As my friends, and long time readers of my blog know, I am big into cryptozoology. This semester in my online geography class, we were to write a five page report, and a post for a discussion forum, on any topic we chose, as long as it tied into geography. I managed to tie cryptozoology into geography. It wasn’t that hard to do. :)
For the five page paper I am going to do cryptozoology as a whole, mainly focusing on legendary creatures, Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, etc, but for the discussion post I decided to write about my favorite area of cryptozoology, the fact that dinosaurs could still exist. Some people’s discussions have been a couple measly little paragraphs. Basically they wrote down a few things and called it good. For mine, I ended up writing what amounted to a three page paper. So far the response to it has been of great excitement. As I figured, none of my classmates had any idea that there is still a chance that some dinosaurs have survived their own extinction, and I quite possibly blew all of their minds wide open. :) Today, I will share that paper with all of you, and if you didn’t know that there may still be dinosaurs in the world, prepare to have you own mind blown. (Unless you are a closed minded doubter who scoffs at anything science can’t explain. If so, I pity you. :) )
Are Dinosaurs Still Alive?
Are dinosaurs still alive? If you were to ask the average Joe on the street you would of course get the only sensible answer, “No, of course not.” But for a few people who have dedicated their lives to the discovery of unknown animals, a relatively small scientific field called cryptozoology, you would get a very different answer.
“But dinosaurs died out millions of years ago,” skeptics argue. “The only proof they ever even existed is the fossils, right? They can’t possibly be alive today. Science says so!” As a creationist, I would disagree with the extinction date, but there are other creationists who would still use a similar argument. The only place anyone sees dinosaurs is in the fossil record, so the natural assumption is that they are all extinct. But just because something is accepted as truth by the scientific community does not always mean it is true. Science is constantly being rewritten as new evidences are discovered.
Have you ever heard of a Coelacanth? Said to have been extinct for 65 million years, coelacanth fossils were used as direct proof of evolution, due to the fact that they had fins that looked like they could have been legs. In 1938 the scientific community was turned upside down by the discovery of living coelacanths. Science books had to be rewritten because one of the main proofs of evolution was shown to be alive and well, and it was completely a fish, not a fish/amphibian hybrid as had been previously speculated. If scientists had missed seeing this fish for thousands of years, isn’t it possible that there could be other animals known only through the fossil records still alive today?
“Wait a minute, you might ask. “This is all very interesting, but isn’t this a geography class? What does any of this have to do with geography?” Well, in this case, geography is the most important factor. To be an unknown animal, that animal needs somewhere to hide.
“Yes,” some would argue, “But oceans are one thing. Land is another. Scientists have explored all over the earth, and haven’t found dinosaurs. How does this help the case for cryptozoologists holding out hope for a live dinosaur?”
While it is true that for the most part all lands have been explored at one time or another, there are some places that it simply isn’t possible to get to with all the scientific equipment necessary to search for dinosaurs. Deep in the African Congo, there are miles and miles of deep jungle so dense that scientists can’t possibly explore it all very thoroughly. Even the native Africans that live around those regions seldom venture in.
“Ok, so there are places we can’t get to, I get that,” one might concede, “but the inability to easily explore, does not equal proof.”
And that would be the end of the argument, except for one thing. As you’ll see in the paragraph above, I wrote “Seldom.” The native Africans may not go that deep into the jungle often, but those that do tell stories of huge monsters that live there. The most famous story they tell is of a creature called Mokele-mbembe. In their language this means “One who stops the flow of rivers.” When asked to draw a picture of this beast, the natives draw what is clearly described as a sauropod dinosaur, a long-necked dinosaur like Apatosaurus, or Brachiosaurus. These natives are not educated, and would have no idea what a dinosaur even was, but the fact that their “Monster” looks so much like what we call a dinosaur, should give one pause.
Mokele-mbembe may be the most famous example of what might be a living dinosaur, but it is far from the only one. The Congo in particular, but all over Africa, is a source of many stories from the native peoples, claiming to have seen monsters.
The Emela-Ntouka, or “Killer of Elephants” is an enormous beast thought to be a ceratopsian, like Triceratops, but with a single huge horn. Some have described it as a giant rhinoceros, but it is said to have a long thrashing tail like a crocodile. It lives in the swamps like Mokele-mbembe and natives say that it hates elephants. The way it uses its horn is what gave it its name.
The Mbielu- Mbielu- Mbielu is yet another massive swamp dweller. This one is thought to be a stegosaurus as its long name means, “The animal with planks growing out of its back.” Natives say that it spends all its time in the water, and algae actually grows all over any exposed skin. It has never been seen out of the water, so they do not know what its legs look like.
The Kongamoto or “Overwhelmer of Boats” is a much smaller creature than those previously mentioned, but is significant because, though technically not a dinosaur, from descriptions given, it would seem that it was a type of pterosaur. It gets its name from the fact that it swoops down at fisherman. Like the others, it would seem that it prefers the swamps. In western Zamibia it has been sighted in a swamp that is believed to be the abode of demons.
Dinosaur sightings are not limited to Africa, though this is where most sightings occur. For years there have been stories of dinosaur like animals all over the world. Even in America people have claimed to see animals they describe as three foot tall T-Rexes, Velociraptors and Pterosaurs.
Australian Aborigines tell of a terrifying creature called the Burrunjor. It walks on two legs and has two small forearms. They say it is about 25 feet long. Does this not sound eerily similar to a theropod dinosaur, such as Tyranosaurus Rex? Even more compelling is that fact that unlike the African cases, these stories do not just come from the native peoples. In the 1950’s, cattle ranchers in Northern Australia, reported that many of their cattle had been killed or half-eaten by a mysterious animal. The ranchers had found giant bipedal tracks and some heard thunderous roars, while others heard it crashing through the jungle at night. A farmer claimed to have seen a Burrunjor from about 250 feet away. In 1961 a tracker gave an account of a huge reptile walking on two legs through a swamp near the Gulf Coast. He said it was about 25 feet tall. In addition, to the Australian sightings, people in New Guinea, Boliva, and South America have reported sightings of similar creatures.
Skeptics would point out that scientists can hardly take the word of an uneducated tribesman at face value, and they would also question the word of an everyday farmer, but again we can go back to the coelacanth. When the coelacanth was discovered by scientists, it was very well known to the native peoples where it was discovered. They were using it as a source of food. There have been many species that western science was unaware of that were just common knowledge to the people in the areas that the animals have been found. The Gorilla, the Panda, and the Duck-Billed Platypus, just to name a few. All species generally disregarded as native lore by scientists until actual proof was produced.
I do not know if dinosaurs still walk the earth today or not, but to disbelieve based solely on the fact that “Everyone knows they’re extinct” to me is just closed minded and foolish. There is so much in our world that we know nothing about. People sometimes just assume that scientists know everything, but that isn’t the case at all. I for one am glad that they don’t. I think that the mystery is all part of the fun! I love to think about what fantastic things might be out there just waiting to be discovered, or in this case RE-discovered!