Saturday, December 10, 2011

Names for Live Pterosaurs

From natives of Papua New Guinea to Westerners like Americans, Europeans, and Australians, we find that apparent living pterosaurs have many names.

Demon Flyer 
On Umboi Island, at least some of the villagers have a different perspective on the concept of spiritual beings, at least different from many Americans. An intelligent being need not be either 100% spirit or 100% physical. The ropen of Umboi, according to Darius (who recited native traditions to the American explorer Paul Nation, in 2002), is like a spirit but also like a man. It flies around at night and sometimes comes down from a mountain to hunt game animals. To many islanders, this being may appear to be both spiritual (flying) and human (hunting animals for food).
In addition, natives may have a more complex concept of spirits than most Westerners have. A spirit, to them, need not be either 100% good or 100% bad. In that sense, at least, “demon flyer” seems a poor translation for a word that probably does not have a purely negative connotation for them.
Duane Hodgkinson . . . in 1944 was stationed near Finschhafen, in what was then called New Guinea. After he and his buddy walked into a clearing, they were amazed as a large creature flew up into the air. The men soon realized that it was no bird that started to circle the clearing. It had a tail “at least ten to fifteen feet long,” (book Searching for Ropens, 2007) and a long appendage at the back of its head: apparently, a live pterosaur.
The nocturnal flying creatures that he described to me [around northern islands of Papua New Guinea]–I believe they are ropens–were common and were dangerous to local fishermen previous to the early 1940′s, when their numbers declined. In these northern islands, the creature is called “kor.”

The word "pterodactyl" is often used by Americans when they really mean "pterosaur."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Live Pterosaurs in America now in Third Edition

Amazon has recently made available the third edition of my nonfiction cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America. This new expanded edition has an important new sighting report: Patty Carson's encounter with the "dinosaur" when she was a child at the U. S. military station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1965.

Introduction (first paragraph)
This book might make a few Americans uneasy to walk alone at night; my intention, however, is not to frighten but to enlighten as many readers as possible to know about live-pterosaur investigations. Those who’ve been shocked at the sight of a flying creature that “should” be extinct—those eyewitnesses, more numerous than most Americans would guess, need no longer be afraid that everyone will think them crazy, and no longer need they feel alone. Those of us who’ve listened to the American eyewitnesses, we who have interviewed them, we now believe. So, if you will, consider the experiences of these ordinary persons (I’ve interviewed most of them myself) and accept whatever enlightenment you may.
Page 22 (part of a sighting report: Southern California)
I asked her if she was sure and she said they weren’t lights exactly, but that the wings had a glow or reflection. I wasn’t sure what to make of that so when I got to work today I begin my search for “flying creature” on Google. One link led to another and eventually I discovered something known as a Ropen. That was it! The description matched exactly what we saw, down to the glow. This isn’t a hoax, we really saw something strange last night and after finding your website by following Wikipedia, I had to let you know. The time was approximately 10:30 pm and the nearest cross streets were Burbank Blvd & Woodman in the city of Sherman Oaks, CA (Los Angeles County). 
Cryptozoology Book Now Available
I couldn’t put this book down. It is absolutely fascinating to read about eyewitness accounts of the people who have seen these creatures. To learn about these testimonies from such an open minded perspective is refreshing in the extreme! . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone! People should know the truth about what is going on. No one ever hears anything about this unless they conduct extremely specific internet searches, even then, information is minimal. Jonathan Whitcomb needs to write more books! [from "StrangeDream" - Oct 11, 2011 review on Amazon]
Polish Language page on Live Pterosaurs: "zyc pterozaura" - język polski
W 2004 roku Jonathan Whitcomb zbadać wyspę. Umboi Island ma zwierzę latające. Nazywa się "ropen." Większość świadków widać tylko światła latające. Kilku świadków było bliżej do zwierząt, że leci.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Live Dragons

Of course we use the word "pterosaur," for it's more scientific sounding than "dragon." But with the assumption that many sightings, in modern times, of apparent living pterosaurs, add up to the present existence of at least one species of pterosaur, some "dragon" stories in earlier human history were from sightings of pterosaurs. I believe some dragons of history were pterosaurs.

A Live Dragon

Patty Carson was only a child when she and her brother saw the “dinosaur” at the U. S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, in 1965. But the children froze as they watched the flying creature that was only thirty feet away. Patty had the time to gain a clear memory of details. But the two children were not alone as eyewitnesses of a pterosaur in Cuba. [Eskin Kuhn and others also saw this kind of flying creature at Guantanamo Bay.]

Sightings of Apparent Pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea

Before the ship arrived on Umboi (Siassi), Luke and I met an old sailor who knew something about what we were seeking. "You want to catch Wawanar?" he asked. I assured him that we only wanted to get a "photo" of the flying animal. The old man told us that the dragon Wawanar is said to own the land and the sea; nobody can catch Wawanar.

I was not surprised that a native of Papua New Guinea would use the label "dragon," for that large flying creature of the night was famous for its mysterious glow and its giant size. I was also not surprised that natives of Pilio Island (the old sailor's original home) have their own name for the creature. But I had not expected to hear a story about it before the ship arrived at Umboi Island. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Can Flamingos be Misidentified?

Is it possible for somebody to see a flying flamingo and misidentify it for a pterosaur? If the eyewitness had never before seen a flamingo, yes it could be misidentified as such, especially if the person was concentrating on the feet of that bird, for it may resemble a Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed pterosaur) tail vane. For somebody who had seen a flamingo, however, such a misidentification is unlikely.

But the Gitmo pterosaur seen by the U.S. Marine Eskin Kuhn, in 1971, and by Patty Carson, in 1965, is nothing like any flamingo. Their encounters, both of which were at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, deserve attention.

While Kuhn was observing the two pterosaurs, he concentrated on details, so that he could sketch them accurately (he is a talented artist), including "the bony vertebrae of the back that were clearly defined." Other details that he told me include the following:
. . . the bony crest at the back of the head that had a scythe-like shape instead of a pick-like shape; the long strands of hair in a tuft at the end of the tail (a brush.., not flesh covered as the rest)... and that detail has become muted by the many copies of the drawing . . .
In Kuhn's sketch, the length of the head dwarfs the length of the neck. In a flamingo, the opposite is true, and to a greater degree: A flamingo's neck makes the head look extremely short. That alone makes this case for the Gitmo Pterosaur.

Now to the sighting by Patty Carson. She told me, "The skin was a leathery, brownish reddish color. It had little teeth, a LOT of them." She examined the sketch drawn by Kuhn and told me that it was of the same creature that she had seen, even though she offered some minor-adjustment suggestions ("the proportions of the head are very good, and the body and the hind legs are exactly as I remember."). Obviously Patty Carson did not see a flamingo with leathery skin and teeth.

The point? We must not let flamingo legs and feet distract us from the obvious differences between those feathered birds and the featherless Gitmo Pterosaur.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Searching for Dragons Book

The third edition of Searching for Ropens I will retitle "Searching for Dragons," but the changes and additions will be much deeper than just the title. It will be in true cryptozoology genre, with little reference to religion. It will also have more eyewitness sighting reports. I hope that it will be published before Christmas, but it could be early in 2012.

From the Acknowledgements:
How could I have dared travel to Papua New Guinea alone, to search for living pterosaurs in a remote jungle, without detailed guidance from Paul Nation, who instructed me where to go on Umboi Island, whom to meet, what to say, what village to avoid, and what gifts to give to particular islanders? He made my expedition possible.
How could Paul Nation have dared to return to Papua New Guinea so many times, without support from a number of friends and family members? The dangers could not hold him back, although he contracted serious infection twice, on two of his four expeditions.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Live Pterosaurs in Washington

No, I don't mean vulture-politicians in Washington, D.C., but the strange flying creatures, often reported as featherless, in the state of Washington.

Reports of Live Pterosaurs in the State of Washington
Daylight Sighting Around 1987, in a Rural Area
“I was 15 yrs old [when] I saw two ropens together sitting on a fence. I was riding my bike home from a friend’s house around 5 pm in [a town in southwest Washington state]. I lived in the country with my parents . . . on a wood plank fence were two of the biggest bird-like creatures I could ever imagine! I almost crashed my bike! They were about 50 ft from me; the first thing I noticed was their heads, then I thought this can’t be! Could they be dinosaurs? . . ."
Bat-Winged Creature Seen by Family in Washington State
In the first email, the witness reported: 
We live in the Pacific Northwest on many acres of mostly tree covered land with a creek.  We have seen and heard a strange nocturnal, bat-like creature.  This thing is huge, light grey, skin with no fur, feathers or scales.  It silently swoops down at you with giant bat wings.  It makes a sound like a jungle monkey or bird, thus we refer to it as the monkey bird. . . .
There were two of them together and they seemed fearless of me when they swooped down at me more than once and returned way up to the top of the highest trees.  I couldn’t get a look at the faces or eyes, mainly the huge grey bat-wings approximately 4′ span .are what I could see.  They seem to show up every summer always after dusk anytime through the night.  Locals don’t seem to know about them. . . .
The witness reported back:
Thank you for checking with your colleague.  Are the owl wings shaped like bat wings?  Do they cling to the sides of the trees?  Do they make a sound like “Hooooowhahhhhhh, aaahooooowahhhh!  with the wah like the rolling of your tongue?   Also the skin on the chest and wings was grey, mottled with some brownish color like a Mexican hairless dogs skin, and it had like visible blood veins kind of like protruding on the skin area.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Live Pterosaurs in New Mexico

Considering the rather low human population of the state of New Mexico, a respectable number of pterosaur sightings have been reported, and a television news show included at least one of those sightings.

Giant Pterosaur in New Mexico
“I live in central N.M.. Fourteen years ago, in [Socorro], N.M., me and a close friend . . . were hiking during the midday . . . and something blocked the sun . . . We both looked up to see . . . a large flying animal.
“It had a 20-30 foot wingspan and was about the same length long. It had a long tail with [a] seeming spike at the end. Its head was very pterodactyl shape with a fluted back pointy head. It glided at about 700 feet . . . and [it landed] somewhere on the southern expanse of Magdalena Mountains.”
Another Eyewitness of Pterosaur in New Mexico

A report attributed to the cryptozoologist Phillip O'Donnell (whether or not he interviewed this eyewitness) involves a pterosaur in New Mexico:
"Ron Monteleone was driving near Maxwell, New Mexico, early one morning in June of 1972 . . . Suddenly he saw a twenty-five to thirty-foot pteranodon-like creature fly out a ravine.”
That "pterdanodon," if the sighting is genuine, may be the same type of pterosaur seen by an eyewitness in a Southern California desert.

Pterosaur in the Anza Borrago State Park, California
"We were sitting in the late afternoon shade of a ridge . . . enjoying the solitude and peace and quiet of the desert when it passed over. . . . It was soaring along the side of a plateau not far from us. . . . I remember saying ‘. . . that looks just like a Taradactyl!’ . . . it had to have been [a] lot larger than an eagle, maybe three times larger. . . . the face . . . seemed to be narrow and mostly beak. . . . It did not have a tail. But it did have a nub where a tail would be."

How are sightings in the United States related to those in the southwest Pacific? How do some apparent nocturnal pterosaurs pertain to bats, and how are bats irrelevant? How could modern living pterosaurs have escaped scientific notice? These mysteries have slept in the dark, beyond the knowledge of almost all Americans, even beyond our wildest dreams (although the reality of some pterosaurs is a living nightmare to some bats). These mysteries have slept . . . until now.

Buy your own copy of the second edition of Live Pterosaurs in America.
A nonfiction cryptozoology book

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pterosaur in Australia

In the summer of 2010, I received an email from a lady in Australia. After doing some online research, Kathy was surprised at how many eyewitnesses had seen what she had seen: a giant pterosaur.

Mount Coolum National Park is north of Brisbane, Queensland (east coast of Australia).
We saw it at Mt Coolum Sunshine Coast . . . I was [driving] towards the ocean . . . . We heard . . . the swoosh noise. (It is a modern car; the windows were up, so that is a loud sound) . . . [we saw] a black shape coming from the trees; the next thing we saw was one wing over the windscreen. It crossed our path . . . I couldn't see the road for a moment, just wing covering the entire windscreen. The body was over the car and it's other wing, over the back . . . we could not see the body . . . [only] the wing: bat like leather, veins and leather stretched over a bone structure. That was dinosaur era.
This thing was bigger than us in every way. I was happy to have my 13 year old daughter home safely, I can tell you.!!! When we told my brother the story, we both moved our arms the same. We saw it flap it's wing once: swoosh . . . I have looked around Mt Coolum for it's home. I believe that is where its home is . . . It was heading from Coolum to the Mountain, like bats do at night. It was around 8.30 at night when we saw it.
This encounter may have been with a flying creature similar to the one seen in Perth, Australia, in 1997, even though the sightings were on opposite sides of the continent. Both apparent pterosaurs were huge, large enough to be considered potentially dangerous to humans. Neither the Perth flying creature nor the Queensland flying creature could reasonably be construed to have been any bird or bat classified by modern Western science.

Giant Pterosaurs in Australia (East Coast: Queensland)
During his farm chores, between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., he [a boy of about twelve years old] forgot something and had to backtrack. . . . he saw a large creature with wings . . . on the roof of the shed, just above the door where he had recently been standing.
. . . the boy had a brief view of the body and wings of the creature. It was larger than an average man six feet tall, with wings that folded to the side and back, reminiscent of bat wings.
Dragons or Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs
Many citizens in developed nations of Europe and North America would assume that traditional beliefs in universal extinction are valid for all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs; but the eyewitnesses know better.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Response to Dale Drinnon

In a post by Dale Drinnon, I was glad to see specific details in critical reports of apparent pterosaurs (Frontiers of Zoology, March 3, 2011, post), but I was a little surprised at how he emphasized an idea about how a modern pterosaur should not appear. In "Ropens, Pterosaurian Sightings And Manta Rays," Drinnon said, "There is a problem in all of these sightings . . . in that the body conformation is NOT what you would expect of a giant Pterosaur." I suggest that insistence on strict conformity with his precise expections are unreasonable. (See the Ropens site on a giant pterosaur.)

Don't confuse two sources of knowledge. The limited knowledge we have of pterosaurs from fossils is not at all the same knowledge that we have from eyewitness reports of modern pterosaurs. If he were more precise, he might say something like this: "Fossils of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs are small, in general, compared with fossils of Pterodactyloid pterosaurs." Of course. Who would disagree with that? But Drinnon has come up with an idea that if pterosaurs were still living, we would expect them to be either non-giants or non-Rhamphorhynchoids, not giant Rhamphoryhynchoids, and that sightings must conform to our expectations. He does not tell us how he arrived at that conclusion, only that "you would not expect" eyewitness reports to be as they are. (See a site about "extinction" and pterosaur fossils)

A serious problem becomes obvious when we consider what he has done with that idea. He uses it to cast doubt on all eyewitness reports that involve a large or giant long-tailed pterosaur or apparent pterosaur. But what would happen to science if all observations were judged by what we had previously expected, and all data involving the unexpected were immediately dismissed? That might appear to be potentially good news for college students at the poverty level, for science textbooks would never again need to be revised, for all scientific knowledge would be declared completed, with no new discoveries allowed.

Modern pterosaurs need not be precisely like what we have so far discovered in fossils. Many species may have lived without leaving any fossils. Many more may have left fossils that we have not yet discovered. Why should those species be exactly like those that have left fossils that we have already discovered? I see no reason for Dale Drinnon to be so dogmatic about what a modern pterosaur might be like.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Another Pterosaur in Cuba

Until this year, Eskin Kuhn's sighting of two long-tailed pterosaurs in Cuba appeared to be a one-eyewitness encounter; perhaps those giant Rhamphorhynchoids were lost, flying over the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base by accident, being native to Central America, not Cuba. But two days ago I spoke by phone to Patty Carson: Eskin Kuhn is no longer alone in witnessing a long-tailed pterosaur at Guantanamo Bay.

Modern Pterosaur in Cuba
We were walking down near the boat yards, headed home. . . . We were walking from the boat yards toward home, but still closer to the boat yards, to where it was sandy underfoot, sparse scrub vegetation around four feet tall . . . We were walking through that scrub area, and suddenly it sat up, as if it had been eating something or resting. The head and upper part of its body, about a third of the wings at the joint (tips still held down) showed. . . . right in front of us about thirty feet away. All of us froze for about five seconds, then it leaned to its left and took off with a fwap fwap fwap sound . . . and flew to its left and disappeared behind trees and terrain.
Two Pterosaur Sightings in Cuba
Very recently another eyewitness, a lady living in California, has come forward, supporting the U.S. Marine’s testimony with her own sighting report. Patty Carson observed a single pterosaur, about six years before the sighting by Kuhn, but was disbelieved for decades and unaware that anyone else, other than the ones with her at the Guantanamo Bay installation in around 1965, had seen anything similar.
Pterosaurs at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
In our phone conversation, Patty explained to me that . . . the wings were like bat wings, in a way, but not at all transparent. She is sure of the structure at the end of the tail (what I call a “vein” or “flange”) and estimates the “diamond” was about five inches long and about three inches wide.
There appears to me to be no coincidence that both Patty Carson and Eskin Kuhn saw a long-tailed pterosaur at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the middle of the twentieth century. Patty told me that the sketch drawn by Kuhn was very similar to what she had seen, especially the head and body. She did feel that the tail might have been drawn shorter and the wings larger, however.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ghost Lights

What causes ghost lights? With no clear definition, any strange light seen at night could be labeled "ghost light." We need to examine specific sightings and do so with open minds.

This post is not about ghosts or beliefs in spirits that may haunt various location in this world; the subject is still "live pterosaurs." I don't suggest most reports of spook lights are sightings of featherless flying creatures that are not bats; I suggest some of them, perhaps a small percentage, are probably precisely that. We need to examine each sighting of a "ghost light" and each sighting of an apparent live pterosaur, for truth resides in the individual encounters experienced by individual humans.

A recent sighting involved two women who, on one night, saw two pterosaurs in the Caribbean, during their ocean cruise (no drinking was involved). The two creatures were flying together, and both were glowing. Is such a thing possible in the Caribbean, in modern times? Well, Eskin Kuhn saw two pterosaurs flying together at the Guantanamo Bay military station in 1971, and that U.S. Marine has maintained, for decades, the truthfulness of his report. That earlier sighting was in clear daylight, with no glowing, but it does support the idea that two "pterodactyls" can fly together in the Caribbean.

A recent sightings involved an apparent Pteranodon. The late Scott Norman (a cryptozoologist who recently passed away from naturnal causes) testified that he had seen the large flying creature late at night as it flew nearby. The head of the creature was at least five feet long, and he compared it with that of a Pteranodon. How does that relate to ghost lights? He was searching the sky where many reports indicate glowing flying creatures often fly, apparently catching the bats that are much more common in this secret location in the United States.

I have written a book (Searching for Ropens) about the glowing ropen of Papua New Guinea, a flying creature I believe to be a giant Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur. Some natives, in some of the cultures in this southwest Pacific area, associate this large flying creature with the idea that it is both physical and a spirit. Even in this remote part of the world, some people associate the bioluminescent glow of a live pterosaur with a story of a ghost or spirit.

In southwest Texas, the Marfa Lights are sometimes called "dancing devils," for they sometimes appear to dance, with indications that some kind of intelligence is involved. Sightings of live pterosaurs are relatively common in Texas. An example is in order.

Pterosaur in Texas
“I was outside my apartment building . . . talking to my brother. . . . on several occasions, noticed bats flying right near our heads . . . Neither my brother or I was prone to being scared by anything outside at night. This night was different. . . . We noticed something flying around across the road .  . . the creature was flying 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 . . . The wingspan was huge, anywhere from 6-10 feet across."
That sighting of an apparent live pterosaur in Texas did not involve any glowing, but it illustrates the point: It is one of many sighting reports supporting the hypothesis that nocturnal pterosaurs live in Texas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marfa Lights and Temperature

The CE-III Marfa Lights, according to years of research and observations by James Bunnell, are more likely to be seen on nights that are not cold, especially when the temperature is above fifty degrees Fahrenheit, not that they always avoid the cold, for on winter nights they occasionally come out when it's below freezing.

How does a preference for non-cold weather relate to flying predators in Texas? In this high desert area of southwest Texas, it's probably easier for the predators to catch food when it's not very cold, for small animals are more likely to be underground when the temperature drops below freezing at night.

Marfa Lights Like Warmer Nights
That coorelates well with nocturnal hunting by predators that prefer reasonable temperatures, obviously. Could this be related to ground temperature in a way supporting some kind of energy from the earth? Bunnell’s data does not smile on that conjecture, for when the total sightings are subtotaled by season of the year it shows 43% in the Spring, hardly a season to be noted for high ground temperature. By comparison, only 19% of the sightings were in the summer.
The truly mysterious mystery lights of Marfa, labeled "ML" by Bunnell, show themselves only a few times a year; they have been photographed by his automatic cameras only 52 times in eight years, and some of those sightings involved more than one per night. Therefore, we are not likely to be able to learn much from breaking down data annually, comparing one year with another. Nevertheless, the overall data fits perfectly well with the hypothesis that the CE Marfa Lights are caused by bioluminescent flying predators that intelligently hunt as a group and usually visit different areas of southwest Texas on different nights: We would expect intelligent predators to move around from night to night, for their prey (be it bats, snakes, rabbits, mice, or all of the above) may be scattered across a large area of high desert.

How much we owe to James Bunnell for accumulating so much data over so many years!

Marfa Lights and James Bunnell
Although Mr. Bunnell may not yet have accepted the possibility that CE-III mystery lights near Marfa, Texas, are from bioluminescent flying predators, his enormous contributions, documented in his recent book, have made a wonderful contribution.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Marfa Light News in Texas

New research strengthens the interpretation that the more mysterious lights flying around southwest Texas (and called "Marfa Lights" although other lights have been so called) are made by glowing predators that fly near Marfa. Here are some sources giving details.

Marfa Lights in Texas
The cryptozoological possibility seems weird, but there are similarities with the ropen lights of Papua New Guinea, and there the lights are said to be nocturnal flying creatures described like giant Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs: long-tailed ropens.
Marfa Ghost Lights, Creatures of Habit
How are nocturnal Marfa Lights (in particular the CE mystery lights described by James Bunnell in his book Hunting Marfa Lights) like creatures of habit? In the limited area where Bunnell’s cameras record them, they usually remain absent for many weeks, sometimes many months, before returning. If one or more of the cameras records them on a Monday, for example, they will not be seen on the following Thursday or Friday or Saturday or Sunday . . . But the exceptions, those nights in which they do not stay away for many days or weeks or months, are astonishing, for sometimes the cameras record them on successive nights, and sometimes at about the same time of night.
Intelligent Marfa Lights
Hiking in this part of Texas, a college professor got lost late one afternoon. Being lightly dressed, he realized the danger of being stranded in the cold high desert at night. Soon after sunset, he saw a light, and assuming it was a ranch light, followed it for awhile, until he found that it had led him back to his truck. Then the light went out.
A Scientific Look at Marfa Lights
To be brief, the group of bioluminescent predators probably had a successful hunt on the night of July 14th, so they left their sleeping quarters (perhaps a cave) at the same time on July 15th, soon after sunset, and flew to the same general area where they had success the previous night. Fortunately Bunnell’s camera recorded the activity on both those nights.
Marfa Lights - Pterosaur Connection
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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Occam's Razor Cuts Living Pterosaurs Critics

How does Occam's Razor relate to theory and hypothesis, and how does it relate to living pterosaurs? Norman Huntington (in his post "Occam's Razor and Marfa Lights") explains:
Isaac Newton said that "we are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances." Perhaps a definition more popular to modern scientists would be something like this: “when comparing two competing theories or hypotheses that make the same predictions, the simpler one is given priority.” That does not mean we should automatically flush down the loser. We simply give more time and attention to the winner.
James Bunnell (author of Hunting Marfa Lights) makes it clear that the CE lights are nothing like car headlights, even when the well-publicized night mirage effects are taken into account. In particular, the CE-III lights have sometimes been triangulated and tracked: They travel just above the bushes (I prefer the word "fly") where there is no road or highway, in one instance in a straight line for eleven miles. Car headlights differ so greatly from CE lights that they do not even deserve a place in the competition: They have been eliminated in the preliminary round. (Unfortunately, some blog writers and commenters who enjoy ridicule, like Richard Connelly, are oblivious to this.)

So how does Occam's Razor cut critics of investigations of living pterosaurs? One case involves interpretations of Marfa Lights, in particular the ones that have caught the attention of scientists like James Bunnell and Edson Hendricks, the truly mysterious CE-III flying lights. Huntington's long post on this subject is worth a brief summary here:

Of the four hypotheses offered by Bunnell, the best is number four: Electromagnetic Vortexes. The other hypotheses have too many problems or a problem that is too serious. The problem with the fourth relates to Occam's Razor: It is too complex, requiring two simultaneous things that are both questionable; it's quite possible that neither one exists in a way that would cause those strange lights, yet both must be present. Newton would scoff.

Compare that hypothesis by Bunnell (the best one that he mentioned in his book, and by the way, he admits the speculative nature of it) with my hypothesis of a group of bioluminescent flying predators. It also involves two elements: those flying predators and their prey. But mice, bats, snakes, and other small animals are well known in southwest Texas. There is only one questionable element: nocturnal glowing predators that are unclassified in biology. In that sense, at least, Occam's Razor cuts down the Electromagnetic-Vortexes hypothesis, for both of those parts are questionable.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Who's Who Investigating Living Pterosaurs

I just noticed a comment on Facebook's "Living Pterosaurs."
"Pretty interesting. Why can't we really prove if they are really 'ALIVE.' They can't be so elusive, can they?" (from Bob Bc)
To answer that, we need to delve into specifics. But I feel a need to delve only an inch into answering this question, for we need to understand who has been involved in living-pterosaur investigations and how they have been involved and who else needs to become involved. That will answer what this commenter really needs to know.

How Elusive?

Well, Bob Bc, how elusive is "so elusive?" We now have eyewitnesses from around the world, persons from various languages, various cultures, and various religious beliefs. I now have reports of modern pterosaurs from five continents; in many cases I have personally interviewed eyewitnesses (though often by email rather than the preferred in-person or by-phone). And live pterosaurs have been observed by more eyewitnesses than just those who have come to my attention, no doubt. I would ask, "Why, in Western countries, are eyewitnesses of live pterosaurs so elusive, in that few reports reach the major media?" The answers are obvious, but this is getting too far off the subject.

Who Has Done What?

Who are the active investigators of living pterosaurs? Let's consider the obvious names, and what those men have done so far.

Paul Nation has gone on more living-pterosaur expeditions in Papua New Guinea than anyone else (four times), with the possible exception of about one or two investigators who live in that remote tropical wilderness. His 2006 expedition, deep in the mainland, resulted in video footage of the apparent bioluminescence of two indavas. Nation is an explorer who has actively searched for ropens and indavas.

Garth Guessman has been to Papua New Guinea at least twice, searching for living pterosaurs. He has also conducted important interviews with eyewitnesses, including Jim Blume and Duane Hodgkinson. He has also given lectures for creationist organizations.

David Woetzel accompanied Guessman on the second 2004 expedition on Umboi Island (a few weeks after my expedition there). He has also written a paper for a scientific journal, an article about living pterosaurs in history and in the present. He has accompanied exploreres on an expedition in central Africa, as they searched for the dinosaur Mokele-Mbembe.

Jim Blume, a Baptist missionary and small-plane pilot in Papua New Guinea, has spoken with many natives who know of the large flying creatures that the investigators feel sure are living pterosaurs. He has also assisted the cryptozoologists in expeditions from the 1990's into the early twenty-first century. His help with interpreting between languages, flying explorers to remote areas, and interviewing eyewitnesses has made a wonderful contribution to these investigations.

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have less direct-experience in Papua New Guinea than some of my associates, with only one expedition, which I led in 2004. My work mostly involves writing about the encounters eyewitnesses have had with living pterosaurs. I have written two nonfiction books (each published in two editions, with more books on the way), one paper in a scientific journal, and hundreds of web pages and blog posts, not to mention comments on others' blogs. On rare occasions I may visit the location of a sighting.

A few investigators remain anonymous, with some of them searching for living pterosaurs in recent years and with exciting success. A few of these cryptozoologists have succeeded in observing the form and wing-shape of what we feel sure are nocturnal living pterosaurs, notwithstanding clear photographs and video footage are more elusive than the flying creatures. Nevertheless, we have now reached the stage in which at least some of those who search for living pterosaurs find and observe them for brief moments, at night. The location or locations are secret; even the names of a country or countries are unreported. But progress continues, and I feel sure the day will come when details can be revealed and proof  of living pterosaurs, provided.

Let each of us do our part

How does this relate to the comment by Bob Bc? To those of us most actively involved, the reality of living pterosaurs has pretty much been proven, for we no longer have any significant doubt. But the less people become involved, the more they can doubt. Get involved.

I don't suggest readers of my books and blog posts rush off to a jungle. But each person needs to put to use the human mind, that gift each individual is given. Trust no dogmatic proclamation of universal extinction without evidence for that extreme idea. Pterosaurs of the past lived in many species, and only one or two species living in the present shoots down the "universal" part of extinction.

So who else should become involved? You, even if it is only in reading more eyewitness reports, and thinking more carefully and with an open mind to more truth, even if it means allowing yourself to become convinced, and admit that conviction, that at least one species of pterosaur is still living.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Marfa Lights in Summary

With so many recent posts and pages about the predator-conjecture for Marfa Lights, it's now timely to summarize them.

Satire and Marfa Lights
Prompted by a press release about a new interpretation of the Marfa Lights of Texas, and the publication of a nonfiction cryptozoology book with a chapter devoted to those strange ghost lights, the blogger ridiculed the idea that the source of those lights are bioluminescent flying predators that may even be living pterosaurs. I wrote both the press release and the book it promotes.
Marfa Lights, Pterodactyls, and Other Lights
Evelyn Cheesman, a British biologist who is now known as the first woman to be a curator at the Regent's Park Zoo in London, witnessed strange lights during one of her expeditions in the southwest Pacific. She wrote about them in her 1935 book The Two Roads of Papua. But in her lifetime she never realized the potential significance of those lights to biology. In the early twenty-first century, a few cryptozoologists began suggesting the "Cheesman Lights" were made by flying creatures related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea.
Now the Marfa Lights are being evaluated for their potential as flying predators, and bioluminescent ones at that, similar to the ropen lights. All of them, including the Cheesman Lights, are probably bioluminescent flying predators, and eyewitness sightings in daylight indicate at least some of them are large living pterosaurs, called by some Americans "pterodactyls."
Marfa Lights and Car Headlights
There is adequate studies to make this clear: Night mirages of car headlights can sometimes appear mysterious. But that is not the point. Other lights that occasionally fly around this part of southwest Texas appear quite different; they are not mirages of car headlights.
Dunning, in his post "The Marfa Lights: A Real American Mystery," falters in two ways when he sells car headlights or exchanges them for mysterious Marfa Lights. . . .

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monster is Frigate Bird? Really Absurd!

In July of 2007, I wrote a short Living-Pterosaur Newsletter article about a Youtube video of a Frigate bird that was suggested as an image of a ropen of Papua New Guinea. I believed and still believe that this mistaken identification of a Frigate bird for a ropen is detrimental to serious living-pterosaur investigations. I have tried to make this point known: Those birds have very little resemblance to the ropen.

More recently, I noticed a post on Ghost Theory (August 13, 2010) that confirmed my concern, for the writer brings up both Wikipedia's "ropen" information and that Youtube video, and most of the commenters on that Ghost Theory post seemed to think that recognition of the Frigate bird on that video disproves, or discredits the idea, that a pterosaur-like ropen exists.

I'll examine one of those comments (by "PNG Wantok") after referencing another post:

Frigate Birds and Freak-Like Nerds
On the Ghost Theory blog, in the post “Caught on Video: Dinosaur or Common Bird?” Youtube videos of an obvious Frigate bird are displayed as if new evidence. It is neither new nor detrimental to objective evaluation of serious investigations of reports of living pterosaurs.
As to the comment by "PNG Wantok," I'll first explain his pen name: In Papua New Guinea (PNG) one of the three national languages is Tok Pisin; in that language, a common word is "wantok," which means something like "those who speak my language."

He says, "Knowing the hunting prowess of the Papuan people, if there was any animal out there they could shoot or trap, they would have by now and there would be plenty of bones available as evidence." But there are major problems with his reasoning that there is no such creature as a ropen.

Starting with "bones available as evidence," how are new species discovered deep in the interior of the island of New Guinea? (Keep in mind, this is one of the largest islands in the world, and one of the least explored areas in the world.) If I understand correctly, scientists do not first examine bones given them by natives and then search for the creatures, finding living ones; at least that has not been the pattern in recent years when new species of frogs and other small animals are discovered.

But a critical problem lies in the assumption that an animal like the ropen must be something the natives "could shoot or trap." Years of cryptozoological expeditions in Papua New Guinea have revealed much about this nocturnal creature and about the natives who talk about it: This creature is not hunted but feared, and some accounts involve humans being killed and carried away, not necessarily in that order.

And how would bones of ropens ever get into the hands of Western scientists if those creatures were both reclusive and uncommon? Even if natives in some remote village could get their hands on the bones, how would those bones come to the notice of Westerners? Many of those villagers have little or no contact with the outside world, and even if they did, how would they know which bones would be of special interest to outsiders?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Marfa Lights and James Bunnell

It seems odd to me that Wikipedia makes almost no mention of the name "James Bunnell" under the heading of "Marfa Lights." What scientist has done more research and conducted more searching for Marfa Lights than he has, with at least two nonfiction books on the subject? What other investigator of ghost lights in southwest Texas has been granted permission to set up remote automatic cameras on the private property of ranchers?

Bunnell's recent book, Hunting Marfa Lights, deserves attention here, with a quotation from Amazon:
Hunting Marfa Lights reports the results of an eight-year investigation (2001-2009) into mysterious lights seen near Marfa, a small West Texas town. This is, to date, the only long-term, extensive study of these phenomena. Reports of unusual lights east of Marfa extend back to the 1800s. Based on data collected, the author finds that while most of the observed lights in this area can be explained, about 3 percent are truly mysterious and of unknown origin. In addition to frequent on-site observations and photography, the author installed three automated monitoring stations equipped with a total of nine cameras, to collect nightly video records. Included in this 311-page book are 34 firsthand accounts from eyewitnesses and more than 120 illustrations and photographs. Of particular interest are compelling stories told by people, including the author, who have encountered these mysterious lights and have been astonished and amazed by the experience.
Although Mr. Bunnell may not yet have accepted the possibility that CE-III mystery lights near Marfa, Texas, are from bioluminescent flying predators, his enormous contributions, documented in his recent book, have made a wonderful contribution. That said, much has been written, online, about the pterosaur possibility:

Bats and Bioluminescent Predators
. . . 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.
Are Marfa Lights Headlights?
To the best of my knowledge, no scientist who has studied or researched or observed any lights around Marfa, Texas, (including James Bunnell, Edson Hendricks, and Norman Huntington) objects to the idea that some spectators at the Marfa Lights Viewing Platform sometimes observe car headlights and have assumed that they had seen "Marfa Lights." . . . But that is not the point. Other lights that occasionally fly around this part of southwest Texas appear quite different; they are not mirages of car headlights.
Marfa Lights of Texas
The cryptozoological possibility seems weird, but there are similarities with the ropen lights of Papua New Guinea, and there the lights are said to be nocturnal flying creatures described like giant Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs: ropens.
"Marfa Lights Solved" - Is it a Giant Bird?
Did those students of the University of Texas at Dallas really solve a controversial mystery? I think not. Ask the right question in the beginning, for it can lead us into enlightenment; asking the wrong question (even if answered correctly) can lead us into ignorance. This appears to be a critical error that doomed those students to failure, for they seemed to have formulated a question like, “Can car headlights near Marfa, Texas, appear mysterious?”
Marfa Light Madness?
Leaning heavily on sarcasm does more than guarantee a writer's work will be forgotten. It puts the writer's opinion in doubt, for reasoning should come first. The person who wrote the above critism may have had something worthwhile in mind, before writing; but the comment itself throws the possibility of deep thinking into doubt.
The overall evidences, from the truly mysterious (and somewhat rare) Marfa Lights (not the night-mirages of car headlights, which are common) suggest intelligent nocturnal predators, bioluminescent, and possibly related to the ropen or indava of Papua New Guinea.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Are Marfa Lights Headlights?

A recent post on Modern Pterosaur ("Scientific Skepticism and Marfa Lights") mentions only briefly the car-headlights explanation for the mystery lights of southwest Texas. That post was in response to another post, one by Brian Dunning, on Skeptoid ("The Marfa Lights: A Real American Mystery"). I recommend the first post, not the one by Dunning.

To the best of my knowledge, no scientist who has studied or researched or observed any lights around Marfa, Texas, (including James Bunnell, Edson Hendricks, and Norman Huntington) object to the idea that some spectators at the Marfa Lights Viewing Platform sometimes observe car headlights and have assumed that they had seen "Marfa Lights." There is adequate studies to make this clear: Night mirages of car headlights can sometimes appear mysterious. But that is not the point. Other lights that occasionally fly around this part of southwest Texas appear quite different; they are not mirages of car headlights.

Dunning, in his post "The Marfa Lights: A Real American Mystery," falters in two ways when he sells car headlights or exchanges them for mysterious Marfa Lights. But his double trip-up can be overlooked for the moment, for the research of James Bunnell calls for a closer look. What about the strange lights that greatly differ from car headlights?

On pages 168-169 of Bunnell's book Hunting Marfa Lights (available at a discount on Amazon), we find the definition of "CE ML." They "exhibit chemical or combustion-like properties with electromagnetic attributes." Bunnell says that those Mystery Lights (ML) "are truly mysterious and do not fit into Mirage . . . categories." He should know about chemical and combustion-like properties, being literally a rocket scientist.

Bunnell's remote automatic cameras have recorded amazing flying light behaviors, including one flight at low altitude for eleven miles. This kind of ML he classifies as "CE-III." Some flights have been obviously unrelated to any automobiles, traveling where there are no roads or highways. But also telling is the nature of the light from these flying things, for a series of explosions seems to be involved, whether or not it relates to propulsion (which I discount). Not just flight directions or explosive characteristics distinguish these lights from car headlights, however; CE-III's can fly around in colors nothing like any car headlights.

Now back to Dunning. How did he falter regarding car headlights? First, he assumed that if strange lights existed around Marfa before the advent of cars, somebody would have written about it in some permanent form before any cars appeared. He seems to be confused about the significance of various kinds of evidence. If somebody had written, in a book, before there were any cars, about mysterious lights around Marfa, it would be clear evidence against the car headlight hypothesis. But the absence of an old written record does not make second-hand reports of nineteen-century sightings of mysterious lights worthless; it just makes it less decisive against car headlights. Evidence is rarely considered either proof positive or worthless; most evidence is somewhere between those extremes.

Dunning also trips up on a brief study (much briefer than Bunnell's investigations) by a group of physics students. Their conclusion was not that all lights ever seen as mysterious around Marfa are from car headlights. They concluded that the lights that they had personally seen were car headlights. But the CE-III and similar non-mirage lights seen by Bunnell and other scientists do not appear every night like the predictable car traffic on a nearby highway; they appear only a few times each year. Apparently, the CE-III lights did not show up when the college students were looking at car headlights on those two or three nights: unlucky for the students, but they were apparently unaware of their bad luck.

This post contains the opinions of the author, Jonathan Whitcomb.

See also the post about Marfa Lights and Pterodactyls

See also Ropens (live pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea)

See also Marfa Lights in the Houston Chronicle

See also Marfa Lights not Car Headlights in Texas

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Are Marfa Lights "Pterodactyl" Lights?

On the blog post "Ghost Lights Versus Science?" it says, "It may seem like science is pitted against the mystery of those Marfa Lights of southwest Texas, but in truth scientific investigations are making progress in unraveling the mystery, notwithstanding one hypothesis that makes the result appear to be science fiction." It then tells us about the research and searches of James Bunnell, a scientist who has been unable, after years of work, to explain what is happening with those mysterious lights in southwest Texas.

Other scientists have tried to tackle the mystery, with no success, notwithstanding their many conjectures about things like earth lights and geologic features that have some kind of energy release. Some of those lights fly around together in ways so strange and complex that local ranchers and others refer to them as "dancing devils" or "ghost lights." They behave in ways suggesting some general intelligent cause or individual purpose for each light in a group.

Evelyn Cheesman, a British biologist who is now known as the first woman to be a curator at the Regent's Park Zoo in London, witnessed strange lights during one of her expeditions in the southwest Pacific. She wrote about them in her 1935 book The Two Roads of Papua. But in her lifetime she never realized the potential significance of those lights to biology. In the early twenty-first century, a few cryptozoologists began suggesting the "Cheesman Lights" were made by flying creatures related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea.

Now the Marfa Lights are being evaluated for their potential as flying predators, and bioluminescent ones at that, similar to the ropen lights. All of them, including the Cheesman Lights, are probably bioluminescent flying predators, and eyewitness sightings in daylight indicate at least some of them are large living pterosaurs, called by some Americans "pterodactyls."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Marfa Lights Keep Flying

Comparing Marfa Lights with ropen lights may be speculative, but the potential for a dramatic scientific discovery is thrilling. What at potential! Living bioluminescent pterosaurs in Texas! Even if the flying creatures turn out to be something other than pterosaurs, it would be a wonderful discovery of such incredible glowing flying predators.

Headlights and Hard Heads Knocking Marfa Lights
So why do some blog writers and blog-post commenters still insist that all mysterious lights seen around Marfa are from car headlights? What could it be other than careless thinking? For those who would like to really learn the truth about what is known and about the possibility (however probable or improbable) of Marfa Lights coming from large bioluminescent flying predators, read one or both of these nonfiction books: Hunting Marfa Lights by James Bunnell and Live Pterosaurs in America, second edition, by Jonathan David Whitcomb. Both books are the result of years of research and investigation.
Science and Marfa Lights
. . . scientists have tried to know and understand Marfa Lights: observing, testing photographing, and theorizing. Interesting ideas have emerged; none but one, however, seems to come close to adequately explaining the apparent intellegence associated with those flying lights, the mystery lights of Marfa, Texas.
Ropen Chasing Ropen in Marfa, Texas
I'll call it the "Huntington Hypothesis" (HH), this conjecture that the May 8, 2003, sighting by James Bunnell involved one flying predator that was chasing another one for many miles. Consider this carefully; I see no problem with this hypothesis. It involves a male flying predator chasing off a rival male, in a chase that lasted eleven miles.
Pterodactyls in Texas (including Marfa)
With mammals the size of houses diving deep under the surface of the oceans, with not-quite-so-large mammals having noses many feet long, with birds that can swim, with spiders that catch small birds, with so many wonderful forms of life on this earth, why not pterodactyls in Texas?