Mokele-Mbembe: Living Dinosaurs of the Congo

13792864_f520Within central Africa is a territory known as Congo Basin, a sprawling tapestry of dense jungles, flowing streams, flooded bogs and vast savannas. Over ten-thousand varieties of tropical plants cover the land, thirty percent of which are unique to this area. Inhabiting these five hundred million acres are a plethora of endangered wildlife including gorillas, elephants and chimpanzees. A total of four-hundred varieties of mammals call the region home. According to many indigenous people there is another elusive species that roams the deep Congo, a creature known as Mokele-mbembe.

In the Lingala language this name translates to “one who stops the flow of rivers”. Based on eye-witness accounts, the semi-aquatic monster is described as closely resembling a sauropod. It possesses a long snake-like neck which is supported by a round grayish-colored body. They can reach heights of over thirty feet and frequently pluck leaves from tall trees. Some allege there is a spike atop the ancient being’s head. Natives both revere and fear this enigmatic and territorial beast. Some claim Mokele-mbembe is supernatural in nature and should be avoided at all costs.

map_of_democratic-republic-of-congoWesterners first began catching wind of the unaccounted herbivore over two hundred years ago, a time when dinosaurs remained undiscovered. Explorers who traveled to the distant landmass heard legends from nearby citizens regarding an unidentified forest-dwelling animal. One early account occurred in 1776 when French missionaries discovered huge footprints in a rural location. These tracks were similar to the size of an elephant’s, about three feet in circumference, with long claw-marks present. Each church member was perplexed as to what could have created such bizarre impressions. An escorting priest then shared he previously encountered the source firsthand. According to the man of god, he observed a prehistoric-looking brute feasting on vegetation.

During the early nineteen hundreds a German Captain, Ludwig Freiherr von Stein, was visiting the remote district. Trusted Congolese leaders warned von Stein of an enormous reptile that lived nearby. Independent sources all recounted an identical character adding further validity to such grandiose declarations. Despite extensively searching the surrounding wilderness the respected commander was unable to find hard evidence of Mokele-mbembe. Von Stein interviewed many tribesmen and chronicled his findings. In 1959 science writer Willy Ley published this section of von Stein’s report:

“The animal is said to be of a brownish-gray color with a smooth skin, its size is approximately that of an elephant; at least that of a hippopotamus. It is said to have a long and very flexible neck and only one tooth but a very long one; some say it is a horn. A fews18spoke about a long, muscular tail like that of an alligator. Canoes coming near it are said to be doomed; the animal is said to attack the vessels at once and to kill the crews but without eating the bodies.The creature is said to live in the caves that have been washed out by the river in the clay of its shores at sharp bends. It is said to climb the shores even at daytime in search of food; its diet is said to be entirely vegetable. This feature disagrees with a possible explanation as a myth. The preferred plant was shown to me, it is a kind of liana with large white blossoms, with a milky sap and applelike fruits. At the Ssombo River I was shown a path said to have been made by this animal in order to get at its food. The path was fresh and there were plants of the described type nearby. But since there were too many tracks of elephants, hippos, and other large mammals it was impossible to make out a particular spoor with any amount of certainty.”

By 1932 news of the alleged saurian was spreading throughout Europe and the Americas. One British naturalist toured Likouala in hopes of catching a glimpse of the obscure giant. While traveling by canoe he began hearing intense and frightening sounds. These bellowing roars were completely different from any organism he had previously encountered. Although a lengthy investigation was conducted the thunderous source was never identified and the researcher returned home empty-handed.

canoe-krabi-landscape-1031798That same year Ivan T. Anderson, famed zoologist and biologist, embarked on a journey to the mysterious land. As he and his endemic friends leisurely paddled down a river they began hearing haunting noises, comparable to loud rumbles produced by an earthquake. Suddenly the water beneath burst into an eruption of bubbles and a gargantuan shape emerged. Anderson said its head alone was the size of a hippopotamus and resembled something that should have gone extinct thousands of centuries ago. His aboriginal companions were familiar with this primitive entity. They informed their traumatized companion that the mythical breed goes by the name Mokele-mbembe.

Less than two decades after this bizarre incident an equally intriguing sighting took place. One warm summer day a group of English soldiers went swimming at Lake Barombi in Northern Cameroon. As the men were cooling off in the picturesque oasis an enormous figure surfaced nearby. Terrified, the troop frantically swam towards land. Once safely on shore they watched in horror as a pair of massive reptiles emerged from the murky abyss. Each possessed scaly skin and long necks with the larger specimen bearing a horn. Observers were utterly perplexed as to what these strange amphibious habitants might be.

mokelerebAnother fascinating case involves a reverend named Eugene Thomas. Since the 1950s he had journeyed to Congo Basin repeatedly on various mission excursions. Over time the clergy built a sincere relationship with local residents. Twenty years into his frequent trips one group of pygmies recounted a disturbing tale. Apparently, not long ago,  abominable reptilian  beasts began to intrude on their territory. Fishing, a vital source of sustenance, became increasingly difficult with creatures’ constant interference. In order to protect themselves they made the decision to erect a spiked fence around their waterside settlement.

Soon after, a rogue vertebrate broke through the defensive barrier. Alarmed tribal members began to throw spears and fatal wounds were inflicted. Dozens of victorious warriors harvested its colossal carcass succeeding the slaying. That night a feast ensued and many men, women and children consumed its meat. Those who ate the flesh quickly perished of a terribly agonizing sickness. Remaining pygmies who had not ingested the tainted fare were horror-stricken and utterly terrified. Following this tragedy, frightened survivors drew the conclusions that Mokele-mbembe was a paranormal spirit. Interestingly, during the early 1980s, remains of a sharpened fence were found surrounding the village.

57c39dba4d22dca525cc4aad3bcfffa2Japanese trailblazers trekked to the exotic continent in 1988. Their goal was to capture footage of the fabled Congo inhabitant. Jose Bourges, a renown environmental official, led the expedition. While filming areal footage over Lake Tele, a videographer noticed something anomalous beneath the plane. He examined the strong wake and attempted to focus on whatever was creating this disturbance. Unfortunately, in his eager and excitable state, the cameraman did not initially remove the lens cap. Ultimately only fifteen-seconds of footage was captured. Viewers of the brief clip are torn: some believe it’s merely an elephant, others feel something entirely different was recorded.

Writer Rory Nugent visited Africa to study the world’s largest swamp. In December of 1985 he spotted a peculiar form moving across the lagoon. Closer inspection revealed it was in fact the legendary critter. Nugent moved his boat to get a better view and watched in fascination while taking several photographs. Before he could get closer look accompanying Congolese guides demanded him to stop at gunpoint. Back at camp they instructed him to destroy all the film which had been shot. Due to superstitious beliefs, locals felt that keeping the pictures would anger Mokele-mbembe and put them in great danger.    

beautiful-cascade-creek-460621Doctor Roy Mackal, biochemist and evolutionist, dedicated his life to the pursuit of cryptozoology. Mackal was determined to prove the existence of supposed African dinosaurs. Interviews were conducted with tribes throughout multiple nations. These groups had no communication with each other nor the outside world. However, each person shared identical descriptions of the creature ranging from physical appearance to behavioral traits. During another excursion he presented flashcard illustrations to dozens of residents. Some were familiar, such as hippos, others like American black bears were completely foreign. They recognized domestic inhabitants but could not identify overseas varieties. Shockingly, when shown a rendering depicting a brontosaurus, they positively identified the sketch as Mokele-mbembe.

Science teacher Peter Beach was determined to uncover tangible proof of the shy vegetarian. Whilst exploring a muddy shoreline in 2006 he stumbled upon abnormally large footprints with prominent claws present. Surrounding canopies with abundant foliage had been completely stripped at heights in excess of eighteen feet. Giraffes, the only reasonable culprit, do not occupy this part of the country. Perplexed, Beach took snapshots to document his peculiar findings. Plaster castings were made from the unique impressions. Further analysis of the tracks has brought forward more questions than answers.

images.jpegBy 2009 researchers once again undertook the quest for Mokele-mbembe. Credible informants relay that during dry seasons the cryptid hides in natural caves. Air passages are dug along the riverside and eventually dry out becoming similar to concrete. Such structures ensure they have ample air supply to last through lengthy hibernative states. Investigative parties located several of these formations along the muddy embankment. Implementation of a fish finder provided further fascinating discoveries. Numerous serpentine figures moved below the dismal depths. Experts were extremely baffled by the specimens’ astonishing size. Unfortunately, severe thunderstorms forced the team to abruptly abort their mission before definitive data could be obtained.

Much of the Congo remains unseen by human eyes. Earth’s final frontier is filled with dangerous predators, deadly insects, armed militias and extreme weather. Such factors cause much hindrance on further exploration of this rugged terrain. It was not until 1998 that the four-thousand pound Javan rhino was recognized. Only five years ago, in 2013, a quarter-ton pygmy tapir was positively identified. It’s entirely plausible that an unknown species is avoiding detection within the depths of Africa. However, until hard evidence surfaces we can only theorize and evaluate spectators’ testimonies. For now Mokele-mbembe will remain one of the world’s greatest mysteries.


Do you think it’s possible that dinosaurs still exist? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

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Living Among Bigfoot: An Interview with Tom Lyons

Throughout my entire life I have been drawn to all things Sasquatch-related. Watching the infamous Patterson-Gimlin Film as a young child filled me with both horror and intense intrigue. When most of my peers pursued typical teenage endeavors, I was listening to the Sierra Sounds or researching native ‘wild man’ legends. Over the last two decades I have watched countless documentaries, seen dozens of TV shows and read a myriad of Bigfoot books. By far the most compelling story I have come across in my lengthy investigation is a firsthand account recounted by Tom Lyons.


This week I am honored to be sharing an interview with Mr. Lyons, a Kindle Bestseller and author of the riveting series Living Among Bigfoot. Ten years ago he moved from Wisconsin to the vast wilderness of Idyllwild, California in hopes of living more healthfully. After settling into his quaint countryside cottage several terrifying events suddenly occurred. At first the former skeptic believed someone was messing with him. All of this would change once he came face to face with a creature which he never thought existed. Tom’s previously normal life would soon be turned upside down. Living Among Bigfoot chronicles the repeated Sasquatch encounters which he has experienced. 

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DTCH: Can you tell me a little bit about what your life was like in Wisconsin?

TL: Well, my life was certainly nothing out of the ordinary. I worked at a grocery store chain called “Piggly Wiggly” for years after high school while developing various business ideas. Once the internet became prevalent, one of those ideas ultimately evolved into an online business. I’m not going to give too much away on the business (as I eventually sold it), but I will say that anti-virus software was the initial product upon which the business was built.

DTCH: Why did you decide to move to that specific part of California? Had you visited the town before?

TL: I know it sounds sorta silly, but no, I hadn’t visited Idyllwild prior to my move. I had read great things about it and it was at a time in my life where I was enthusiastic about taking a shot in the dark so to speak. The major advantage of making your income from the web is that you can work from virtually anywhere.

DTCH: Why have you now decided to share your story with the world?

TL: I’ve listened to quite a few podcasts where people courageously share their encounters and in some cases the government has even warned them not to. They inspired me to share mine but I’d still prefer to maintain my private life, hence the pen-name. I’m quite the introvert.

DTCH: What do you feel the motivation is for officials who continue to conceal information from the general public?

TL: I get into all of that later in the series, but either way I don’t feel it’s possible to answer that in short form.

DTCH: Do you think full disclosure on this topic would be a good thing? How would society handle such news?

TL: This is something that I still feel very torn on. A large part of me doesn’t appreciate the deception, but another part of me believes certain things are better left alone by certain people, if you catch my drift.

DTCH: Can you describe the physical appearance of Bigfoot? Is the Patterson-Gimlin Film an accurate representation?

TL: All I can really tell you right now is that multiple types do exist, some of which look quite different than others. However, I will say that ‘Patty’ reminds me of what I came across in Idyllwild in terms of looks, but the movement was really quite different (that’s not to say that the one I saw isn’t capable of such motion), and I’m certainly not trying to discredit that video footage as it is obviously very impressive.

DTCH: On the topic of Patterson-Gimlin, do you feel that footage is legitimate?

TL: I do feel it’s legitimate.

DTCH: Do you have an estimated number of what the North American Bigfoot population might be?

TL: That’s a question that still baffles me to this day, but if I had to take a stab at it, I’d say many thousands if you were to include all members of each species.

DTCH: Was there a strong odor that the creature produced?

TL: I’ve come across many strange and even grotesque odors while outdoors, but in Idyllwild I was never able to indisputably isolate the creatures as being the source of the strong odor. As for other regions, you’ll have to read on!

DTCH: Would you say Bigfoot is more human-like, more ape-like, or a 50/50 combination?

TL: To put it simply, I think it’s something else entirely, but I’ll get more into that later in the series.

DTCH: Cultures around the world all have their own legends and versions of Sasquatch: Skunk Ape, Yeti, Yowie, etc. Do you think other parts of the country or world also have Bigfoot?

TL: They absolutely do. 100%.

DTCH: Do you still live in that area? If so, do you continue to encounter the creature?

TL: I no longer live in that area. I skipped around for quite a few years after leaving the region.

DTCH: What are your thoughts on the theory that Bigfoot produces infrasound?

TL: Other creatures possess similar abilities, so why can’t a creature such as this? They are insanely impressive in a multitude of ways.

DTCH: With today’s available technologies why don’t we have more evidence such as photos and videos?

TL: I’m begging for someone to find the courage to whip out an iPhone and aim it at one of these things when close enough to even attempt a quality shot. Believe me, if you see one of them that close in person, you’ll know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. I believe someone out there does indeed have the necessary composure for such a task, however the time frame they’d have to do such a thing is incredibly small and with how terrifying it is to be in that situation it doesn’t surprise me that no one has any footage of the things.

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The fourth installment, Living Among Bigfoot: Unexpected Visitors, will be released on April 15th and can be purchased on Amazon. For those with any interest in cryptozoology, the outdoors, or a love of suspenseful mysteries, these books will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I would like to thank Mr. Lyons for sharing his insight and answering my questions. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter for more information about the series.

El Chupacabra: Science Fiction or Undiscovered Species?

Chupacabras will always hold a special place in my heart. They are the namesake of this blog and one of the few cryptozoological critters that supposedly inhabit Florida. Many believe that the emergence of such an entity is a relatively new phenomenon. Yet tales of such cryptids date back to many centuries ago and are shared amongst several different cultures worldwide. In fact, the Ancient Mayans wrote of a monster by the same name in 1400 BCE. 

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Ancient Mayans wrote of a creature that went by the same name.

Chupacabras first entered mainstream attention during the mid-1990s. A farmer in a rural Puerto Rican town discovered eight of his prized sheep dead. Each had three strange triangular puncture wounds on their chests and were completely drained of blood. Throughout the following months several other locals reported similar slaughterings of goats, sheep, chickens and pigs. When the media got a hold of these bizarre stories they dubbed the creature “El Chupacabra,” which is Spanish for the goatsucker.

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Stories of El Chupacabra received mainstream attention after eight sheep were killed mysteriously in Puerto Rico.

These attacks quickly spread to other counties including Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and North America. Witnesses describe the fanged beast as around five feet tall with enormous glowing red eyes. It has a solid build with a reptilian-like appearance and sharp quills running along its back. Some say that the creature is green and hairless while others recall fur covering the body. When El Chupacabra is nearby there is often a foul odor present, similar to many reported Sasquatch sightings.

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Chupacabra sightings occur throughout South America.

One of the most infamous encounters with this legendary animal happened to a Puerto Rican housewife named Madelyne Tolentino. In August of 1995, she saw the being outside of her Canóvanas home. According to the woman, it was a four-foot tall bipedal being that resembled an alien and moved like a kangaroo. Each hand had three clawed fingers. Instead of a snout there were two small air holes and spikes covering its spine. During this confrontation there were three other observers present: Tolentino’s mother, ex-husband and his coworker.

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Madelyne Tolentino’s sketch of what she witnessed outside her window. 

At the time of this incident one hundred and fifty farm animals, including pets, died from mysterious puncture wounds. All of the bodily fluids appeared to have been sucked out. Similar to many cattle mutilation cases, these cuts appeared to be created by something with laser-sharp precision. Even modern-day surgeons would have difficulty replicating such lacerations. UFO sightings frequently occur within close proximity to where the cryptid is spotted. For these reasons some speculate that El Chupacabra is an unknown species of extraterrestrial.

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Are Chupacabras related to extraterrestrials?

Others feel that misidentification is to blame. Predatory cats or mangy coyotes could be responsible for this legendary beast. In the United States, carcasses of alleged Chupacabras received DNA testing. Blood analysis revealed common mammals such as dogs and raccoons to be the perpetrators. Some of these animals have parasitic infections which cause a loss of fur and an odd appearance. Conspiracy theorists believe that our government is to blame and the creature is the result of secret genetic experimentation projects or a biological warfare weapon.

Many supposed sightings are misidentified dogs, raccoons or coyotes.

Despite the FBI completing two thorough Chupacabra investigations, we are still no further to solving this mystery. Possibilities range from an elaborate hoax to a legitimate living breed worthy of scientific merit. With 15,000 to 18,000 new species discovered on Earth each year, it’s entirely plausible that an unidentified carnivorous species might be roaming the jungles of Puerto Rico. Until a definitive answer is found cryptozoologists will continue the pursuit of this legendary animal.

Mothman: Legitimate Cryptid or Urban Legend?

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In the world of cryptozoology, Mothman is one of the most mysterious and intriguing creatures. Many described him as an enormous humanoid with massive wings and large red eyes. Although it’s been over fifty years since the first sighting the legend remains just as strong to this day. Recently the unknown entity has had a resurgence of popularity after a number of sightings have been reported out of Chicago. Many wonder that if such a being exists then what exactly is it? Theories range from a misidentified barn own to a paranormal entity or even an extraterrestrial visitor.

Initial Encounters

The first of numerous sightings began on November 12th, 1966 in the small town of Clendenin, West Virginia. On a crisp autumnal night five gravediggers witnessed a man-like figure ascend from a nearby tree. Three days later Roger and Linda Scarberry were out driving with another couple. While traveling down an isolated road known as “TNT Area” they witnessed a seven-foot tall flying creature with glowing red eyes. When Mr. Scarberry sped off the being flew alongside the vehicle before taking off into the darkness. The group immediately went to the authorities. Each person was privately interviewed and all four people had identical stories and matching recollections of the events that had transpired. According to the Deputy who spoke with the group, their eyes were filled with a terror that couldn’t be faked.

The Silver Bridge Tragedy

Just one year after the gravedigger’s encounter occurred, Point Pleasant was struck by tragedy. The Silver Bridge, a main route into the small town, collapsed unexpectedly during rush-hour traffic for unknown reasons. Forty-six people sadly lost their lives after crashing into the river. That morning various locals saw a strange creature perched atop the bridge. Some believe that this entity was trying to warn of the impending doom while others feel that Mothman was responsible for the disaster.

Untimely Deaths

Mary Hyre was a news reporter for the local paper and wrote and column called “Where the Waters Mingle”. She was also very close with author John Keel, author of “The Mothman Prophecies” which would later become inspiration for the highly fictionalized Hollywood film. Hyre felt that her involvement with The Mothman investigation drew interest from the Men in Black. Her first encounter occurred in 1967 when she was working a late night at the office. A man entered the room who she described as having “large hypnotic eyes and not dressed for the weather”. Oddly, the stranger said nothing and simply placed a pen on her desk before exiting the building. After this experience the perplexing stranger began to follow her.

Soon Hyre had yet another run-in. While walking to her car a different man came towards her and instructed her to stop researching the Mothman topic or there would be consequences. Local townspeople also reported being approached by these men who claimed to be friends of Hyre. They wanted to obtain information about their UFO sightings and other paranormal events. On February 15th, 1970 Hyre died suddenly at the age of 54. She believed that the creature was a prophetic figure that had come to warn of upcoming catastrophes.

Many other individuals who researched Mothman had strange and untimely deaths. One such person is Fred Fried who was at the time working on a documentary about the relation of UFOs and Mothman. He died of a heart attack at the age of 53 and his film was never released. Donald North, a Point Pleasant native, witnessed the entity in the same spot as the Scarberrys. Not long after, he died as a result of a car accident. Jim Keith was a conspiracy writer who was studying the connection between Mothman, the CIA and the MIB. During a routine knee surgery Keith died on the operating table at the age of 50. Before this procedure he had said: “I have this feeling that if they put me under I’m not coming back”. To date there are 84 mysterious deaths that appear to be connected to Mothman.

Possible Explanations

There are a multitude of explanations when it comes to this enigmatic being. Since a  number of sightings occurred in the TNT Area some speculate that the region itself may in fact be responsible. During WWII the location was utilized for weapon manufacturing. After the war ended these explosives were stored in bunkers and the 8,000 acres of land were turned into a wildlife conservatory. It wasn’t discovered until the 1980s that the land had been contaminated by explosives byproducts. Given the severity of the situation the TNT Area was added to a federal list of hazardous waste sites. Some theorize that this chemical concoction seepage contributed to the evolution of a mutilated subspecies.

Others wonder if there is a UFO/ alien link to the Mothman. In John Keel’s book he states that eyewitness reports describe glowing orbs, energy fields and lost time. If this is the case it would also explain the Men in Black’s involvement. There are those who feel that creature is paranormal in nature given its ominous warning of approaching death. People who encounter this being describe it having telepathic abilities. Skeptics are convinced that it’s merely an urban legend or an elaborate hoax. However, if this were the case one has to wonder if a person would be capable of such trickery for over five decades.

Until the truth is disclosed everything is ultimately speculation. Perhaps with today’s available technologies there is a better chance of capturing hard evidence. What do you think about Mothman? Share your thoughts in the comments!