Cryptozoologist Roy P. Mackal status unknown, presumably lost to the world

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.

Loch Ness Monster & Mokele-Mbembe Researcher, Cryptozoologist Roy P. Mackal Has Died.

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.

BBC News – The hunt for Mokele-mbembe: Congo’s Loch Ness Monster.


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.

Monsters of Loch Ness

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.

  5 comments for “Cryptozoologist Roy P. Mackal status unknown, presumably lost to the world

  1. spookyparadigm
    December 16, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    I wonder how much the growing influence of Creationists on the dino part of cryptozoology might play a role. I can’t imagine there is much in common between the older school and those out trying to disprove evolution. Classic cryptozoology has aspects of pseudoscience, but it was still an exaggerated form of scientific symbols, and nowhere nearly as rooted in the openly mystical as the other wings of the second-part of the mid-twentieth century trifecta of crypto, parapsych, and ufology.

    Beyond that, he wasn’t an internet guy, focusing his efforts squarely in a more academic style (books, peer-group societies that physically met and produced paper, etc.). In an era when most of the air in the room of cryptozoology is taken up by webcam selfie videos, rumor and storytelling, crap video and photo hoaxes, and desperate attempts to be entertaining enough to get on basic cable, where exactly would an eccentric tenured scientist not wanting to go to Consciousness and Paranormal conferences fit in?

  2. December 16, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    I had only learned about Roy Mackal’s passing yesterday. I first met Ropy at the International Cryptozoology Society’s annual meeting at Brighton University in 1985. He was accompanied by J. Richard Greenwell, Tim Dinsdale and Bernard Heuvelmans. it was an honor to have met such men and to have corresponded with them over the years. Roy and I kept in touch by phone and , less frequently by email. He gave me nothing but encouragement to continue with my research in Africa. He was delighted with new reports we would bring back concerning Mokele-mbembe. I hope that one day we will be able to justify his confidence in our efforts.

  3. December 16, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    I spoke to him on the phone a couple of times many years ago. A true giant in the field of cryptozoology.

  4. Chris l. Otanez
    April 5, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    As the father of Roy’s step grandchildren! Yes Roy has past away. But details are very unclear. His most current wife is the one that has everything under wraps. He was very fond of my wife and children. About two years ago all contact stopped. We think is has to do with his most current wife , who lives in San Diego, CA.

  5. Chris
    April 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    OK that sort of makes sense to me. I met Roy’s wife back in the 1980’s at the conference regarding The Lake Champlain Monster in Shelburn Vermont (USA). She was not the friendliest person as Roy was. Roy had promised to let me have access to the audio tapes of him recording mysterious whale like sounds coming from Loch Ness in the 1970’s much like the sounds recorded at Lake Champlain much more recently. Well anyway, suffice it to say, Mrs. Mackal put the “kaybash” on that idea. She wanted Roy to have no parts of doing that and I did not even get a chance to get his contact information at University of Chicago. I could only think that she wanted to research the “financial aspects” of this audio tape. I don’t think she even knew about it until Roy and I where overheard talking about it at the conference. If somehow you can have her locate these tapes from his estate I know of a biologist who did the more recent recordings who may be interested in purchasing them. She is the scientist who discovered that the lake has a mysterious echolocating creature(s). I think the world would be open to knowing that there is something really mysterious in both lakes across the world. This could re-write paleontology and chronology too.

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