Secrets of the Swamp

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Betcha thought I was gonna talk about that swamp down in Washington, D.C. Uh-uh! Not today! I’m talkin’ the Likouala Swamp, in Congo, Zaire, and the Central African Republic–55,000 glorious square miles of it, 80% of which is unexplored. Population, 90,000–but most of the land is unpopulated… and not visited, if one can help it.

Soggy ground, dense forests that are flooded at least half the time, poisonous snakes, clouds of biting insects carrying assorted diseases; 100% humidity, average temperature around 90 degrees; sketchy and unreliable maps, and guides who don’t know what the dickens they’re talking about–

Is it possible that a dinosaur lives here?

Local folklore and worldwide cryto-lore knows the creature as “mokele-mbembe.” The few people who venture into the nastier regions of the swamp are said to be terrified of it. But no one has ever taken a picture of it–let alone brought back any kind of sample, dead or alive.

It’s easy to be skeptical and just laugh it off, there’s no such thing, a kind of brontosaurus surviving to the present day–upon my word, pshaw, humbug! Poor cryptozoology. The moment the cryptozoologist actually finds a specimen, it ceases to be cryptozoology and regular zoology takes over. In fact, any number of animals were discovered in the 20th century that hadn’t been known to exist or were thought to be extinct. Coelacanth, anyone?

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(Not extinct, after all–the coelacanth)

Would it not be more fair-minded to say that maybe, just possibly, there is something in the Likouala Swamp that probably oughtn’t be there? The coelacanth lived contemporaneously with dinosaurs and marine reptiles, and it’s still here. Why not mokele-mbembe?

But if there is such a thing, I hope they never find it. Trouble like that, the people and the dinosaurs don’t need.

10 comments on “Secrets of the Swamp

  1. Genesis 6:19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.

    Whatever was alive in the days of Noah was preserved through the Flood. The average dinosaur was not huge. It may well be that they grew throughout their lives, much like reptiles of our day. So the huge examples in the fossil record were older, while the younger examples of the same species were smaller. I’ve read that the average size of a dinosaur was comparable to a goat. So the dinosaur “kinds” could have been represented as easily as other “kinds”. (It is worthy of mention that kinds, as used in the Bible, seems to correspond with reproductive groups and does not always align with modern taxonomical distinctions. I’ll take God’s word over men’s when it comes to how animal life is to be categorized.)

    So I would not rule out the possibility of some sort of dinosaur life existing to this day. God saw fit to preserve His creation through the greatest cataclysm in history, so I would expect that he has not allowed any “kind” to go extinct.

    If examples existed in places which are unexplored, then there is no telling what to expect. I’ve heard of similar creatures in the Amazon basin. There are also legends regarding dragons which could refer to something of the dinosaur kind.

    1. Taxonomic distinctions are always being reshuffled. I try to keep track of dinosaur science. If you don’t like what it says now, wait twelve hours and check again.

    2. The problem is, they are based upon the opinion du jour. Unfortunately, those opinions tend to support the status quo, or can be modified at will if there is funding up for grabs. I suspect that a lot of press releases are timed to coincide with grant applications.

      Taxonomical pronouncements have huge political ramifications within that world. If you redraw the lines, all sorts of prior studies are affected. I could easily imagine that publication is done with careful consideration for the effects on others in the field, for good and for bad. Calling into question the work of someone else could tip a funding decision in one direction or another, or possibly affect one’s prospects for future fellowships, etc.

      The discovery of elastic tissue in dinosaur fossils is a game changer and has been backed up by subsequent findings. However, it gets little press, because to question the timeline would be political and career suicide.

    3. Example: “Nanotyrannus” was originally labeled a juvenile from one of the other species, but a few years ago, was given a genus of its own because scientists had decided that the bones of the skull were fused, indicating an adult specimen. Now other scientists have declared that the bones are not fused, after all, and so Nanotyrannus isn’t a real species. The argument runs back and forth–and the same can be said for dozens (if not hundreds) more species.

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