Wednesday 22 April 2009

Living Dinosaurs?

This story made me think about stories of dinosaurs alive today :

Fossils found in China may give clues to the evolution of Tyrannosaurus rex. Uncovered near the city of Jiayuguan, the fossil finds come from a novel tyrannosaur dubbed Xiongguanlong baimoensis. The fossils date from the middle of the Cretaceous period, and may be a "missing link", tying the familiar big T rex to its much smaller ancestors. The fossils show early signs of the features that became pronounced with later tyrannosaurs. Paleontological knowledge about the family of dinosaurs known as tyrannosaurs is based around two distinct groups of fossils from different parts of the Cretaceous period, which ran from approximately 145 to 65 million years ago. One group dates from an early part of the period, the Barremian, and the other is from tens of millions of years later.Full text here:

So a round up of stories of living dinosaur stories dredged up the following:

According to a report in Papua New Guinea's The Independent newspaper, a 'dinosaur-like reptile' was seen on two occasions in the Lake Murray area, in Western Province. On December 11, 1999, villagers travelling in a canoe reported seeing the creature wading in shallow water near Boboa. The following day, a Seventh Day Adventist pastor and a church elder say they saw the animal not far from the first sighting. The creature was described as having a body 'as long as a dump truck' and nearly two metres wide, with a long neck and a long slender tail. It was walking on two hind legs 'as thick as coconut palm tree trunks', and had two smaller forelegs. The head was similar in shape to a cow's head, with large eyes and 'sharp teeth as long as fingers.' The skin was likened to that of a crocodile, and the creature had 'largish triangular scoops on the back.'

The Independent (Papua New Guinea), December 30, 1999, p. 6.

IN Africa:

In 1776, Abbe Proyhart wrote that there had been found of clawed footprints in West Africa that were as large as three feet in diameter. Reports of dinosaur-like creatures came from from central Africa in the late 1800s. Native tribes people told explorers of a large animal they called jago-nini, which translates to “giant diver.” The footprints of this creature were about the size of a Football . Other tribes who said they were familiar with this creature had other names for it, including dingonek, ol-umaina, and chipekwe.

In 1913, a German explorer named Captain Freiheer von Stein zu Lausnitz was told stories of an animal that was “brownish gray with a smooth skin, its size approximately that of an elephant, at least that of a hippopotamus.” The native Pygmies called it mok’ele-mbembe (meaning “stopper of rivers”) and described it as having a long, flexible neck and a vegetarian diet, but would kill other animals and even humans if they ventured too close. In 1932, cryptozoologist Ivan Sanderson was told by tribesmen of a strange creature that left oversized hippo-like footprints, and which they called mgbulu-em’bembe.

And Not just walking dinosaurs:

A Native Commissioner in Northern Rhodesia, was told by local natives of a flying lizard with membranous wings that stretched up to seven feet across. They called the creature kongamato, and identified it when shown a picture of a pterodactyl. Natives of the Gold Coast also knew of an animal they called susabonsam that was about the size of a man with large, bat-like wings.

In more modern times:

While driving to work one morning in 1976, some school teachers said a large flying creature with a 12-foot wingspan that swooped down on their cars. Research at the school library turned up an impossible identification: a pterosaur. In the early-morning in 1976, police officer Arturo Padilla of San Benito, Texas was startled to see the sight of a huge “bird” caught in his headlights. Fellow officer Homer Galvan saw its huge, black silhouette crossing the sky without flapping its wings, shortly afterward. A few hours later, Alverico Guajardo, a resident of Brownsville, Texas, claimed to see the monstrous animal outside his mobile home, describing it as bird-like, but “not of this world.” Then in 1982, James Thompson was driving near Fresno, Texas when he saw a dark gray, featherless, hide-covered creature with a 5- to 6-foot wingspan gliding close to the ground.

All food for thought. It seems unlikely that huge animals could be around without being seen more except in places like the Congo. The area around Lac tele is swamp land and inaccessible for parts of the year. However as I have said before the lake is only 4-12 feet deep so nothing large could hide in it. The swamps are not normally occupied apart from the odd hunting party, so the answer is still as ever elusive.

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