Bioluminescent flying creatures larger than fireflies–that possibility has received attention lately, in light of the research done by Fred Silcock of Victoria, Australia. According to this expert on birds, Tyto Alba (known as “barn owl” in the United States and “great owl” in Australia), in some cases at least, has intrinsic bioluminescence. Some of these owls can turn on a glow on their underside. In fact, the whiteness of some of their feathers is explained by this intrinsic glowing capability: White feathers allow light to pass through.
So how do glowing owls relate to reports of live pterodactyls? In Papua New Guinea, the ropen is seen usually from a distance at night. How is it seen? It glows, sometimes brightly, as it flies. How can anyone conclude that it is a pterosaur? When it is seen up close, it is seen to be one. The combination of giant size, head crest, long tail, and absence of any sign of feathers—that hardy fits neatly in place alongside any pterosaur fossil. But it fits better with a ”pterosaur” label than with any name of any bird or bat, and the tail-movement description given by villagers of Northern Umboi Island (Woetzel-Guessman expedition of 2004) give it a fit with another label: Rhamphorhynchoid (long-tailed pterosaur). So some barn owls and some modern pterosaurs glow at night, at least sometimes.
With American ghost lights, intriguing possibilities arise. What about the Hornet Light of Missouri or the Gurdon Light of Arkansas or the Chapel Hill Light of Tennessee? Are they from pterosaurs or from barn owls? The behavior of those lights gives us a clue: The three lights appear to behave like hunting barn owls. Don’t bother hunting for strange lights in those three areas if your interest is only in modern pterosaurs or in headless ghosts who search for their missing heads.
But with the Marfa Lights of Southern Texas, well, that is another story, and apparently a nonfiction one. Those lights behave like intelligent glowing flying creatures that are hunting bats. Could not barn owls learn to catch bats? Perhaps they might, but it would be a remarkable adaptation. The big problem with a barn owl interpretation of the Marfa Lights, however, is in the behavior of those lights. Their complex dance routine flies in the face of barn owl intelligence; the dance movements leave birds far behind, figuratively and literaly. They can be compared to whales hunting; but African lions appear clumsy by comparison.
So if barn owls are eliminated, must Marfa Lights by made by pterosaurs? Perhaps there is a third possibility, but so far no scientific explanation (without pterosaurs) has come close to a reasonable interpretation. Non-living objects are just too dumb to appear to hunt bats; living ghosts or demons are just too unscientific for scientists. Strange as it may seem, living bioluminescent pterosaurs appear to be the only reasonable explanation.