In a strange news bulletin, Loren Coleman reports that Dr. Roy Mackal, well-known cryptozoologist, appears to have passed away on September 13, 2013. No one said anything about it in the press or in the crypto community.
Mackal, 88, reportedly* died September 13, 2013. The mainstream media outlets have forgotten to write tributes for him, and this is a sad oversight. He is a figure that needs to be recalled, and his life remembered.
Allegedly, funeral arrangements are still pending in the Chicago area. It is known that Mackal had suffered two heart attacks between 2005-2007.
Loren notes that it is strange that we did not get a confirmation of this. I also checked the obituary (which is empty) and says arrangements are pending. That makes little sense. The funeral home is in Oaklawn Illinois which is a logical location. Loren also notes that attempts to reach Roy at his last number have been unsuccessful. So, it is not a stretch, considering his age and poor health, that he has died.
His wikipedia page has not been updated as of this posting (though I’m guessing it will be in short order).
Mackal was best known for his promotion of possibly living dinosaurs such as the Mokele Mbembe in Africa. He conducted two expeditions to the Congo swamps in the 1980’s looking for evidence of the creature. The hunt (which seems pointless at this time), continues.
His books include:
The Monsters of Loch Ness. Chicago: The Swallow Press, 1976.
Searching for Hidden Animals. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1980.
A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe. New York: E.J. Brill, 1987.
With others, he formed the International Society of Cryptozoology that eventually folded (but it was great while it lasted). It was my interest in joining the ISC around 1993 when I was surprised by a call from Dr. Mackal explaining to me that things were currently in disarray. But he didn’t wish for me to be disappointed. He was very enthusiastic about future projects at that time and talked non-stop for at least 20 minutes about it. It’s hard to forget something like that.
Mackal was a biologist, therefore had credentials rare in the cryptozoology world. He investigated not only in Africa but also in depth at Loch Ness. He eventually concluded that Nessie was an extinct whale, a zeuglodon, in keeping with his prehistoric survivors hypothesis. But this was total speculation. No solid evidence was ever gathered that showed that Loch Ness is home to an unknown creature. And the Mokele-mbembe idea as a dinosaur is completely unsupported. Mokele-mbembe and Mackal’s ideas are discussed in two very recent cryptozoology books done by scholars, Abominable Science by Loxton & Prothero and The Cryptozoologicon by Naish, Conway and Kosemen. (See our book recommendations page)
Mackal had not been recently active in the field. At least not for about 15-20 years, as far as I know but he had kept in touch with others.
As one of our regular commenters remarked to me, Mackal ended up being elusive as his quarry. It is a strange ending that I do hope is resolved and he gets a decent write up in the media.
We will watch for confirmation of this story.
Addition: Don Prothero makes an excellent point – Mackal was not qualified to do field biology, he was a microbiologist. Skepticblog » Credential Mongering.
UPDATE: (29-Dec-2013) Chicago Sun Times does a retrospective piece confirming his death and affirming his life’s work. Of monsters and mysteries; U. of C. professor Roy Mackal chased the unknown – Chicago Sun-Times.