Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mokèlé-Mbèmbé, A Living Dinosaur? Part Two: Native Art

Kuppenhole Rock Art

In the last post I reviewed the earliest reports of the so-called African Dinosaurs and found them inconclusive at best and outright hoaxes at the worst.  Several of these early sightings mention native rock art of these mysterious saurians. Maybe they can clear up the puzzle? 

The most commonly reproduced of these images are some African rock art from Kuppenhole, Tanganyika (Tanzania). A copy of this art can be seen at the head of this articles and it is clearly a picture of a giraffe as can be seen by its mane and ossicones. Comparisons to other native drawings of giraffes conforms this.

The Kuppenhole 'dinosaur' compared to various giraffes in African Rock art 

Dale Drinnon of FRONTIERS OF ZOOLOGY thinks the animals found below the ‘dinosaur’ in the Kuppenhole picture are a Sivatherium and two seals. According to him the ungulate has “multiple horns” that mean that it is “probably a Sivatherium.”

There is just one problem; the animal does not have multiple horns. It has two horns just like the majority of bovids in the world and is clearly either a roan (Hippotragus equinus) or sable (Hippotragus niger) antelope, both of which are native to Tanzania. 

Sable antelope (on the left) and roan antelope (on the right)

As for the “seals” they are so vague and stylized it is hard to tell what they are: seals, rabbits, monkeys, or my personal suspicion – Two men, one naked and the other wearing a headdress.

Makal also sites same Zambian cave paintings reported by Clark in 1959. They are a group of three animals on one panel. The short limbs, thick necks, and long tails are consistent with depictions of lizards or crocodiles. The short snouts show that they are lizards, probably monitors. The quadrupedal body, proportions, short necks and large heads rules out sauropods or any other dinosaur.

Zambian "Dinosaurs"

The last piece of native art that is supposed to show the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is this “Little Gold Dinosaur” found by Manny Staub in a set of Ashanti balance-scale weights.  Cryptozoologists have claimed it represents a Brontosaurus, an Iguanodon and even a Tyrannosaur.  Most people however, even Dale Drinnon, suspect it is simply a monitor lizard. 

The Little Gold "Dinosaur"

Therefore, of three supposed African Dinosaur native depictions two show lizards and one shows a giraffe, a Hippotragus antelope, and possibly some naked men. None show dinosaurs.

What about photographs? The Kasai Rex photos are often given as the best ones of the so-called African dragons. Let us look at them next. 


Drinnon, Dale. (Tuesday, 6 November 2012). REPOSTING: Congo Dragons And The Colossal Confusions Over The Colossal Beasts. Frontiers of Zoology.

Drinnon, Dale. (Sunday, 17 April 2011) Surviving Sivatheres. Frontiers of Zoology.

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

Senter, Phil. (2012). More “dinosaur” and “pterosaur” rock art that isn’t. Article number: 15.2.22A. Copyright Palaeontological Association, July 2012.

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