Scientists say that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years before humans appeared on Earth, but some people claim that these creatures have survived in some remote place or “lost world.” They base their belief in living dinosaurs on several reported sightings of such creatures. For example, in the Republic of Congo, people claim to have seen three different dinosaurlike animals, the mokele-mbembe, the emela ntouka, and the nguma monene. The mokele-mbembe is said to look like a type of dinosaur called the sauropod, the emela ntouka the triceratops, and the nguma monene the dolichosaur. The nguma monene was spotted as recently as 1971 by an American missionary, Joseph Ellis, along the Mataba River in the Congo. Sceptics have suggested it was actually a crocodile (indeed, they suggest that all sightings of living dinosaurs are cases of mistaken identity), but Ellis insisted that what he saw could not have been any known animal.
In addition to the Republic of Congo, living dinosaurs have been reportedly sighted in South America, the United States, and Europe, though cryptozoologists consider these reports less credible because the descriptions of the creatures coming from these places are vague or inconsistent. Still, in the 1970s a few reports came out of Venezuela suggesting that unusually large lizardlike animals might be living in remote mountain regions. Such reports are similar to ones given by German explorers from 1907 through 1908, who told of visiting a swamp-riddled valley in Peru where several dinosaur-like creatures lived.
Also considered fairly credible is the 1975 account of a farmer in Italy who claimed that he had been attacked by a 15- foot-long (4.6m) dinosaur-like lizard because several other Italians subsequently claimed to have sighted this creature as well (though they described it as being about 10 feet [3m] long). Some scientists have speculated that the animal was a previously unknown species of lizard, though it has not been sighted since. Taken less seriously is the account of a Colorado woman who, in 1935, supposedly saw five gray-skinned dinosaurs. Nearly fifty years later, she described these creatures as being 7 feet (2.1m) tall, with small front legs that had claws similar to a chicken’s.
Some people have suggested that in addition to modern-day sightings, stories from the Middle Ages support the belief that dinosaurs did not all die out millions of years ago. Specifically, they say that the dragons mentioned in ancient and medieval texts were actually living dinosaurs. Indeed, in the ancient city of Babylon, artwork depicting a dragon shows a creature that does appear similar to a type of dinosaur known as the sauropod. Some skeptics say that this means the ancient Babylonians must have based their dragon artwork on dinosaur fossils, but there is no evidence that ancient Babylonians knew of such fossils.
- Lost Worlds
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning