The following is taken from an email sent by Jonathan Whitcomb to one of the supporters of the living-pterosaur investigations.
You have given me much to think about and I have much to say. For now, I’d like to go into Marfa Lights research by James Bunnell and also sightings of nocturnal pterosaurs and limitations on what we can learn from them.
Yes, Bunnell assumed that CE-II and CE-III types of Marfa Lights are caused by non-living things, when he wrote the first edition of Hunting Marfa Lights. (He might some day write an expanded second edition.) But the data that led him to define those two types were from observations and comparisons between sightings. I see little chance of any major problem in his creating those two definitions: stationary blinking lights and moving ones.
Other aspects of his research, in contrast, have surely been influenced by his basic assumption about non-living causes. For example, he dismissed at least two sightings in which lights seemed to have chased automobiles; I believe he would have accepted those sightings as valid encounters with flying lights that actually followed cars, if he did not follow that non-living axiom.
Mountain near Marfa, Texas
Now let’s turn to sightings of apparent pterosaurs.
I believe that you have found some valid points regarding patterns. The path you would probably be taking, however, would be a much longer road than you have expected; it’s probably more complex than you have considered.
The sighting reports I have accumulated over the past ten years clearly demonstrate the credibility of the live-pterosaur concept. But they have much less value in predicting where future sightings will occur or where any pterosaur may be nesting, if that is the word. Here is why:
Sighting locations are scattered around the world. My specialty is in world-wide sightings of apparent pterosaurs. If I had the funds and could have spent the past nine years searching on Umboi Island, with no family ties in the USA, I would probably have significant photographic and video evidence, by now, of a living Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur on Umboi. As it is, I have written several books, over a thousand web pages and blog posts, and a scientific paper. Because of that, I have received many eyewitness reports; but the scattering, across much of the planet, is significant.
Only a small fraction of the human sightings of living pterosaurs is reported directly to any cryptozoologist or paranormal investigator, and those sightings are only a small sampling of all the places and times of flight for those creatures. We have too little data.
Let’s get as specific as we can. Even if each pterosaur could be seen at least once a year, for 20 seconds, what would we have? If all those sightings were reported we would have only have 1/10,000th of a percent of the flying times of those creatures.
All we know from any particular sighting is that for an extremely tiny part of the creature’s life, it was at a particular place at a particular time. Perhaps it has a secret hiding location 300 feet away and always lives around there. Perhaps it sleeps one mile away and flies around that neighborhood during that time of year. Perhaps it is passing through from an original nesting area 3,000 miles away and will never return.
But there’s another problem with trying to predict seasonal habits. Most modern pterosaurs are nocturnal. The daylight sightings teach us the most about their appearance, but they can be misleading if we try to stretch the information beyond reason. Consider the following:
A pterosaur was seen by three eyewitnesses early in a morning that must have been cold, for it was in winter in northern Minnesota. How can we come to any reasonable conclusion about seasonal appearances when this could have been a displaced individual, desperately trying to survive in a season and place in which it usually does not live? Did it sleep through the migration alarm clock or was it forced to come out of hibernation early?
Another pterosaur was seen in milder weather but it was right after a major storm had passed through the Winder, Georgia, area. Was it always living there, flying around only at night but disturbed enough to fly in the daylight after being displaced from its nest? A different individual of the same species was seen only days later, also in morning daylight, but in a slightly different location; but how can that tell us anything about seasonal migrations or seasonal behaviors? Maybe this is a displaced pair that is searching far afield for a place to raise young.
The point is this: The best sightings are almost always in daylight, but those probably have the least value in revealing where and when the nocturnal creatures normally fly. And where do they usually sleep in daylight?
Of course we have exceptions, like with the persons who were throwing rocks over the top of a cliff just before a large pterosaur flew out from somewhere below them: There may have been a nest in a cave. That sighting in Arkansas was decades ago, however, and that cliff is probably now part of private property where new condominiums thrive, at least it appears to be so from recent satellite images.
In other words, most sightings probably relate to how the creatures DO NOT normally behave. That’s the rub.
Getting back to Marfa Lights, data from Bunnell can tell us much, but without more eyewitnesses in this part of Texas, reports of apparent pterosaurs, what can be really helpful? Without those pterosaur flyovers that are seen by humans, it could take decades of detailed observations for even a few persons to come to any certain and accurate conclusion about CE-II’s and CE-III’s.
I don’t mean to imply that your reasoning is generally faulty, not at all. In fact, the solution to these problems you yourself just gave me:
“You’ve opened a door for people who have seen these creatures to share their experiences. By opening up they encourage others to open up, which opens the door for all of us to accept the reality . . . That, in turn, loosens – ever so gradually – the death grip of this stifling dogma cloaked in the august robes of ‘science.’ . . .”
Thank you very much for your support. Your words of encouragement help keep the investigation vigorous.