Why would some Texans call it a “big bird?” Many of the sighting reports suggest a pterodactyl (technically “pterosaur“) more than a bird. But many eyewitnesses think in the common sense when they see something large flying through the sky, even when it is very unlike any common bird. From the book Live Pterosaurs in America, we read:
. . . between Houston and Pasadena, Texas, two men saw a pterosaur-like creature . . . I’ve not yet interviewed either eyewitness; my associate, the cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard (Big Bird book author), has. RG and his friend, in the late afternoon of a clear day, were startled by a flying creature less than 150 feet away. For about fifteen seconds, they watched it fly, about fifty feet high, before it disappeared into some trees. The general appearance was “leathery” and it had a pointed beak and head appendage. The total length, about five feet, included about two feet of tail, the end of which had a “flange or sail.”
By Ken Gerhard: “a winged monster . . . Today, from all over the dusty U.S. / Mexican border come hair-raising stories of modern day encounters with winged monsters of immense size and terrifying appearance.”
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.”
The case for group-hunting of nocturnal bioluminescent flying predators is overwhelming . . . except for one problem: There is no scientifically-acknowledged species of anything, anywhere, that is known to be a large bioluminescent flying creature. So what?
To quote from Wikipedia, “In 1956 an engineer, J.P.F. Brown, allegedly saw the creature at Fort Rosebery near Lake Bangweulu in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). . . . he saw two creatures flying slowly and silently directly overhead. He observed that they looked prehistoric. He estimated a wingspan of about 3 to 3½ feet (1 meter) and a beak-to-tail length of about 4½ feet (1.5 meters). It reportedly had a long thin tail, and a narrow head which he likened to an elongated snout of a dog.”
Stingray or Pterodactyl?
Before considering the origin of the word “kongamato,” we need to evaluate what witnesses have seem to have seen, regardless of what they call the flying creature. How can two freshwater stingrays fly slowly, directly over ones head? They cannot. It is possible for one stingray to jump out of a river, however uncommon that may be, but never two overhead, flying slowly. How can a freshwater stingray have a head that looks like “an elongated snout of a dog?” It cannot. But a pterosaur, called by some people “pterodactyl,” may appear as described by J. P. F. Brown, according to his report, regardless of whether or not someone else had once seen a freshwater stingray and called it “kongamato.”
One cryptozoologist has suggested that the origin of the word “kongamato” lies in a large freshwater stingray, found in some rivers of the world. But that suggestion is irrelevant to the cryptozoological investigations that have centered on accounts of apparent pterosaurs in Africa and in other areas of the world. Many accounts involve flying creatures high over land, often over thirty feet above the ground, not a stingray jumping inches above the surface of a river. Many accounts involve a head crest and a beak or long snout, not the body of a stingray, which has no distinctive head.
Part of the credibility of kongamato sightings of what seem to be pterosaurs come from similar accounts from other areas of the world. The U. S. Marine Eskin Kuhn has stood by his sighting for decades, never wavering in spite of thoughtless words of those who fear the possibility of live pterodactyls. It was not a vague sighting in the night but a clear sighting in daylight, with nothing obscurring Kuhn’s view of the two pterodactyls that were flying nearby. With pterodactyls flying in pairs in Cuba, why not two kongamatos flying in Zambia, Africa?
(From the “Flying Dinosaurs” site) Eskin Kuhn was surprised by a phone call from the cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb, early in 2010. Kuhn confirmed the sighting and Whitcomb was convinced that it was a real encounter in 1971.
It has been suggested that the strange ghost lights of southwest Texas, sometimes called “Marfa Lights,” are caused by the bioluminescence of a group of intelligent flying creautures like the ropen of Papua New Guinea. The ropen is said to be a living pterosaur, perhaps not unlike the kongamato of Africa.
(From the Live Pterosaurs blog) 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?
One obstacle in promoting serious investigations of Marfa Lights of Texas relates indirectly to assumptions about pterosaur extinction. Strange flying lights in Papua New Guinea—we call them “ropen lights”—sometimes behave like the ghost lights of Marfa. With so many eyewitness sightings of pterosaurs in both Papua New Guinea and in Texas, why not consider the obvious: Marfa Lights come from the bioluminescence of nocturnal flying predators, possibly related to ropens.
A group of mysterious flying lights that appear in a horizontal line or approximately horizontally for much of the time—those could be the Cheesman lights of New Guinea or the Marfa Lights of Texas. But the climate is so different, so how can pterosaur survive in the colder winters nights of southwest Texas?
If a group of large, intelligent nocturnal flying predators were to survive in North America, why would they not adapt a different strategy for winter? Why not fly long distances to hunt, if necessary? With local prey animals more likely to be underground, why not travel further away when hunting in winter? I suspect such predators would hunt more on more moderate nights, rather than the coldest nights . . .
Eight years of data collected by James Bunnell make it clear that Marfa Lights prefer warmer nights, even though they sometimes fly around on cold winter nights. But trying to find some non-living explanation for these mystery lights is becoming more and more difficult, as the data is analyzed.
The hypothesis that CE-III Marfa Lights are caused by bioluminescent flying predators comes from Jonathan Whitcomb, not from the scientist who compiled most of the data: James Bunnell.
How can science be involved with Marfa Ghost Lights, especially when those mystery lights are suggested to be from glowing pterosaurs? It seems incongruous. But science often involves predicting what should happen under certain conditions, and recent research has uncovered startling evidence that the more mysterious flying lights around Marfa, Texas, behave in a way that would be predicted for a group of intelligent bioluminescent flying predators that hunt as a group.
What should science predict for nocturnal group-hunters that have had a successful hunt on a particular night? Would they not try again the next night? Is it not likely that they might go to the same area at about the same time, on the next night? Of course. According to the post “A Scientific Look at Marfa Lights,” (April 8, 2011) on the blog Live Pterosaur, this relates to data gathered by the scientist James Bunnell and published in his book Hunting Marfa Lights.
. . . the consecutive nights of July 14th and 15th, 2006, . . . fit well the hypothesis of glowing flying predators, because of the start times of those ML events, recorded by Bunnell’s camera or cameras. On the first night, the mystery light display started 38 minutes after sunset, and on the second night, 37 minutes after sunset.
What is so astonishing about two consecutive nights of Marfa Lights? The CE mystery lights, as classified by Bunnell, are rare, sometimes being recorded by his cameras months apart rather than one day apart. According to the data in his book, some those sightings may be followed by almost a year without another camera-recorded sighting. Two consecutive nights is noteworthy, but the times of the first appearances on those two nights of July 14th and 15th, 2006, is astonishing, for they were not hours apart but only one minute apart.
What would be predicted for inanimate source of CE Marfa Lights? They would not be predicted to be seen on two consecutive nights when weather conditions differ. But the nights of July 14th and 15th, 2006, involved different weather factors, making inanimate sources unlikely.
According to the aforementioned blog post:
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.
“What about Marfa Lights that sometimes follow cars at night, in western Texas?”
The news is about a pterodactyl-interpretation or at least the possibility that Marfa Lights may be from the bioluminescence of flying creatures similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea.
No, Mr. Connelly, nobody suggests that any of the Marfa Lights in southwest Texas are caused by “giant birds.” But his blog post, hardly more than six sentences, is only ridicule, not worthy to be called “satire.” One sentence has more than one problem.
Now, most so-called “scientists” believe pterosaurs — you probably know them as “pterodactyles” — no longer exist.
Actually the correct spelling is “pterodactyls,” but there’s a worse problem here. If Mr. Connelly were to interview a number of scientists, having them chosen at random and from various fields of science, what might he learn about belief in pterosaur extinction? He might learn this: The extinction of all species of pterosaur is an assumption, not a proven fact. Even with a typical biologist, that concept is a basic assumption.
For many years, the Coelacanth was assumed to no longer exist. Even today, there may be unclassified species of that fish, swimming in some deep area of a sea or ocean that has not yet been much explored. We need to have an open mind for future discoveries in biology.