What Dinosaur is Mokele-Mbembe?

Over the past century, there have been several claims of sightings of an animal that lives in swamps in a remote region of Central Africa. This creature is known to the local people as “mokele-mbembe,” which means the “blocker of rivers.

The Mokele-Mbembe resembles a sauropod dinosaur known as an Apatosaurus. It was said that this creature had a short body and a long neck that allowed it to pluck leaves and other foods, and its size was somewhere between an elephant and a hippopotamus.

The Mokele-Membe is a fascinating creature that does not get enough recognition in the Western world, despite its incredible lure, we often look to Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster, but there are plenty of other monster myths out there!

Keep reading to learn more about the history and search for the Mokele-mbembe.

What Dinosaur is Mokele-Mbembe

Mokele-Mbembe Explained

Many local villagers in Central Africa describe the Mokele-mbembe as a creature that looked and behaved like a dinosaur. It’s said to live near the water and can climb to the shore at any time of day to look for food.

Over the past century, there have been several reports of the creature by local villagers as well as fishermen who were fishing or just traveling by dugout canoes in the area.

What Dinosaur Is Mokele-Mbembe?

The imprints and other trail marks of mokele-mbembe showed signs of it being large and heavy, but there was evidence that it wasn’t a crocodile, an elephant, or a hippopotamus.

Even witnesses’ drawings showed that mokele-mbembe resembled something unrecognizable from a living animal on Earth. However, it did surprisingly resemble a sauropod dinosaur known as an Apatosaurus.

The History and Search of Mokele-Mbembe

Scientists have been curious about Mokele-mbembe since they first ever heard of it, and they’ve started searching for it as far back as 1931.

For centuries, people have been claiming to have seen this dinosaur-like creature near rivers in the Congo area and its forested areas.


In 1913, Captain Freiherr von Stein zu Lausnitz from Germany was chosen by the government to head an expedition to inspect its colony in Cameroon at the time.

Von Stein also provided this intriguing account of a monster that people of some portions of Congo, the Sangha, the lower Ubangi, and the Ikelemba rivers, very much dreaded. The animal was referred to as Mokele-mbembe.

Some claimed to have seen a lengthy, muscular tail resembling an alligator’s. Canoes that approach it were thought to be doomed. It was claimed that these creatures attacked and killed crew members without eating their bodies.

According to legend, the monster dwelled in the caverns that the river had eroded into the clay along its beaches. Even during the day, it was rumored to head up the coast to search for food.


There were no reports of the Mokele-mbembe for many years, then in 1976  a herpetologist by the name of James Powell traveled to Gabon to study crocodiles in the rainforest.

While he was there, Powell learned more about the river monster from the Fang people, and one of the local witch doctors presented him with a book about dinosaurs, claiming that he once saw a creature resembling a dinosaur exiting a pool in the jungle in 1946.


Powell traveled back to the Republic of the Congo along with Dr. Roy P. Mackal, who was a biologist and the International Society of Cryptozoology’s vice president. They both went on an adventure to the south of the town, Epena.

While on their canoe, a large creature abruptly submerged, causing an 18-inch wave that buffeted their canoe. Crocodiles do not leave waves as big as that; at the time, hippos did not live in that area either.

It was speculated that all the hippos that lived in the river bend in the southern part of Epena were driven away by Mokele-mbembes.


In 2002, a group of scientists traveled to Cameroon and met with villagers who claimed they had firsthand encounters with Mokele-mbembe activity dating from 1986 to 2000. They described the monster the same as everyone else and confirmed that they lived in swamps and rivers.

The villagers also said that the creatures had spikes running down their necks, backs, and tails. These physical features further affirmed that Mokele-mbembes closely resembled Apatosaurus.

(The Apatosaurus, also known as Brontosaurus, was a species of sauropod dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period, approximately 150 million years ago.)

What Dinosaur is Mokele-Mbembe

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If Not a Dinosaur, What Is Mokele-Mbembe?

If mokele-mbembe is not a dinosaur, then it’s most likely just a myth. Some African tribes actually refer to it as a “ghost” rather than a living animal.

Thousands of years ago, the Congo and other areas where mokele-mbembe was allegedly seen were inhabited by larger types of rhinoceroses and elephants. As a result, folk memories of those beasts may have been mistaken for the mokele-mbembe.

Why Mokele-Mbembe Is Probably Not a Dinosaur

Many people claim to have seen this creature, but upon further investigation into their stories, you will find that they are not credible and most likely fabricated.

One of the main reasons why Mokele-mbembe is not a real dinosaur is because there is no physical evidence supporting its existence.

There have been many claimed sightings and footprints of the creature by many people, but none of them can be proven authentic or legitimate. Additionally, no one has ever captured a photo or video of this creature.

In this regard, the Mokele-Membe is probably more like loch-ness than an actual dinosaur. There are sightings, myths, and a lot of conversations around it, but not even one actual recorded proof of its existence.

We also have articles on other mythical creatures including the “Bloop” and “Julia” Sounds here on Dinosaur facts for kids.


Many people around the world today are still searching for mokele-mbembe. The mysterious creature has people thinking of the sauropod dinosaur, Apatosaurus.

However, with the widespread of cameras and smartphones in every corner of the globe, it’s hard to believe that any creature (especially one that we’re actively looking for) could hide this long, not alone a huge dinosaur-like creature.

Whether mokele-mbembe exists or not, we can all agree that it is a fascinating idea to think about.


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