Glowing Pterosaurs in California?

The “ghost” lights that fly in and out of mud caves in a desert in California—they could be related to the ropen lights of Papua New Guinea, the Marfa Lights of Texas, and the glowing objects entering and exiting caves near a river in Oregon.

What is the basis for the idea that flying lights in California are nocturnal bioluminescent Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs? It relates to the following:

  • Many persons have seen long-tailed featherless flying creatures in Southern California
  • Glowing long-tailed pterosaurs have been seen in various parts of the earth
  • In some areas, these flying creatures are said to be associated with caves

Those details in themselves hardly prove that those lights entering and exiting mud caves in a desert must be the glow of modern pterosaurs, of course, but it proves that the case deserves a serious investigation.

Skeleton Ghost With a Light in its Chest

According to the documentary Ghost Lights of Anza Borrego State Park, an old legend involves a skeleton that wanders the desert, an apparition that has a glow coming from its rib cage. The documentary mentions the word lantern. That seems like a poor description of a pterosaur, until we consider how the original words of an eyewitness may have become distorted.

On occasion I get an email from an eyewitness who mentions that the wings membranes of the flying creature were thin enough to see some kind of supporting structure. This can be seen as bones, although that interpretation does not mean that actual bones were seen. The point is this: At some point of retelling an eyewitness account, a description can evolve into a skeleton story. And a spot of bioluminescent material can be interpreted as a lantern.

Mud Caves of the Anza Borrego

According to the documentary, occasional rainfall carves out the mud caves, and some of them are very long. Some reports indicate the flying lights enter and leave the “sky lights” sometimes found in the ceilings of some of these tunnels.

In 1995, two visitors were chasing what they thought was a huge firefly, across the desert, when they inadvertently followed it down a steep-walled funnel. One [person] was paralyzed by the fall; the other remains missing to this day.


Two entrances to mud caves in a desert

Some of the many cave entrances in this remote Southern California desert


On page 238 of my book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (4th edition), I wrote:

A few weeks before my expedition in 2004, a lady posted her account of a giant flying creature that had flown over her house in Encinitas, twenty-five miles north of San Diego. The loud swooshing of wings first caught her attention. The “huge dark bird,” heading east, then flew directly over her head. She reported, “It was much bigger than any bird I have ever seen, including vultures, condors.” She wondered how it could fly anywhere that it would not be seen, but she said, “I have since learned they like caves and . . . it was heading right for them..”


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