From the dragons of my last post (on The Bible and Modern Pterosaurs), I turn to the science of Marfa Lights, with reference to “Analyzing Data for a Marfa Lights Interpretation,” from the blog Modern Pterosaur. The latter post may be difficult for some readers to understand (the language is more protracted than overly technical), so I’ll summarize it.
In the book Hunting Marfa Lights, by James Bunnell, pages 270-279 contain a table with dozens of ML (mystery light) sightings with much information on dates, times, and weather conditions. The recent excitement on some blogs comes from a recent enlightenment centered on the dates July 14-15, 2006 (Texas time), in particular on the times that those mystery lights first appear each night: Thirty-eight and thirty-seven minutes after sunset respectively. This now seems extremely significant.
We need context here. On a typical night when one or more of Bunnell’s cameras picks up mystery lights, the start time for their appearance usually differs greatly from the start time of the previous night in which there was an appearance. Consecutive nights of appearances are a critical exception, but let’s keep to the general case for the moment. For example, on August 11, 2006, the first appearance (“start” time) of an ML was three hours and forty-three minutes after sunset; the next appearance recorded was on October 19, 2006, with start time of just fifteen minutes after sunset. That is a difference of three hours and twenty-eight minutes. The average difference in start times, when consecutive nights are eliminated, is two hours and thirty-six minutes. Regardless of what hypothesis one chooses, this divergance seems reasonable, for why should there be any close coorelation in start times, on apparently random nights of ML activity?
Consider the general case for groups of intelligent predators, the ones that use sophisticated group hunting techniques, then apply this to the present hypothesis involving Marfa Lights as possibly bioluminescent predators.
When a group of intelligent predators has a successful hunt, they may, on the next day (or the next night for nocturnal predators) repeat what was recently successful, assuming the hunting conditions are similar. Applying this to the hypothesis mentioned so often recently (a group of scientifically-unclassified nocturnal flying predators, having bioluminescent capability, hunting, on some nights, around southwest Texas), we would expect to find a few consecutive nights with ML activity and maybe even with a similar start time for the appearances. This has been found and published by James Bunnell, although he has not yet admitted the plausibility of my hypothesis, at least not to my knowledge.
Why are those start-times on July 14-15, 2006, extremely significant? If the night of July 14th was very successful for nocturnal hunters, they might have returned on the night of July 15th, even a minute earlier than the previous night, out of anticipation. A slight difference in the weather would not distract nocturnal predators on the second night. But what about some hypothesis of non-living energy forces or atmospheric energies? Would not a weather change from one night to another make a significant difference in when and how lights would appear? Of course. Well it so happens that Bunnell’s data for those nights of July 14th and July 15th does show a weather change, not enough to distract determined predators but easily enough to change how non-living energy forces might produce lights in the fields near Marfa, Texas.
On the second night, the temperature at start-time was 3.6 degrees cooler (F.), the dew point was higher, the wind speed was almost six mph faster, and the humidity was considerably higher. The wind direction and visibility were the same, but those other differences were enough to discount any reasonable prediction, using a non-living-energy-source hypothesis, that ML’s would appear at almost the same time two nights in succession. How different from the intelligent-predator hypothesis!
But what if that one pair of nights was a coincidence? Well it so happens that Bunnell’s data shows three other pairs of consecutive nights, and the differences, in minutes, in start times are as follows: 46, 19, and 11, far below the random difference of 156 minutes for nights that were not back-to-back. Averaging out the four critical differences, we get about 19 minutes, quite small compared with 156. For those interested, the particular date-pairs are Nov 24-25, 2000, May7-8, 2003, July 14-15, 2006, and July 15-16, 2006.
Also important, a three-day succession involved similar start times, in minutes after sunset: July 14-15-16, 2006: 38, 37, 48 (the first two were mentioned previously). On the third night was another minor change in weather, including a slight change in wind direction (July 16). The average difference in start times, for those two successions of nights with sightings recorded, is only six minutes. How small is that compared with the random 156-minute difference!
On a night when a lion pride hunts—maybe every night somewhere in Africa—the prey can be as big as an elephant; but let’s assume the prey is smaller and confined to a particular area for at least several nights . . . Would not a successful hunt, by hungry lions on a particular night, compel those lions to return to the same area the next night? If they had ever hunted successfully in the same area, two nights in succession, of course it would. But if a particular area gives no reward on one night, the lions could move quite some distance away on the next night, returning to the first area perhaps later in the year . . .
Non-living energies do not make complex flying patterns like the ones seen around Marfa, Texas. But Marfa Lights fly like they’re directed by intelligence and the ropen of Papua New Guinea is an intelligent flying predator that also glows as it flies.