usa | world | animals | vocabulary | health | science | math | history


Mokèlé-Mbèmbé

 

The mokèlé-mbèmbé is the name given a large creature reported to live in the lakes and swamps of the Congo River basin, whose existence has long been disputed between mainstream scientists on one side, local Pygmies, creationists and cryptozoologists on the other. Fishermen who inhabit the area often run from waters and land near the water's edge in fear of the creature, describing its ability to kill humans. Mokèlé-mbèmbé means "one who stops the flow of rivers." Mokèlé-mbèmbé is generally described as a beast about as large as an elephant, with a long flexible neck and with a tail similar to an alligator's.

The creature has often been likened to the Loch Ness Monster. Some cryptozoologists suppose that the creature might be a type of dinosaur that could have survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, which is believed to be possible due to the thickness of the Congo Rainforest. Mokèlé-mbèmbé's description is consistent with a sauropod.

The tales of the mokèlé-mbèmbé are an apparently ancient component of the oral history of the Pygmy tribes. These peoples have an intimate relationship with the rainforest, which supplies all their needs. Mokèlé-mbèmbé are apparently herbivores although they have been reported to kill humans and hippopotamuses. It is interesting to note that there is a low population of hippos in the Likouala swamp, where Mokèlé-mbèmbé's are reported to live.

 

There is a story that involved a killing of a mokèlé-mbèmbé. A group of people that lived near Lake Tele, in the Likouala swamp constructed a large wall to keep mokèlé-mbèmbé from interfering in their fishing. A mokèlé-mbèmbé managed to break through, and the natives killed the creature. They butchered and cooked the carcass, and ate it. However, everyone who ate it either became very ill or died soon afterward.

So far, all investigations have failed to find evidence of a creature corresponding to the native legend, although casts of inexplicable footprints have reportedly been taken (which some say were made by the mokèlé-mbèmbé), and a controversial videotape was recently presented.

The Congo Basin has wide expanses of marshland and swamps, including several large lakes, that have not been extensively explored by scientists. A recent megatransect into the wilderness of the Congo basin by the biologist and Africa explorer Michael Fay did not reveal any trace of the mokèlé-mbèmbé. One investigator, Roy Mackal, a professor of zoology at Chicago University, took teams to the Congo in 1980 and 1981 to search for the creature. Although they failed to encounter the beast, they collected important anecdotal evidence, including information on its primary food source, a type of vine. In 1985 and 1992 British explorer Bill Gibbons added further local reports to the dossier.

Cryptozoologists believe the likelihood of its existence to be significantly higher than the Loch Ness monster because of the large amount of uncharted territory to which can be ascribed the inability to find a specimen. Other large creatures, such as elephants, exist in large open clearings in the rainforests, each called a bai, as well as in thicker wooded areas, so the existence of the mokèlé-mbèmbé appears to be a possibility when taking into account its native environment. However, it is often thought to be even bigger than an elephant.

There is also a theory that the mokèlé-mbèmbé is a rhinoceros. Another not-so-cryptic explanation is that this phenomenon is nothing but a sighting of a group of male crocodiles following a female crocodile during the mating season. A fictional book was written about this creature called Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith. Sightings of this creature are said to have occurred at Lake Tele.

 

 

 

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mokele-mbembe".