Oct 31, 2020 I Nick Redfern

Living Dinosaurs Among Us? Or Something Else Just As Amazing?

The idea there could be living dinosaurs among us is an incredible one. If such a thing was proved, it would turn the domain of Zoology upside down. And, the collective world of Cryptozoology would be jumping up and down! For years, no less! Unfortunately, I don't think that creatures from the Jurassic era are still with us. However, that doesn't mean there aren't incredible animals out there that might have been mistaken for dinosaurs. Of course, this begs an important question: what kind of creature that lives today could be mistaken for a dinosaur? You might say there is no such creature (or creatures). Well, you just might be wrong. We'll begin with the mighty Mokele Mbembe of the Congo. It has a superficial resemblance to a brontosaurus; a herbivore that existed in the Jurassic period and that weighed up to sixteen tons and which could grow to a maximum length of approximately seventy-two-feel in length. Just like the rest of the dinosaurs, the Brontosaurus was violently taken out of circulation around sixty-five million years ago – possibly by a collision between the Earth and a massive comet; the result of which was worldwide chaos, massive flooding, and the plummeting of the hot temperatures that existed during that era and, as a result, the inevitable extinction of the dinosaurs. But, did they really die out? Let's address that question.

I once found a Brontosaurus. Unfortunately, it turned out to be made of metal (Nick Redfern, 2011)

Did at least some of the massive monsters that existed in the distant past manage to survive? If so, could they still be with us to this very day? If true, such a thing would be totally amazing. I have to say, though, I just don't buy it. Over to Richard Freeman. He's  a former zoo-keeper in the U.K., and one of the U.K.'s leading cryptozoologists. Rich gets right to the heart of the mystery of Mokele Mbembe: "There have come reports from the Congo River Basin of an animal known as Mokele-mbembe. It has cross-over qualities with dragon legends, but I’m sure that it will be shown in time to be some sort of giant monitor lizard, too." It would be amazing if certain portions of the Congo were the hidden homes of surviving brontosaurs. On the other hand, coming across a monitor lizard of a length of twenty-feet or even more, would be equally amazing! So, I think we can dismiss the idea that dinosaurs roam the Congo. A monstrous monitor lizard, however, probably does live there. Now, let's take a trip to Australia.

Is it feasible that the subtropical rain-forests of Australia are home to large, man-eating dinosaurs? By now, you know the answer is going to be "No!" But, there is a certain candidate that might be responsible for such claims. Megalania prisca was a huge, vicious, monitor lizard that roamed Australia up to about 40,000 years ago. It got its name thanks to one Richard Owen, a paleontologist of the 1800s – a man who has gone down in history as coining the term Dinosauria, or, in English, "terrible reptile." Generally referred to just Megalania, its title very appropriately translates to "ancient giant butcher." Sizes for the creatures range from to around twelve to twenty feet. Imagine coming across one of those! Over the decades (centuries, in fact) reports of massive lizards roaming the wilder parts of Australia abound. In my mind, at least, there's no doubt that what people have seen are not dinosaurs, but Megalania. Similar to the saga of Mokele Mbembe,  while dinosaurs aren't rampaging around Australia, it's very likely that Megalania is. And, I have to say that if there was one expedition I could go on (but haven't yet) it would be to try and find a Megalania.

(Nick Redfern, California, 2020)

Finally, there's the matter of the Loch Ness Monster and plesiosaurs. People often assume that plesiosaurs were dinosaurs. They were not. At all. Although they lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, they were marine reptiles. Could the Nessies be plesiosaurs? Well, we have fossilized examples of plesiosaurs. But, no, they don’t date from – for example, and hypothetically – 20 million years ago, or even 5 or 1 million years ago. They all date from the precise period in which science tells us they came to an end. And even if plesiosaurs did survive into the modern era, they could not have made their way into Loch Ness until around the end of the last Ice Age. For one simple reason: Loch Ness didn’t exist until then. Up until that time, the area (the Great Glen) was – for all intents and purposes – a vast block of ice. So, if they didn’t enter the Loch until approximately 10,000 years ago, up until that point they must have lived in the ocean waters. But, then there’s the problem of why we haven't found any ocean-based remains of plesiosaurs dating back – for example – 13,000 or 20,000 years.

And, now, we come to the final observation on this monster-themed matter. As I noted above, plesiosaurs were reptiles. That means, unlike fish, they took in oxygen regularly by surfacing. Crocodiles – which are also reptiles – can remain underwater for up to around 2-hours at a time, if they really need to. So, keeping that in mind, how about a bit of hypothesizing? If the Nessies are plesiosaurs, then let’s say that at any given time there are around twenty of them in the loch, ranging from (a) young and small to (b) large and old. That would be a reasonable figure to ensure the continuation of a healthy herd. Let’s also say they, like crocodiles, can stay submerged, and without taking in oxygen, for up to 2-hours at a time. This means that in any one-day, each plesiosaur would have to surface around twelve times. Twenty plesiosaurs, surfacing twelve times a day (at a minimum, I should stress), would equate to 240 surfacing events every single twenty-four-hour-long period. Multiply that by a week and the figure is elevated to 1,680. Then, multiply that by fifty-two weeks in a year and the figure becomes a massive 87,360 annually. Why is it, then, that there are actually only a dozen or so really good cases per year at Loch Ness? Because they aren't plesiosaurs, that's why.

You may know from my book Nessie, that I go with the supernatural theory. But, even for those Nessie researchers who don't go with the paranormal and the occult, a great deal of them dismiss the plesiosaur theory, too. If the creatures of the loch are flesh and blood animals, the likelihood is that they are some kind of fish. That makes sense, given the lack of much in the way of yearly, eyewitness reports. I have to say, though, just like with Megalania in Australia and giant monitor lizards in the Congo, it would be incredible to find that Loch Ness might be the home of not something that swam when the dinosaurs were around, but a creature completely unknown to science and zoology. So, yes, the dinosaurs are gone. As we've seen, though, something (or some things) just as incredible and deadly may have taken their place. Monsters are still with us.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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