Author: Lauren Faircloth
|by Nik Petsev, 2002|
Mokele-mbembe is Lingala , and can mean a variety of things. The word is commonly defined as "one that stops the flow of rivers," but can also mean "one who eats the tops of palm trees," "monstrous animal," or even "half-God, half-beast." Mokele-mbembe is also used as a generic term to refer to other animals like Emela-ntouka, Mbielu-mbielu-mbielu, and Nguma-monene. Mokele-mbembe has been described as an animal with a long neck, tail, and rounded shaped tracks with three claws. The closest known animal that has these characteristics is a Sauropod dinosaur.
The body size of each specimen is said to be somewhere between the size of a hippopotamus and an elephant. Its length is reportedly between 16 to 32 feet (5 to 10 meters). The length of the neck, according to various descriptions, is between 5 to 10 feet (1.6 to 3.3 meters). The length of the tail is somewhere between 5 to 10 feet as well.
The pygmies, natives of the Likouala Swamp region, report that the essential diet of Mokele-Mbembe consists primarily of the Malombo plant. Since it only eats plants, it is classified as an herbivore. The Malombo plant actually describes two plants: Landolphia mannii and Landolphia owariensis.
Mokele-mbembe lives in the pools and swamps adjacent to the rivers of the Likouala swamp region of The People's Republic of Congo on the continent of Africa. It is said to use the lakes as a crossing path to go from one river to another. Mokele-Mbembe lives underwater most of the time except when it eats or travels to other parts of the swamp. It has been reported that it does not like hippopotamuses and will kill them on sight, though it does not eat them. According to the pygmies, Hippopotamuses cannot be found where Mokele-Mbembe lives.
Expeditions in search of the mokele-mbembe primarily began in the 1880s. In 1913, a German explorer reported stories of, what the natives called, "Mokele-mbembe," which he had heard while in the Congo. Hearing the reports, a few scientists noticed that the descriptions of the creatures made them sound much like sauropod dinosaurs. Sauropods were the giants of the dinosaurs world, averaging about 70 feet (21 meters) long and standing 12-15 feet (3.7 to 4.8 m) tall at the hips.
In 1932, a British scientist, exploring near the Likouala region where the creatures are said to live, came across some abnormally huge footprints. Later, when he went down one of the rivers in a canoe, he heard strange sounds, but did not see anything. Coincidentally, that same year the world famous zoologist and biologist, Ivan T. Sanderson, along with animal-trader Gerald Russel, were paddling up the Mainyu River in the heart of western Africa when, according to Sanderson's report:
"The most terrifying sound I have ever heard, which sounded like an on-coming earthquake or an exploding, nearby robot, suddenly greeted us from a large underwater cave."
While the water of the river was boiling and foaming directly in front of their canoe, a “darkish, shining lizard-like head” suddenly rose from the dark water. They described the head as nearly the size of the head of a fully grown hippo, which sat on a thick, swan-like neck. The enormous neck was turned towards the two men, and for just a few seconds, although it seemed like an eternity, the monster simply stared at Sanderson and Russel. Mr. Sanderson summed up his thoughts with these words:
"I don't know what we saw, but the animal, the monster, burned itself into my retinas. It looked like something that ought to have been dead millions of years ago. As a scientist, I should have been happy, of course, but this encounter was so frightening, so nasty that I never want to see it again."
Gibbons, William J. "In Search Of the Congo Dinosaur." In Search Of the Congo Dinosaur. ICR, July 2002. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. http://www.icr.org/article/306/
"Lingala." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lingala?s=t.
"Mokele Mbembe!." Skeptic 17.3 (2012): 63. Science Reference Center. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.
Petsev, Nick. "Cryptids - Mokele-mbembe." Cryptozoology.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. http://www.cryptozoology.com/cryptids/mokele.php.
"Sauropod." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sauropod?o=100505.
Wilford, John Noble. "'Dinosaur' Eludes Six-Week Search in Africa." New York Times (1923-Current file): 1. Dec 10 1981. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2008). Web. 22 Oct. 2012.
Links for further research:
Mokele-Mbembe: The Living Dinosaur
Articles and information compiled by Scott Norman
Was a Mokele-mbembe killed at Lake Tele?
An account of an encountering with a mokele-mbembe
'Mokele-Mbembe' The Last Dinosaur Documentary Part 1
A documentary of the search for Mokele-Mbembe from The History Channel