Mokele-mbembe: Mythical, real, a tourist draw, or all of the above

BBC News runs a feature on they mystery of Mokele-mbembe:

The hunt for Mokele-mbembe: Congo’s Loch Ness Monster

The search for Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster is world famous. Far less well-known is the hunt for a similar creature, Mokele-mbembe, which is reputed to live in the remote north of Congo-Brazzaville. But how strong is the evidence?

“I checked maps, and the data on the maps was white. It said, ‘insufficient data to delineate terrain’. Well that got me!” says Dr Roy Mackal, a retired biologist from the University of Chicago.

In the 1980s, Dr Mackal led two expedition teams to the vast Likouala swamp and rainforest area of the Congo which is inhabited by pygmies, on the hunt for this mystery creature – Africa’s version of Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster.

The Mokele-mbembe is reputed to be a large reptile-like creature, with a long neck, and long tail.

To date, there have been more than 50 expeditions to the region, but no scientific evidence, unless you include the large claw-shaped footprint recorded by a French missionary in 1776.

The only photographic images have been so fuzzy, they prove nothing.

But there is no shortage of eyewitness reports.

Those who believe the Mokele-mbembe exists argue that with further dedication of time and resources, one will eventually be tracked down.

But might the discovery of the creature be an anti-climax? Perhaps the mystery is what we enjoy most.

Tip: Matt Crowley

50 expeditions spanning 3 centuries and no evidence whatsoever? Absence of evidence speaks loudly here.

What was NOT mentioned in this article is that M-M is often described as a living dinosaur. Many of the M-M hopefuls (though not Dr. Mackal) are Creationists out to prove the dinosaurs still exist (and, oddly conclude, rather illogically, that evolution is not true). The idea that M-M is a dinosaur is ludicrous. If it exist as as a real creature, and as the lack of evidence suggests, that is doubtful, it is likely a known one, not a new large mammal or reptile.

The article does sum up what is at the heart of the whole cryptozoology community. It’s not always about finding a new species of unknown animal or a monster. It’s about the mystery of it. It’s not about the actual supposed creatures, it’s the idea of it that’s intriguing and fascinating.

[idoubtit contributed to this post]

Monster Talk podcast on Mokele-mbembe

Skepticblog: A living dinosaur in the Congo

  1 comment for “Mokele-mbembe: Mythical, real, a tourist draw, or all of the above

  1. Massachusetts
    December 28, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    Yes, mystery is key–that sense of wonder and the feeling that anything is possible. Which is why science fiction and fantasy, if done properly, are so wonderful. The problem comes when you take three large helpings of youthful wonder but no servings of critical thinking whatsoever. Then you have a mess on your hands and a whole lot of fuzzy thinking leading nowhere.

    I agree that the lack of evidence after 50 years is very telling. And I agree that even if a sauropodian dinosaur is extant in some remote corner of the globe (as unlikely as that is) that hardly disproves evolution. I don’t see how that would in any way disprove evolution. Could someone explain that logic to me? That sounds like a flawed understanding of evolution to me.

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