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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

REPOSTING: Congo Dragons And The Colossal Confusions Over The Colossal Beasts

Reprinted By Popular Demand:

Congo Dragons And The Colossal Confusions Over The Colossal Beasts

[Originally Posted 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.
Roman Era mosaic of a large monitor lizard in Ethiopia, labelled as a "Crocodilopardus" (Crocodile-Leopard) This is possibly a later survival of the creature depicted on the Narmer pallete and known in later Egyptian iconography as the Sechet, similar to the Sirrush of Mesopotamia. The corresponding unknown giant water-monitor in Mesopotamia in more modern times is known as "Afa" according to Eberhart, who also lists the "Giant Ethiopian Lizard" as a Cryptid Category.
In reviewing Raheel Mughal's list of Lesser-known cryptids, we now come to the last one, and we actually get to the crux of the matter of the "Congo Dragons." (10)Nguma-monene: An African Naga? Also known as Ngakoula-ngou or Badigui, in all aspects this serpentine cryptid sounds very similar to the Nagas reported for centuries in Asia. The Nguma-monene is described as being 10 metres long (atleast the tail part which is often reported), it is described as greyish-brown in colouration with the underneath of the neck a lighter shade. The neck is also described as being as thick as a man's thigh. Two credible eyewitness accounts exist which both occurred near the Dongu-Mataba (a tributary of the Ubangi River located in the Congo region). The first was occurred in 1961. Nevertheless, in 1971 Joseph Ellis a pastor had an incredible encounter with a beast he could not identify. He estimated the length of the (visible) tailpart as 10 meters long (equal to his dugout, no neck or head could be seen), this was at a diameter of 0.5 to 1 metre. The colouration of the creature appeared to be a greyish-brown. When Pastor Ellis returned to the village he started asking natives about the strange creature, to his amazement it appeared that the subject was taboo. Dr. Roy, P. Mackal collected many reports of this and other cryptids whilst on his first and second expedition in search of Mokele Mbembe. Dr. Mackal concluded that the animal has a low-slung body, and therefore is more like a lizard than a snake, perhaps an intermediatery between snakes and lizards, a possible “living fossil.” Dr. Mackal also noted that the animal's triangular or diamond-shaped ridges were similar (but smaller) to those from the Mbeilu-Mbeilu-Mbeilu but not the animals themselves. This issue has caused much confusion on the Internet and Dr. Mackal’s seminal work A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe.

To which I added the comment:
10)Nguma-monene was originally counted the same as Mokele-Mbembe and later as a giant monitor lizard. Perhaps both things are true.

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[1]) 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.

See also
Living dinosaurs

1.^ Everything2
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.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mokèlé-mbèmbé, meaning "one who stops the flow of rivers" in the Lingala language,[1] is the name given to a large water-dwelling cryptid found in legends and folklore of the Congo River basin.[1][2] 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.[1] 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,[1] with a preference for deep water, and with local folklore holding that its haunts of choice are river bends.[1]

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,[1] 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.[2] Of all the living reptiles, Mackal argues that the iguana and the monitor lizards bear the closest resemblance to the Mokèlé-mbèmbé,[2] 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".[2]

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.[3] 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.[1] Although several of the expeditions have reported close encounters, none have been able to provide incontrovertible proof that the creature exists.[1] The sole evidence that has been found is the presence of widespread folklore and anecdotal accounts covering a considerable period of time.[1]

1776: Bonaventure
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."[1]

1909: Gratz
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.[1] 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: Hagenbeck
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."[1] 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."[1] 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.[4] 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.[5]

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".[6] 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.[7]

1927: Smith
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.[1]

1932: Sanderson
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.[1]

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.[1]

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.[8]

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.[2][9]

1976: Powell
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.[1] 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".[1] [NB-the natives also selected a picture of a Plesiosaur as often according to Mackal's book Searching for Hidden Animals-DD]

1979: Powell
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.[1] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[2]

1980: Mackal-Powell
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."[1][2] Mackal and Powell were interviewed before and after this expedition for the TV program Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.

1981: Mackal-Bryan
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.[1][2]

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".[1][2] 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.[1][2]

1987 saw the publication of Mackal's book, A Living Dinosaur?, in which Mackal detailed his expedition and his conclusions about the Mokèlé-mbèmbé.[1][2] Mackal tried, unsuccessfully, to raise funds for additional trips to Africa.

1981: Regusters
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.[12] The Regusters expedition returned with droppings and footprint casts, which Regusters believed were from the mokele-mbembe.[13]

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.[1] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Herman Alphanso Regusters died on December 19, 2005, aged 72.

1983: Agnagna
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.[1][14][unreliable source?].

1985: Nugent
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.[citation needed] Nugent claimed that they view the creature as a god "that you can not approach, but if he chooses, this god can approach you."[citation needed] 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[15][unreliable source?][16] William Gibbons,[1] 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."[1] After criminal charges were filed against him, a Congolese court ordered Agnagna to return the items he had taken from the expedition.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

1986: Botterweg
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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

No signs, tracks or anything tangible or visible of the alleged animals was seen or shown whatsoever.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

1988 Japanese expedition
In 1988 a Japanese expedition went to the area,[17] led by the Congolese wildlife official Jose Bourges. Members of a Japanese film crew allegedly captured the first evidence of Mokele-mbembe.[18][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.

1989 O'Hanlon
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. [3][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.[19]

1999: Fay
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.[20]

2000: Gibbons
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.[21][self-published source?]

2001: CryptoSafari/BCSCC
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.[22]

2006: Marcy
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,[23][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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

2009: MonsterQuest
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.[24][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.[25][26]

In cryptozoology
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.[27]

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.[2] Of all the living reptiles, Mackal argues that the iguana and the monitor lizards bear the closest resemblance to the Mokèlé-mbèmbé,[2] 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.[2]

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".[2] 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,[2] 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.[1][2]

[edit] See alsoEmela-ntouka
Kasai rex
Living dinosaurs
[edit] 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
9.^ [1]
10.^ Was a Mokèlé-mbèmbé killed at Lake Tele? by William Gibbons, retrieved 25 May 2007
11.^ Mokèlé-mbèmbé's Rev. Eugene Thomas, 78, dies
14.^ In Search Of the Congo Dinosaur by Bill Gibbons
15.^ Gibbons`, William J. "In Search Of the Congo Dinosaur". Institute for Creation Research.
16.^ Guessman, Garth. "CryptoCorner: Cutting Edge Cryptozoology From Around the World". The South Bay Creation Science Association. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
17.^ 明日できるコトは今日やらない
18.^ [2]
19.^ prex98Congo5
20.^ prexpage
21.^ - The Ngoubou
22.^ The British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club
23.^ - Mokèlé-mbèmbé Expedition Update
24.^ 2009
25.^ "Swamp Monster of the Congo". National Geographic. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
26.^ Burke, Bill (2011-03-13). "Pat Spain tracks monsters on ‘Beast Hunter’". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
27.^ Ley, 74
[edit] 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).
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)


  1. Here's a picture of what such a monitor lizard may look like:

    Best Wishes,

    Noah Eckenrode,

    Amatuer Cryptozoologist

  2. I make that out as

    And the drawing is pretty good, but the square, crocodilelike scutes on the body are not like what the witnesses describe, they say it is a "Smooth crocodile" on the back, not that it has scutes like a crocodile at all. Still, I suppose some Native artist might draw it that way, I have seen "Brontosaurs" depicted about like that in the literature before

    1. Thanks for the constructive criticism. And, by the way, what are your thoughts on Loren Coleman's theory that Mokele Mbembe is a giant, semi-aquatic rhinoceros similar to an Indricothere?

      Best Wishes,

      Noah Eckenrode,

      Amateur Cryptozoologist

  3. There is no doubt there is a type of rhinoceros involved because the three-toed "Dinosaur" tracks are actually rhinoceros tracks - rhinos have three hoofed toes per foot. But the descriptions include the reference to a horn on the snout, in which case it is clearly a more conventional rhinoceros. Indricotheres were hornless.


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