Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, December 28, 2009

LINDSAY SELBY : Lone hunters of the last living dinosaur

Most people have read or heard of Roy Mackal's book on the hunt for Mokele-Mbembe, the so-called living dinosaur in the Congo, or seen articles about Bill Gibbons and John Kirk's expeditions.

But there have been others who have ventured alone to the area to seek out Lac(lake) Tele and look for the creature. Rory Nugent went in 1986 (book Drums Along the Congo 1993 ed. Houghton Mufflin Co) and Redmond O'Hanlon ( book Congo Journey 1996 Penguin books).

Rory Nugent's book is the more upbeat of the two as O'Hanlon's has a more negative view of the indigenous people of the area.

Both are amusing in parts, especially about meetings with witch doctors.

Nugent took a photo of something but as you will see from the text he was unable to get close enough to investigate.

He ends his journey to Lac Tele by asking this: (p.379)

"So Doubla". I asked softly" Why did Marcellin swear he saw the dinosaur?" "Don't you know?" said Doubla, giving me his first real smile. "It's to bring idiots like you here. And make a lot of money"

So is it just a con? The races of the Congo refer to Mokele-Mbembe as the spirit of the forest and say it takes several forms. Some indigenous people, when questioned, point to pictures of a Rhinoceros as the dinosaur and it is claimed that it is a race memory from when the jungle was once plains and the rhino roamed there. More than one investigator has pointed out that the lake is quite shallow and it would have to be a small dinosaur to hide there. The water levels may rise in the rainy season, of course. It is said that if there is any place that a dinosaur could still exist it would be in the Congo jungles but the jungles weren't always there and it would have been grassland plains thousands of years ago. There are still patches of this in the jungle: clearings where the animals gather (See the Channel 4 programme Congo, which is still sometimes transmitted) so sadly it seems there may not be a living dinosaur unless it is some sort of evolved creature from the era of the dinosaurs. It would be unlikely to look like something from Jurassic Park, though; probably much smaller and a changed appearance in order to adapt to the changing world around it.


Dale Drinnon said...

If you want my honest opinion, the object in the second photograph of scan one looks like the head of a big catfish and near the water are two rounded pectoral fins. That is if you care to make anything out of such a blurry and disfocused image (Which could represent a log as much as anything else) Perhaps it is Heuvelmans' version of the Lau?

borky said...

To me, the second pic looks less like a catfish and more like a crudely painted topless blonde, (a mermaid, perhaps?), in the process of submerging!

I mean, that's one hell of a pair of 'rounded pectoral fins'!

Maybe it was intended as a new phase in the supposed tourist suckering gambit.

Harpo said...

FYI - the title of O'Hanlon's book (at least the copy I have) is "No Mercy"

Tabitca said...

In the penguin series the title is Congo Journey. I lent my copy of no mercy to someone and it never returned so the penguin edition is a replacement.Check your facts before you post please.