Illustration of Mokele-mbembe.
|AKA||One Who Stops the Flow of Rivers|
|Year First Seen||Unknown|
|Location||Congo River, Africa|
It is sometimes described as a living creature and sometimes as a spirit. It could be considered loosely analogous to the Loch Ness Monster in Western culture.
Several expeditions have been mounted in the hope of finding evidence of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, without success.
Efforts have been covered in a number of books and by a number of television documentaries. The Mokèlé-mbèmbé and its associated folklore also appear in several works of fiction and popular culture.
According to the traditions of the Congo River basin the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is a large territorial herbivore. It is said to dwell in Lake Télé and the surrounding area, with a preference for deep water, and with local folklore holding that its haunts of choice are river bends.
Descriptions of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé vary. Some legends describe it as having an elephant-like body with a long neck and tail and a small head, a description which has been suggested to be similar in appearance to that of the extinct Sauropoda, while others describe it as more closely resembling elephants, rhinoceros, and other known animals.
It is usually described as being gray-brown in color. Some traditions, such as those of Boha Village, describe it as a spirit rather than a flesh and blood creature.
According to the writings of biologist Roy Mackal, who mounted two unsuccessful expeditions to find it, it is likely that the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is a reptile.
Of all the living reptiles, Mackal argues that the iguana and the monitor lizards bear the closest resemblance to the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, though, at 15 to 30 feet (5 to 9 m) long, the Mokèlé-mbèmbé would exceed the size of any known living examples of such reptiles, writing, "I believe the description of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is accounted for in all respects by an identification with a small sauropod dinosaur".
The BBC/Discovery Channel documentary Congo (2001) interviewed a number of tribe members who identified a photograph of a rhinoceros as being a Mokèlé-mbèmbé. Neither species of African rhinoceros is common in the Congo Basin, and the Mokèlé-mbèmbé may be a mixture of mythology and folk memory from a time when rhinoceros were found in the area.
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