One little post cannot do justice to all the cryptozoological evidence for the bioluminescence of at least some species of pterosaur that still live on this wonderful planet of life. Non-extinct glow-in-the-dark pterodactyls? With too much evidence to fit into one blog post? And am I, Jonathan Whitcomb, declaring that more than one species of pterosaur is now living? Precisely.

If we had space here, we could get into how we know this bioluminescence is intrinsic (rather than a glow beyond the control of the animal possessing it). Ropen bioluminescence is under at least some control, and the large flying creature that glows as it flies over Umboi Island, in Papua New Guinea, appears to decide when to turn on that glow. It lasts for only a few seconds and appears, in this particular species, to never vary in that length of a flash: five to six seconds.

Since we have room for only an introduction, we’ll begin with the ropen of the southwest Pacific. We’ll then touch on three related subjects:

  • Marfa Lights
  • “Fire-breathing” dragons
  • Fiery flying serpent (Bible)

Ropen of Papua New Guinea

The following is a videotaped interview I had with an old man in Opai Village, Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2004, during my expedition on that tropical island:

Michael, a native of Opai Village, tells Whitcomb about a grave robbery

From this testimony, it seems that a large bioluminescent scavenger lives on Umboi Island. Yet by itself this interview I had with this old native does not appear sufficient to convince many Western skeptics that the ropen is a gigantic bioluminescent pterosaur. After all, Michael did not see any wings on the animal but only a light associated with a grave robbery. We need to dig deeper.

I led the first of the two Umboi Island ropen expeditions of 2004. The majority of the natives I interviewed had seen only a flying light, not any form or features of the ropen. So why think that the flying light seen over this tropical island on some nights is a modern pterosaur? It’s not just the traditions about this flying creature. Some islanders have seen the shape and features of this animal.

A few eyewitnesses have seen the ropen at a closer range, including four natives whom I interviewed a few days before I finished my expedition on Umboi Island. I was delighted to return to the mainland of Papua New Guinea with videotaped interviews of three islanders who had seen the ropen clearly in daylight. I had no doubt that it was a large living pterosaur.

So what is the connection between a flying creature that appears to be, in daylight, a pterosaur and a flying light after sunset? A few eyewitnesses have seen both the glow and the pterosaur shape. Let’s consider the testimonies of two Umboi Island eyewitnesses: Jonah Jim and Jonathan Ragu.

Both of these men had witnessed a flying ropen, although the sightings were in different years (2001 and 2004) and in different parts of Umboi Island. Both Jonah Jim and Jonathan Ragu chose the Sordes pilosus when given a choice of dozens of silhouettes of birds, bats, and pterosaurs to choose from. Both men saw the shape and features of the ropen and also a glow coming from the animal’s body. These two sightings connect the flying light with an apparent pterosaur.

Marfa Lights in Texas

Not all mysterious lights appearing near Marfa, Texas, are car headlights on a highway. A few times each year the strangest lights appear, although they stay for only about one or two nights at a time. Why do they not generally appear for three or more nights in a row? After all, they keep coming back every few weeks throughout the year. They behave in a way strongly suggesting they are a group of bioluminescent flying predators and intelligent ones at that.

They hunt whatever they hunt in an area of desert at night for a night or two and then move on to another area of Texas or south to Mexico. The evidence is circumstantial—I’ve never heard of anyone catching one of the creatures—but nevertheless it is broad and deep, this circumstantial evidence.

By the way, many of the sightings of living pterosaurs in the United States are in Texas, and a small portion of those reports include descriptions of a glow coming from the flying creatures.

Fire-Breathing Dragons

Those cryptozoologists who have long studied eyewitness accounts of living pterosaurs—they generally believe that some of the old legends of fire-breathing dragons come from, or are inspired by, sightings of large bioluminescent pterosaurs in early human history.

Fiery Flying Serpent

We also believe that Old Testament references to fiery flying serpents are accounts of human interaction (however unpleasant) with long-tailed (Rhamphorhynchoid) pterosaurs that are bioluminescent.


Gitmo Pterosaur of Cuba - eyewitness and artist Patty Carson

The “Gitmo pterosaur” of eastern Cuba (sketch by an eyewitness)



Glowing pterosaurs may attack farm animals

At around 10:30-11:30 p.m., the nearby farm animals became greatly disturbed, making alarming sounds, as if they were in danger. . . . That was about the time that 12-year-old Dallin Roberts saw something very strange in the sky. . . . He soon realized that it was a flying creature. Two things struck him as very odd, however: the enormous size and the glowing body of the flying animal.

Modern pterosaurs and the ropen

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have received reports directly from eyewitnesses who report encountering living pterosaurs on five continents . . .

Long Tail of the Ropen

The Fiery Flying Serpent of the Bible may have been a long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid [a “basal” pterosaur], related to the modern-day ropen.

Bioluminescent flying predators in Texas

“Reports of unusual lights east of Marfa extend back to the 1800s. . . . 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.”

Live pterosaur book review

A number of the sightings suggest bioluminescence. I really did not expect that. Glow in the dark pterosaurs in the USA? It just gets weirder.




Nonfiction book on modern pterosaurs

Please support this investigation by purchasing your own copy of the nonfiction cryptozoology book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (fourth edition). Thank you.


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Marfa Lights and Bioluminescence

On August 22, 2013, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Before we begin, be aware that James Bunnell, a retired NASA engineer, has given countless hours during eight years of his life (2001-2009) to investigating the more mysterious types of Marfa Lights, the glowing objects that cannot reasonably be explained away as car headlights or ranch lights or any other common glow at night. Bunnell estimates that only about 3% of unusual lights around Marfa, Texas, are truly mysterious. But those rare lights—how extraordinary!


top of the first page of Chapter Six, in the nonfiction cryptozoology book "Live Pterosaurs in America" - third edition - by Jonathan Whitcomb

From the cryptozoology book Live Pterosaurs in America (3rd edition)


Common sense with things that fly

What would you think about something flying over the bushes near Marfa, Texas, at about 37 miles per hour, for eleven miles, about 250 feet above the ground, silently in daylight? What better explanation than “bird?” It may be unusual for a bird to fly that far at that speed, but if it was tracked and the speed estimated according to triangulation, it would just be common sense to consider it would have been a bird, however uncommon that bird.

What if that object had been tracked by a scientist, at that speed, height, and distance, and still in silence, except that it was in the dark of night? We might still consider a bird or perhaps an unusual bat. Besides identifying it, what general idea might come to mind? Perhaps it might seem a little risky to fly at that speed and altitude, over the bushes and hills, for eleven miles, in the dark of night; but what else could it be other than a creature with wings?

Would it be safer at night, for a winged creature flying 37 miles per hour, for eleven miles, about 250 feet high, to carry around its own light? It would make sense, if possible, for airplanes use lights at night for safety.

Of course airplanes fly much faster, but they also fly much higher than 250 feet above rugged hilly terrain, in the dark of night. But how could any flying creature, bird or bat, glow like a giant firefly? Who ever heard of such a thing?

The point is this: James Bunnell, author of the nonfiction book Hunting Marfa Lights, recorded the flight of a glowing object, something that flew eleven miles, at an average speed that I later calculated was 37 miles per hour, at about 250 feet over the ground, in the dark of night. He did not call it “flight” but he took careful notes and published the event in his book.

I suggest it’s just common sense to consider that object was a bioluminescent winged creature.

Humboldt squid or “Red Devil”

In the Humboldt Current in the Pacific Ocean, a large predatory squid, called diablo rojo by the Mexicans, grows to a length of about five feet. The Humboldt squid has a reputation for attacking humans, although this may occur only when they feed, for as a group they become frenzied, even to the point of attacking one or more of their own kind. They congregate for hunting, sometimes reaching numbers over a thousand.

This huge squid is bioluminescent, with the ability to quickly change body color. During fish hunting, they quickly flash red and white. Bioluminescent flashing has even been observed while a Humboldt squid was out of water, dying on the beach.

Since such large bioluminescent creatures, known by scientists, congregate in such large numbers in the ocean, why could not similar-sized bioluminescent creatures, unknown to scientists, congregate in much smaller numbers, while flying over southwest Texas? Since squid can hunt intelligently while glowing, could not flying creatures hunt intelligently while glowing? I suggest they do.


Marfa Lights Hunting

James Bunnell has made great contributions to our knowledge of many details about the most mysterious of what are called “Marfa Lights.” He found several problems with my concept of flying predators hunting bats through a particular hunting technique. But those problems involve that particular technique; they do not distract from the overall concept that a group of bioluminescent flying creatures sometimes search for prey near Marfa, Texas.


Marfa Lights to Monstrous Heights

My recent press release (Unmasking a Flying Predator in Texas), to promote my new book (second edition, that is) Live Pterosaurs in America, received indirect attention from the Houston Chronicle, the largest-daily-circulation newspaper . . . [By Sunday circulation, the Houston chronicle is the third-largest newspaper in the United States.]


Warmer Nights for Marfa Lights

Of the fifty-two sightings recorded by James Bunnell . . . he included much information in his book, including temperatures when each sighting began. . . . None of those temperatures were below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. About 15% were from 20-40 degrees, 25% were 40-60 degrees, and 58% were from 60-80 degrees . . . This is consistent with a group of nocturnal predators that need to hunt year round, but find it more challenging to find prey on colder nights.


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Richard Syrett interviewed Jonathan Whitcomb in Long Beach, California, in 2012

Living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb was interviewed for “The Conspiracy Show” on May 5, 2012, to be broadcast later this year in Canada. Richard Syrett questioned him on reports of pterosaurs or dragons in history and about his expedition in 2004.

I also mentioned the possibility that some of the Marfa Lights in Texas are the bioluminescence of nocturnal flying creatures that may be related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea. I mentioned how the light splittings and rejoinings may be large flying creatures hunting the Big Brown Bat at night.

Syrett also asked me about my creationist beliefs. I mentioned my differing view of the first part of Genesis: I don’t think it refers to the creation of the universe. Regarding the meaning of living pterosaurs, I referred to the Flood of Noah, that it demonstrates how God protecting the basic types of life, protecting life from extinction.

Canadian Television Show

The questions included the subject of how modern pterosaurs have remained hidden from general knowledge for so long and how they have survived until the present.

From the book Searching for Ropens, second edition:

As the ship plowed through the temperate night, I began talking with those around me. They were curious why an American was going to Umboi Island. When I told them I was looking for a creature called ropen, they became interested. Some had heard about the creatures, and Gibson Kuvurio, from Pilio Island (off the southern coast of West New Britain), told me of the legend of wawanar, the dragon that flies around at night: It “owns the land and the sea.” Many gathered around us as I related what I knew about the ropen and shared my belief that the creature glows at night to catch fish.

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Pterosaur Sighting in Arkansas

On February 9, 2012, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I have been communicating by emails with this eyewitness, although the pterosaur sighting was many years ago. A critical point, missed by critics, is the physical closeness to the flying creature, even when the encounter was years ago. In this case, the two eyewitnesses were only about twenty feet away from the “teradactyl,” when they first saw it flying away from them, in western Arkansas. I here include some of what she told me.

“My father and I saw a huge, featherless bird [later labeled “teradactyl”] in Arkansas [summer of 1977] . . . when I was 16. I’ve been telling people my story since. We were sitting on big rocks at a cliff about 300 foot above the river when it flew out just under us and we watched it all the way down toward the river till it passed the tree lines. It was an awesome experience, indeed. It was however smaller, and wing span of maybe 8 ft and had a large head.

[The father passed away in 1991.] “We went back several times, he and I, and sat and waited but never saw it again. . . . We talked and agreed it looked like a small teradactyl. The skin kind of like an elephant?? . . .”

I sent the eyewitness many questions, a few at a time, by email, and she answered them promptly. Here are a few.

Arkansas Pterosaur

Q: Did the creature have a tail?

A: yes, but it was not bird-like, (fanned or feathered)

Q: How would you compare the length of the tail, compared with other things:    a) similar to the length of one wing    b) similar to the length of both wings (wingspan, tip-to-tip)    c) Other

A: “similar to the length of one wing”

Q: Did you notice any detail or details on the head?

A: Large pointed head, we couldn’t see the mouth because it was going the other direction from us.

She was positive that the flying creature had no feathers. She estimated the neck was about a foot and a half long (that alone eliminates a Frigate Bird misidentification). She also mentioned a “pointed crown” on the head; it was “long and curved back toward the neck.”

Arkansas mountain

Another mountain in Arkansas

Explaining Marfa Lights

(Perhaps not closely related to the Arkansas pterosaur, but maybe)

Those “mystery lights” are probably the bioluminescent glow of nocturnal flying predators, probably hunting the Big Brown Bat or other prey at night . . . “Why are ML-III not usually seen for many nights in a row? Why are they absent for so many nights in a row? Why do they keep coming back after a few weeks of absence? This is exactly what we would expect of large predators that cover large areas. . . .”

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What about the Fiery Flying Serpent? For Moses, when the Israelites needed to be healed from venom, what would have been the worst possible choice of an animal image to use as a symbol, to strengthen the faith of the people of God? How obvious! Use anything except the image of a snake, for that animal relates to Satan in the Garden of Eden.

What about a modern interpretation: a venomous snake that strikes so fast that it seems to “fly” through the air, causing a burning sensation in the wound of the victim? What a problem that would have been for Moses! He could not put the image of a snake on a pole; he could not ask the Israelites to look up to an image associated with Satan. But the scriptures say he did put up an image of the animal that caused death among those ancient people. So what is the answer to this dilema? No snake was involved.

I’ve written much about my investigations over the past eight years, much of it concerning the testimonies of eyewitnesses whom I have interviewed (more recently concerning conjectures about Marfa Lights). From various countries, various languages, various cultures, and various religions, these common persons simply tell me about their encounters with flying creatures that have various names. Most of the flying creatures are described with long tails, and most eyewitnesses have various degrees of certainty about the absence of feathers. Those two factors alone suggest living pterosaurs. A prominent head crest and a tail vane (eyewitnesses use various words for those biological structures) increases the certainty of living pterosaurs. But how does that relate to the Fiery Flying Serpent? It’s in the pterosaurs that glow.

When I met Jonah Jim, during my 2004 expedition in Papua New Guinea, I had just finished a dramatic set of interviews with three other native eyewitnesses of Umboi Island, so my fatigue at hiking through a hot humid tropical rain forest forced me to think of rest and drinking water, rather than another interview. Notwithstanding my weakness, Jonah Jim climbed a coconut tree while I sat to rest; he soon chopped open the beverage container with his machete, and I was refreshed with a drink of coconut milk. He told me about his own encounter with the ropen, some years earlier. I quote from my book, the second edition of Searching for Ropens:

During an outdoor family gathering one night, 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. I recorded no notes, for his description resembled Gideon’s, but later I would realize the significance of Jonah Jim’s testimony: The glow that flies around at night is the same kind of long-tailed creature seen by Gideon and his friends.

Jonah Jim saw clearly both the giant wings of the ropen and its glow. That is the point: Some eyewitnesses see glowing pterosaurs, notwithstanding many Westerners insist on the nonexistance of living creatures that “should” be extinct.

Another point comes up in those ropens that are unfriendly to humans: Sometimes a human will die, not like death from a crocodile attack but with either burns or convulsions. I have not yet interviewed someone who was closely related or a friend to a victim, but secondhand accounts make this clear: These large flying creatures, at least some of them, when they attack a human, sometimes do damage by something like a chemical or venom.

How does all this relate to Marfa Lights of southwest Texas? (I know of no accounts of anyone being attacked by Marfa Lights.) They behave more like a group of intelligent flying predators, and their glowing would be likened to the glow of fire, to anyone who lived in a time and place where terrestrial light at night is usually associated with fire.

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Warmer Nights for Marfa Lights

On April 14, 2011, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Green mountain near Marfa, Texas

Eight years of accumulated data-gathering, and recent analysis of some of that data, continue to support the hypothesis that the more-mysterious Marfa Lights of southwest Texas are caused by the bioluminescence of a group of flying predators. The newest revelation shows a coorelation between air temperature and the number of sightings of the mystery lights.

Of the fifty-two sightings recorded by James Bunnell (author of the nonfiction book Hunting Marfa Lights), he included much information in his book, including temperatures when each sighting began. (He also noted that the lights can appear at any season of the year.) None of those temperatures were below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. About 15% were from 20-40 degrees, 25% were 40-60 degrees, and 58% were from 60-80 degrees (one sighting began when it was over 80 degrees). This is consistent with a group of nocturnal predators that need to hunt year round, but find it more challenging to find prey on colder nights.

Marfa Lights and Temperature

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.

This relates to my last post on this blog: “Science and Marfa Lights,” for the above reasoning comes from data from the same table on pages 270-279 of Bunnell’s book:

Science and Marfa Lights

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 . . . 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.

Getting back to those temperatures, CE Mystery Lights around Marfa, Texas, do appear in the winter, on occasion, but I believe those nights are mostly warmer than the usual winter nights. I don’t have detailed weather information for this area of Texas, so I am not sure of the significance of this aspect of the data. But if Bunnell’s data is correct, the eight sightings in winter nights (2000-2008) are significant in the average temperature when those sightings began: 39.4 degrees Fahrenheit. I believe that is higher than the average night temperature for this part of Texas in the winter, even when early-night temperatures are considered.


non-fiction book cover - Live Pterosaurs in America - third edition - with sketches

The following are excerpts from readers reviews of various editions of the nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America (now in its expanded third edition):

Mr. Whitcomb does a thorough job questioning indoctrination and the close-mindedness of the Western world. Reading so many eye-witness reports of people who have seen living pterosaurs in America was mind-opening, to say the least. . . . (five stars for the third edition)

This is an updated review of the book and I am changing my rating to 5 stars. This book has been on my shelf for almost a year now. I pick it up every now and then and a part of me becomes more impressed by the book every time. Yes, the skeptics will laugh at it, but I am a skeptic to. . . . (five stars for the second edition)

He has focused on the accounts of witnesses who saw something, and that adds credibility. The writing is easy to read and he adds comments and analysis to make it all more useful. Mostly, the author lets the sightings speak for themselves, which is good. A worthwhile book.   . . . (five stars for the first edition)



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