The Mystery Of Mokele Mbembe | The Congo Dinosaur
In the heart of deep, dark Africa, in the steaming jungles of the Congo basin, lurks a creature so incredibly unbelievable, you’d have to see it to even consider it could be true. What if I had to tell you, dinosaurs are real? And they are here, in my very continent!
The Mokele Mbembe is possibly the most notorious African cryptid in the books. This creature has been the stuff of legend for centuries. Its name, Mokele Mbemebe means one who stops the flow of rivers in Lingala.
And you will understand the reasons for its name when I delve a little deeper into this beastie. However, before we get to that, let’s first iron out the elephant in the room.
Nobody got an ice cream from the last podcast! I even gave you guys two weeks to guess! Ok that’s not true. I didn’t record last week because I had an off week and needed some me time. But I digress. If you don’t know where La Chupacabra comes from, what childhood did you even have bro?? It’s from Dexter’s Laboratory! The episode where Dexter and Deedee head off to Mexico to find Dexter’s escaped monster. Just so happens that Dex managed to create La Chupacabra himself. However, the monster is known to Dexter as Charlie. So if you ever see a Chupacabra, don’t freak out. Just call him Charlie and he’ll come a’running!
But anyways back to this week’s beast of choice, the Mokele Mbembe. So, let’s get into the name, shall we? As I said, this cryptid is known as the one who stops the rivers. And this is due to the fact that this is a water dwelling monster. However, it is semi-aquatic, not a full on Abi nightmare water monster. Now as you can imagine, anything that can stop the flow of rivers has to be prolifically big, right? Right! And this is where the exciting part comes in – I’m basically frothing to say this – the Mokele Mbembe is a dinosaur! Yes, it is suspected that a leg of sauropods survived the asteroid strike and remains alive to this day in the Congo basin!
Now for those of you who didn’t love dinosaurs growing up, a) are you ok now? And b) a sauropod is the collective name for the big dinosaur family. So all of the brontosauruses, diplodocuses, camarasauruses, Apatosauruses etc.
These types of dinos are famed for their gargantuan size, long necks, lengthy tails and herbivore eating habits. So, as you can imagine, something this size may well be able to stop a stream at least if it decided to wallow in it.
However, the Mokolo Mbebe is suggested to only be the size of an elephant – so a bit smaller than the likes of 23m long brontosaurus. It has been reported to be a fat bodied, stumpy legged, long necked water dwelling herbivorous dinosaur, who was thought to inhabit the Likouala-aux-Herbes region of the Congo Basin.
It was said to have a brownish grey coloured skin, and one long tooth protruding from its mouth. Locals said that if your canoe happened upon the Mokele Mbeme’s path, you were doomed. The creature would up turn the vessel, and drown any who were in it. But it was noted that the creature would never eat the bodies of those it killed.
It was suggested that the dinosaur lived in the caves that had been washed out along the river, and that it would climb onto the banks during the day in search of food.
First Sighting of the Congo dinosaur
1776 – French missionary reported huge footprints seen in the basin whilst there on a mission. However, this has not been directly linked to the Mokele Mbembe. The first actual mention of this beastie came from a noted German hunter, Carl Hagenbeck. In 1909, Hagenbeck released an autobiographical book titled Beasts and Men. In his book, he made mentioned of a large, water dwelling animal. The locals described the beast to be the size of an elephant, with grey brown skin.
Naturally, Hagenbeck surmised that “it can only be some kind of dinosaur, seemingly akin to the brontosaurus.”
Another one of Hagenbeck’s sources, fellow game hunter Hans Schomburgk, made mention of a lack of hippos in Lake Bangweulu. When he asked his guids about this, they mentioned the large, hippo killing creature that lived within the lake.
Tales of the Mokele Mbembe had been around for far longer in African folk lore. However, the creature wasn’t always thought of as a physical animal.
In some stories, the Mokele Mbembe was a fierce water spirit, the bringing of bad luck on all who came across it.
However, it wasn’t until Hagenbeck’s book was published that the Mokele Mbembe gained mass popularity. The rumours of a living dinosaur quickly spread throughout Europe.
Over the course of the next century, half assed explorations of the basin were conducted in the effort to find the mysterious dinosaur. However, none were fruitful.
What The Haters Have To Say
Obviously there are people who refuse to believe such a glorious creature could ever have existed. But they do have one point.
During the period of Hagenbeck’s book release, the dino-craze was spreading through Europe. A full brontosaurus skeleton had been recreated and put on display, sending mass dinosaur hysteria through the social scene.
Many questioned how, if a sauropod was rambling through the Congo Basin, a distinct trail had not been picked up yet. A creature of that magnitude would leave destruction in its wake for sure.
Well riddle me this, how much destruction do elephants leave in their paths? This creature wasn’t said to be 75 feet long like a bronto. No, it was compared to an elephant. So sit down and shut your hater mouth!
However, one man would redeem this dinosaur. American aerospace engineer turned explorer, Herman Regusters, embarked on a cryptozoology expedition to Lake Tele in the Congo Basin in 1981, with his wife Kia. The pair held a press conference upon their return, stating that they had seen a dinosaur like creature a number of times over the period of October/ November. Regusters even claimed to have photographic evidence of the creature.
But they had not had it developed at the time of their conference, which was given before 75 members of press. Furthermore, Kia thought it would not be substantial as it was taken in poor lighting.
As such, little was done with their findings sadly.
What The Mokele Mbembe Could Be
So, there are a few suggestions about what the Mokele Mbembe could actually be.
Firstly, some people think it is merely a legend. Nothing more than whispers of the elders of tribes passed down to eager children.
Others say that the locals merely supported and embellished the tales of the European visitors who were anxious to see the living dinosaur.
However, there are two specific theories I may buy into if I didn’t have my own.
The Last Few Basin Rhinos
Although they are not known to inhabit the Congo basin any more, Rhinos were once known to live there. Perhaps, the Mokele Mbembe was a type of one horned Rhino roaming the lands.
Apparently, there was a great one horned European rhino that wandered around at a time. Perhaps this was its African cousin. We have Asian and African elephants, don’t we? Furthermore, the one horned Rhino thing would explain the single tooth reported by locals.
Further furthermore, rhinos skin can be grey brownish, so do we have a winner? No.
The next theory that I would give the tip of a hat to is an undiscovered species. However, people argue that explorers are always finding unknown bugs in the jungle, so how could they miss an elephant sized creature?
Easy, they just haven’t looked in the areas that it hangs out in yet.
What I Think This Dino Is
Die-cray-yo-saurus – which yes, I had to frenetically type out so I didn’t mispronounce it, is what I think the Mokolo Mbembe could be. And I have facts to support this theory.
Location Location Location
First and foremost is the fact that this dinosaur was located in Tanzania in the late Jurassic period. Now, for those of you who aren’t geographical boffs like me – just kidding I’m the furthest thing from a geography boff – Tanzania is the bordering country of the Congo. Now I know that the Congo Basin is massive and doesn’t preside over just the Congo – its actually larger than the state of Alaska, however, the Likouala-aux-Herbes river – where the dinosaurs are said to hang out – is located in the Rebulic of Congo, which is next to the DRC, which is next to Tanzania. It is approximately 2089 km away to be exact. Aaaaaaaand here’s the kicker folks! Sauropods, bar the Camptosaurus, were known be a migratory bunch. So 2000 odd clicks doesn’t seem that out of scope for the Die-cray-yo-saurus to venture to.
Furthermore, despite my efforts, I couldn’t find any mention of fossils or dinosaurs in the Congo – apart from the living one of course. So, what’s to say the Die-cray-yo-saurus didn’t live in the Basin as well as in Tanzania?
Next up we have the size of the beast. So, this creature was said to be the size of an elephant. An African bull elephant can grow as large as 24.6 ft long. Now that is nowhere near the 75 foot length of the brontosaurus. However, the Die-cray-yo-saurus was said to only be 12m or 39 feet in length. You see? It’s a tiny, tiny sauropod. Furthermore, a lot of that length goes to the tail.
The area where Mokele Mbembe is said to reside is grossly unexplored by the scientific world. So if I was one of the last remaining dinos you bet your left tit I’d choose to live there. There is food to forage and a lack of civilization to disrupt your daily dinosaur things.
Furthermore, there are actually quite a few reported living dinosaurs within the Congo and Cameroon specifically. So perhaps during the dinosaur extinction, the Congo Basin was the place to be if you wanted to survive. I love dinosaurs so we’ll talk about all of the Congo dinosaurs at some point so don’t you worry.
But tell me what you think the Mokele Mbembe is! I’m keen to hear!
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