Monday, April 7, 2014

Mokèlé-Mbèmbé, A Living Dinosaur? Part 3: Kasai Rex & Afroraptor

Artist impression of the Kasai Rex obtained by modifying clip art

Kasai rex is a darling of the internet. No discussion online of African dinosaurs can be made without someone claiming that the Kasai rex must be real because we have photos. The Kasai rex is supposedly a living Tyrannosaurus rex (and it is always T. rex rather than any theropod that was actually indigenous to Africa) that stomps about the Congo like Godzilla.

The glamor of this huge carnivorous theropod seems to cause people to lose their objectivity. I say this because as soon as one does even a few minutes of research the Kasai rex story dissolves into a huge pile of steaming manure.

The Kasai Rex Report

Most believers speak of a tradition among the natives of a tyrannosaurus in Africa. However, note that nobody gives it a native name. The reason for this is simple - the “tradition” of the Kasai rex does not exist. The only evidence for it is a single report by a white hunter.  There are several versions of this report but in all of them the sighting was made by a Swedish plantation owner named John Johnson (also spelled Johanson) and supposedly occurred on February 16, 1932 in the Kasai valley, Belgian Congo.

Most versions on the internet are actually a short summary of the sighting that state:

Johnson was traveling with a servant in the Kasai valley, in the Belgian Congo. They encountered a rhinoceros, and, while attempting to pass it without detection, were surprised by a large creature rushing out of the undergrowth and attacking the rhinoceros. The servant ran away and Johnson fainted. He awoke to see that the creature was eating the rhinoceros.

Most websites simply say the creature was a Tyrannosaurus. Those that give a description usually state that the creature was reddish in color with blackish-colored stripes, a long snout with numerous teeth, was 13 meters (43 feet) long, and had thick legs that reminded Johnson of a lion, “built for speed". All of which sound more like a vastly exaggerated tiger than any dinosaur.

The most complete version of the report can be found in the Rhodesia Herald and is as follows:

On February 16 last I went on a shooting trip, accompanied by my gunbearer. I had only a Winchester for small game, not expecting anything big. At 2 p.m. I had reached the Kasai valley.
No game was in sight. As we were going down to the water, the boy suddenly called out "elephants". It appeared that two giant bulls were almost hidden by the jungle. About 50 yards away from them I saw something incredible - a monster, about 16 yards in length, with a lizard's head and tail. I closed my eyes and reopened them. There could be no doubt about it, the animal was still there. My boy cowered in the grass whimpering.
I was shaken by the hunting-fever. My teeth rattled with fear. Three times I snapped; only one attempt came out well. Suddenly the monster vanished, with a remarkably rapid movement. It took me some time to recover. Alongside me the boy prayed and cried. I lifted him up, pushed him along and made him follow me home. On the way we had to transverse a big swamp. Progress was slow, for my limbs were still half-paralyzed with fear. There in the swamp, the huge lizard appeared once more, tearing lumps from a dead rhino. It was covered in ooze. I was only about 25 yards away.
It was simply terrifying. The boy had taken French leave, carrying the rifle with him. At first I was careful not to stir, then I thought of my camera. I could hear the crunching of rhino bones in the lizard's mouth. Just as I clicked, it jumped into deep water.
The experience was too much for my nervous system. Completely exhausted, I sank down behind the bush that had given me shelter. Blackness reigned before my eyes. The animal's phenomenally rapid motion was the most awe-inspiring thing I have ever seen.'
I must have looked like one demented, when at last I regained camp. Metcalfe, who is the boss there, said I approached him, waving the camera about in a silly was and emitting unintelligible sounds. I dare say I did. For eight days I lay in a fever, unconscious nearly all the time.'

Criticism of the Case

The Kasai rex story has been criticized due (to all things) the hunter’s claim that "giant bull" elephants were in the jungle. The complaint is that forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are much smaller than the familiar Bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) of the plains. Maybe so but most forest elephants are still enormous compared to a man and adult bull elephants larger than younger bulls and cows.

The report has also been criticized for being stated in “mumbo jumbo” terms as if written to entertain instead of in a neutral-termed scientific account. To this I say of course, it was meant to entertain, it was written for a newspaper not a scientific journal! Besides the report is typical of the hunting stories from its era.

Honestly to debunk the Kasai rex all you need to do is show the photograph.

The Photographs

Three photographs of the Kasai rex exist. The first one is the one actually taken by Johnson.

The Original Kasai Rex Photo

This is clearly a monitor or tegu lizard crudely superimposed upon the picture of a sleeping or dead rhinoceros. You can even see the original lighter background of the original lizard photo surrounding the “monster”.  The photo is so obviously fake that even true believers admit that yes this photo is a hoax but this one is the REAL Kasai rex photo!

The second Kasai Rex Photo by Finbar

To be honest I always thought the dinosaur in this photo looked like the Allosaurus that was animated eating a dead dinosaur in the original Land of the Lost television show. Thus I figured someone just superimposed a still from that scene over a dead rhino.

The Highland Tiger recently unmasked this photo as a mockup (not a hoax but an image made as a book illustration) created by a photo manipulator who goes under the internet name of Finbar.  Finbar says the “Kasai Rex” model was created by fellow artist  Yarriwarrior based on a Charles R Knight’s famous painting of an Allosaurus feeding upon the tail of an Apatosaurus. The Land of the Lost Allosaur was based on this same painting so I was not far off.

Alan Friswell of the CTZ has also created a mockup, which he describes as “crap” that “in all honesty--that I only took twenty minutes to cobble it together.”
Third Kasai Rex Photo by Alan Friswell

So of the three Kasai Rex photos the original has long been acknowledged to be a hoax along with the report accompanying it. Of the other two, they are admitted mockups! None are real but all have appeared as “evidence” on creationist’s websites.  

Afroraptor the Living Dromaeosaur!

There is another supposed theropod that I have seen mentioned on cryptozoologist blogs and creationist sites that I have yet to see debunked – and it really needs to be. This is a supposed “Velociraptor” inhabiting the Congo. It usually goes under the name Afroraptor.

Afroraptor in the game Zoo Tycoon 2

Afroraptor has no native reports and I first heard of it when it appeared as a “hypothetical dinosaur” in the African Abnormalities Mini-Pack for the game Zoo Tycoon 2 created by Kingcobrasaurus. It has subsequently appeared in the movie The Dinosaur Project where it sported a Jurassic Park Dilophosaurus frill.

The truth is “Afroraptor” first appeared in the role playing game supplement Dark Matter: Xenoforms for the Alternity game. This book, published by the same folks who made Dungeons & Dragons, featured a creature called Congoraptor. Congoraptor was a cryptid dromaeosaur from the Congo along with the Mokèlé-mbèmbé and similar living dinosaurs. 

Congoraptor from the 'Dark Matter' RPG

Therefore, Afroraptor/Congoraptor is not a real animal – or a hoax. Its a d&d monster like the owlbear and rust monster!

I find it hysterical that the same people who damn role-playing games as evil are useing a d&d monster as “proof” that evolution is a lie – and they wonder why so many people now think Christians are nuts. Sigh.

The conclusions are obvious: there is no Kasai Rex or Afroraptor in Africa – or anywhere else the in the real world for that matter. Both are completely imaginary and no more proof of living dinosaurs than Barney is.

Barney & Friends


Mackal, Roy P. (1987). A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe. E.J. Brill.

Mandanas, Cedric. (March 14, 2012). 10 Cryptids That Were Proven False. Listverse.

The Highland Tiger. (Saturday, 22, March, 2010)  “The Kasai Rex, and the Laziness of CFZ Researchers.” Cryptozoology – The Truth.

The Highland Tiger. (Wednesday, 31, March, 2010)  “Are the CFZ Relaxing their Stance?.” Cryptozoology – The Truth.

Wiker, J.D. (2000). Dark Matter: Xenoforms. TSR11648. Wizards of the Coast.

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