Are Modern Pterosaurs Bioluminescent?

That’s a good question, yes. I approach it from different sides, rather than just with one question, “Are modern pterosaurs bioluminescent?”.

Are any Large Flying Creatures Bioluminescent?

In other words, does anything larger than a firefly have wings for flying and have glowing capacity? There is a species other than a pterosaur that is purported to have intrinsic bioluminescent capability, namely the common barn owl, Tyto Alba.

Flying barn owl - Tyto Alba - photo by "Wild Lens"

Of course not all Barn Owls glow, but the Australia researcher Fred Silcock has written a book on this subject and he has some explanations. With one expert firmly believing that some barn owls in the wild can use bioluminescence, it may not seem quite so revolutionary to suggest that capacity in some pterosaurs. The name of the book by Silcock is The Min Min Light, The Visitor Who Never Arrives. This subject of glowing owls can get rather tedious, so I will move on.

Ropen of Papua New Guinea

I suggest, to anyone who would attempt to explain pterosaur bioluminescence to a skeptic, that we begin with reports of large flying creatures known to some of the natives of Papua New Guinea, creatures that glow as they fly. They are called by a variety of names:

  • ropen
  • duwas
  • seklo-bali
  • wawanar
  • indava
  • kor

The variety of native cultures in which this glowing flying creature is known is evidence of the biological reality of it, but not proof of its existence. But the following makes a substantial supplement to the native traditions and stories of encounters:

  • David Woetzel’s sighting on Umboi Island in 2004
  • Paul Nation’s video recording in 2006
  • The Destination Truth video recording in 2007

We could easily doubt one or the other, doubting native stories of encounters with giant featherless flying creatures and strange flying lights or doubting American explorers who witness and videotape strange flying lights. But we cannot nearly as easily throw away both of them together.

We could doubt Gideon Koro when he testified that he saw the ropen that had no feathers but a tail “seven meters” long or we could doubt Duane Hodgkinson when he testified that he saw a pterodactyl with a tail “at least” ten or fifteen feet long. But we cannot nearly as easily throw away both sightings together.

In conclusion, the fact that we do not yet have a live or fresh-dead body of a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur does not mean we do not have a strong case for the existence of a modern bioluminescent pterosaur. Patience is a virtue, but I will not sit around and say nothing until someone gets hold of a body. I encourage everybody to be open minded and do what can be done to support the research and the efforts of those who get out and look for modern pterosaurs.

Occam’s Razor and Marfa Lights

Bunnell’s H-4 requires two questionable things to interact. The bioluminescent-nocturnal-flying-predators hypothesis, “BNFP,” involves a questionable element, flying creatures not classified in biology, and an unquestionable element, prey such as bats, snakes, mice, and other small living things in southwest Texas. Of course, a predator need not always be hunting. They sometimes mate and compete for mates. Some predators even play. To the best of my knowledge, these aspects of group-predator behaviors can account for all the CE-III lights and more. The simplicity award goes to BNFP.

Flying Lights in the United States

I have seen them, they look like bats but flap their wings way different than birds do… And they have a red-orange bioluminiscent [sic] body… First time I spotted one was somewhere on Nov, 2011; last time I saw 2 of them together a week ago [March, 2012].

Pterosaur Sighting in South Carolina and in New Guinea

The men soon realized that it was no bird that started to circle the clearing. It had a tail “at least ten to fifteen feet long,” (book Searching for Ropens, 2007) and a long appendage at the back of its head: apparently, a live pterosaur.

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About Norman Huntington AKA Jonathan Whitcomb

Passionately supporting research into living modern pterosaurs
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2 Responses to Are Modern Pterosaurs Bioluminescent?

  1. Pingback: Ropen-Duah Tradition Dies Hard | Modern Pterosaur

  2. Don Lightbody says:

    I have read (and own) a copy of this book. It pretty much proves the fact that just because science states that something is extinct, that does not mean it is.
    Like Isaac Salapat, I give it 5 out of 5 stars – and if it was possible, I would consider giving it 6 stars! This is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the probable existence of modern day pterosaurs.

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