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Thursday, 28 April 2011
A reconstruction of Pliny's Unicorn as posted by Tiina 'Aarnia' Aumala on Elfwood
But that the fiercest animal is the Unicorn, which in the rest of the body resembles a horse, but in the head a stag, in the feet an elephant, and in the tail a boar, and has a deep bellow, and a single black horn three feet long projecting from the middle of the forehead. They say that it is impossible to capture this animal alive. - Pliny the Elder (1st century)
This description of Monokeros, the unicorn, said to live in India, made it to numerous medieval bestiaries, forming the base for the mythical unicorn known in west European lore. However, as we can see, the description is far from the antelopean creature seen in the accompanying illustrations, and nothing like the white cloven-hooved horned horses of modern fantasy.
Let's assume for a moment that Pliny's text is a fairly accurate description of a yet undiscovered mammal. A robust beast of horse-like features, not unlike a rhino either. It would therefore stand to reason that the unicorn is a perissodactylid, a member of a once much more diverse mammalian clade that includes horses, rhinos, tapirs as well as such strange extinct creatures as calicotheres. Based on this reasoning I tried to illustrate Pliny's description in ways the medieval illustrators wouldn't - or indeed couldn't.
Several commentators recognised this as a smooth-coated version of Elasmotherium and many said it was an unusually lovely reconstruction. I would agree: this would be the version that the Indus seals represent, from the Thar desert and Northern India. It would seem that the Central-Asiatic version would have the shaggier coat. This one would be commonly-called Kardakhan or Re'em if it is the same as the Unicorn of the Bible. It is almost certainly the Unicorn of the Indus Civilization's stamp-seals.
Now I have been carrying on a conversation with Dr. Koldo Gondra, who believes that the fossil antelope Procamptoceras is the origin of the Unicorn legend. My personal preference ifs for other candidates but because we are discoursing in such a friendly manner I chose to give an airing to that theory also. Here is the translated text from a Spanish-Language website that espouses the theory:
The Unicorn is one of the most suggestive mythological creatures. Considered symbol of the inspiring purity and of legend multitude, one is in the border between the fable and the allegory, apparently very moved away of the real world and in metaphor of the wild and indomitable nature that only yields before the presence of a maid. In medieval Europe, but also in places like Africa, India, China or America, the belief in this fantastic animal has been ingrained in different traditions. Nevertheless, this existence could have a real base.
We know for almost two centuries that an animal of these characteristics is impossible from the biological point of view. This data could have been the definitive death certificate of the legend of unicorn, of not being because the nature, sometimes, also makes its small traps. At the end of the Villafranchian period of the Pleistocene, that finalized a million ago years, the unicorns inhabited the European forests, at least,… or animal whose aspect was practically identical to gathered in the different traditions and legend. Clear that one was not a fantastic animal, but of an antelope of meat and bone whose scientific name is Procamptoceras brivatense. It had two very straight horns prepared in line, but that when being very next to each other and being covered by a single horn sheath, they offered the appearance of a single and it in center releases visible spear of his head.
Reconstruction of the Procamptoceras from a German-Language Paleontology site
It could be this one biological explanation for the legend of the unicorn? It is possible, although it could be objected that it does a million years were no human witnesses of the fates of these creatures in the European continent. Nevertheless, such point of view can absolutely not be correct… The found most recent bones of these singular unicornios antelopes have around a million years of antiquity, but that does not constitute any test that they have not lived until much more recent times. We do not forget that, in paleontology, the absence of fossil evidences is not a test of the absence of an animal, since it has been verified in multitude of occasions with the discovery of considered creatures extinguished. The Procamptoceras could have survived until more recent times and its apparition, with that unique great horn in center of its head, would have been the germ of the legend of the unicorn.
Another possible indication survival of true unicorn until historical times, provides small seals pertaining to the civilization of Mohenjo-Daro, in Pakistan. This culture, that appeared in the valley of the Hindu 5,500 years ago, left like legacy several thousands of small recorded small stamp-seals, the majority with animal representations. One thing is, since they have confirmed recent carried out shootings in the region, a portion of the existing fauna in the zone during that time: rhinos, elephants, buffalos and also animal of voluminous body equipped with a long horn in the forehead. These unicorns, that appear approximately in the quarter of stamp fields, do not have the streamlined aspect of the mythological representations, but one more an appearance more dumpy than suggests, like the other small seals, would reproduce real animal.
[Ancient Persian Goat- or Antelope-Unicorn, possibly even meant to represent an Oryx]
I suspect that these passages are pretty close copies of Dr. Kolo Gondra's work because much the same words are repeated over and over again at the various sites.
Against this view only I have found another posting:
The "unicorn" that if there were
When you talk of unicorns, you must not say that they are mythical beings, but legendary. Is not the same myth than legend. The myth is an invented explanation to a question or an important question. The legend is a fact that distorted time and shaped the same time. The legends always have an outbreak of reality.
Unicorns in prehistory there were not white horses, antelopes, but the family Bovidae. In the Pleistocene, and disappeared in the High Antiquity have filed for science at Procamptoceras Brivatense , although it is true that despite having the appearance of having only one horn, it was actually a sheath that covered 2 that were close together.
However, the real unicorn would Tsaidamotherium , who lived in the Miocene (22-2 million years ago). It was an antelope with one horn in the middle of his forehead. Both species are classified by science. They were "unicorns" and they only had a horn.
To emphasize that for the Greeks and Romans, and Babylonians and Hindus before, unicorns were horses, but antelope and deer, were not white, says Ctesias (which also hits with the description of its true color, the Tsaidamotherium) .
The conversion of the unicorn legend was given in the Middle Ages, Isidore (sixth century AD), in his "Etymologies." That gave him a white horse with a spiraling horn, impossible to catch unless you use bait is a virgin, San Isidoro also invented the magical powers of animal (capable of destroying the poison by touch with the horn, etc) .
But if you look, even in the Middle Ages, continued to paint and draw the unicorn and deer (Cluny tapestries, for example) and still have, even if it were represented as equine, goat's beard and cloven hooves like deer ( hooves not typical).
Remember: the unicorn is a real basis in nature, and he is entitled Biology and Paleontology: the Tsaidamotherium and Procamptoceras brivatense .
I had been focusing on Tsaidamotherium because I had been focusing especially on traditions of the Oriental unicorn amd I was struck by how the animal's mismatched central horns could look like a single forked (stag's) horn. However it does turn out after some research that Procamtoceras and Tsaidamotherium are very closely related and in lfe they would appear to be of similar size, shape and habits. There is another possible Cryptid related to them in Africa that could be represented in primitive art there, Mesembriportax, which was touched on by Christine Janis in CRYPTOZOOLOGY magazine along with several other peculiar ungulates. I had planned to discuss them here but it shall have to wait for another time. At this point I am only saying that Tsaidamotherium had a great many relatives, several of which could have had the appearance of having but a single horn in life: see list at the end of this blog posting. The important thing for my thesis is that Procamptoceras and Tsaidamotherium were both related to the current chamois of Europe, and about the same size, colouring and habits: to quote the Larousse encyclopedia on the matter:
One of the representatives of caprinés, Oioceros of China, of Kenya and Balkans, was same size that the goral of today, had spiral horns and liked itself in the rough grounds. One generally admits that the rupicaprini correspond to the ancestral forms of the caprini, another tribe of caprinés which includes/understands the goats, the moufflons, the thar and the bharal. Rupicaprini and caprini started to evolve/move separately during miocene.
Of Asian origin, the ancestors of the chamois would have colonized little by little, the high mountains of Europe. Among these rupicaprini, one knows Procamptoceras brivatense, chamois resembling a goat. But the evolution of the Rupicapra kind remains a mystery because the oldest bones that one found date only from the end of pleistocene in Europe, i.e. there are 30 000 to 40 000 years. At this point in time the displacement of the glaciers of the north of Europe and the Alps obliged the chamois to flee the tops to gain less low territories, the zones of average and basic altitudes, with the less hard climate. That explains why one found fossils of chamois in almost all the countries of Europe, in particular in France, in the departments close to the Alps, of the Vosges, of the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, where it bears the name of isard today.
It is only after the last glaciation - that of Würm -, several thousands of years after, that the chamois again colonized the forests and the rocks of the higher areas where they remained so far.
There are indeed a few genuine Unicorn traditions from Europe, in the Carpathians, in parts of Poland and Czechoslavakia and in the Pyrennes, which might be persisting Procamptoceras
but described in legends as Unicorns. And it is hard to say if the unicorns that may have survived into recent times were both Tsaidamotherium and Procamptoceras or one persistant genus that happened to develop species which resembled either of those genera. But doubtless we are still talking some very close relative. Possibly even Mesembriportax in Africa, although that might be only a misunderstood Oryx again.
Best Wishes, Dale D.
Dr. Koldo Gondra wishes also that I specify the Bibliographic resources:
Koldo Gondra del Campo "El Unicornio, La leyenda en E.H". Aunia. ISBN 978-84-933503-7-6 V. XXI
Koldo Gondra "Mito y realidad del unicornio". Deusto University. Antropología Cultural, 2008.
Koldo Gondra "El Unicornio: la Leyenda". 2007 Aunia Cultural
Bjorn Kurten of Sweden and Miguel Seguí, of Catalunya (Barcelona University), 2000-2001 (Biology Database)
And Doctor Koldo Gondra also writes
"In Facebook I created one little page of unicorns (information, images, photogaphs, etc)for Unicornios"----> http://www.facebook.com/pages/Unicornios/302068286025
Goat with same sort of horns as Procamptoceras.
Mammalia - Pecora - Bovidae
Procamptoceras was named by Schaub (1923). It is not counted as a living species.
It was assigned to Bovidae by Carroll (1988).
Species lacking formal opinion data P. bivratense, P. brivatense
Antilospira, Benicerus, Bibos, Bootherium (syn. Symbos), Bucapra, Cambayella, Criotherium, Damalavus, Damalops, Deperetia, Dorcadoryx, Dorcadoxa, Eosyncerus, Eotragus, Euceratherium (syn. Aftonius, Preptoceras), Gallogoral, Gangicobus, Gazellospira, Gobiocerus, Helicoportax, Helicotragus, Hemibos, Hemistrepsiceros, Hesperidoceras, Hesperoceras, Hezhengia, Homoiodorcas, Hydaspicobus, Hypsodontus, Indoredunca, Kabulicornis, Kobikeryx, Kubanotragus, Leptobos, Leptotragus, Lyrocerus, Makapania, Megalotragus, Megalovis, Menelikia, Mesembriacerus, Mesembriportax, Microtragus, Miotragocerus, Moschiola, Neotragocerus, Nisidorcas, Olonbulukia, Orasius, Orchonoceros, Oreonager, Oreotragus, Orygotherium, Pachygazella, Pachyportax, Pachytragus, Palaeoreas, Palaeoryx, Parabos, Paraprotoryx, Paratragocerus, Parmularius, Parurmiatherium, Perimia, Platybos, Platycerabos, Pliotragus, Praeovibos, Proamphibos, Procobus, Prodamaliscus, Proleptobos, Prosinotragus, Prostrepsiceros, Protoryx, Protragelaphus, Protragocerus, Pseudobos, Pseudoeotragus, Pseudotragus, Pultiphagonides, Qurliqnoria, Rabaticeras, Rhynchotragus, Rhynotragus, Ruticeros, Samokeros, Selenoportax, Shensispira, Simatherium, Sinoreas, Sinoryx, Sinotragus, Sivacapra, Sivaceros, Sivacobus, Sivadenota, Sivaportax, Sivatragus, Sivoreas, Sivoryx, Soergelia, Spirocerus, Sporadotragus, Strepsiportax, Strogulognathus, Tchaltacerus, Thaleroceros, Toribos, Torticornis, Tossunnoria, Tragocerus, Tragoportax, Tragoreas, Tragospira, Tsaidamotherium, Turritragus, Ugandax, Vishnucobus
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Sao culture Terracotta, Lake Chad "Monster", probably a giant monitor lizard the same as the "Giant Ethiopian Lizard" seen more recently. The Shilluk in the Sudan refer to it as a "Smooth crocodile" and fetish wooden sculptures of "Congo Dragons" also have this same form of head.
To which I added the comment:
Which does not resolve the basic tangle over what the Mokele-Mbembe is or what the Congo Dragon is in general. Actually, both terms are vague enough that they can be used commonly to refer to such creatures as "Water-Elephants" and "Water-Rhinos" as well as to snakelike or lizardliks creatures. And most sources do not also indicate that similar or the same sorts of creatures as The Mokele-Mbembe and Nguma-Monene are reported (in Folklore or as actual "Reports") in Nigeria and including the Niger River also. I have a record of names similar to "Badigui" being used in central Nigeria also. Other variations on the name "Mokele-Mbembe" include the spellings of Le'kela-Mbembe, Mbokalemuembe, Mbulu-em'Bembe or M'koo-m'bemboo, Moke'-Nbe and Nwe. In this regard it is perhaps useful to mention that the word for "Demon" used in the Kongamato blog entry (and as opposed to the Kongamato in that case) was mulombe, possibly also one source for the name 'Mulilo'
And even given that we are limiting ourselves to the long-necked reptillian sorts of reports there are important variations which are often glossed over. The legs are said to be elephant-like and connected to the round-but-three-toed tracks, or else they are flippers shaped like diamond-shaped canoe paddles used in that region. And the creatures can be described as herbivores but sometimes said to eat fish instead. Other than that, their fearsome reputation comes from the allegation that the commonly kill elephants, hippos, crocodiles, manatees and attack canoes, killing the people inside them, presumably because the creature mistakes them for rivals. I would question the idea that it kills other creatures on the premise that it mistakes them for rivals of its own species simply because rivalries within a single species are designed NOT to be generally fatal to either of the participants. So I would make a distinction that the Water-Rhinos are known to kill elephants and hippos when times are bad and feeding grounds are at stake, but the longer-necked creatures do not kill them, they have gained guilt by confusion of the categories. And while the flipper-footed fish-eater has no interest in dead hippos or other creatures, the long and low-slung lizard is an opportunsit feeder and a scavenger OR a fruit-eater as the opportunity presents itself, and therefore it is the one to be seen snagging snacks off of lianas and the one hanging around large animal corpses. It is doubtful if it has the capacity to kill them in a direct conflict, but the lizard could easily wipe out crocodiles in small areas by eating the crocodile's eggs. Furthermore, it seems the larger lizard is a type of monitor lizard like a Komodo dragon, and it does kill the commoner but smaller Nile monitor in areas where their ranges coincide. That much is possibly a valuable indicator as to its identity.
This "Little Gold Dinosaur" was featured in one of a trio of "Living Dinosaur" articles in PURSUIT of January 1970, Vol. 3, No. 1, which is the first PURSUIT I still have from my original membership with the SITU; I had joined about then. Speculation was that this little figurine found by Manny Staub in a set of Ashanti balance-scale weights represented a two-legged dinosaur such as an Iguanodon or possibly a Tyrannosaur, but I think it is more likely a sort of a Komodo dragon caricature. Whatever it is, it is standing firmly on all four legs.
The Ashanti gold figurine continues to be reproduced over the internet, but the third article in this set seems to have gone largely forgotten (The first article concerns a rock art "Brontosaurus" from near Salisbury, South Africa) The third article is entitled "He Have Head for Trunk" and it is on pages 16 and 17 of that issue. The report concerns an expedition in the land that was then called Dahomey (in 1959) along a tributary of the Oueme River called locally the N'gode or N'gobe. The carriers suddenly refused to go on into a swamp and threatened to abandon the expedition, so that the expedition all agreed to return with the bearers to their home village, where they were greeted as if they had all returned from the dead. The Chief explained in Pidgin-English repeated and deciphered in the article:
"'For de middle of dis big land-water (swamp) dere be water-water big too much; an' for dis water-water (lake) live plenty Water-Elephant. Dis Water-elephant no be brother for land-elephant. (1) He be much big past land-elephant. He no have trunk for head, but head for trunk. (2) Trunk come from body, and on end is head small-small past land-Elephant. (3) Front feet is like pirogue paddles, flat, and him make swim fast. Back feet I never see nohow, but have, mebbe? But tail too long and big like body, near body. (4) Behind, tail much like koboko (whip). He no chop'em people but chop 'em grass and small-small tree; but no like 'em people. Come out for water onetime and roll 'em people for ground, and make (look) like blanket; then take 'em for water, but no chop'em'" The creature was called in this instance Moke-N'be and the report was submitted by SITU member 176. The member continued with more explanation:
"Not being overly credulous I first suspected that his description might fit a sea-cow-like critter and so I drew a dugong and a manatee from memory. Luckily he could 'see picture'...and said at once, 'De body she be much like so, but the head is for neck much too long-mebbe long past two men (5)- and de mouth she not like the mouth of a hippo but like the mouth for goanna (the Liberian-American pidgin term 'goanna=iguana' is used indiscriminately for any large monitor-like lizard)."
The footnotes are as follows: (1) This means definitely that this so-called "Water-elephant" is not an elephant at all but something quite different. The use of the word "Elephant" means simply some large animal, grey in color. (2) This is just about as explicit as one can be in any language, and means that while elephants have a trunk depending from their heads, this creature has a head at the end of what looks like a trunk....(3)This means, by African inversion of superlatives, that the head of this beast is very-very small in proportion to its body size. (4) This is a neat way of saying that it has a very long tail, but that this gets progressively thicker towards the body and finally flows into it at about the circumference of the animal's haunches...(5)This is another inversion, in that the Chief meant the neck of the "Water-Elephant" was very long; not that the neck in the drawing was too long...[Dale adds his two cents and points out that the chief indicates a length of neck at least the height of two men, or about 12 feet, minimum]
This depiction added earlier in the Plesiosaurian Taniwhas blog posting is from that general area and so this is a Moke-N'be or else some other name very like it. The "Little Gold Dinosaur" is also from the same country and this would support the notion of two distinct types of "Congo Dragons" in West Africa also.
This is Mackal's depiction of the Nguma-Monene. Under the name of Badigui, it was one of the basic catecories of reports which Heuvelmans counted the same as the Mokele-Mbembe and suggested could be a surviving dinosaur but was more likely a giant monitor lizard (On the Track of Unknown Animals, "The Dragon St. George Did Not Kill")
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nguma-monene ("large python" in Lingala language) is a cryptid supposedly living in the Republic of Congo, described as being like a large lizard with a serrated ridge on its back
Two testimonials of sightings exist that were done near the Dongu-Mataba (tributary of the Ubangi River) in The Republic of the Congo. The first was done in 1961; the second ten years later in 1971 by pastor Joseph Ellis. He estimated the length of the (visible) tailpart as 10 meters long (equal to his dugout, no neck or head could be seen), and a diameter of 0.5 to 1 meter. Its color was tending to greyish-brown. When back in the village, it appeared that the subject was taboo. These and other sightings were gathered by University of Chicago biologist Roy P. Mackal, who led two expeditions to the Likouala swamps in the Republic of Congo, while searching for the Mokele-mbembe. Mackal concluded that the animal has a low-slung body, and therefore is more like a lizard than a snake, as "Ellis was positive the animal never raised itself sufficiently after leaving the water". Mackal also noted that the animal's triangular- or diamond-shaped ridges were similar (but smaller) to those from the Mbielu-Mbielu-Mbielu, but not the animals themselves. This is a common misreading from his book and mixed up at a lot of webpages.
Possibly the same animal is described in the 1958 book On the Track of Unknown Animals by Bernard Heuvelmans. In 1928 a snakelike animal called Ngakoula-ngou or Badigui was reported in the Ubangi-Shari area. This report was made by game inspector Lucien Blancou, who later in 1954 also made the first report of the Emela-Ntouka. According to this report, it killed a hippo in the Brouchouchou river without leaving any sign of a wound. It also crushed a manioc field, causing tracks from 1 to 1.5 meter wide. Similar reports from 1932 (at Bouzoum) and 1934 exist, in which it is named Diba, Songo, Mourou-ngou and Badigui. In the 1934 report, an old man had especially come to see Blancou, as he was told that he showed interest in the animal. The old man narrated that in about 1890 he was fishing in the Kibi stream (Bakala district), and saw the Badigui eating from a tree, called "roro". He described the neck to be "as thick as a man's thigh", and the underneath of the neck was lighter colored. He could not see the full body, only about 8 meters of the neck. He also said "it does not frequent places where you find hippos, for it kills them". Finally in 1945, the animal's tracks were spotted near Ndélé, by Blancou's gun carrier. It is believed by some people to be a living dinosaur,most likely a four legged spinosaurid. If Nguma-Monene is a giant member of the spinosaur family this would be an amazing discovery because no spinosaurid has ever gotten this massive. Most likely a living suchomimus or even the spinosaurus.
2.^ Mackal, Roy P. A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1987: ISBN 90-04-08543-2
3.^ American Monsters
Mokele-Mbembe as a hippopotamus-killing Long-Necked Sauropod or Plesiosaur, going on the information given by Powell and subsequently incorporated into Roy Mackal's books.
Older Magazine article depicting the Mokele-Mbembe, late 1940s or ealy 1950s, and the illustration slanted to make the creature seem to be the inspiration for the Babylonian Sirrush. This does not correspond to Mokele-Mbembe sightings as such, although the headgear might resemble the Surviving Sivathere instead.
Big Australian Goanna Lizard, Illustrating the comment made by Heuvelmans that the reported anatomy would not be too far off for the identification of the "Congo Dragon" with a giant monitor lizard.
Mackal's reconstruction of the Mokele-Mbembe as a small sauropod dinsaur in the range of twelve to twenty-four, or at most, thirty feet long. This is against the allegations that the creature is "Bigger than an elephant"
There are a couple of problems in claiming that the Mokele-Mbembe is a sauropod dinosaur. The first and most obvious one is that a sustainable breeding herd of sauropods would strip all the edible vegetation from their territory, especially if they lived only in certain bends of the river.
Then there is the matter that The theory depends on an outmoded idea about sauropod lifestyle. Since the end of the 1960s, sauropod dinosaurs have not been thought to be hippopotamus-like amphibious animals but primarily like elephants instead, primarily nomadic land-dwelling herd animals. It is only in the older books that you see reconstructions of brontosaurs wallowing in the swamp all day.
The third thing which pretty much cinches the argument is that the descriptions also do not match known sauropod anatomy. Sightings insist that the creatures have legs "stuck on the sides of the belly like a lizard's legs" and that when they come out on land they slide on the belly (ruling out the obvious rhino tracks discussed earlier)
Now, against the theory that we are dealing with a surviving sauropod dinosaur we also have these additional facts:
A) During the flash-card tests, Powell obtained results that matched Plesiosaurs against the "Nyamala" as often as the matches were with sauropod dinosaurs.
B) Some of the informants did not claim that the creatures were vegetarians: some said they might eat fish instead.
C) The reported dimensions exactly match the clearer sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. A Chinese missionary once had a Mokele-Mbembe sighting ashore where the long neck and back were seen above some bushes, the limbs being obscured. This sighting exactly matched some of the sightings of a creature on land on the shores of Loch Ness.
[Sighting of a swimming Mokele-Mbembe.]
In short, I think this particular series of "Congo Dragon" reports are part of a worldwide pattern of the marine Longnecked Sea-serpents going inland into the larger rivers and estuaries, casually and only temporarily. That is how the same types of creatures might turn up in Mexico, Central Africa, and in Australia-as well as other locations in the higher latitudes. The fish-eating plesiosaurs would not be stripping off all available riverside vegetation and making it look as if a plague of locusts had been through there-but breeding herds of sauropod dinosaurs would.
This is on the other hand a reasonable depiction of the more widespread Native-African "Congo Dragon" much more like a large Komodo dragon lizard. It corresponds to various descriptions of "Smooth crocodiles: in the region and is probably the same as Nguma-Monene [Mackal's interpretation], Nsanga and sometimes also called Chipekwe ["Water-Monster"]
There is evidence that it kills off rival Nile Monitors in its range and sometimes eradicates crocodiles in some areas by eating up their eggs. It is also sometimes seen to scavenge hippo and elephant carcasses, which it rips up with its long claws, but it also somtimes has a sweet tooth for fruit. It also evidently develops oddly "Differentiated" teeth from eating snails and shellfish, such as some of the smaller monitors are known to develop in older age, with longer "Fangs" up front but blunter crushing teeth behind, corresponding to mammalian molars. Because of this the creatures are sometimes said to have "Tusks"
Local Names for "Congo Dragons"
The circled part is the Congo basin where, oddly enough, Nile monitors are uncommon to completely missing where they might otherwise be expected to live.
Scale Mockup for Nile Monitor as Vs. The Congo Dragon, using a Komodo dragon as the illustration. The actual Congo Dragon seems longer and more elongated than the Komodo dragon.
Mokèlé-mbèmbé, meaning "one who stops the flow of rivers" in the Lingala language, is the name given to a large water-dwelling cryptid found in legends and folklore of the Congo River basin. It is sometimes described as a living creature and sometimes as a spirit. It could be considered loosely analogous to the Loch Ness Monster in Western culture.
Several expeditions have been mounted in the hope of finding evidence of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, though without success. Efforts have been covered in a number of books and by a number of television documentaries. The Mokèlé-mbèmbé and its associated folklore also appear in several works of fiction and popular culture.
OverviewAccording to the traditions of the Congo River basin the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is a large territorial herbivore. It is said to dwell in Lake Télé and the surrounding area, with a preference for deep water, and with local folklore holding that its haunts of choice are river bends.
Descriptions of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé vary. Some legends describe it as having an elephant-like body with a long neck and tail and a small head, a description which has been suggested to be similar in appearance to that of the extinct Sauropoda, while others describe it as more closely resembling elephants, rhinoceros, and other known animals. It is usually described as being gray-brown in color. Some traditions, such as those of Boha Village, describe it as a spirit rather than a flesh and blood creature.
According to the writings of biologist Roy Mackal, who mounted two unsuccessful expeditions to find it, it is likely that the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is a reptile. Of all the living reptiles, Mackal argues that the iguana and the monitor lizards bear the closest resemblance to the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, though, at 15 to 35 feet (5 to 9 m) long, the Mokèlé-mbèmbé would exceed the size of any known living examples of such reptiles, writing, "I believe the description of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is accounted for in all respects by an identification with a small sauropod dinosaur".
The BBC/Discovery Channel documentary Congo (2001) interviewed a number of tribe members who identified a photograph of a rhinoceros as being a Mokèlé-mbèmbé. Neither species of African rhinoceros is common in the Congo Basin, and the Mokèlé-mbèmbé may be a mixture of mythology and folk memory from a time when rhinoceros were found in the area.
Numerous expeditions were undertaken to discover uncharted Africa. During these, there were some sightings that have been argued by cryptozoologists to involve some unidentified dinosaur-like creature. Additionally, there have been several specific Mokèlé-mbèmbé-hunting expeditions. Although several of the expeditions have reported close encounters, none have been able to provide incontrovertible proof that the creature exists. The sole evidence that has been found is the presence of widespread folklore and anecdotal accounts covering a considerable period of time.
Amongst the earliest reference that might be relevant to Mokèlé-mbèmbé stories (though the term is not used in the source) comes from the 1776 book of Abbé Lievain Bonaventure, a French missionary to the Congo River region. Among many other observations about flora, fauna, and native inhabitants related in his lengthy book, Bonaventure claimed to have seen enormous footprints in the region. The creature that left the prints was not witnessed, but Bonaventure wrote that it "must have been monstrous: the marks of the claws were noted on the ground, and these formed a print about three feet in circumference."
According to Lt. Paul Gratz' account from 1909, indigenous legends of the Congo River Basin in modern day Zambia spoke of a creature known by native people as the "Nsanga", which was said to inhabit the Lake Bangweulu region. Gratz described the creature as resembling a sauropod. This is one of the earliest references linking an area legend with dinosaurs, and has been argued to describe a Mokèlé-mbèmbé-like creature. In addition to hearing stories of the "Nsanga" Gratz was shown a hide which he was told belonged to the creature, while visiting Mbawala Island.
1909 saw another mention of a Mokèlé-mbèmbé-like creature, in Beasts and Men, the autobiography of famed big-game hunter Carl Hagenbeck. He claimed to have heard from multiple independent sources about a creature living in the Congo region which was described as "half elephant, half dragon." Naturalist Joseph Menges had also told Hagenbeck about an animal alleged to live in Africa, described as "some kind of dinosaur, seemingly akin to the brontosaurs." Another of Hagenbeck's sources, Hans Schomburgk, asserted that while at Lake Bangweulu, he noted a lack of hippopotami; his native guides informed him of a large hippo-killing creature that lived in Lake Bangweulu; however, as noted below, Schomburgk thought that native testimony was sometimes unreliable.
Reports of dinosaur-like creatures in Africa caused a minor sensation in the mass media, and newspapers in Europe and North America carried many articles on the subject in 1910-1911; some took the reports at face value, others were more skeptical.
1913: von Stein
Another report comes from the writings of German Captain Freiherr von Stein zu Lausnitz, who was ordered to conduct a survey of German colonies in what is now Cameroon in 1913. He heard stories of an enormous reptile alleged to live in the jungles, and included a description of the beast in his official report. According to Willy Ley, "von Stein worded his report with utmost caution," knowing it might be seen as unbelievable. Nonetheless, von Stein thought the tales were credible: trusted native guides had related the tales to him, and the stories were related to him by independent sources, yet featured many of the same details. Though von Stein's report was never formally published, portions were included in later works, including a 1959 book by Ley. Von Stein wrote:
The animal is said to be of a brownish-gray color with a smooth skin, its size is approximately that of an elephant; at least that of a hippopotamus. It is said to have a long and very flexible neck and only one tooth but a very long one; some say it is a horn. A few spoke about a long, muscular tail like that of an alligator. Canoes coming near it are said to be doomed; the animal is said to attack the vessels at once and to kill the crews but without eating the bodies. The creature is said to live in the caves that have been washed out by the river in the clay of its shores at sharp bends. It is said to climb the shores even at daytime in search of food; its diet is said to be entirely vegetable. This feature disagrees with a possible explanation as a myth. The preferred plant was shown to me, it is a kind of liana with large white blossoms, with a milky sap and applelike fruits. At the Ssombo River I was shown a path said to have been made by this animal in order to get at its food. The path was fresh and there were plants of the described type nearby. But since there were too many tracks of elephants, hippos, and other large mammals it was impossible to make out a particular spoor with any amount of certainty.
1919-1920: Smithsonian Institution
A 32-man-strong expedition was sent out to Africa from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. between 1919 and 1920. The objective of this expedition was to secure additional specimens of plants and animals. Moving picture photographers from the Universal Film Manufacturing Company accompanied the expedition, in order to document the life of interior Africa. According to cryptozoologists Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe, authors of the Field Guide to Lake Monsters, "African guides found large, unexplained tracks along the bank of a river and later in a swamp the team heard mysterious roars, which had no resemblance with any known animal". However, the expedition was to end in tragedy. During a train-ride through a flooded area where an entire tribe was said to have seen the dinosaur, the locomotive suddenly derailed and turned over. Four team members were crushed to death under the cars and another half dozen seriously injured. The expedition was documented in the H.L. Shantz papers.
1927 saw the publication of Trader Horn, the memoir of Alfred Aloysius Smith, who had worked for a British trading company in what is now Gabon in the late 1800s. In the book, Smith related tales told him by natives and explorers about a creature given two different names: "jago-nini" and "amali". The creature was said to be very large, according to Smith, and to leave large, round, three-clawed footprints.
Cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson claimed that, while in Cameroon [on the border to Nigeria-DD]in 1932, he witnessed an enormous creature in the Mainyu River. The creature, seemingly badly wounded [?], was only briefly visible as it lurched into the water. Darkly colored, the animal's head alone was nearly the size of a hippo, according to Sanderson. His native guides termed the creature "m'koo m'bemboo", in Sanderson's phonetic spelling.
1938: von BoxbergerIn 1938, explorer Leo von Boxberger mounted an expedition in part to investigate Mokèlé-mbèmbé reports. He collected much information from natives, but his notes and sketches had to be abandoned during a conflagration with local tribesmen.
1939: von NoldeIn 1939, the German Colonial Gazette (of Angola) published a letter by Frau Ilse von Nolde, who asserted that she had heard of the animal called "coye ya menia" ("water lion") from many claimed eyewitnesses, both natives and settlers. She described the long necked creature as living in the rivers, and being about the size of a hippo, if not somewhat larger. It was known especially for attacking hippos - even coming on to land to do so - though it never ate them.
1966: RidelIn August or September 1966, Yvan Ridel took a picture of a large footprint with three toes, north-east of Loubomo, notable as hippopotami have four toes.
In 1960, an expedition to Zaire was planned by herpetologist James H. Powell, Jr., scheduled for 1972, but was canceled by legal complications. By 1976, however, he had sorted out the international travel problems, and went to Gabon instead, inspired by the book Trader Horn. He secured finances from the Explorer's Club. Although Powell’s ostensible research aim was to study crocodiles, he also planned to study Mokèlé-mbèmbé.
On this journey, Powell located a claimed eyewitness to an animal called "n'yamala", or "jago-nini", which Powell thought was the same as the "amali" of Smith's 1920's books. Natives also stated – without Powell's asking - that "n'yamala" ate the flowering liana, just as von Stein had been told half a century earlier. When Powell showed illustrations of various animals, both alive and extinct, to natives, they generally suggested that the Diplodocus was the closest match to "n'yamala". [NB-the natives also selected a picture of a Plesiosaur as often according to Mackal's book Searching for Hidden Animals-DD]
Powell returned to the same region in 1979, and claimed to receive further stories about "n'yamala" from additional natives. He also made an especially valuable contact in American missionary Eugene Thomas, who was able to introduce Powell to several claimed eyewitnesses. He decided that the n'yamala was probably identical to the Mokèlé-mbèmbé. Though seemingly herbivores, witnesses reported that the creatures were fearsome, and were known to attack canoes that were steered too close.
1979: ThomasReverend Eugene Thomas from Ohio, USA, told James Powell and Roy P. Mackal in 1979 a story that involved the purported killing of a Mokèlé-mbèmbé near Lake Tele in 1959. Thomas was a missionary who had served in the Congo since 1955, gathering much of the earliest evidence and reports, and claiming to have had two close-encounters himself. Natives of the Bangombe tribe who lived near Lake Tele were said to have constructed a large spiked fence in a tributary of Tele to keep Mokèlé-mbèmbé from interfering with their fishing. A Mokele-mbembe managed to break through, though it was wounded on the spikes, and the natives then killed the creature. As William Gibbons writes, "Pastor Thomas also mentioned that the two pygmies mimicked the cry of the animal as it was being attacked and speared... Later, a victory feast was held, during which parts of the animal were cooked and eaten. However, those who participated in the feast eventually died, either from food poisoning or from natural causes. I also believe that the mythification (magical powers, etc) surrounding Mokèlé-mbèmbés [sic] began with this incident." Furthermore, Mackal heard from witnesses that the stakes were in the same location in the tributary as of the early 1980s.
For his third expedition in February 1980, Powell was joined by Roy P. Mackal. Based on the testimony of claimed eyewitnesses, Powell and Mackal decided to focus their efforts on visiting the northern Congo regions, near the Likouala aux Herbes River and isolated Lake Tele. As of 1980, this region was little explored and largely unmapped, and the expedition was unable to reach Lake Tele. Powell and Mackal interviewed several people who claimed to have seen Mokèlé-mbèmbé, and Clark writes that the descriptions of the creature were "strikingly similar ... animals 15 to 30 feet (5 to 9 m) long (most of that a snakelike head and neck, plus long thin tail). The body was reminiscent of a hippo's, only more bulbous ... again, informants invariably pointed to a picture of a sauropod when shown pictures of various animals to which mokele-mbembe might be compared." Mackal and Powell were interviewed before and after this expedition for the TV program Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.
Mackal and Jack Bryan mounted an expedition to the same area in late 1981. He was supposed to be joined by Herman Regusters, but they came in conflict in terms of finance, equipment and leadership and decided to split and make separate expeditions. Although, once again, Mackal was unable to reach Lake Tele, he gathered details on other cryptids and possible living dinosaurs, like the Emela-ntouka, Mbielu-Mbielu-Mbielu, Nguma-monene, Ndendeki (giant turtle), Mahamba (a giant crocodile of 15 meters), and Ngoima (a giant monkey-eating Eagle). Among his company were J. Richard Greenwell, M. Justin Wilkinson, and Congolese zoologist Marcellin Agnagna.
The 1981 expedition would feature the only "close encounters" of the Mackal expeditions. It occurred when, while on a river, they heard a loud splash and saw what Greenwell described as "[a] large wake (about 5") ... originating from the east bank". Greenwell asserted that the wake must have been caused by an "animate object" that was unlike a crocodile or hippo. Additionally, Greenwell noted that the encounter occurred at a sharp river bend where, according to natives, Mokèlé-mbèmbé frequently lived due to deep waters at those points.
1987 saw the publication of Mackal's book, A Living Dinosaur?, in which Mackal detailed his expedition and his conclusions about the Mokèlé-mbèmbé. Mackal tried, unsuccessfully, to raise funds for additional trips to Africa.
In 1981, American engineer Herman Regusters led his own Mokèlé-mbèmbé expedition, after having a conflict with the Mackal-Bryan expedition that he intended to join. Regusters and his wife Kai reached Lake Tele, staying there for about two weeks. Of the 30 expedition members (28 were men from the Boha village), only Herman Regusters and his wife claim to have observed a "long-necked member" traveling across Lake Tele. They also claim to have tried filming the being, but said their motion picture film was ruined by the heat and humidity. Only one picture was released showing a large, but unidentifiable, object in the lake. The Regusters expedition returned with droppings and footprint casts, which Regusters believed were from the mokele-mbembe.
It also returned with sound recordings of "low windy roar [that] increased to a deep throated trumpeting growl", which Regusters believed to be the Mokèlé-mbèmbé's call. This recording was submitted for technical evaluation with a noted zoological source, but were inconclusive, except to note that the sounds were not attributable to any known wildlife. Despite this result, Regusters conclusions about this tape were later challanged by Mackal, who asserted that the Mokèlé-mbèmbé did not have a vocal call. Mackal asserts that vocalizations are more correctly associated with the Emela-ntouka, a similarly described creature found in the Central African legends.
Herman Alphanso Regusters died on December 19, 2005, aged 72.
Congolese biologist Marcellin Agnagna led the 1983 expedition of Congolese to Lake Tele. According to his own account, Agnagna claimed to have seen a Mokèlé-mbèmbé at close distance for about 20 minutes. He tried to film it, but said that in his excitement, he forgot to remove the motion picture camera's lens cap. In a 1984 interview, Agnagna claimed, contradictorily, that the film was ruined not because of the lens cap, but because he had the Super 8 camera on the wrong setting: macro instead of telephoto.[unreliable source?].
In December 1985 Rory Nugent claimed to have spotted the animal but to have been ordered at gunpoint by the natives not to approach it. Nugent claimed that they view the creature as a god "that you can not approach, but if he chooses, this god can approach you." He also provided some pictures, which are too blurry to be identifiable.
1985-1986: Operation Congo
Operation Congo took place between December 1985 and early 1986 by "four enthusiastic but naïve young Englishmen," led by Young Earth Creationist[unreliable source?] William Gibbons, They hired Agnagna to take them to Lake Tele, but did not report any Mokèlé-mbèmbé sightings. The British men did, however, assert that Agnagna did "little more than lie, cheat and steal (our film and supplies) and turn the porters against us." After criminal charges were filed against him, a Congolese court ordered Agnagna to return the items he had taken from the expedition.
Although the party found no evidence of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, they discovered a new subspecies of monkey, which was later classified as the Crested mangabey monkey (Cerocebus galeritus), as well as fish and insect specimens.
In 1986 another expedition was mounted, consisting of four Dutchmen, organized and led by Dutch biologist Ronald Botterweg, who already had experience with tropical rainforest research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and who later visited, lived, and worked in several African countries. This expedition entered the Congo down the Ubangi River from Bangui in the Central African Republic, and managed, with considerable organizational challenges, to reach Lake Tele, with a group of guides from the village of Boha, some of which had also accompanied Regusters. Since they had only managed to obtain permission from the local authorities (not having passed by Brazzaville) for a very limited period in the area, they only spent about three days at the lake before returning to Boha. During their stay at the lake they spent as much time as possible observing the lake and its surroundings through from their provisional camp on the north-eastern shore, and navigating part of it by dug-out canoe. No signs of any large unknown animal were found.
On the way back, arriving at the town of Impfondo, they were detained by Congolese biologist Agnagna and his team, who had just arrived there for an expedition with the British team of Operation Congo, allegedly for not possessing the proper documents. They were detained for a short while, and the largest part of their film and color slides were confiscated, before being released and leaving the country (again by the Ubangui river and Bangui).
No signs, tracks or anything tangible or visible of the alleged animals was seen or shown whatsoever. Tracks, droppings, and other signs of forest elephants and gorillas were commonly seen, as well as crocodiles in the lake. Despite the fact that the African guides were extremely capable and experienced hunters, guides and experts of the African rainforest, they were not able to show any track or sign of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé and none of the several interviewed guides even claimed ever to have seen one personally, nor its tracks. Remarkable is the fact that the guides that were interviewed by the Dutch expedition and that also accompanied Regusters, stated that they never saw a Mokèlé-mbèmbé during that expedition, although Regusters himself claims to have seen one.
This expedition received some attention in the Dutch media (radio, TV, and newspapers) from 1985 to 1987, and again in a nostalgic radio show by Dutch radio station KRO on channel Radio 2, on 7 March 2011. Furthermore, this expedition features in a slightly romanticized form as a short story by Dutch novelist author Margriet de Moor ('Hij Bestaat', meaning It exists, in the novel 'Op de Rug Gezien', meaning Seen from behind).
1988 Japanese expedition
In 1988 a Japanese expedition went to the area, led by the Congolese wildlife official Jose Bourges. Members of a Japanese film crew allegedly captured the first evidence of Mokele-mbembe.[not in citation given] As they were filming aerial footage from a small plane over the area of Lake Tele, intending to obtain some shots for a documentary, the cameraman noticed a disturbance in the water. He struggled to maintain focus on the object, which was creating a noticeable wake. About 15 seconds of footage was captured, which skeptics have identified as either two men in a canoe or swimming elephants.
British writer Redmond O'Hanlon traveled to the region in 1989 and not only failed to discover any evidence of Mokèlé-mbèmbé but found out that many local people believe the creature to be a spirit rather than a physical being, and that claims for its authentic existence have been fabricated. His experience is chronicled in Granta no. 39 (1992) and in his book Congo Journey (UK, 1996), published as No Mercy in the USA (1997).
1992 Operation Congo 2
William Gibbons launched a second expedition in 1992 which he dubbed "Operation Congo 2". Along with Rory Nugent, Gibbons searched almost two thirds of the Bai River along with two poorly charted lakes: Lake Fouloukuo and Lake Tibeke, both of which local folklore held to be sites of Mokèlé-mbèmbé activity. The expedition failed to provide any conclusive evidence of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, though they did further document local legends and Nugent took two photographs of unidentified objects in the water, one of which he claimed was the creature's head. [not in citation given]
1998: Extreme Expeditions
The Extreme Expeditions team was set to travel to the Likouala Region, however the 1997-1999 civil war made this impossible.
The 1999 megatransect into the wilderness of the Congo basin by the biologist and Africa explorer J. Michael Fay did not reveal any trace of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé. However, it must be noted that the trek did not pass through the Likouala and Lake Tele regions.
2000: Extreme Expeditions
In January 2000, the Congo Millennium Expedition (aka. DINO2000) took place, the second one by Extreme Expeditions, consisting of Andrew Sanderson, Adam Davies, Keith Townley, Swedish explorer Jan-Ove Sundberg, and five others.
In November 2000, William Gibbons did some preliminary research in Cameroon for a future expedition. He was accompanied by David Wetzel, and videographer Elena Dugan. While visiting with a group of pygmies, they were informed about an animal called Ngoubou, a horned creature. The pygmies asserted it was not a regular rhinoceros, as it had more than one horn (six horns on the frill in one eyewitness account), and that the father of one of the senior members of the community had killed one with a spear a number of years ago. The locals have noted a firm dwindle in the population of these animals lately, and are hard to find. Gibbons identified the animal with a Styracosaurus, but, in addition to being extinct, these are only known to have inhabited North America.[self-published source?]
In February 2001, in a joint venture between CryptoSafari and the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club (BCSCC), a research team traveled to Cameroon consisting of William Gibbons, Scott T. Norman, John Kirk and writer Robert A. Mullin. Their local guide was Pierre Sima Noutchegeni. They were also accompanied by a BBC film crew. No evidence of Mokèlé-mbèmbé was found.
In January 2006, the Milt Marcy Expedition traveled to the Dja river in Cameroon, near the Congolese border. It consisted of Milt Marcy, Peter Beach, Rob Mullin and Pierre Sima. They spoke to witnesses that claimed to have observed a Mokèlé-mbèmbé only two days before,[self-published source?] but they did not discover the animal themselves. However, they did return with what they believe to be a plaster cast of a Mokèlé-mbèmbé footprint.
2006: National Geographic
A May 2006 episode called "Super Snake" of the National Geographic series Dangerous Encounters included an expedition headed by Brady Barr to Lake Tele. No unknown animals were found.
2008: Destination Truth
In March 2008 an episode of the SyFy (formerly the SciFi Channel) series Destination Truth involved investigator Joshua Gates and crew searching for the elusive dinosaur. They did not visit the Likouala Region, which includes Lake Tele, but they visited Lake Bangweulu in Zambia instead, which had reports of a similar creature in the early 20th century, called the "'nsanga". The crew of Destination Truth kept calling the animal "Mokèlé-mbèmbé" to the locals, when that name is only used in the Republic of the Congo. The name used in that particular spot is "chipekwe". Their episode featured a videotaped close encounter, but filmed from a great distance. On applying digital video enhancement techniques, the encounter proved to be nothing more than two submerged hippopotami.
In March 2009 an episode of the History Channel series MonsterQuest involved Bill Gibbons, Rob Mullin, local guide Pierre Sima and a two-man film crew from White Wolf Productions. It took place in Cameroon, in the region of Dja, Boumba, and Nkogo Rivers, near the border with the Republic of the Congo. The episode aired in the summer of 2009, and also featured an interview with Roy P. Mackal and Peter Beach of the Milt Marcy Expedition, 2006.[self-published source?] While no sightings were reported on the expedition, the team found evidence of a large underground cave with air vents. The team also received sonar readings of very long, serpentine shapes underwater.
2011: Beast Hunter
A March 2011 episode of Beast Hunter on the National Geographic Channel is planned to feature a search for Mokele-mbembe in Congo Basin.
According to science writer and cryptozoologist Willy Ley, while there are sufficient anecdotal accounts to suggest "that there is a large and dangerous animal hiding in the shallow waters and rivers of Central Africa", the body of evidence remains insufficient for any realistic conclusions to be drawn on what the Mokèlé-mbèmbé may be.
According to the writings of biologist and cryptid researcher Roy Mackal, who mounted two unsuccessful expeditions to find it, it is unlikely that the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is a mammal or an amphibian, leaving a reptile as the only plausible candidate. Of all the living reptiles, Mackal argues that the iguana and the monitor lizards bear the closest resemblance to the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, though, at 15 to 30 feet (9.1 m) long, the Mokèlé-mbèmbé would exceed the size of any known living examples of such reptiles.
Mackal judged available evidence as consistent, writing, "I believe the description of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is accounted for in all respects by an identification with a small sauropod dinosaur". Mackal also judged the existence of an undiscovered relict sauropod to be plausible on the grounds that there were large amounts of uninhabited and unexplored territory in the region where a creature might live, and on the grounds that other large creatures such as elephants exist in the region, living in large open clearings (called "bai") as well as in thicker wooded areas.
 See alsoEmela-ntouka
 References1.^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Clark, Jerome (1993) "Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena", Visible Ink Press, ISBN 0-8103-9436-7
2.^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Mackal, R. P. (1987) A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe, E.J. Brill, ISBN 90-04-08543-2
3.^ Congo, episode 2 of 4 ("Spirits of the Forest")
4.^ Ley, 69
5.^ quoted in Ley, 70
6.^ Coleman, Loren (2003). The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher. p. 216. ISBN 1585422525.
8.^ Ley, 71-72
10.^ Was a Mokèlé-mbèmbé killed at Lake Tele? by William Gibbons, retrieved 25 May 2007
11.^ Cryptomundo.com Mokèlé-mbèmbé's Rev. Eugene Thomas, 78, dies
14.^ http://www.icr.org/article/306%20/ In Search Of the Congo Dinosaur by Bill Gibbons
15.^ Gibbons`, William J. "In Search Of the Congo Dinosaur". Institute for Creation Research. http://www.icr.org/article/search-congo-dinosaur/.
16.^ Guessman, Garth. "CryptoCorner: Cutting Edge Cryptozoology From Around the World". The South Bay Creation Science Association. http://www.creationinthecrossfire.com/Articles/CryptoCorner.html. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
21.^ Cryptomundo.com - The Ngoubou
22.^ http://www.bcscc.ca/mokele.htm The British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club
23.^ Cryptomundo.com - Mokèlé-mbèmbé Expedition Update
24.^ http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/mm-mq2-09/ cryptomundo.com 2009
25.^ "Swamp Monster of the Congo". National Geographic. http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/beast-hunter/5103/Overview303#tab-facts. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
26.^ Burke, Bill (2011-03-13). "Pat Spain tracks monsters on ‘Beast Hunter’". Boston Herald. http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/television/general/view/2011_0313myth_chaser. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
27.^ Ley, 74
 BibliographyGibbons, William J., Missionaries And Monsters; Coachwhip Publications, 2006
Leal, M. E., 2004. The African rainforest during the Last Glacial Maximum, an archipelago of forests in a sea of grass; Wageningen: Wageningen University: ISBN 90-8504-037-X
Ley, Willie, Exotic Zoology; New York: Capricorn Books, 1966 (trade paperback edition)
Mackal, Roy P. A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1987: ISBN 90-04-08543-2
Ndanga, Alfred Jean-Paul (2000) 'Réflexion sur une légende de Bayanga: le Mokele-mbembe', in Zo, 3, 39-45.
Nugent, Rory (1993) Drums along the Congo: on the trail of Mokele-Mbembe, the last living dinosaur. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-58707-7 or ISBN 0-395-67071-3
Redmond O'Hanlon, No Mercy: A Journey Into the Heart of the Congo, 1997
Regusters, H.A.(1982) Mokele - Mbembe: an investigation into rumors concerning a strange animal in the Republic of the Congo, 1981 (Munger Africana library notes, vol. 64). Pasadena: California Institute of Technology (CIT). http://www.cryptoarchives.com/1900/1980/1981-regusters.pdf
Shuker, Karl P.N., In Search of Prehistoric Survivors. London: Blandford, 1995: ISBN 0-7137-2469-2
Sjögren, Bengt, Berömda vidunder, Settern, 1980, ISBN 91-7586-023-6 (Swedish)
"Ngoogounogounmbar, the swallowing monster of Western Pygmy legend [In Mokele-Mbembe territory-DD] can turn into a crocodile or dragon-like beast, but his primary form is that of an ogre-like man who resembles Lulu, the giant swallowing ogre of Ituri Forest legend. 'Ngoogounogounmbar is very tall, as tall as the tallest trees, with enormous feet and hands, and also an enormous mouth which opens vertically instead of being horizintal [a trait probably derived from a crocodile's mouth-DD] He is completely white with a long white beard that descends all the way down to his feet, but he keeps it rolled up in his belt...when he takes a child, he seizes it by the neck and swallows it in a single gulp, headfirst.He transforms himself at will into an animal-into a crocodile by preference perhaps, or a fantastic animal midway between a serpent and a hippopotamus, and dwells in the caverns near the great waterfalls' [Henri Trilles, The Soul of the African Pygmy, p.168] Later on, Hallet compares the Lulu Monster to the Abominable Snowman and the Water-monster form of it to the Loch Ness Monster(p.215) It is also interesting to note that the Water-Elephant (an errant elephant seal perhaps ) has a trunk only two feet long. Hallet also mentions that the Ogre has a companion hairy dwarf of the same nature he is-or in other words, this "Abominable Snowman" has a "Protopygmy" relative.
Incidentally the transformation of giant, troll or ogre into a dragon is attested in European Folklore, the Fafnir slain by Siegfried being one example, but it also happens commonly in Folktales of Greece, the Balkans, and Russia, where the "Dragon" can be described in anthropomorphic terms more often than not.
What is obvious to me but which nobody else seems to have noticed is that the Lulu Monster is undoubtedly the same thing as the creature that Sanderson spells Muhalu and Heuvelmans spells Mulahu.
Agogwe=Kakundakari_And_Tokoloshe=Kikomba [CFZ Blog Posting-REPOST]
At first, I doubted the Australopithecine identity for these African Cryptids. Now this looks to me like a very good fit (Footprint for robustus form hypothetical but made in proportion to relative sizes) The robustus form is on a scale comparable to a European fossil Neanderthal: human-sized but somewhat below average height, and well above average weight.
The tracks are Australopithecus tracks from Laetoli and the robust one morphed to larger size-both forms of tracks then compared to the corresponding Cryptid's tracks as illustrated by Sanderson. The Agogwe illustration at far left is taken from the original publication and the Kikomba (Apamandi) illustration is from Heuvelmans. The central gracile and robust Australopithecine figures are from Jay Maternes from Time Life book's Early Man and IMHO have never been bettered.
The supposition that these creatures are Australopithecines comes from the Anthropologists who were looking for the Australopithecine fossils: on several occasions native workers told the fossil-hunters "We know that animal" in the case of the robustus kinds, the Natives specified "We have that animal with the ridge (sagittal crest) on the head, but it is a very bad thing to speak of". Turns out they meant the Tokoloshe and witch doctors are said to call on Tokoloshe spirits to do their dirsty work for them. For several years my closest friend and co-worker was a South African and he told me much about these creatures. It does seem from the description that the PHYSICAL creatures are sorts of humanoid-Chimpanzees, hairy and burly, but of less than average human height. That would correspond tho the species robustus, the species boisei is even larger from its fossils.
I have reprinted this material from the CFZ blog for February 13, 2011 (and my last regular blog for the CFZ blog) because there is some suppostion that the larger one of these creatures could have some connection to the reports of the "Dodu". In the case of the Dodu, I really think it is a local boogeyman being used as a front for poaching operations, BUT at this point I think that both the larger and smaller Australopithecines are around in the Congo area and environs, and responsible for reports in those areas. There is also evidently a more humanlike "Wildman" responsible for some reports, but I am thinking now that there are no other APE reports from Central Africa that are anything other than some very unusual gorillas and chimpanzees.
The various descriptions of larger and smaller creatures also cover the five different categories of "Mr X" in Kenya, except that some of those categories seem to describe individual hermits or outcasts.
Larger, Paranthropoid creature or Kikomba and below it, the smaller Agogwe or Kakundakari type.
Kikomba, Painting from a French Cryptozoology site above: sketches from Heuvelmans' book below.
Large Bipedal Ape: (Kikomba, Apamandi, Abamaanji, Zaluzugu, Tshingombe, Ngoloko, Milhoi, Muhalu, African "Bigfoot")
Central Africa has very sporatic reports of apes or ape-like creatures distinguished by a bipedal gait. The reports are so rare, in fact, that in Ivan Sanderson's Abominable Snowmen book he essentially declared that Africa was apparently devoid of such creatures. But some reports have been recorded since the publication of the book. Tracks attributed to the animal have been found and supposedly indicate an ability to run or even jump bipedally. The face is ape-like and grays with age like other hominids.
One report of a hairy biped from Kenya, called the Ngokolo, has been lumped into this category, despite showing many strange characteristics. It measured eight feet long when stretched out dead, was as wide as two people, and smelled awful. It was covered in gray hair three feet long near the head or top of the body. The ape-like face had a receding chin and forehead, large eyes, and a small mouth with big teeth. Oddly, it possessed very large, flapping elephantine ears. Even more bizarrely, the feet had a thumb with three smaller toes and the hands had a thumb and an index finger with a 2.5-3 inch claw. Reports of similarly sized hairy bipeds, none mentioning the bizarre hands, feet, or ears, occured in the Congo until the early 1960's. The "Lobsterclaw" deformity would be individual and not a mark of the species, and humans are known to have the mutation. One of my co-workers at the University Library had that defect. The feet might otherise remble the "Apamandi" although this one was reported as much larger. The long head-hair or beard, turning white with age, would be what is described of the Mulahu, Muhalu or Lulu. Charles Cordier has a (partial) footprint supposedly from the "Apamandi" which does indeed look rather like some "Yeti" footprints, but that is very vaguely stated since the name is also applied to Charles Cordier's more apelike tracks
The Tano Giant was seen in the Gold Coast sometime before 1911. It was described as a "white ape of extroardinary stature" that was "past all men" in size. It's arms alone were reportedly as thick as a man. The skin was described as being white, but the hair was black. The head was flattened and oddly described as being the size of a large monkey's. The mouth was monkey-like and had big teeth. Despite not having thumbs, the giant supposedly kept the skin of a bush cow to wrap itself in when it got cold. Its habits were extremely aggressive, it carried off one woman and several children, who were later found disembowled and mutilated. It also supposedly broke the gun of a hunter. The only thing that scared it away was fire.
This story closely resembles tales across the world of cannibalistic giants, and may have no more basis in reality than Grendel or any other similar tale. It seems almost certain that this is a complete invention, but it could have a very tenuous base in reality. It certainly sounds like something out of a bad adventure story.
Tokoloshe, the South African Cryptid Identified as having the same skull as the fossil "Paranthropus" or robustus species of Australopithecine.
[Marionette from South Africa]
Bipedal Hairy Pygmy (Agogwe, Kakundakari, Doku, Mau, Mberikimo, Chimanimani, Tokoleshe, Abonsei, Ijimere, Sehite)
This animal, commonly refered to as an agogwe, is a small ape-like biped inhabiting Central Africa between the Kalahari and Sahara deserts. The agogwe is said to stand around 2 to 4 feet tall and its footprints (with a opposable toe) are a mere five inches in length. Marked differences between it and known apes include a rounded forehead, small canines, long red hair, and yellowish red skin. Rather oddly, it forms what may be a symbiotic relationship with baboons. Other reports describe the creatures as cave-dwellers. The animal was a topic of discussion in the 1920's, but its popularity has subsequently diminished.
The most common theory on the pygmies is that they are Australopithecines. Footprints did have a somewhat diverged toe (far from opposable though) and the overall height and description fit. Other individuals have suggested that they are actual human pygmies, but extremely atavisic, or possibly misunderstood, ones.
However, the reports do admittedly sound very much like an Australopithecine, or possibly a dwarf form of Homo erectus. The fact that these animals haven't been reported any more for decades is a significant problem, and like other creatures discussed here, they may have gone extinct (assuming they existed) before they were ever described. Alternately, the lack of a European colonial presence may make it much more difficult for reports to come out. It still seems doubtful that anything is behind these reports, but if there ever was or is, an ancient hominid would probably be the best candidate.
Adapted from a column by "The Cryptozoologist",
Abominable Snowmen, by Ivan T. Sanderson, (1961), Chapter 9. Africa—the "Darkest"
Reports of what appear to be pygmy types of ABSMs turn up on the west and east sides of the continent—that is on the southern edge of the Guinea Massif and on the eastern side of the main upland area about Tanganyika and Mozambique. Those from the former consist of a single series of statements made to Bernard Heuvelmans by a scientific correspondent who investigated some reports in what used to be the Ivory Coast. As these are original and unique, I have sought permission to reproduce them here in their entirety. Apart from them, I have only vague folk tales from the Nigeria area of the former existence of pygmies in that country.
In the Ivory Coast, almost at the opposite end of Africa, there is a legend of reddish hairy dwarfs identical in every respect with that in Tanganyika, as I learn from private information kindly supplied by Professor A. Ledoux of the Faculty of Science of Toulouse University. In 1947 he was the head of the Zoological Department of the Institute of Education and Research at Adiopodoumé, which was then being formed 12 miles from Abidjan.
One evening a young African who worked in his laboratory came and saw him after dinner and went rather furtively about asking him the simple question whether there were pygmies in Africa. The professor told him that they were found in Central and Equatorial Africa and lent him a book on the subject. All the same he was puzzled at this conspiratorial manner and asked him why he wanted to know. Because, the African replied, one of his colleagues in another scientific department of the Institute had seen one not far away on the previous day.
The professor raised his eyebrows.
"A pygmy, here?" "Yes, about 500 yards from here."
The professor nearly fell out of his chair in surprise. The Institute was
surrounded by forest, but though it was thick in places it was very well known and natives were constantly passing through it. The story seemed most suspect.
"Why didn't your friend come and tell me at once?" he asked suspiciously.
The young man explained that since the whites disbelieved the rumours about pygmies in the neighbourhood his friend had been loath to be laughed at or thought to be mad. But he knew the man well enough to know that he had not made it up, so he decided to make inquiries for him himself.
Professor Ledoux was more and more intrigued and insisted that the eyewitness should come and see him. He promised that he would not make fun of him and would not tell anyone his story.
The next day [the Professor tells me] I had a visit from the boy responsible for the observation. He was well-educated and had a certificate for primary studies. I asked him about the circumstances in which he saw the "pygmy."
It happened near the Meteorological set when they were taking their daily readings at 8 o'clock in the morning. Among the roots of a silk-cotton tree (Bombax) there suddenly appeared a little man with long reddish fur and long hair on his head—"same like white man"—but also reddish. [The long hair on the head, like a European's, was reported by all the Africans Professor Ledoux questioned. This feature could obviously not apply to true pygmies.]
At once the little red man and the large black one took to their heels in opposite directions. For, according to the legends, the little forestmen brought bad luck. You only saw them once in a lifetime and you had to be alone.
I went to the place with my two informants. It lay in the shadow of thick forest, but was not too overgrown since the silk-cotton tree grew near a path. It was very likely that if there had been anything there it would have been easy to see.
I asked to be informed at once if a similar meeting occurred again, but this never happened.
Professor Ledoux admits that he was then very incredulous. It seemed unthinkable that within 12 miles of a big town like Abidjan, and 500 yards from huts inhabited by 6 Europeans and some 300 Africans, there could be unknown creatures in forest which though thick was far from virgin. Moreover the African who claimed to have seen the mysterious pygmy did not come from the Lower Ivory Coast but from the Middle Coast, which is wooded savannah country. Perhaps the great forest, which
is most impressive, had over-excited his imagination. And in his solitary walks in the forest the professor had often put up bushbuck. If the African had seen the russet back of one of these antelopes among the bushes it was not impossible that his imagination should have led him to think that it was one of the "little hairy men" of the legends. At all events when the professor showed him a book containing pictures of Central African pygmies he insisted that his creature was not like them.
Despite his scepticism Professor Ledoux decided to make discreet inquiries about the native legends and what they were based on. He questioned several Africans who trusted him, and he pretended that he fully believed their stories, thus putting them at their ease and getting much more detailed information. In this way he came to visit most of the neighbouring villages.
As a matter of fact I did not obtain any important information, for while there were plenty of men who "had seen" (?) them, they were reticent on the subject, always concluding that they were probably mistaken for all the encounters had taken place at nightfall. This is likely enough.
There was one relatively exact fact. In March 1946 a team of workmen under one Djaco—who later became my lab-boy and my informant and who died of poisoning in 1949—together with a European of whom I can find no trace, were supposed to have seen one of these little red men, at about 8 in the morning, in a tall tree in a very wooded little valley about half a mile from the future site of the station. The European asked what it was and the Negroes explained what a rare thing it was to see such a creature and the evil effects of doing so.
I was at once deluged with stories of dwarfs with their feet back to front, people who lived half in the lagoon and half on land (I think that manatees must be responsible for this legend). These tales were of no interest to me, but I mention them so that the record should be complete.
He then questioned the Europeans who had travelled in the Ivory Coast:
One of them told me the following:
During one of his expeditions in the course of 1947 the great elephant-hunter Dunckel killed a peculiar primate unknown to him; it was small with reddish-brown hair and was shot in the great forest between Guiglo and Toulépeu, that is, between the Sassandra and Cavally rivers. Its remains disappeared while it was being carried home, no doubt having been disposed of by superstitious porters. Dunckel even offered to take my informant to the place and he in turn invited me to go with them.
In 1951 the professor's new boy, in reply to his usual barrage of questions, told him that when he was young, probably around 1941, he had himself seen a hunter at Seguéla bring back a little man with red hair in
a cage. The local official had put clothes on it for decency's sake and sent it to Abidjan by way of Bouaké. The boy did not know what happened to the little prisoner afterwards.
This tale seems to me to have been embroidered somewhat. If the creature was really human it would not have been put in a cage, and if it was an ape the official would not have worried whether it was decently dressed. Either it was a creature half way between man and an ape, or more likely, it was an unknown primate which had been dressed up as a joke, as tame monkeys so often are.
Professor Ledoux remarks that these tales of an unknown reddish-brown primate in the Ivory Coast are overlaid with the very firmly held belief that there are pygmies in the forest between the Sassandra and Cavally rivers.
According to an African technician of mine from Toulépleu called Méhaud Taou, an intelligent boy keenly interested in these questions, there was recently a system of barter between the negroes and these forest creatures; various manufactured goods were left in the forest in exchange for various fruits. This was supposed to have gone on until 1935. The little men who practised this barter were hardly known even to the negroes themselves. The Guérés called them Séhité.
It is possible that these Séhités may be true pygmies like those in Central Africa.
The professor's inquiries among the Europeans brought out a significant fact. Those who had never spent any length of time between the Sassandra and the Cavally denied out of hand that there could be any little men in the forest, whether they were true pygmies or unknown primates. On the other hand those who had lived in this area were seriously prepared to consider that pygmies might have lived there in the past and also that there might be a real basis for the legend of the red dwarfs. His own impression was that the legends and rumours in the Ivory Coast were based on the fairly recent presence of pygmies and the present existence of reddish-haired primates whose exact nature was still problematical.
The reports from the east side of the continent are more numerous and varied, and come from more separate sources. Central to these is a statement, that has been repeatedly republished, by one Capt. William Hichens in Discovery for December, 1937, included in an article entitled "African Mystery Beast." This goes as follows:
Some years ago I was sent on an official lion-hunt to this area [Ussure and Simbiti forests on the western side of the Wembare plains] and, while
waiting in a forest glade for a man-eater, I saw two small, brown, furry creatures come from dense forest on one side of the glade and disappear into the thickets on the other. They were like little men, about 4 feet high, walking upright, but clad in russet hair. The native hunter with me gazed in mingled fear and amazement. They were, he said, agogwe, the little furry men whom one does not see once in a lifetime. I made desperate efforts to find them, but without avail in that wellnigh impenetrable forest. They may have been monkeys, but, if so, they were no ordinary monkeys, nor baboons, nor colobus, nor Sykes, nor any other kind found in Tanganyika. What were they?
Subsequent to the publication of this observation, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Cuthbert Burgoyne wrote to the publication Discovery, seconding Captain Hichens' story with the following:
In 1927 I was with my wife coasting Portuguese East Africa in a Japanese cargo boat. We were sufficiently near to land to see objects clearly with a glass of 12 magnifications. There was a sloping beach with light bush above upon which several dozen baboons were hunting for and picking up shell fish or crabs, to judge by their movements. Two pure white baboons were amongst them. These are very rare but I had heard of them previously. As we watched, two little brown men walked together out of the bush and down amongst the baboons. They were certainly not any known monkey and yet they must have been akin or they would have disturbed the baboons. They were too far away to see in detail, but these small human-like animals were probably between 4 and 5 feet tall, quite upright and graceful in figure. At the time I was thrilled as they were quite evidently no beast of which I had heard or read. Later a friend and big game hunter told me he was in Portuguese East Africa with his wife and three hunters, and saw a mother, father, and child, of apparently a similar animal species, walk across the further side of a bush clearing. The natives loudly forbade him to shoot.
Once again Bernard Heuvelmans has brought to light two further reports, albeit brief. The first appeared in The Journal of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society in 1924, from the pen of one Mr. S. V. Cook. This states that:
Fifteen miles east of Embu Station there rises from the Emberre plains the lofty hills of Dwa Ngombe, nearly 6,000 feet high. They are inhabited, the Embu natives say, by buffalo and a race of little red men who are very jealous of their mountain rights. Old Salim, the interpreter at Embu,
tells me with great dramatic effect how he and some natives once climbed to near the top when suddenly an icy cold wind blew and they were pelted with showers of small stones by some unseen adversaries. Happening to look up in a pause in their hasty retreat, he assures me that he saw scores of little red men hurling pebbles and waving defiance from the craggy heights. To this day even the most intrepid honey hunters will not venture into the hills.
The final scrap of confirmation comes secondhand from Roger Courtenay who tells in his The Greenhorn in Africa a story related to him by his guide named—as is almost invariable, all down the east side of Africa—Ali. Using Courtenay's own words, this goes:
"But have you heard of the little people who live in the Mau—small men, who are less men than monkeys? Less than shenzi (i.e. loathsome foreigners), these little men, and almost monkeys in their lives and ways." And he went on to tell how his own father, who was driving his sheep to pasture on the slopes of Mount Longenot, fell into the hands of these gnomes when he went into a cave, following the trail of blood left by one of his cattle that had been stolen. He was stunned from behind, and when he came round he found he was surrounded by strange little creatures. "The Mau men were lower even," he told his son, "than those little people of the forests [the pygmies] for, though they had no tails that I could see, they were as the monkeys that swing in the forest trees. Their skins were white, with the whiteness of the belly of a lizard, and their faces and bodies were covered with long, black hair." To his great surprise the shepherd noticed that his spear was still lying at his side. "The Mau men who are so nearly monkeys did not know what was the spear. It is possible they did not know I could have fought with it and killed many of them."
... Relics of goodness knows how many races could still be lingering on in the montane forests of Africa. Let us not forget that it
was not till 1910 that the second largest land animal in the world was found in Africa (Cotton's Ceratothere, or Ceratotherium cottoni)—a kind of Rhino—and the fabulous Okapi (Okapia johnsoni) turned up. The Congo Peacock had to wait till 1936!
The other concurrent oddity was from quite another part of Africa, 1400 miles distant, and in an area from which we had not previously had any reports. This is actually a very astonishing report and one that should be taken most seriously in view of the almost constant surprises that are coming out of Southwest Africa and Angola. This part of Africa is rapidly assuming the guise of truly "The Darkest," for big game never even known to exist there is turning up, and among it are many record specimens, while it is the home of the otherwise nonexistent, Giant Sable Antelope, and so forth. This apparent ABSM was originally reported in the Evening Standard of Salisbury for November 18, 1959 but did not become
fully recognized until after the Ufiti or Fireti affair broke. It reads as follows:
Windhoek, Wed.—The authorities in South-West Africa and farmers in the vicinity of Outjo are wondering whether a large shambling ape or monkey which has been seen on farms near Outjo is not a gorilla. People who have seen the animal state emphatically that it is not a large baboon. According to their descriptions, the animal closely resembles a gorilla. Its footprints are also like those of a gorilla. A farmer, Mr. Thuys Maritz, who's Ovambo herdboy reported that the animal had stolen his blankets and food, tried to track the animal down but lost the trail over rocky ground. The spoor clearly showed that the animal walks on two legs. Occasionally, prints resembling knuckle impressions were found next to the spoor. The footprints are about 5½ in. wide and resemble marks made by a human hand. The five fingers or toes are clearly defined. The authorities have appealed to farmers not to shoot the animal but to try to capture it alive. The nearest place where gorillas are known to live is in the Belgian Congo, nearly 1000 miles from South-West Africa.
[This stands as a likely report of the larger, robust-Australopithecine type-DD]
When we come to the last great area for alleged "unknowns" in Africa we do not, thank goodness, have to deal with experts. However, we have to rely on travelers, big-game hunters, and other nonexperts who are sometimes almost as bad. [Oh, for the good old days of bulldozer-operators, and timber-cruisers!] However, there is one very bright gleam ahead and this—and almost for the first and only time—is a real, honest-to-goodness, fully trained, truly expert, and also successful professional "animal collector"; none other than Charles Cordier, the Swiss, who has persistently brought back to museums and zoos what they really want; properly housed and fed, or properly preserved. Here at last is a man whom we can not only rely on for common sense reporting, but who really knows his animals and his zoology, as well as a great part of the world. You may place more reliance on what he says than upon almost all of the rest of the involuntary and even the voluntary ABSM hunters combined.
This information comes to me once again from Bernard Heuvelmans
who had just [at the time of writing] received it from Cordier who (January, 1961) was somewhere in the Congo. Charles Cordier wrote Bernard: "We met three tracks of hind feet—no knuckle marks—in soft mud near water. The tracks were most unusual," he says. Also, they were not those of a gorilla; and, Cordier goes on: "I ought to know, I have a silverback. These 12" tracks were no gorillas." [The gorilla imprint should be compared with the photograph of one made in plaster in Appendix B.] This find was made, as far as we know of now, somewhere in the Bakavu area. The track-maker is obviously some new form of large Pongid.
This brings up a whole string of stories from less reliable sources. These begin with something that has been named the Tano Giant, and was first described by one, Louis Bowler, half a century ago. It has some funny features, and some illogicalities. It states:
Far away in the primeval forests of the Upper Tano, in the Gold Coast Colony, a strange tale is told by the natives of a wild man of the woods, which would appear from the description given to be a white ape of extraordinary stature and human instinct. The natives who live in the village near to the haunts of this freak of nature are terrified out of their wits. They barricade their doors at night, and place broiled plantains and cassava on the jungle paths leading into the village to propitiate him and appease his hunger. They declare he comes to the village at night, and only runs when fire is thrown at him. The women especially are almost scared to death, and go in a body to their plantain farms. It appears that two women while gathering plantains were confronted by this creature. One he seized and flung over his shoulder carrying her off; the other ran screaming with fright back to the village. No trace of the other woman has been found. Several children have been taken by this creature, their mutilated bodies being found with the whole of their bowels devoured.
The hunter and women who have seen this animal describe him as "past all man" in size; his arms they describe as thick as a man's body; his skin "all the same as a white man," with black hairs growing thereon. The hands have four fingers but no thumb, the head is flat, and, as they describe it, "left small for big monkey head," meaning that it was very near or like a large monkey's head. They say the mouth "was all the same as monkey with big teeth sticking out, and he carries a skin of a bush cow," which the natives say "he carries for cloth when small cold, catch him,"
meaning he wraps himself up in it when feeling cold. A hunter tried to shoot him, but he smashed the gun and broke both the hunter's arms. Many other incidents are related of this terror of the Upper Plains.
The most outstanding aspect of this report is, to me, that once again it is of something definitely Hominid and that came out of a montane forest onto orchard-bush, as in the Southwestern case from Windhoek. This is indeed unusual. The other outstanding fact is the mention of the absence of a thumb. I understand that it is believed that the thumb of Plesianthropus was exceptionally small for the size of its hand, and was placed very high up on that hand. Is it possible that it might have been carried pressed against the side of the palm and so not be apparent? The fact that this creature was alleged to have a light skin covered with black hairs is also novel. The whole account is actually more than just aggravating in several respects because it stands absolutely alone as far as I have been able to find out. Naturally, one presumes that it is but a traveler's tale picked from native imagination to give it a tone of authenticity; yet, among such tales—and I have hundreds—it is one of the few that seems in some way to have validity.
Perhaps this is because I got to know the West Africans rather well myself once; and, while I fully appreciate their great storytelling abilities, I did find them essentially most down-to-earth people when it comes to the question of their native fauna. West Africans told us some of the wildest-sounding things about their local animals but, in almost every case, they made good on their words by producing the darned things. They are not the sort to think up "thumblessness," a white skin, or a head "left small for big monkey head." If they said that—and these purport to be firsthand accounts, not traditional tales—they meant it, and precisely. The disemboweling of the children also seems to smack of the real thing. I know just what the teller meant to imply: namely, "Don't try and tell me this was a leopard because I know, even if you don't, that that is not the way they start to eat you."
The only other African ABSM that has been mentioned, and this several times, and by several different travelers, is the Muhalu. This is a muddled issue as may be seen from the following extract from the book Hunting We Will Go by Mrs. Attilio Gatti. This reads as follows:
Then there are rumors about strange anthropoids. One is a large ape which is said to live in the Rainy Forest, the pygmy tribes call it the Muhalu. Commander Attilio Gatti, the well-known African explorer, has repeatedly declared that he, for one, believes in the existence of the Muhalu and willingly accepts the descriptions of the pygmies who say that it is exceptionally large, walks erect habitually, and is covered with very dark, possibly black, fur, except for the face, where the hairs are white.
Another again, and the worst of all, is a big animal with a coat of long hair, black on the back, white on the other parts of the body. And it is enough to be seen by this monster, for one to die in the most atrocious agony.
We found awaiting us a man from Soli's to say that the pygmies had been on the trail of a Bongo mother and young one, and that if the Bwana would come they were sure they would capture the little one.
So Tille decided to have one more fling. He also decided to take a group of our own boys with him to act as porters. Before they could start, however, an event occurred which reduced all Kalume's men to panic.
Ever since we had been in the Ituri we had heard repeated tales and rumors of a great animal called by the Bondande, "muhalu." Of all things that could arouse terror, this muhalu was the King Bee. Tille had been extremely interested in the matter and believed that the creature really did exist and was a hitherto unknown fifth anthropoid or subhuman.
At this time, however, he had done no more than talk about it now and then. Now, on this morning, one of our men rushed into the clearing, his face gray with fright, babbling about the dread muhalu. His stories were conflicting. First he said it had knocked him down, and this seemed odd because the natives firmly believed that a muhalu had only to look at a man and that man would instantly die. Then the boy said he had seen the muhalu first and ran away. No matter what had actually happened, the news that a muhalu was in the vicinity nearly paralyzed our men.
Tille insisted on going to investigate at the point where the boy claimed to have seen the beast. I don't know how he succeeded in dragging that boy, half-dead with fright, or in flicking the pride of Lamese and two of the other men until they agreed to accompany him.
He did find enormous footprints, and several stiff black hairs in the hollow of a tree where the evidence showed the brute had been sitting. Neither hairs nor print corresponded to any other known ape.
But the panic of our natives had grown so fast that Tille could not stem it. Even Kalume begged us, with all his heart, to leave Tzambehe and come down to his village. All of our natives, though they had no wish to abandon us, were preparing to leave.
In this area, namely the southern face of the Ubangi-Shari Massif, it would seem that we have to deal with two quite separate entities—one an unknown Pongid, and another a Hominid, or ABSM. Despite the rather obvious exaggerations of the descriptions given by locals—and notably by the Pygmies, with whom it is extremely difficult, if really at all possible, to communicate—neither appear really to be too outrageous. Perhaps one is the terrestrial ape that leaves the odd prints now recorded by Cordier, while the other is something akin to the Tano Giant. There are a set of tracks recorded from Bakumu which the locals say were made by what they call the Apamandi, which they there describe as a very heavily built small man, clothed in black hair, but having a light skin. These prints are approximately eight inches long, very short and broad, and have the strange distinction of having the second toe longer than either the first or third, and being somewhat separated from the first or big toe. The significance of this toe proportion will become apparent when we come to investigate the Meh-Teh, or Snowman of the Himalayas.
The accounts of these two [or is it but a single] creatures are very vague, fragmentary, and rare. Yet, if you visit the northwestern edge of the Ituri Forest you will find that it (or they) are taken quite for granted as being rare, but by no means excessively rare, units of the local fauna; living in the upper montane forests to the north, and from time to time coming down on to the lowlands. I have talked to many people who have been into this, previously unadministered, area but only those who were specifically interested in its fauna, or who spent time investigating the ideas and knowledge of the locals, had ever heard of it. Those who did so,
however, all seem to be of the opinion that there is a race of gorilla in the area, or that there is at least some large terrestrial ape there. When I asked if, in their opinion, it could be a primitive Hominid rather than an advanced ape, the opinions have been violently divided. Most returned my query with a perfectly blank stare; but some said "Yes" and invariably went on to talk about the possibility of some larger form of Australopithecine having survived thereabouts—and they usually
pick on Plesianthropus, probably because that form has been so well publicized, along with reconstructions of it.
Africa is undoubtedly the land of Pigmies and of some Great Apes, but it does not seem to sport any giant Hominids. At least the Africans don't imply this, even if they do refer to the Tano character and the Muhalu (or one of them) as being very big. Our real Oh-Mah types would be the perfect target for African bogeyman stories, but they just don't appear here, and we shall not meet them again until we reach just the place where they ought to be.