dismiss the idea as folklore akin to the Loch Ness Monster however
many local tribesmen have reported sightings of the creature and
Willy Ley, the noted American-German science historian concluded
there is "sufficient anecdotal accounts to suggest "that there is a
large and dangerous animal hiding in the shallow waters and rivers
of Central Africa".
The first reports of the creature now
called the Mokele Mbembe came in notes from a French missionary to the Congo, Liévin Bonaventure Proyart, Maximilien de Robespierre's biographer, who reported in his 1776 published book entitled "History of Loango, Kakonga, and other Kingdoms in Africa"
seeing footprints prints from a creature that "must be monstrous,
the prints of its claws are seen upon the earth, and formed an
impression on it of about three feet in circumference.
In observing the posture and disposition
of the footprints, they concluded that it did not run this part of
the way, and that it carried its claws at a distance of seven or
eight feet one from the other."
Proyart was certainly no adventurer
known for making wild claims. He was the author of a number of
academic books, deputy principal of Louis-le-Grand College, one of
the most prestigious institutions of France, and later Principal of
It should be noted however that this was not a
first hand account of observations by the author who never travelled
to Africa, rather reports from missionaries who had been walking along a
forest path when they saw the footprints. No big deal is made of the observations which take up
just six lines in a wider chapter about the wildlife in the
Kingdoms of Loango, Kakonga and N'Goyo.
There were no further reports of any
such creature until early in the twentieth century however these and
other reports only included evidence of footprints and broken bushs
where the alleged dinosaur had forced its way through the
undergrowth. No actual sightings to provide evidence of the reports
from local tribesmen were recorded.
The latter part of the twentieth
century say a flurry of other expeditions to the area in search of
the Mokele Mbembe, but none were successful. Whilst the existence of
the supposed dinosaur cannot be ruled out, given that there has
never been any irrefutable proof of the existence of the
creature, it is more likely to be a reality of folklore, a spirit of
the forest, rather than a physical entity.