so brightly? Even though the lights are sometimes described with the word “fireflies,” those who have observed the dancing of Marfa Lights (true Marfa Lights, not car headlights; cars never dance) sense a power, a size, a speed that dwarfs any insect. To catch just a tail feather of an answer to that question, let’s leave Texas and fly, first to Australia and then to Tennessee.

Come with me to Victoria, Australia, along Salisbury Road in Mt. Macedon. Notice, as we enter an open window, that Mr. Fred Silcock is sleeping in the easy chair by the fireplace. Now search for a thin brown book on the bookshelf. That’s the one; the spine says “The Min Min Light  F.F. Silcock”. Notice the drawing of a glowing barn owl on the cover.

Turn to page 12, under the heading “Min Min Intelligence,” and read the words of two observers of strange flying lights: “It definitely knows you’re there. I found it would not let us any closer than it wanted us . . . They are very playful, like a bunch of puppies chasing one another all over the place, going out and hopping up in another place. They can move pretty fast but most times move slowly, hovering and floating.”

Turn to page 45, under the heading “The Common Denominator,” and read the first paragraph. A Silcock Min Min (my own label, and not to be confused with other light-phenomena labeled “Min Min” in Australia) flies with ease, sometimes against the wind. It appears to fly with intelligence, sometimes interacting with one or more other Min Mins, and this interaction can appear playful. This paragraph makes it clear that these mysterious lights in Australia behave like birds. But what birds fly around at night, glowing?

Reading further we learn that there is nothing unscientific about the possibility of a self-luminous bird, although it’s a study not yet undertaken by universities, examining live or dead birds to test the Silcock hypothesis. But the book quotes many eyewitnesses who report finding the source for the Min Min glow: the “great owl” (called “barn owl” in the United States). It is Tyto Alba, found in many countries worldwide.

The book mentions an observation by William Wharton, of Queensland. One night he saw a bright light on the diving board of his swimming pool. As insects flew around the light, it began to fade until Wharton could see a glowing bird that was picking at insects that had landed on the board. The book mentions many eyewitness reports that make it obvious that some barn owls, sometimes, emit a glow, and that glow can help them catch insects. Of course that would explain why the underside feathers of barn owls are white: to allow light to pass through. Of course that would explain the bobbing, weaving motion of Min Mins; that is how barn owls fly at night while hunting. Mr. Silcock makes many points for a bioluminescent Tyto Alba.

Now let’s fly back to the United States, to Chapel Hill, Tennessee. Notice the railroad tracks, barely visible in the moonlight. Look down those tracks. A faint glow appears bobbing just to the left of the tracks; now it bobs over to the right. It looks like someone is approaching with a lantern, searching back and forth, but searching for what? Could this light be the lantern held by the man who was hit by a train long ago? According to the story, he was decapitated and his ghost still searches for the head.

But the ghost story of a headless man searching for his head sounds like the story of the Bingham Lights of South Carolina and the Maco Lights of North Carolina and the Gurdon Light of Arkansas and . . . well, headless ghosts searching endlessly for their heads, especially down railroad lines—those stories seem endless. But with a little knowledge of the bobbing, weaving Min Min of Australia, only a little brain power can enlighten us: Australians describe the same thing.

Why would a glowing barn owl fly down railroad tracks at night? If it hungered only for insects, it would sit and gobble them up. For a nocturnal rodent, how far is it exposed while crossing railroad tracks? Too far to be comfortable in daylight. But in the dark of night, why worry? Take your time. A midnight snack, for a rat, can be easy to find; humans throw trash near the tracks. Dine where you find it . . . until . . . oops.

Can a nocturnal rat out-think a human? To us, it seems stupid to sit on railroad tracks, eating garbage while a light approaches. But then no rat ever born has screamed and run away from a headless ghost. No, moving lights (in a world with so many humans) should not appear dangerous to a rat, for glowing barn owls appear to be rare, or they rarely glow. And it takes no genius of an owl, glowing or not, to fly down railroad tracks at night. I think that at least a few bioluminescent barn owls live in the United States (glowing for whatever reasons), and they account for many ghost lights. But what about the Marfa Lights?

The dance patterns of Marfa Lights resemble no flock of hunting barn owls. No, our old friend Tyto Alba cannot compete here and it dare not try. But it has illuminated part of the answer to the puzzle. The predators of Southern Texas show greater intelligence than most birds and some of them may be larger than any owl. This cryptid may be related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea (another nocturnal glowing flyer). If so, it will make a story more extraordinary than any headless ghost. Eyewitnesses describe the ropen like a giant long-tailed pterosaur.