Dr. Prothero Attacks Living Pterosaurs

Readers of a recent post by Dr. Donald Prothero may think that I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have single-handedly deceived ignorant people into believing that pterosaurs are still alive. The paleontologist seems upset that my web pages dominate Google searches (and they used to dominate, years ago, on words like ropen.) Let’s look deeper.

Why use the Words “Apparent Pterosaur?”

Google “apparent pterosaur” (within quotes) and all nine non-image pages on the first Google-page are my publications, at least on November 28, 2014. What other search terms result in such a domination by my writings? My postings do not even come close to that dominance with the following terms used:

  • ropen
  • pterosaur
  • pterodactyl

In fact, today the word ropen brings up “Don’t Get Strung Along by the Ropen Myth,” on the top non-image first-page position, and that article is extremely critical of living-pterosaur ideas. In addition, pterodactyl did not bring up even one of my posts on the first-page listing on Google.

So why do my blog posts and other web pages dominate when googling apparent pterosaur within quotation marks? I often use those words when referring to an eyewitness report of a flying creature. In other words, I try to be objective and allow for the possibility that a particular encounter was not from observing a living pterosaur.

Bulverism in a post by Prothero

A major problem with Dr. Prothero’s post is in the idea that I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have used deception in promoting my ideas, thus flooding the internet with my supposed error in believing in modern pterosaurs. I will not link to “Fake Pterosaurs and Sock Puppets,” but it’s easily found. In reality, I used two pen names, in a minority of my writings, to allow readers to learn about eyewitness sightings without becoming distracted by my common name, which had been used in ridicule years earlier. I used those two pen names because of earlier false accusations about dishonesty; I did not use them to deceive.

Sock puppetry accusations pull readers’ attention away from the point, which is eyewitness testimony. Prothero has fallen into bulverism, but in a more pernicious form than the one described by C. S. Lewis decades ago.

Men of action, who search remote jungles for modern pterosaurs but who return home admitting they saw no clear pterosaur—they do not lie about their failures. They do, however, tell the truth about what natives tell them. Men who go nowhere to look for any living thing—they may be least qualified to accuse men of action of deceiving.

Objective Investigation of Reports of Living Pterosaurs

Getting back to the words apparent pterosaur, an individual eyewitness of one sighting of a flying creature can be mistaken in thinking a bird or bat or unknown non-pterodactyl was a pterosaur. Dr. Prothero and I agree on that. But that paleontologist appears to be completely ignorant of the overall sighting report details, in particular the similarities that cross cultural boundaries and cross religious differences.

Long tails on featherless flying creatures dominate reports from around the world, even in Western countries where short-tailed Pterodactyloid pterosaurs dominate in fictional television and in films. I have found practically no difference between American sighting reports and in the reports from third-world countries where cultures and traditions are greatly different.

Pterodactyloid pterosaur clip art

Common kind of image seen by Americans in fiction (no long tail)

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Compare the above with the sketch by Eskin Kuhn:

two pterosaurs sketched by Eskin KuhnThis is much more like what both Americans and jungle natives actually see

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If a cryptozoologist becomes over-exuberant in trying to persuade the Western world that one or more species of pterosaur is alive, and loses all sense of objectiveness, would that radical person use the phrase “apparent pterosaur” so often that his pages would dominate when a Google search were done with it? Of course not. The point is that I am honestly trying to know and understand the truth about these sightings. I am trying to be objective.

I hope that many readers will come to understand that I have not spent over 10,000 hours, in the past eleven years, on a personal project to deceive people. This is not actually about me, however; it’s coming to that understanding so people can awaken to listen to the eyewitnesses with an open mind. The overall report-details make the case.

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Honesty in Ropen Searching

A different kind of attack has been launched, as an American paleontologist has dismissed the ropen as a “fake” pterosaur and dismissed me, Jonathan Whitcomb, as one who practices deception.

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Whitcomb interviewed on Monster-X Radio

“Maybe, Shane, I should go a little bit into some of the ideas that have been floating around and thrown out by skeptics . . . One of them is about, well, people are just misidentifying flying foxes. That’s one of the oldest: I heard of that way back in 2004; I think that was already an old idea. But this is one of the examples: You see, these seven boys were terrified at this creature that was not a flying fox because they would not have been scared of it. . . .”

Ropen in Papua New Guinea

Hodgkinson continues to give a powerful  testimony of his 1944 encounter with a  huge flying creature that is an obvious live  pterosaur, notwithstanding the Western  dogma about universal extinction.

C. S. Lewis and Bulverism

When someone publishes a web site with a URL that includes the words “stupid” and “lies,”  and the point of the site is to ridicule those who promote the idea of living dinosaurs or living  pterosaurs, “bulverism” probably fits . . .

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"Searching for Ropens and Finding God" - true nonfiction

The quest for discovering modern pterosaurs – nonfiction book

Searching for Ropens and Finding God – fourth edition

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Ropen Expedition Ten Years Ago

Glowing Pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea

I took the flight from Los Angeles International Airport ten years ago tomorrow, to eventually arrive in Papua New Guinea, to search for ropens. How did the living-pterosaur expeditions in those remote tropical rain forests promote awareness that similar flying creatures live in the Americas? That deserves attention.

That expedition in Papua New Guinea required many months of preparation, but when I returned to the United States, early in October of 2004, I was ill prepared for the next few years, when I would get many sighting reports of apparent American ropens. Few persons should have been less shocked than me, to learn that similar flying creatures live in the USA, yet it took some getting use to, for I was still a child of Western culture and our part of this wonderful world, the American part, appears so scientific, so undragonish.

How could it be possible for a real dragon, on any night it chooses, to fly over the Smithsonian castle in Washington D.C.? The most popular science fiction movies show pterodactyls (none of them glowing with any bioluminescence) flying over the most remote tropical rain forests of the planet. Nonetheless, which is more believable:

  1. Dinosaurs and pterosaurs from eggs laid in nests in wilderness areas?
  2. Dinosaurs and pterosaurs extracted from ancient blood in mosquitos?

I choose well-hidden eggs, for no miraculous DNA magic-manipulation is needed for those little darlings to hatch and grow. At least for some species of pterosaurs, it’s much easier to believe in natural nocturnal flying creatures, glowing in the sky and causing ancient people to write about fire-breathing dragons.

Kept in a Corner of Earth or Flying Around the World?

So how exactly do you prevent a large flying creature from spreading out across the globe over a period of thousands of years? You don’t. Some butterflies get blown across a sea or even an ocean on occasion, and some birds navigate across much of the earth, in extraordinary migrations. A large dragon can certainly do the same, and flying dragons have swept across worldwide human cultures, through countless stories, for countless centuries. Don’t even think about trying to hold one of them down on the ground in Papua New Guinea or in any other island or continent in the southwest Pacific.

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Jonathan David Whitcomb in 2004, near Gomlongon Village, Umboi IslandJonathan Whitcomb on Umboi Island

 Sling shots on a table in a hotel in Papua New GuineaSling shots, gifts for villager leaders

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A Glowing Ropen in New Mexico

The moon had already gone behind the trees, by the middle of that night a week ago Monday, so Mr. Slack and his buddy searched the sky for the Andromeda Nebula. This required using a low-magnification eyepiece, fortunately, to locate that galaxy, allowing the amateur astronomer to see the flying creature sweep through the field of view.

Ropen Only Extinct on Wikipedia

Regarding the definition of “ropen,” that encyclopedia-dictionary quotation is outdated. In my nonfiction Searching for Ropens and Finding God, it is defined thus: “A modern pterosaur with Rhamphorhynchoid characteristics.”

Destination Truth Ropen Episode

These great winged beasts — which possess leathery wings, a flanged tail, teeth-lined beaks and razor-sharp claws — are reputedly nocturnal . . .

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Ropen or Pterosaur in New Mexico

An amateur astronomer, standing outside his New Mexico home, about 140 miles west of Lubbock, Texas, saw an apparent bioluminescent nocturnal pterosaur on September 1, 2014. It was gliding across the telescope’s field of view, which was at low magnification for finding the Andromeda Nebula. Michael Slack, of Roswell, New Mexico watched the flying creature both through the eyepiece and by direct observation.

Possible Ropen Bioluminescence

The eyewitness said, “As to there being any ‘lights’ or luminescence…the grayish colored areas of my sketches was a dull grayish brown (Brackish) color that could easily be seen with the naked eye against the night sky. The yellow colored pencil I used in my sketches represents the “Dull” yellowish spotting I saw. On the drawing of the winged creature if you will notice there is some yellow color added…this also represents the area of the creature that looked to me like the most illuminated aspects/parts of the thing combined with the afore mentioned grayish/brown coloring.”

Other Night Sightings of Possible Pterosaurs in Western USA

From the book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (third edition) we read about sightings of strange nocturnal flying creatures:

That report prepared me for an email I received years later, early in 2012, about two men who had seen two huge flying creatures about twenty-five miles to the south, over San Diego [California]. One of the men told me, “It was about 8 pm. . . . it was a really clear night cuzz it had rained the day before. We were standing in the street . . . from the west came this dark object in the sky. It was right over us [90-120 feet high] . . . it looked like a huge bird, it was gliding in the air . . . it turned around and it stood still in the air, it was flapping its wings while it was there. Then . . . came another one . . . as it got close to the other one they both went east.”

From a California Newspaper Article in 1891

[Introduction to Los Angeles Herald article] The Fresno sportsman now goes gunning for pterodactyls. These are dragons who lived in the carboniferous age, but who forgot to get petrified . . .

FRESNO, July 31. The report that two strange dragons with wings have recently appeared in the swamps east of Selma was at first regarded by many as a sen- sational story without foundation in fact, but after different persons at different places had claimed to have seen the strange creatures it began to be thought worth investigating. . . .

The men who live along the swales and sand hollows east and southeast of Selma on the evening of July 13th heard strange sounds in the air just after dark, like the rushing of wings when some large bird passes swiftly through the air overhead. At the same time a cry was heard, resembling that of a swan, though enough different to make it plain it was not a swan . . .

[On another night two men] were surprised to hear a strange, strangling noise in the deep swale under the bridge. In a moment there was a heavy flapping of wings and the two monsters rose slowly from the water and flew so near the men that the wind from their wings was plainly felt.

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Glowing Ropen in New Mexico

The moon had already gone behind the trees, by the middle of that night a week ago Monday, so Mr. Slack and his buddy searched the sky for the Andromeda Nebula. This required using a low-magnification eyepiece, fortunately, to locate that galaxy, allowing the amateur astronomer to see the flying creature sweep through the field of view.

Ropen of Papua New Guinea

Jonathan David Whitcomb, a forensic videographer, interviewed Hodgkinson, in 2004, and found his testimony credible [the sighting itself was in New Guinea in 1944]. In 2005, Garth Guessman, another ropen investigator, in Montana video-taped his own interview with Hodgkinson and the session was analyzed by Whitcomb, who became even more convinced the World War II veteran was telling the truth: The man had seen a ropen.

“Pterodactyl” in Southern States

“I live in central [New Mexico]. Fourteen years ago, in [Socorro], N.M., me and a close friend, who now has a masters in biology, were hiking during the midday sun at [a] box canyon and something blocked the sun for a moment. We both looked up to see what did that and saw a large flying animal.”

Live Pterosaurs in Texas

Getting back to the lady’s encounter northwest of Austin, she told her husband, “It looked like a pterodactyl.” Note that she first was thinking or hoping for a commonplace explanation: a big turkey vulture, only this thing had a long neck and a pointed beak and head. The wingspan was the length of the water trough, six feet, and it was “at least four foot tall.”

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Is the Ropen a “Stupid Fantasy?”

It began after the online publication of a photo of a biology professor from Oregon; he was standing by the Yakima River in Washington state. Professor Peter Beach (who has taught at a small college in the Portland area) was being interviewed by me, Jonathan D. Whitcomb (an American cryptozoology author), on August 6, 2014, with Milt Marcy (also from Portland), another cryptozoologist. The controversy related to what Beach and Marcy believe they may have seen: bioluminescent pterosaurs, perhaps even ropens.

Peter Beach tells Whitcomb about how the light flew up from this tree on night, by the Yakima River in WashingtonPeter Beach explains how the flying light left this tree at night

As this interview became publicized online, another biology professor, this one in Minnesota, became upset and wrote his own blog post, ridiculing the idea of modern pterosaurs. The content of the post by the skeptical professor, however, was weak; it relied on words like “stupid” (in the title) and with “turds” to describe the many writings of a cryptozoologist with whom the Minnesota professor disagrees. I think it would have been more intelligent to rely on reasoning or facts, rather than on bulverism.

The skeptic proclaimed the absence of any evidence for modern pterosaurs (ropen or not) and used his imagination to come up with various faulty motivations for the one that he concentrated on criticizing.

No Evidence for Living Pterosaurs?

Do cryptozoologists really have no evidence for the bioluminescent ropen? It depends on how one defines “evidence.” One thing is certain: There is no evidence of any kind for the universal extinction of all species of pterosaurs.

So what about modern living ones? The great weight of evidence for extant pterosaurs lives in eyewitness testimonies and the statistical analysis of the compiled data from those records. Hoaxes have been eliminated as a significant possibility for the overall case of 128 sighting reports compiled at the end of 2012, by several methods.

In other words, ropen searching and research still lives within the realm of cryptozoology, with no dead or living body of this flying creature to examine in a laboratory or in a zoo; yet scientific methods have been used in examining the eyewitness evidence. Biologists need not worry that cryptozoology is trying to break down a back door or to sneak through a crack in the wall of biology; thus far, it’s just a few scientific tools being borrowed from science, to be used in this narrow field of cryptozoology: Nothing is stolen. When a ropen is caught, dead or alive, it will be brought in through the front door. (Once it’s inside, however, the philosophical case will be opened wide.)

What is a Ropen?

The title of the skeptic’s post was “There are no living pterosaurs, and ‘ropen’ is a stupid fantasy.” So what is the definition for this flying creature whose existence the skeptic-professor in Minnesota disputes? The third edition of my nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God gives it thus: “A modern pterosaur with Rhamphorhynchoid characteristics.” In other words, a long-tailed featherless flying creature that many American non-scientists would call a “pterodactyl.”

Yet we need to clarify the difference between “Rhamphorhynchoid” and “ropen.” At least as of August 27, 2014, “ropen” refers to a cryptid, and the longer name refers to a type of pterosaur known from fossils. The relationship between them, however, is critical: worldwide, the resemblances are astonishing: featherless flying creatures that have long tails that end with a “diamond” (or a similar description for a tail flange).

nonfiction cryptozoology book "Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea"

On a book cover: sketch of an apparent pterosaur seen by Patty Carson in Cuba

Definition of “Stupid”

One dictionary defined it as “lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind.” Take that simply in the literal sense and the biology professor in Minnesota has a problem in making that word useful to his case. A closer look reveals that “stupid” problem.

The cryptozoologist criticized by the professor in Minnesota has worked in his specialty (of sighting reports of apparent pterosaurs) for eleven years, with many thousands of hours of experience with the overall subject; the critic, probably less than ten serious hours. Even if the skeptic in Minnesota were ten times as smart (or less stupid) than the cryptozoologist he criticized, the professor would be at the wrong end of the resulting ratio, 60-to-1. Those are not good odds for the man who teaches biology in Minnesota. This is not to say that the professor is stupid. He is just not likely to be many hundreds of times smarter than the cryptozoologist who has written several nonfiction books on the subject, in addition to a published scientific paper in a recognized peer-reviewed journal of science.

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Ropen – A Modern Pterosaur

Countless eyewitnesses, in many countries across the planet, have pondered what it was they had seen. But ropens continue to  fly overhead, continuing to shock humans who had assumed that all pterosaurs had become extinct millions of years ago.

Destination Truth Ropen Episode

I’m thinking about a particular native who was interviewed by Josh Gates, during the Destination Truth expedition of 2007: Fabian. In spite of Fabian’s assurance, however, the expedition team was probably skeptical, at least to some extent, for those visitors to Papua New Guinea were, after all, Americans. They may have thought, “How could a large long-tailed pterosaur be still alive, without the knowledge of any of our scientists?”

Bioluminescent Pterosaurs

There is a species other than a pterosaur that is purported to have intrinsic bioluminescent capability, namely the common barn owl, Tyto Alba.

Evidence for Pterosaurs and Honesty

For modern living pterosaurs, however, we have BOTH physical evidence and eyewitness evidence. The difficulty some persons have with it, however, is that reported eyewitness encounters with living pterosaurs dominate the physical evidence, in both quantity and quality.

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Live Pterosaurs in Texas

In the new nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, several sighting reports from Texas are included, encounters with very strange flying creatures.

From page 217

I got an email, in August of 2010, from a lady who had seen an “extremely large bird” that looked like a “pterodactyl.” The eyewitness was only a child in 1988 or 1989, when the creature flew over the playground of a school in the Houston area. Apparently she knew nothing, at the time, about other sightings in that area, strange flying creatures seen in southeast Texas in the 1980’s. Only when she was older did she look for reports of other sightings like hers.

From page 219

Getting back to the lady’s encounter northwest of Austin, she told her husband, “It looked like a pterodactyl.” Note that she first was thinking or hoping for a commonplace explanation: a big turkey vulture, only this thing had a long neck and a pointed beak and head. The wingspan was the length of the water trough, six feet, and it was “at least four foot tall.”

From page 221

Consider more of what he told me. It was the loud screeching that caused him to look up. He saw nothing strange at first, just something circling high up in the sky, like a hawk or buzzard. The screeching continued as the boy ran to the house to get binoculars, for the sound was strange and he was unsure if it was coming from the dark-colored thing that was gliding fast, unlike a bird.

Why so few Newspaper Headlines?

Here’s a small part of the answer, from page 300 of the book:

For the past century and a half, few newspapers have ever put a live-pterodactyl story on the front page. Why? Hardly any biologist would admit that kind of creature could still exist. Yet what could grab the attention of a biologist other than a front-page newspaper headline? It was almost impossible for any biologist to see the big picture in pterosaur sightings until the past few years, when many people, from around the world, have become connected by the internet. But even if a professor sees a report about a sighting, that’s just one report.

In other words, very few biology professors have anything remotely like a broad perspective on eyewitness reports of flying creatures that resemble pterosaurs. Without that support from those kind of professors, few newspapers publish articles on such reports. But that is part of what is needed to attract the attention of biology professors: media reports of apparent living pterosaurs.

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Flying Creature in Los Angeles

On a pleasant day in June of 2012, I walked into the Sheriff station in Lakewood, California, two miles northeast of my home in Long Beach. I knew better than to tell a police officer of my concerns about the safety of family pets now that pterodactyls had invaded the community. . . .

Religion and Science in the new Ropen Book

How much religion and science are found in the nonfiction Searching for Ropens and Finding God? It depends on what you’re looking for.

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“Pterodactyl” Sightings in Virginia

The third edition of Searching for Ropens (to be published around the end of February, 2014) will include the following pterosaur-sighting report from Virginia (this is only part of it). The full title of the book is Searching for Ropens and Finding God.

“. . . a couple of weeks ago [mid-2012], by myself I saw two flying. Then this Sunday in about the same place, my daughter and I saw one fairly close up, flying in the opposite direction. . . . The most obvious feature was the diamond or spade tipped tail, I have not found any creature that compares. . . .

“Based on my personal readings concerning hawks and eagles and their size and general flight patterns I would estimate the creature we saw as having 6 foot wing span minimum with a maximum of 10 foot . . . When the creature was in front and above us was about when we were the closest. At this point I saw the tail structure off and on and my daughter, who is 13, however said she saw the tail structure the whole time.”

The new book will also feature a more lengthy sighting report from Virginia. The word “pterodactyl” came to the young lady’s mind at the time; later she learned the correct word: “pterosaur.” The following is a tiny portion of that report:

“I was seventeen at the time of this encounter. It was very late at night. . . . I’d place the time to be somewhere between ten and midnight . . . I went swimming with a friend at a local reservoir . . . in the back of a U-shaped inlet. . . . I was standing straight up in the middle of the U section with the water about as high as my hips and I was making some splashing I remember, rather loudly, right before I saw it.

It came from the direction of the moon . . . all I saw was its silhouette. I could see it was big even before it was close. It seemed like it crossed a great distance with only a few flaps of its wings . . . I have not before nor since ever been so petrified in my life. . . .

The wings were somewhere between 15 and 20 feet wide and they covered the entire opening to the U-shaped inlet when they were open. The wings were bat shaped without feathers, the head’s silhouette . . . like a point . . . like a head crest but what I was looking at more than anything else was its large, sharp talons.

“. . . it hovered there mid air 20 to 30 feet away directly in front of me about 15 to 20 feet above the water . . . I can’t even remember in which direction it flew off. I think I was in shock.

Many more details on this sighting you can read in Searching for Ropens and Finding God, including the author’s questions for this eyewitness from Virginia and her detailed answers. This third edition of the book is greatly expanded from the second edition, with many sighting reports from the United States. It will be a great supplement to the third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America.

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New Nonfiction Book on Ropens

“Hello, Jonathan. It’s nice to meet you. . . . Thank you for keeping me anonymous. I finished reading your book ‘Live Pterosaurs in America’ yesterday. It was very good. I like how you peppered it with a little humor, too. I appreciated how you kept private those who wished to remain anonymous. . . .”

Pterosaur Sighting in North Carolina

I was driving along on I-540 in Raleigh at sundown tonight, cruising at about 70 mph, heading to my weekly jam session with my buddy. All of a sudden I see the HUGE bird looking thing fly across the overpass I was on, maybe 20-25 feet  in front of my car and about 7 or 8 feet off the ground.

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Marfa Lights and Bioluminescence

I recommend the nonfiction book Hunting Marfa Lights, by James Bunnell. It is the best resource I know of for data on the more mysterious of the lights. This book should be a major reference for any researcher of this phenomenon, at least until we have a major breakthrough in discovering the nature of the CE-II and CE-III mystery lights (ML) of Marfa, Texas.

Photo by imelda of a photograph of a CE-III flying Marfa Light

The above is a photograph of a CE-III Marfa Light, flying horizontally

What do I mean by “major breakthrough?” I believe that a future discovery involving Marfa Lights may involve capturing an animal, but that requires an explanation. Let’s begin with strange lights outside of Texas.

Ropen Lights of Papua New Guinea

I led the first of the two ropen expeditions of 2004 on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea. After interviewing three important eyewitnesses just south of Lake Pung, I began to return to Gomlongon with my natives guides and my interpreter. We met a man, Jonah Jim, who also had seen the huge flying creature. Of course with his limited English, he did not know the word “bioluminescence,” although he surely knew of glowing things in the sea.

I was tired and anxious to get back to Gomlongon and prepare to leave the island, for my funds were running low; I took no notes of my brief communication with Jonah Jim. Fortunately, a few weeks later, Garth Guessman and David Woetzel, on the second ropen expedition of that year, found this eyewitness and interviewed him with a detailed questionnaire. After my associates returned to the USA, I was thrilled at what they had learned from Jonah Jim.

By the way, I had little or no knowledge of Marfa Lights in 2004.

Here is part of what Jonah Jim revealed to us, quoting from the second edition of my cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens:

Page 95:

. . . this young man saw the ropen not as a vague, distant light but as a creature—close. In addition to the glow, he saw the long tail.

Page 113:

All six members of his family were together when the ropen, without wing flapping, flew “directly overhead.” . . . Only the tail was glowing and it was blue, “a shade darker than sky blue.” The “wingspan” [he estimated to be] six to seven meters; tail length, two-and-a-half to three meters . . .

Jonah Jim is hardly visible high up in this coconut tree, south of Lake Pung, on Umboi Island in Papua New Guinea

Can you see Jonah Jim in the coconut tree? (Photo by Whitcomb)

In other words, we have no need to rely on native traditions to tie together the flying lights to the giant flying creatures. And Jonah Jim was not alone. Guessman and Woetzel also interviewed Jonathan Ragu, who also saw a ropen at night: the general form, the shape of the wings, and the glow emanating from the flying creature.

So for Americans who have heard about the strangest kinds of Marfa Lights in Texas, it’s not so strange to consider bioluminescent flying creatures in Texas; we have the glowing ropen that may be related.

Why Should CE-II and CE-III be Bioluminescent Creatures?

Take the CE-III’s first. They sometimes fly long distances well above the desert vegetation, though not as high as airplanes normally fly at night: Sometimes the CE-III’s fly just a few feet off the ground. Those uncommon glowing balls commonly turn off and on. Ropen lights also have a limit to how long they can stay on; they have a shorter duration than Marfa Lights of CE-II and CE-III types.

Bunnell calls the truly unexplained glowing objects around Marfa “mystery lights” or ML. CE-III mystery lights are absent from the Marfa area for weeks at a time. They may be seen in the same area two nights in a row (in warmer weather), but they then commonly disappear for weeks. As far as I can tell from analyzing Bunnell’s data, this CE-III type of light never returns to this area of Texas after 4-10 days or so. When these lights leave, they are gone for weeks. The explanation is simple.

Unless the hunting is especially successful, the bioluminescent flying predators (BFP) will move on to another area of Texas or Mexico, on a night following an appearance near Marfa. And when would hunting be most likely to be especially successful? In warmer weather, when prey is more active and easier to find. Can you guess what Bunnell’s data shows for weather when the CE-III’s are seen two nights in a row? It’s on warmer nights.

What about CE-II mystery lights? They are similar to CE-III’s except that they do not fly; they are stationary. How does that relate to my theory? Flying creatures do not always fly.

Many other details in Bunnell’s data fit perfectly well with the Bioluminescent Flying Predator theory, notwithstanding his reluctance to consider such an unorthodox interpretation. I don’t blame him. After all, the glowing ropen of Papua New Guinea is considered by those who search for it to be a modern living pterosaur, and “not everybody embraces a live pterodactyl.”

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Explanation for Marfa Lights

The author of Hunting Marfa Lights, James Bunnell, said nothing about the following theory in his book. I informed him of part of my theory early in 2010, after the publication of his [book].

Marfa Lights in Texas

. . . a press release about Marfa Lights, suggesting they might be related to  the ropen lights of Papua New Guinea . . .

Marfa Lights – Flying Predators?

James Bunnell has observed and videotaped those strange flying lights that appear near Marfa only a few times each year . . .

Marfa Lights on Consecutive Nights

In the book Hunting Marfa Lights, James Bunnell reveals, “On rare occasions I have observed MLs [mystery lights in the Marfa area of Texas] repeat their location but only on consecutive nights.”

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Living Pterosaur in North Carolina

Looking out over the city of Raleigh, North Carolina, with many trees

Raleigh, North Carolina – photo by James Willamor

The sighting was reported on The Gear Page, an internet forum that is popular with some musicians. Because it’s not a cryptozoology forum, we can better see how Western cultural assumptions influence how people react to a report of a “pterodactyl” flying over a highway on the outskirts of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Within about six hours of the sighting of the apparent pterosaur, “Smgbad” wrote (on March 24, 2013, at 12:21 a.m.) what is partially quoted here:

Ok… so I saw a Pterodactyl up close tonight. Not joking.

I was driving along on I-540 in Raleigh at sundown tonight, cruising at about 70 mph, heading to my weekly jam session with my buddy. All of a sudden I see the HUGE bird looking thing fly across the overpass I was on, maybe 20-25 feet  in front of my car and about 7 or 8 feet off the ground.

He reported the following points of description:

  1. It had “an enormous pointed beak.”
  2. “a pointed top of its head”
  3. “The wingspan was probably about 5-6 feet wide”
  4. “bony wing structure ending in points (almost like sails)”
  5. “what looked like small claws” on the middle of wing
  6. “bat-like in a way”
  7. Maybe it had “greyish fur or dark skin.”
  8. “two legs like a bird kind of jutting straight out” the rear
  9. The legs were “followed by a LONG tail with a spade at the end.”

The eyewitness added the following:

I am not joking. I was not drinking. There were NO drugs involved. Some friends I told tonight believed me as they knew was unusually freaked and excited. My wife thought I was full of it.

The comments on that forum, that followed the report, filled 70 pages, with over 1,000 remarks, at least a few of which were responses by the eyewitness, defending his stand that what he had observed was not a common bird.

Many persons on that forum stated that it was almost impossible that the flying creature was a pterosaur. Some insisted that it was a bird that the eyewitness misidentified. Other persons just made fun of the idea. A few believed that the eyewitness actually saw what he reported that he saw.

Long Tails of Pterosaurs

Any cryptozoologist who might investigate the sighting could find the following statement interesting: The eyewitness also said, “Pterodactyls don’t have long tails in reconstructive art I looked at afterwards. Question is…. WHAT THE HELL DID I SEE?!?”

Statistical analysis of the more credible reports of apparent modern pterosaurs is clear about long tails: 41% of the sightings were of long-tailed flying creatures and only 2% did not have a long tail (57% of the reports did not give any clear indication of tail length). A twenty-to-one ratio tells us that long tails are common on these flying creatures, regardless of popular assumptions based upon television and film portrayals of pterosaurs.

Paleontologists, for the most part, believe that the short-tailed pterosaurs mostly lived long after the dominance of the long-tailed “basal” pterosaurs. Perhaps that’s why many science fiction animations (on television and in film) show “pterodactyls” with short tails. The point is this: Eyewitnesses are not being influenced by television or film when they report long tails on the featherless flying creatures they encounter.

Other Sightings in North Carolina

Many of the persons who commented on the forum discussion seemed to have no knowledge of any other similar sighting; they looked at the report without the perspective of those cryptozoologists who have examined many reports of modern pterosaurs. Let’s consider other sightings in North Carolina.

In Asheville, N.C., a lady saw a “huge” black winged creature fly very low over her car. It had no feathers but “sharp edges” to its features.

In Jacksonville, N.C., an eyewitness saw something “huge” flying in the sky: “It looked like a pale greenish white and smooth-skinned. It didn’t appear to have any feathers, and it had the tail with the diamond shape on the end.”

Another eyewitness reported, “When I was around 10 y/o and on the way to a camp in North Carolina, I saw one . . . It was an amazing sight. . . . It looked like a pterodactyl!”

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Sighting in Raleigh, North Carolina

I was going over a report of a pterosaur sighting in North Carolina and noticed similarities with Susan Wooten’s sighting in South Carolina.

Why Pterosaur Extinction may be Wrong

At about sundown, but with sufficient light, on March 23, 2013, the eyewitness . . . was driving on the I-540, in or near Raleigh, North Carolina . . .

Pterosaurs in North Carolina and South Carolina

I too have seen one, or what I believe to have been one, and there are many people who claim they have seen them. When I was around [ten years old] and on the way to a camp in North Carolina, I saw one soaring high in the sky.

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