Wednesday, 14 April 2010

More living dinosaurs; the Mokele Mbembe

Above; The Mokele Mbembe is said to kill hipppos. Perhaps to wipe out competition for food and resources. The Mokele Mbembe, known by different names around Africa is a large dinosaur like monster said to be aggressive, but not carnivorous. It has a long neck and mainly lives in rivers, hibernating in caves during the dry season. With the small head and big body it seems to resemble a sea serpent, but no sea serpent has for columnar legs capable of supporting its weight on dry land. Is the Mokele Mbembe a living Sauropod dinosaur?
The first references to the Mokele Mbembe; the one who stops the flow of rivers, can be found in French missionary Abbé Lievain Bonaventure's 1776 book where he describes animals of the Congo. One passage describes a set of footprints possible referable to this cryptid; "must have been monstrous: the marks of the claws were noted on the ground, and these formed a print about three feet in circumference." Other documents of footprints show consistency in having been large, at around 3 feet wide and three toed; 1919-1920, expedition into Africa conducted by the Smithsonian Institution; "African guides found large, unexplained tracks along the bank of a river" (Field Guide To Lake Monsters by Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe) *** 1927; Alfred Aloysius Smith, a trader working in Gabon during the 1800's wrights in his memoir Trader Bon where he refers to an unknown creature that leaves round three clawed footprints. 1966; Yvan Ridel photographs a set of three toed footprints near Laubomo. Sightings showing the Mokele Mbembe to be long necked and large bodied; 1909; Lt Paul Gratz refers to a native legend in Zambia of a Sauropod like creature. 1909; Big game hunter Carl Hagenbeck in his autobiography Beasts and Men refers to multiple sources including other big game hunters and natives in the Congo area informing him of a creature "half elephant, half dragon" or "some kind of dinosaur, seemingly akin to the brontosaurs".* 1913; German Captain Freiherr von Stein zu Lausnitz includes descriptions of a beast sighted by natives in Cameroon; "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."** 1939; in the German Colonial Gazette (Angola) a letter by Frau Ilse von Nolde describes encounters with a long necked monster called "coye ya menia" ("water lion").**** 1976; botanical expedition into Zaire lead by James Powell, monster called the "n'yamala" described to him by natives. When they were shown pictures of animals alive and extinct the natives said that of the long necked Diplodocus dinosaur most resembled the creature.***** 1980; Roy Mackal and James Powell visit Congo region and interview those who had seen the Mokele Mbembe. When Mackal and Powell were interviewed by Arthur C Clark, a cryptozoologist and sci-fi writer, he wrote a description from their findings; "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 invariable pointed to a picture of a sauropod when shown pictures of various animals to which mokele-mbembe might be compared."
Above; Eugene Thomas, a missionary in the Congo reported a Mokele Mbembe hunt in 1959 near lake Tele in the Congo area. After the natives built a spiked wall in a tributary to the Tele to prevent the beast from disrupting their fishing it was broken open and the Mokele Mbembe entered the lake. The pygmies hunted the creature and killed it. Apparently all those who ate its flesh died, perhaps due to food poisoning, a disease that the wounded animal had contracted or as the pygmies think; magic.

The Mokele Mbembe is an aggressive, territorial, yet herbivorous semi aquatic animal that produces loud roaring sounds; 1909;* Hagenback's book also describes Hans Schomburgk's (big game hunter) tale of a creature living in Lake Bangweulu that killed hippos. 1913;** Von Stein's report also describes the feeding habits of the Cameroon monster; "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 apple like fruits." 1919-1920;*** Coleman's book also describes a remarkable incident that occurred as the Smithsonian expedition drew to a close; "later in a swamp the team heard mysterious roars, which had no resemblance with any known animal." Ironically when the expedition was on a train running through a flooded area near a recent monster sighting the train derailed and four expedition members were killed, could this have been the work of an angry or provoked territorial dinosaur that crawled from the flood waters to face its metal adversary? 1932; in Cameroon a zoologist Ivan Sanderson reports seeing a large wounded creature retreating into a river. 1939; ****the Colonial Gazette reported the "water lion" to be a river dweller. 1976; *****Powell's monster whiteness's in Zaire reported that the beast ate the flowering liana as was described in Von Stein's report from Cameroon. 1979; Powell returns to Zaire and interviews several more native witnesses. They reported the n'yamala (as was the beasts native name) to be a herbivore, but aggressive and capable of destroying canoes when approached. Above; At least two seperate witnesess's (Powell 1976 and Von Stein 1913) say that the Mokele Mbembe is a fan of flowering lianas. All of this behaviour and appearance in the reports points towards the Mokele Mbembe and other African cryptids of similar description being long necked Sauropod dinosaurs that have been known from fossils in Africa right up to the end of the Cretaceous period. Reports suggest the creature is smaller than its ancestors, being about hippo sized rather than whale sized; so able to move easily in the dense Congo forest. In such a large jungle a semi aquatic monster could easily conceal itself. Above; the Mokele Mbembe is smaller than most Sauropods to allow it to move through the dense Congo rainforest. Other possibilities for the beasts identity may surprise you. Most trials with animal pictures shown to natives in the Congo basin reveal that the beast is most similar to a Sauropod dinosaur. In the BBC's documentary Congo aired in 2001, which I remember very well, the same experiment was carried out on a tribe of pygmies. As soon as the photograph of a rhinoceros was displayed to the natives immediately recognised it as Mokele Mbembe. Even though there are no rhinoceros in the Congo today it is possible that it's presence in native culture persisted and perhaps, due to the sightings, they occasionally visit the rain forest. Recall Von Stein's description of the beast "and only one tooth but a very long one; some say it is a horn". However; this does not explain the long neck and tail. I believe that the name Mokele Mbembe encompasses more than one beast. Perhaps some sightings have been those of rhinoceros and others of a Sauropod. Since both animals would be strange and alien to the natives of the Congo, perhaps they interpreted both as the same creature by combining their features. Other creatures such as Angola's coye ya menia, the n'yamala of Zaire and Von Stein's beast should be classified as the Mokele Mbembe, where as the other horned Mokele Mbembe should be considered as stray or relic Congolese rhinos. Above; Aegyptosaurus was a Sauropod dinosaur from the Cretaceous period of Egypt. Although Sauropods typically preferred dry climates it is possible for the Mokele Mbembe to have adapted to swamplands within the last 65 million years.
I must warn all budding cryptozoologists not to fall for the stories involving lost or damaged photographs and other definitive evidence because often people who claim this are trying to prove why, when they had the opportunity to prove a cryptids existence, they did not have the proof with them. Therefore I would advise all people to avoid believing in stories involving circumstances like these.

These stories shed doubt on the existence of such creatures rather than substantiate their existence and just make it harder for people to distinguish reality from myth. Let us hope that the Mokele Mbembe shows itself, for it may already be endangered by deforestation. If such a relic as a living dinosaur was found in the Congo forests; they and their wildlife would stand a higher chance of becoming completely protected.

Please trust me; I have sourced most of this info mostly from the internet, but have checked the sources used. If a website does not have its sources cited or they are not reliable I ignore it.

Update: I treat the idea of a sauropod living in africa with great skepticism. I do not want to create the misunderstanding that I unquestionably accept the existence of the these creatures. I just like to keep an open mind to such possibilities.

1 comment:

  1. It is believed that the animal is very aggressive when disturbed and will bite and lash its tail at you when it is tipping over canoes, killing elephants or hippos.Mokele-mbembe