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Thursday, 26 April 2012

News Item: New Mokele-Mbembe Expedition

"African Nessie"

still from a film allegedly showing the Mokele-Mbembe

A recent news item has been hitting the internet recently and it concerns a group of young amateurs taking an expedition to the Congo in order to search for what they take to be a Living Dinosaur.

  • A dinosaur in the Republic of Congo maurading with hippos and consorting with crocodiles? Or crunching down on them? Maybe it's Mokèlé-mbèmbé.
  • The legend of Mokèlé-mbèmbé is attracting adventure seekers to search the jungles of Africa for signs of the river-dwelling sauropod.
A young Missouri man has turned to the Internet in search of investors for his expedition into the remote jungles of Africa seeking to document undiscovered flora and fauna. That is not so unusual, but one of the creatures he hopes to find is a living dinosaur.
The region Stephen McCullah, the organizer of the expedition, has chosen to explore is the reputed home of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, a dinosaur-like creature said to be up to 35 feet long (11 meters), with brownish-gray skin and a long, flexible neck. Many locals believe that it lives in the caves it digs in riverbanks, and that the beast feeds on elephants, hippos and crocodiles.
McCullah posted his pitch on asking for $27,000 in donations so that he and his friends can launch the Newmac Expedition, "one of the first expeditions in this century with the goal of categorizing plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo." The preliminary four-man venture is slated to launch June 26.
Though the team members largely lack formal education in biology or zoology, they "anticipate discovering hundreds of new insect, plant and fish species during the course of our research. There is also the legitimate hope of discovering many reptile and mammalian species. We have received the region of eyewitnesses seeing canine-sized tarantulas, large river dwelling sauropods [dinosaurs], and a species of man-eating fish," McCullah wrote on the website. (Can We Make Jurassic Park Yet?)[snip]

 Obviously this expedition is going on the Creationist scientist reading material because of its very specific slant, including the mention of giant spiders (which are actually said to stand as tall as a Pygmy man!). The introduction of a new kind of man-eating fish is novel.  Actually, the name "Mokele-mbembe" is very vaguely applied (in a different geographical area, see  map below) to any old kind of water monster including an alleged one-horned water-loving rhinoceros, as well as to the supposed living dinosaur. We have discussed these matters before. And ever since Mackal's book In Search of Hidden Animals came out in 1981, it has been acknowledged that natives were just as likely to identify flash cards of Plesiosaurs as being typical of this water-monster category. That book was the forerunner of Mackal's own expedition and the subsequent book A Living Dinosaur?

The-hunt-for-Mokele-mbembe. Note that the creature has been given a Plesiosaurian and not a Sauropod head

The Description of Mokèlé-mbèmbé, a dinosaur-like creature said to be up to 35 feet long (11 meters), with brownish-gray skin and a long, flexible neck also is a pretty good match for the Loch Ness Monster and in fact sightings of the creature do resemble land sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. [For the moment we are ignoring reports more clearly attributable to either giant monitor lizards or to giant softshelled turtles, both of which are specifically stated to live in different areas under different specific local names]  it lives in the caves it digs in riverbanks, ...the beast feeds on elephants, hippos and crocodiles [which all experts agree must be a gross exaggeration]

It seems a very strange thing that expeditions going in search for the Mokele-Mbembe
nearly always start looking in the wrong place. The center of Mokele-mbembe sightings
according to Heuvelmans is in the Cameroons, and Sanderson's sighting was  on the
Nigerian border adjoining the Cameroons. Lake Tele is in the "Other" Congo to the East

The fact is that the Mokele Mbembe is not much like the Sauropods science is familiar with through the study of fossils. Darren Naish has touched on this on one of his older blogs and he said:
The great surprise about the anatomy of these animals is that they are highly anachronistic... compared to Mesozoic sauropods. In fact, Mokele-Mbembe more resembles artistic restorations of sauropods from the decades preceding the 1960s. The skin of [Mokele-mbembe] is smooth and devoid of both the vertebral spines present in fossil diplodocoids and the dermal ossicles and spines present in titanosaurs. The articulated limb skeletons of Mesozoic sauropods, combined with many thousands of well-preserved trackways, show that these animals had columnar [legs placed under the body while the Mokele-mbembe is supposed to have legs stuck out the sides of the body like a lizard's]

Mokele-Mbembe drawing on the Left, Torquil Macleod's Loch Ness Monster on Right

In fact the creratures which spend all of their lives submerged and only rarely being seen ashore have nothing to do with real Sauropod dinosaurs: the idea that Sauropods needed to remain submerged because of their immense size is an obsolete theory, and one which was first seriously called into question in 1968 by Bakker. Part of that re-evaluation included the study of the legs, which were not bent out to the sides in life as the older reconstructions had it, but were carried straight and indicated a lifestyle which was primarily carried out on land. The poor vestigial legs attributed to the Mokele-mbembe as sticking out to the sides (above, a version of the Wikipedia illustration) are much more likely to be flippers instead of legs, and the three-toed tracks belong to the rhinoceros water monster (the one with the horn that sometimes migrates to Mokele-mbembe descriptions)


  1. The Mokele-mbembes of the river system in Cameroon are reported to be heavily scaled and possess strong dermal spikes that have been known to break canoes in half if they are unfortunate enough to be directly under the animal if it surfaces. Also, the legs are held directly underneath the animals, not out to the sides like a monitor lizard or a crocodile.

    Bill Gibbons

    1. Dr. Gibbons, I was wondering what you think of the discovery of Lurdosaurus, a long-necked, semi-aquatic iguanodont dinosaur? It fits many reports of mokele-mbembe?

      Noah Eckenrode, Amutuer cryptozoologist

    2. Will Somebody answer my freaking post! Sorry, but I'm tired of waiting.

      Noah Eckenrode, Amutuer Cryptozoologist

  2. Bill, look at the map. We are NOT talking about the Cameroons when we were talking about Lake Tele. We are NOT talking about the Cameroons in the case of this expedition either. This is an expedition into a different geographic area. Your references to the Cameroons and the creatures reported in that area did not apply before and they do not apply now. As I said before you have fascinating evidence that shall bear close examination on a separate occasion. But you keep introducing the discussion in the wrong places where other Cryptids are under discussion. That is a point I keep trying to make and a point I was trying particularly hard to make in this instance.

    Once again I thank you for all of your hard work.
    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    1. mate from what film is that still from?

  3. Credit cited for photo: Mokele-Mbembe, the Congo Monster
    An apatosaurus-like dinosaur known as Mokele-mbembe swims in a swampy region of the Congo. Data-Asset Id 20373459
    Data-Asset Uid 56fa0f0c-d82f-4360-8ab0-693deb580a83
    Data-License Type RM
    Data-MarketingCollection 77
    Data-RestrictionIds 109,58274,292,1516,1587
    Data-Is Image Processing Required false
    Data-Corbis Id 42-20373459
    Stock Photo ID: 42-20373459
    Date Photographed: July 01, 1981
    Photographer: Kevin Dufy
    Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Credit: © Kevin Dufy/Sygma/Corbis

  4. This is not precisely the same as the Corbis photo but the Corbis photo was cited as verifying the original source

  5. To Noah Eckenrode: unfortunately, Blogger is not behaving as it should. Not only will it not allow me to pass messages through moderation on certain days, It will not allow me to post a reply in reply to your reply. My information os that the long-necked Iguanodont is being touted as a candidate for sightings in South America but not Africa. And actually your posting is somewhat off-topic in this discussion.

    1. Sorry, just wondering. And on a side note, your website is one of the best cryptozoology websites I've ever been to. Can you write an article on your opinions on sabre-tooth cat sightings? I know its of-topic but I'm just interested. I'm actually a high-schooler going into cryptozoology.

      Best Wishes,
      Noah Eckenrode

  6. I can certainly do a new blog posting on sabertoothed cat sightings, it has been an interest of mine for some time and rarely discussed. I will send notice through the usual channels once I have finished it.

    Have you tried getting in touch with Tyler Stone? He is also a high schooler with an interest in Cryptozoology.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    1. Yes, Dale, I have. He is a well educated young man. And, I'm going to the international cryptozoology museum!

      Best Wishes,
      Noah Eckenrode,
      Amateur Cryptozoologist

  7. Please see my post here:

    Cheers, regard bulldogzrep

  8. The last part of that citation reads: [T]his clipping: http://www.ignacioda...Mutilations.pdf

    So far it seems the famous lost footage is a hoax Whether this is the actual footage from "That's Incredible" I am not sure but from the clipping, I can only say it is.

    I've sent a message to Roy Mackal to confirm this but I don't think I'll get a reply.

    I would still like to see the footage myself for curiosity wise but other than hopes from seeing a legit film of mokele mbembe are all but gone.

    Edited by bulldogzrep, 30 August 2012 - 08:14 AM.
    It aint about how hard ya hit, but how much you can take and keep moving forward...

    -And the information as given in the citation seems reiable, I [DD] agree this is most likely a hoax. Which is a shame but no more than that.

  9. Really gutted that it turned out to be a hoax :(

  10. These things frequently turn out to be a matter of Allegation A vs. Allegation B: one expert calls it a hoax on only somebody else's statement that he THINKS its a hoax, not the same thing as "Proving that it was a hoax." In this case, I think I had heard before it was supposed to have been made by a model head manipulated by a swimmer underwater, but I don't know if that assertion has definitely been proven either. In this case, the expert saying "It has been proven to be a hoax" has something stronger than somebody else's say-so to go on.

  11. Sorry to go back to comment one but, what are your thoughts on the animals in the Cameroons?

    Best Wishes,

    Noah Eckenrode,

    Amateur Cryptozologist

  12. You were just on the page which told. The basic creature is evidently a monitor lizard and there is confusion with more rhinoceros like creature and a longer-necked, more plesiosaur like creature, possibly also with other sorts of creatures.


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