Thursday, 4 October 2012

A personal "hunt" for Mokele-mbembe

One of this blog's long term readers, Erik Kristopher Myers, has been on a Mokele-mbembe quest for some time. However, it's not an expedition into the Congo, but something he saw as a kid on TV:

When I was a wee lad in the early 1980s, there was an American program called "That's Incredible!" that dealt with people, places, things and other assorted Nouns that were...well, incredible. This was just after I'd made the natural transition from a childhood Dinosaur Fixation to a Nessie Fixation due to the idea that maybe there were still living, breathing dinosaurs out there...! Such possibilities truly capture a young mind. 

At any rate, my parents, having seen commercial previews, made sure to sit me down this one evening for the latest episode of "That's Incredible!", as it was due to show what they mistakenly believed to be new Nessie footage. Turns out that while Nessie was name-dropped in the previews, the footage was actually of a purported Mokele-mbembe.

Said footage blew my mind in a way that no photo or motion picture before or since ever has (aside from the good ol' Surgeon's Photo). What was shown that night was captured by an investigator (whether African or African-American now escapes me), and clearly shows a head and neck rising from a mist-enshrouded swamp. My memory is colored by time, but what I recall seeing was unlike anything ever captured at Loch Ness, and was essentially the Sandra Mansi photo of Champ brought to life. 

At any rate, this has stayed burned into my mind for thirty years now. With the advent of the internet, I began digging for info, and the dig is ongoing. The bottom line is that the footage has gone the "Thunderbird photo" route and dropped off the face of the earth. The crypto books don't mention it; and it seems to be commonly confused with the "swimming elephant" Mokele-mbembe video taken above Lake Tele in the early 90s. However, there's a growing number of folks online who are also coming forward to say that they too remember this particularly striking video. Attempts on my part and the part of others to contact the show's producers or locate copies through independent channels has been fruitless.

This Mokele-mbembe mystery has become the stuff of legend, with so many crypto-heads "discovering" lake monsters via this film's one and only TV screening, presumably at a young (and very impressionable!) age. Seeing this still is disappointing in the extreme, and just underlines how unreliable the memory can be. A lesson to be remembered, I think?"

Erik's search has been partly fulfilled in the finding of an old article quoting Roy Mackal which sheds light on this old but forgotten video footage. The relevant words are shown below plus a still from that film which is now shown to be a fake. Note Dr. Mackal's other words concerning his belief that Nessie is an extinct whale called the zeuglodont.






If anyone can add the last piece to the jigsaw by providing a link or otherwise to the actual video then I am sure Erik would be grateful. Meantime, the hunt for the real Mokele-mbembe continues.

As a footnote, Erik is a film producer who is working on a script for a Loch Ness story which focuses on the monster hunters of the 1960s and 1970s. It's in its very early stages, as there is one film and another screenplay ahead of it. But if it ever gets to final release I know I will be in the queue to buy a copy!

By coincidence, Tabitca Cope has done a piece on Mokele-mbembe too, here. We can also expect a new book on the beast by Paul Harrison this year or next.


24 comments:

  1. I also remember the "That's Incredible" film clip. The still you show here isn't it. My memory is that it was a very slender neck-like
    object in a river, or at least a fast moving
    current. My impression was that it was a stick that was perhaps fixed to the bottom of the
    waterway, and was being lifted out on the free
    end by the current, and then falling back in
    via gravity. They showed the clip several times in a loop, so it's difficult to say if
    it only happened once and the camera caught it, or it was happening over and over, and the camera operator thought, "gee, this almost looks like a sea serpent lifting it's head out of the water - I think I'll film it for a laugh". I don't recall thinking it was animate, and I was big into the LNM then. So, perhaps if the footage re-surfaced, no pun intended, it might be disappointing. My 2cents. best, Michael D

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  2. Michael:

    My memory was also of a fast-moving river (I also remember sketching my impression of the footage the next day and including the railing of a boat in the foreground); however, it's a thirty year-old memory, and hard to trust.

    The image posted above is actually cropped -- the original source shows a much wider view, and represents only a single frame that gives no reference to the size/shape/length of the neck. With the wider field of view kept in mind, it's pretty damn close to what I recall in composition, if not precise detail.

    Most importantly, the Mackal quote seems to confirm that this is, indeed, the video in question.

    But yeah, I remembered it somewhat...differently...as well. This is something to keep in mind when discussing eyewitness testimony (eg the ever-changing recollections of Alex Campbell, et al.).

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  3. Here is the uncropped image, with the photographer's name (Kevin Duffy), who is cited by Mackal in regards to the THAT'S INCREDIBLE footage:

    http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/42-20373459/mokelembembe-the-congo-monster

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  4. Well, it would be interesting to see this footage, hoax or not. Pre-Internet footage has an unfortunate habit of disappearing from view ... a bit like a lake monster.

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  5. Roy Mackal has been looking for it through his whole professional life.Respect.

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  6. The footage either has been destroyed or it is part of the archived footage right? I would be curious as to what the studios say (It was produced through ABC wasn't it?) about that Episode in question, the episode number,etc., Any info anyone?

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    1. The sane happened to the Taylor footage in 1938 of Nessie.There are some photographs.

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    2. It's either episode 26 or 31, depending on whom you speak to. All efforts to locate either episode have proven fruitless, and I know I haven't been alone in the search.

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  7. Hi please read my post here:
    http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=232890

    regards, bulldogzrep

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  8. Yes exactly, I'm trying to relay that I believe that the still is from the "That's Incredible" clip because it was uploaded by someone called Kevin Duffy, who is also mentioned by name in the clipping that Roy Mackal wrote. I circled the part in red. I wrote to Roy Mackal about the footage and his reply was:

    "Hi, There is no authentic footage of Mokele mbembe that I know off. Best, Roy Mackal"

    I now believe that the famous lost footage was indeed faked but would definitely love to view it anyway.

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  9. Hamza:

    Great find! I located these items via Google image search during one of my bi-monthly hunts. I didn't realize you were the source -- fantastic work!

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  10. haha cheers bro, I thought you got it from the unexplained mysteries forum ! I only posted it there lol

    p.s. i'm also bulldogzrep

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  11. Interesting!I hope that everyone's Sunday was great and safe and I hope that they have a great and safe week! Happy Columbus Day! That goes for last year and all the other years that I've missed.

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  12. Nice to see some interest in my elusive quarry. I would refer interested parties to my book, 'Mokele-mbembe, Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin,' (Coachwhip Publications, 2010):

    See:http://www.coachwhipbooks.com/titles/mokele-mbembe.html

    Anyway, the hunt is far from over. I'm off to Cameroon on November 14th this year with John Kirk, President of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, and Michel Ballot, a French researcher. We will be exploring a remote part of the Dja River and adjoining swamps in preparation for a bigger expedition in 2013.

    Bill Gibbons
    africanmysteries@yahoo.ca

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    1. Good luck on your trip and a safe return.

      Did you ever touch base with a Paul Harrison on Mokele-mbembe? He has been there.

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    2. BG: If Kirk or Ballot can point you towards this now-discredited footage, we'd love to see it! Best on your expedition.

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  13. I wish I could trek to Congo ! Good luck !

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  14. As I was nearing the end of the article I read “As a footnote, Erik is a film producer... “And it dawned on me “Oh! It’s our good friend EKM” I realized, this post is in reference to. As he had mentioned he was a film maker in one of his frequent comments on the Blog. Then I checked the full name at the beginning of the article, yup it's him. Anyway, way back when I first learned about Mokele-mbembe, about 30 years ago in a Mysteries book the author gave the impression that it was a theropod i.e. T. Rex by the artwork of the ferocious beast he included. I guess he wasn’t sure what it was. The natives are confused too, some saying it looks like a dinosaur when shown a picture of one, and others saying it looks like a Rhinoceros. Confusion, possible misidentification and controversy there too! Nowadays the popular consensus is that it's a Sauropod. If Nessie ever turns out to be some kind of evolved plesiosaur, as I personally hope it is (Tim Dinsdale thought so), you can bet some form of dinosaur also survived in the deep dark recesses of the Congo.

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    1. Not looked much more into this but I am soon to read "Abominable Science"'s sceptical chapter on it. After their poor chapter on nessie, I would read it with a pinch of salt. Someone with more expertise on Mokele should review it on amazon.

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    2. GB: You'd need more than a pinch on that whole book, try a salt mine. Maybe you can prod Bill Gibbons into doing it, as a favor from one authority to the other. He'd be the one with expertise on it. He gives his email address above. Let him take a whack at it! Or better yet, Roy Mackal, if you can contact him. Just a suggestion.

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    3. I asked Pauk Harrison who has been on at least one Mokele expedition and plans a book on it. But somebody with knowledge should reply.

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  15. Fansinating mystery in a untapped region that's never changed, the mystery caves are interested on the Congo but not so sure a dinosaur can live in quite shallow water without being seen a lot..if it really did exist surely should have been found by now.

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  16. I am also one who saw the footage when it was aired. I found the above image in a Google search and immediately recognized it as being very similar to the THAT'S INCREDIBLE footage. I'm glad to see that others remember it as well.

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