Desperately seeking dinos on ill-conceived Congo adventure

Here is more on the story of a bunch of amateurs trekking to the Congo to look for new species.

Joe Marrero, Hollywood man, going to Congo to find Africa’s Loch Ness monster.

Joe Marrero is planning a little trip this summer, and it’s got his family kind of concerned.

The Hollywood software engineer is among a team of optimistic young men who intend to trek through the unforgiving Congo on a most outlandish quest: discover — and possibly bring back — a living dinosaur.

“Naturally, anybody’s family would be worried about them,” he said. “They don’t want to hear the details.”

Africa experts say the family’s fears are well-founded. New York travel agency owner Valentine Sazhin has traversed the Congo. “There are many dangerous places,” he said.

Marrero, 28, is the eldest of the six-man team that makes up the Newmac Expedition, named for its principals, leader Stephen McCullah and survival expert Sam Newton. They will brave the jungly Congo River to track a legendary sauropod said to live along its shore, the one pygmies call — cue the spooky music — Mokele mbembe.

What the team lacks in academic credentials or African experience, it makes up for in enthusiasm. And they’re undaunted by skeptics. “I’ve gotten everything — from people that were very supportive, to, ‘You guys are a bunch of idiots.’ ” McCullah said.


Tip: CFI’s Morning Heresy

This group has been successful in raising attention and money for their expedition. On the surface, it looks astoundingly naïve and dangerous. As we have covered before, there is NO good evidence that an unknown dinosaur-like animal is behind the mokele mbembe legend. The idea of dinosaurs in the African jungles is one promoted by Creationists to disprove evolution (won’t happen). Yet, the search for the creature comes to the forefront of all of these articles. To venture into an unfamiliar, hostile environment to attempt a scheme for which you have little to no training is… daft. They are not scientists and they are chasing a legend. Sure that sounds romantic and adventurous but this is real life with real problems and real consequences. But, as they note, they were made aware of the risks. However much they choose to marginalize them (and rely on their tranquilizer guns) in pursuit of their goals is their decision.

Here is the original story where I ask the lead person about their background.

And here is the piece that notes that they reached their funding goal to look for dinos and giant spiders.

Mokele mbembe depiction

  22 comments for “Desperately seeking dinos on ill-conceived Congo adventure

  1. KingMengi
    June 14, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    This may be my ignorance showing but I fail to see how finding a live dinosaur disproves evolution. Could someone give me a clue on that?

  2. Adam
    June 14, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    I can’t figure that either. it would simply disprove the notion that they ALL went extinct.

    Did the discovery of live coelacanth disprove it? Not even close.

  3. Bob Jase
    June 14, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    I’m sure they will be as successful as all the other dino-hunters that preceeded them since the first bunch back in (I think) 1921.

  4. Massachusetts
    June 14, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    I posted the same comment back when the first story was referenced! It makes no sense to believe that a living relict species disproves evolution. If that were the case, then crocodiles, turtles and sharks would have disproven evolution. It’s a sign of a huge misunderstanding of what the theory of evolution is. I just tried writing what I think they believe, but I got all flubbed up–it just makes no logical sense. My hope is that when kids who have been exposed to these mediocre thinkers go to college they will encounter real biologists who explain evolution well and the kids will realize how bad the creationist model is.

    I was hoping for another update on this group. I wish they took more experienced Africa Safari people with them, for their own sake. I believe that hypos and even elephants are endemic on the river, and are probably responsible for the MM sightings. That doesn’t bode well for naive river travelers. I think they have their hearts in the right place, but the graveyards are sadly full of people who had their hearts in the right place.

  5. Massachusetts
    June 14, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Now, I suppose theoretically it’s possible for dinos to exist in the congo, just highly unlikely. But as for dog-sized spiders, I don’t think they could physically exist because their physiology wouldn’t permit oxygen transfer. Unless they evolved lungs and a breathing system similar to vertebrates, or they lived in water perhaps. That claim is even more unlikely i’d say.

  6. Massachusetts
    June 14, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    OK, here we go, creationwiki.org (yes, it exists) has an article on Mokele-Mbembe. They quote a creationist named William Gibbons who says:

    “Perhaps the most exciting prospect for the world of creation science is the possibility that dinosaurs may still be living in the remote jungles of the world. Evolution and its accompanying necessity of long ages of evolutionary development would be hard pressed to accommodate a living dinosaur”

    Once again, not even counting the birds: crocodiles, turtles / tortoises, sharks, cockroaches…need I go on?

    • June 14, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      Joe: that’s not how science is done but like I said, you guys know the risks and you are willing to take them. I’m not unique in my sentiments. We’ve posted three times on this story. As have others. Good luck, you are going to need it.

      • June 14, 2012 at 10:43 PM

        Where is it stated that one must be a zoologist to explore the world?

        Yes there will be quite a bit of danger involved. But if people failed to do things because of the possibility-or even guarantee of danger then we very may well still think the world is flat!

        • June 15, 2012 at 12:00 AM

          Exploring the world? Of course not. Identifying the species behind stories of an animal supposedly unknown to science? Being a zoologist would not hurt.

        • June 16, 2012 at 8:17 PM

          Not many people EVER thought the earth was flat. That’s a myth.

    • Verklagekasper
      June 15, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      In his Kickstarter petition, mystery creatures are mentioned in every single paragraph. “Mokèlé-mbèmbé”, “Styracosaurus”, “large river dwelling sauropods”, “canine sized tarantulas”, and “man eating fish”.
      On the other hand, he would like to be taken seriously and claims that he doesn’t expect to find any of that stuff.
      That’s a dilemma for sure, but one that is on his own responsibility, not on that of Doubtful News. If he doesn’t like to be called out for the “the dinosaur angle”, he shouldn’t have started it in the first place.

  7. June 14, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    Science, no. Television, absolutely. That said, I suspect that they are honest, and not Marmaduke Wetherell-style explorers.

    • June 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM

      I do not doubt their honesty AT ALL. Nor do I get an impression this is for money. But, it takes a lifetime to learn to be a good scientist and study animals in the wild. Computer science, math and even survival skills are not convincing to me in this case.

      • June 14, 2012 at 11:48 PM

        Money, not necessarily that direct, but their page talks about a potential Discovery Channel reality TV show, and I believe their kickstarter mentioned NatGeo as a result of meeting one of the fundraising goals.

        So yes, it is entirely appropriate to talk about this in the context of television.

      • June 14, 2012 at 11:51 PM

        From the Kickstarter page

        “Update- Discovery, MSNBC, TODAY, The Huffington Post, Fox News, Yahoo, USA TODAY, Live Science, Science Seeker, Digital Trends, and approx. 70 other Media Outlets featured the Newmac Expedition and counting! We are also in the works with a producer for a reality show on The Discovery Channel, but we still need the funding to make it all happen! “

  8. Sean Elliott
    June 14, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    My problem with the legend is that sauropods were not aquatic. In fact most of the evidence suggests they held their necks out in front of them, head level with the body. The necks were not designed for feeding high, but rather sweeping side to side, with the exception of Brachiosaurs. Consider also the size of the animal. This body plan is not adapted for jungles. Fossil trackways also suggest that sauropods were social animals…. I can’t imagine that it would be very difficult to find a living sauropod, as a great deal of its time would be spent eating to sustain its enormous bulk. I also tend not to think of them as terribly stealthy.

    • June 14, 2012 at 11:57 PM

      They’ve already said that they suspect it is a monitor lizard.

    • Massachusetts
      June 16, 2012 at 7:54 PM

      You do raise a valid point. But there are ways around this observation while still fancying the cryptid hypothesis. This isn’t frozen in time, it’s an animal that’s been evolving for 80 million years, so it could have adapted to an aquatic or semi-aquatic existence.

  9. Massachusetts
    June 16, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Other theories are that it is a large mammal, probably a known one (most likely) like an elephant crossing the river with it’s trunk raised up over it’s head and seen from a distance, or perhaps hypos seen in combination from a distance that look strange to the viewer. If a few people over the last few centuries see something like that and then are attacked by hypos, perhaps a legend is born? Also some suggest it’s an unknown mammal, perhaps one that’s thought to be extinct or one unknown to science that somewhat resembles the Mokele Mbembe legend.

  10. Massachusetts
    June 16, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    The kickstarter listing that I just looked at said that they only had 8 people and $210 on board. Also, he made it quite clear they were looking for a dinosaur. His posted video mentioned it and this is a quote taken directly from his kickstarter website:

    “…In late June, I will be embarking on my greatest adventure to date–the search for the Mokele-mbembe in the swampy jungles of the Republic of Congo. The Mokele-mbembe is an alleged sauropod dinosaur as described by the pygmies of the Likouala region.

    If you think this would be something you would like to watch, then please support this. Thank you.”

    He seems to have made it quite clear that he’s seeking the dinosaur and he’s suggesting that finding one is a real possibility for those interested in funding his project. There was nothing skeptical on his kickstarter project profile that I saw.

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