“Lost World” of Vietnam

In July 1992, global news organizations introduced everyone to the startling discovery of a so-called lost world of animals living in Vietnam’s Vu Quang Nature Reserve, a sixty-five-square-mile area near the Laotian border. The knowledge of the faunal diversity of Vietnam was impeded by years of war and limited international contacts. Scientists have described the reserve as a “lost world seemingly untouched by the war,” and possibly teeming with new species. The Vu Quang Reserve has one of the country’s richest and most pristine forests.

The first and most exciting animal discovery announced was a creature known locally as the saola (“forest goat”). While investigating scientists did not observe a living specimen, they did find three sets of upper skulls and horns. One of the skulls was from a recently deceased animal, enough to establish its existence and scientifically describe it. The saola or Vu Quang ox (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) had been officially discovered.

The Lost World has produced several other recent discoveries, including evidence of a new species of fish, two previously unknown bird species, and an unknown tortoise with a striking yellow shell. Meanwhile, the search is on for a new reptile known as the burrowing Vietnamese sharp-nosed snake. During the Vietnam War, U.S. Navy officers gathered and photographed specimens of this snake, but the specimens were lost. A recent issue of Cryptozoology (dated 1992 but published in 1994) offers a scientific description of this reported, but so far unproved, animal.

In addition to these, Dr. Ha Dinh Due of the National University of Hanoi reports that a colleague at Hue University has seen another goat-like animal near A Luoi in Thua Thien Province. Dr. Pham Nhat (Forestry University, Xuan Mai) reports two unusual civet (a cat-like animal) specimens from Lao Cai Province in the far northwest.

In Vietnam, zoologists and biologists are discovering new animals at an amazing rate in what has become known as their very special Indochinese “lost world.” Needless to say, much credit must go to the Vietnamese researchers, specifically Do Tuoc, and their associate, John MacKinnon.

One thing is certain: The discoveries issuing from the Lost World of Vietnam seem far from over.


The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark