The Cryptid Zoo: Living Dinosaurs of Cryptozoology

Some scientists working within the field of cryptozoology think that dinosaurs may have coexisted with humans, as in this scene from the movie 'The Valley of Gwangi' by the stop motion animation master Ray Harryhausen. This screenshot is copyrighted by those who own the copyright to the film.
According to mainstream science, the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago. According to cryptozoology and certain other branches of fringe science, a few dinosaurs might have survived much longer, or could even be around today. The most famous dinosaur of cryptozoology is the mokele-mbembe of Africa, but there are many lesser-known examples. Every continent has some legendary creature that has been labeled a living dinosaur by someone, at some point. For example, some people interpret all dragon sightings and legends as being evidence of surviving dinosaurs.

There is not just one species of dinosaur that is supposed to exist. Nearly every imaginable type of dinosaur has found its way into the records of cryptozoology. At one time, the most popular explanation for lake monsters and sea serpents was that these creatures were plesiosaurs (now that idea is out of fashion). Reports of huge flying creatures with leathery wings have often been interpreted as pterosaurs and pterodactyls, though today many of these sightings are now thought to be of giant bats. In addition, there are many things that sound like giant lizards that just might, if they turned out to be real, be living dinosaurs.

In Australia, Aborigines living in the northernmost fringes of the Northern Territories have legends of a supposedly real animal called the burrunjor. It is described as a giant bipedal lizard that looks much like a carnivorous dinosaur. The Chinese have reported a creature like a dinosaur or a new species of rhinoceros, from Sichuan Province. Papua New Guinea, a place with many recent discoveries of new animals, is supposedly home to a gray 10-foot-tall predatory dinosaur. As recently as 2004, this animal was so strongly believed in that police were sent into the forest to kill it. The most remote areas of the South American rainforest are also sources of persistent dinosaur reports, made by many white explorers since the earliest time these areas were penetrated.

Living dinosaurs are also sighted in places that seem quite odd, such as America. In dry, remote regions of the American West, such as Utah, there are persistent reports of animals described as miniature examples of Tyrannosaurus rex that stand about three feet tall. This animal sometimes crosses roads in front of cars, and is generally said to run away from people. Witnesses are quite flabbergasted by the experience and often state that they doubt their own sanity. These reports come from enough people who apparently have no connection to each other and no knowledge of the miniature T-rex myth that some researchers think there must be a real animal behind the legends. Whether such a real animal would prove to be a very odd lizard or an actual dinosaur is impossible to prove unless someone brought in a body.

A larger version of Tyrannosaurus rex is reported from Kasai Valley in Africa. This creature is called the Kasai Rex, and is thought to be a very large lizard by some cryptozoologists.

Cryptozoology is not the only branch of fringe science to pay attention to reports of living dinosaurs. Creationists really like these reports, because they feel that the discovery of a living dinosaur would bolster arguments supporting creationism and "intelligent design" theories. Of course, if CNN announced the discovery of a living dinosaur tomorrow, I doubt that most people would think that evolution had received any kind of blow. A surviving dinosaur is perfectly compatible with evolutionary science. It is something that seems quite unlikely to most mainstream scientists, but it would not prompt mainstream science to rewrite basic evolutionary theories. Some of the below books are written from a creationist perspective, but the creationists lean heavily on cryptozoology for the source material behind their theories.

You can find out more about Living Dinosaur Theories from the following sources:

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 98, 167-169

Clark, Jerome. Unexplained! . Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1999. Pages 273-274, 300-310

Congo Dinosaur

Eaton, Matthew J. & Shughart, Willie. Surviving Dinosaurs and Kin Part One

Eaton, Matthew J. & Shughart, Willie. Surviving Dinosaurs and Kin Part Two

The Genesis Park. Ancient Dinosaur Depictions on Stone

Ham, Ken. Dinosaurs of Eden: A Biblical Journey Through Time.

Hapgood, Charles. Mystery in Acambaro: Did Dinosaurs Survive Until Recently?.

Hovind, Kent. Claws Jaws and Dinosaurs: Living Dinosaurs.

In Search of Living Dinosaurs

Kasai Rex
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Keel, John A. The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings. New York: Doubleday, 1994. Pages 315-316

Mackal, Roy P. A Living Dinosaur: In Search of Mokele-Mbembe.

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 12-14, 20, 34, 78, 97, 100-101, 119, 132, 140, 148, 154, 171, 175, 194, 196, 201, 209-210, 214-215, 245, 251, 253-254, 258-259, 277, 288-289, 300, 303-306, 312, 314, 329, 335, 338, 344-345, 363-365, 374, 376, 379, 387, 394-395, 398, 402-403, 410, 420, 427, 436, 454-456, 463-464, 468, 471-472, 480, 482, 485, 491, 509

Norman, Scott T. Mokele-Mbembe: The Living Dinosaur!

Nugent, Rory. Drums Along the Congo: On the Trail of Mokele-Mbembe, the Last Living Dinosaur. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

O'Hanlon, Redmond. No Mercy: A Journey Into the Heart of the Congo.

Paley, Richard. Dinosaur Expedition 2002

Quammen, David. The Flight of the Iguana: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature. Pages 93-94

Steiger, Brad. Out of the Dark: The Complete Guide to Beings from Beyond. New York: Kensington Books, 2001. Pages 99-101

Sundberg, Jan. Scientists from Bangladesh Claim that Giant Prehistoric Lizards have been Found in their Country

Wikipedia, The. Dinosaurs in South America

Wikipedia, The. Living Dinosaurs

Wikipedia, The. Kasai Rex

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