The Dinosaur Expedition…What Went Wrong?

The Newmac Expedition, which hoped to investigate the legend of mokele-mbembe, the so-called last living dinosaur, appears to have come to an abrupt end. What went wrong?

“Is a Brontosaurus Roaming Africa’s Wilds?
The New York Herald, February 13, 1910
Source: Old Fulton NY Post Cards

Mokele-mbembe…the Last Living Dinosaur?

The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They described the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in the mokele-mbembe. The mokele-mbembe, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur…the last living dinosaur.

The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”

“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero

On July 19, we reported rumors that the Newmac Expedition had gone extinct. This has yet to be confirmed.

What happened to the Newmac Expedition?

Two days ago, Marrero posted an article on his website detailing his reasons for withdrawing from the Newmac Expedition. Ultimately, it came down to financial problems.

“Two days before Stephen and Sam left for the Congo, I had begun to suspect that the expedition had financial problems when I was told that a specific purchase was not within the budget. Within two days of the team entering the Congo, I was forced to withdraw from the expedition when I was told that there “wasn’t enough funds for three months.” This was shocking and I was disappointed that I had placed my reputation on the line, only to have someone I trusted disappoint me with their poor financial planning.” ~ Joe Marrero, “So what happened to the Newmac Expedition?”

Marrero also cleared up the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of the Newmac Expedition’s social media platform. It seems he was running the Twitter account as well as the website. When he disassociated himself with the group, he began the process of transferring those things to Stephen McCullah, co-leader of the Newmac Expedition.

Marrero announces Expedition to find Mokele-mbembe

In his article, Marrero stated his intention to launch a separate expedition to search for the mokele-mbembe. He plans to work with a professional hunter named Cam Greig. Apparently, Greig has led dozens of expeditions to Cameroon and seven to the Congo.

As many of you know, we’ve been working on our own expedition here at Guerrilla Explorer. Planning such a trip is no easy task. With that said, we’d like to offer a piece of advice for Marrero and Greig. They may want to consider targeting a different cryptid. If the Newmac Expedition is indeed defunct and ends up forfeiting on its promises, it could prove difficult to gather support for another expedition to the Congo.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

At this point, the rumors of the Newmac Expedition’s extinction are still just that…rumors. Its current and future status remains unknown. But as we mentioned the other day, the team members might experience financial ramifications from this whole affair. Kickstarter funds come at a cost. Project leaders are expected to fulfill certain pre-determined packages based on the amount of the donation.

In the case of the Newmac Expedition, packages range from $5 (which promises daily updates and pictures as well as “a genuine pygmy made string and bone bracelet) to $10,000 (which promises a whole bunch of stuff including having “a chosen species” named after the pledgee).

Based on Marrero’s article, the Expedition is at the very least short on cash. If the rumors are true and they were forced to return to the U.S., they’ll need to fund another trip to the Congo and find a way to fulfill their pledged promises. Either that or they’ll have to give out refunds, which could be difficult if the money has already been spent on gear and other things. The third option is to forfeit on the promises. We’re not sure what would happen in that case.

We’ll keep an eye on this situation for further developments. But for the moment, it appears the mokele-mbembe, if it even exists, is safe from discovery.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition

The Dinosaur Expedition goes…Extinct?

Several months ago, the Newmac Expedition raised $30,000 from private donors to fund a trip to the Republic of Congo. Among other things, they hoped to investigate the legend of mokèlé-mbèmbé, the so-called last living dinosaur. Less than a week ago, the expedition hit a major snag. Now, it appears to have run into more troubles. Has the Newmac Expedition gone extinct?

The Hunt for the Last Living Dinosaur

The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They described the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in the mokèlé-mbèmbé. The mokèlé-mbèmbé, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur.

The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”

“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero

The Newmac Expedition…goes Extinct?

Yesterday, we received an anonymous tip that the Newmac Expedition had returned from the Congo. Supposedly, the group was forced to curtail its 3-month trip. The exact reason remains unclear but we were told that Expedition member Stephen McCullah posted a message on his personal Facebook page about a lack of research permits. We’ve also heard that the Expedition suffered gear losses via theft.

This information has yet to be confirmed. But if true, it explains Marrero’s decision to withdraw from the Expedition. Adding fuel to the fire are the changes made to the Newmac Expedition’s social media platform. Its website has been abandoned. The last Facebook update came on June 21. The last Twitter update, announcing the departure of Joe Marrero, came on July 10. And the last update on Kickstarter (which we are unable to access) came on July 13.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Let’s assume for a moment the Newmac Expedition has gone defunct. What are the consequences? Well, the money raised from Kickstarter wasn’t free. People in various pledge categories (ranging from $5 to $10,000) were promised certain packages. For example, here’s the package for the $5 category:

“Everyone in this pledge category will receive daily updates and pictures of progress- Via text or email, so you will be one of the first to see the findings. Weeks ahead of the media. Furthermore we’ll send a you a genuine pygmy made string and bone bracelet to commemorate the launch of The Project.” ~ Documentary Expedition to Congo- KILLER REWARDS!!!

This package was initially scheduled for delivery in June. According to recent comments on the team’s Kickstarter page, at least some of the backers haven’t received it yet. However, from what we understand the delivery date was switched to October (coinciding with the Expedition’s original expected return date).

The $5 package is the simplest one. For example, people who pledged $50 were promised “an authentic piece of a new species of plant.” People in the $100 category were promised “a DVD collection of the entire trip and a handcarved Spear made by the Baka Pygmy people along with a picture of the person who carved it holding YOUR spear.” And the rewards only get more complicated from there.

If the project is indeed defunct, then this would appear to be a case of over-promising and under-delivery. And according to Kickstarter, unsuccessful projects are expected to be refunded.

“If you realize that you will be unable to follow through on your project after it has been successfully funded, you are expected to offer refunds to all your backers. To avoid problems, don’t over-promise when creating your project. If issues arise, communicate immediately, openly, and honestly with your backers.” ~ Kickstarter FAQ

All along, skeptics have claimed the Expedition was poorly-planned and perhaps ill-conceived. Unfortunately, that now appears to be the case. We’re still waiting for official word from the team. It’s always possible they will attempt to relaunch after they get everything straightened out. In fact, we have reason to believe this is their plan. But for the time being, it appears the Newmac Expedition has gone extinct.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition

The Dinosaur Expedition Disintegrates?

Several weeks ago, the Newmac Expedition traveled to the Republic of Congo. Among other things, they sought to investigate the legendary mokele-mbembe, believed by some to be the last living dinosaur. But now, the expedition appears to have hit a major snag. Is this the end of the Newmac Expedition?

Dinosaur Skeleton
Photographer: Harris & Ewing (1913-1917)
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Hunt for Mokele-mbembe?

The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They describe the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in a strange creature known as mokele-mbembe. The mokele-mbembe, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur.

What’s New?

The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”

“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero

The remaining members of the Expedition noted his departure over twitter.

“Joe Marrero has withdrawn from the expedition. We wish him the best on his future adventures.” ~ Newmac Expedition, July 10

As best as we can tell, the Newmac Expedition started out with five principals. According to their website, they are now down to three.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Obviously, we don’t know the full story behind this situation. But the loss of a principal is no small matter. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for the Newmac Expedition. This whole thing is starting to look exactly like what critics claimed it would be…a poorly-planned and perhaps ill-conceived operation. We’ll continue to follow this story as best we can but for now, the future of the Newmac Expedition appears to be in doubt.

 

The Newmac Expedition: What is the Mokele-Mbembe?

Tomorrow, the Newmac Expedition leaves for the Republic of Congo. Among other things, they seek to investigate a strange legend, centuries in the making. What is the mokele-mbembe?

Is Mokele-mbembe the last living dinosaur?
“Mrs. Tooler-Monde, President of the Fortieth Century club, takes her husband to see the newly restored Prehistoric Monster”
Drawn by Oliver Herford (1918)
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Background on Mokele-mbembe

As you may recall from yesterday, the Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They describe the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in a strange creature known as mokele-mbembe. The mokele-mbembe, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head.

“The animal is said to be of a brownish-gray color with a smooth skin, its size is approximately that of an elephant; at least that of a hippopotamus. It is said to have a long and very flexible neck and only one tooth but a very long one; some say it is a horn. A few spoke about a long, muscular tail like that of an alligator. Canoes coming near it are said to be doomed; the animal is said to attack the vessels at once and to kill the crews but without eating the bodies. The creature is said to live in the caves that have been washed out by the river in the clay of its shores at sharp bends. It is said to climb the shores even at daytime in search of food; its diet is said to be entirely vegetable.” ~ German Captain Freiherr von Stein zu Lausnitz, 1913, Published in Willy Ley’s 1959 book, Willy Ley’s Exotic Zoology

What is the Mokele-mbembe?

So, what is the mokele-mbembe? Well, many cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod. Sauropods were dinosaurs. Their ranks included the Diplodocus and the Apatosaurus (better known as the Brontosaurus). Like all dinosaurs, the sauropods are believed to have died out 65.5 million years ago in the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event. Not a single dinosaur bone has ever been found above the K-Pg boundary, which is a layer of sediment in the earth’s crust marking the switch from the Cretaceous Period (K) to the Paleogene Period (Pg). This indicates that non-avian dinosaurs became extinct at or before the creation of this boundary.

There’s no hard evidence proving the existence of the mokele-mbembe. Photographs exist but they don’t show much of anything. And that’s in spite of the fact that various expeditions have scoured the Congo River Basin for decades.

On the other hand, reports of the creature go back a long way. For example, in 1776, a French missionary named Abbé Lievain Bonaventure wrote about strange footprints seen by natives in the Congo.

“The missionaries have observed in passing along a forest, the track of an animal which they have never seen; but it must be monstrous, the prints of its claws are seen on the earth, and formed an impression on it of about three feet in circumference. In observing the posture and disposition of the footprints, they concluded that it did not run in this part of its way, and that it carried its claws at the distance of seven or eight feet one from the other.” ~ Abbé Lievain Bonaventure, History of Loango, Kakonga, and other Kingdoms in Africa (1776), Translated by John Pinkerton in A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in all Parts of the World: Volume 16 (1914)

Obviously, the natives have believed in the mokele-mbembe for centuries. However, it’s unclear whether they consider the creature to be a real-life physical animal or some kind of spirit.

Most likely, the mokele-mbembe doesn’t exist. A second possibility is that the creatures eyewitnesses have seen are actually giant monitor lizards. Regardless, we’re curious about this. As such, we’ll be doing our best to follow the Newmac Expedition. Fair warning though…it could prove challenging. They will be traveling through extremely remote areas. Also, it appears daily updates and photos will initially be distributed only through donors. So, news might be rare for the time being.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Incidentally, one of the running themes here at Guerrilla Explorer is our deep skepticism toward most so-called cryptids. Not all cryptids, mind you. But many of the popular, land-based ones.

“If undiscovered megafauna still exist on Earth, the most likely place to find them is in the ocean. After all, in the past twenty years, scholars have discovered eight large previously-unknown marine animals. Thus, from where I stand, the most believable cryptids are so-called sea monsters such as the Daedalus Sea Serpent and the Valhalla Sea Serpent.” ~ David Meyer, Bigfoot Lives…!

It seems highly unlikely that undiscovered air or land-based megafauna like the Thunderbird or Bigfoot are anything more than long-running figments of our imagination. We have slightly more faith in the Yeti and the mokele-mbembe, although not much. The Yeti supposedly lives in the frigid, treacherous Himalayas. The mokele-mbembe resides in the swamps of remote, isolated jungles. Few people live in these areas and the conditions make expeditions difficult.

But while we’re skeptical of cryptids, we certainly don’t reject the possibility of their existence. One of the things that frustrates us about modern science is the built-in disdain many researchers hold for fields like cryptozoology. Regardless of our opinions, we must continue to evaluate any and all scientific claims with an open mind…even if its about the legendary Sasquatch or an undiscovered dinosaur living in the Congo. After all, that’s what science is all about.

“What I object to in particular is the knee-jerk reaction that any interest in cryptozoology makes you a crank or a naïve believer in the impossible. Not only are some targets of cryptozoology entirely ‘believable’ (example: new marine sharks and cetaceans), the assumption that people interested in cryptozoology necessarily ‘believe’ in the existence of the supposed targets of cryptozoology is erroneous. Clearly, you can investigate mystery animal reports because you’re interested in what they might tell you about the evolution and transmission of folklore, the reliability and abilities of eyewitnesses, and so on. Furthermore, I always thought that the scientific evaluation of claims of any kind was meant to be a good thing. Basically, there’s definitely science to do here, whether you advocate the possible existence of the respective supposed animal species or not.” ~ Darren Naish, Paleontologist

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition

The Search for the Last Dinosaur?

In two days, the Newmac Expedition will head to the Republic of Congo. The members hope to find something that will stun the world. Do Africa’s deepest jungles conceal mokele-mbembe, the last of the dinosaurs?

Is Mokele-mbembe the last living dinosaur?
“Norman Ross of the division of Paleontology, National Museum, preparing the skeleton of a baby dinosaur some seven or eight million years old for exhibition” (March 19, 1921)
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Background on the Newmac Expedition

The Newmac Expedition consists of five young explorers. Using Kickstarter, they raised $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They describe the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

“Our first expedition will be dubbed The Newmac Expedition. It will be a preliminary three month (or as long as our health allows) four man venture. We’ll launch on June 26th and we anticipate discovering hundreds of new insect, plant, and fish species during the course of our research and work in the area. There is also the legitimate hope of discovering many reptile and mammalian species as well. We have received reports from week to two week expeditions in the region of eye witnesses seeing canine sized tarantulas, large river dwelling sauropods, and a species of man eating fish (which was recently discovered on river monsters).” ~ Stephen Mccullah, Newmac Expedition

Large River Dwelling Sauropods = Mokele-mbembe?

Good lord. Canine sized tarantulas? Man eating fish? And what’s this about sauropods? Sauropods were dinosaurs. They possessed long necks, giant tails, and rather tiny heads. Their ranks included the Diplodocus and the Apatosaurus (better known as the Brontosaurus). Like all dinosaurs, the sauropods are believed to have died out 65.5 million years ago in the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event. The exact cause of the K-Pg extinction event is unknown. Many scientists blame it on the asteroid that caused the Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. But this is controversial to say the least.

“However, not everyone believes the official story. These individuals point to the fact that dinosaur bones become less frequent as they approach the K-Pg boundary. Also, there is a “fossil gap” since no bones have ever been found within the boundary itself. Taken together, these things indicate that the extinction predated the impact at Chicxulub. If this is the case, then dinosaurs were probably killed off more gradually, by things such as a volcanic winter, the Deccan traps, falling sea levels, and/or climate change.” ~ David Meyer, What Killed the Dinosaurs?

Could a living, breathing sauropod exist today? It seems unlikely. Dinosaur bones have never been found above the K-Pg boundary, which is a layer of sediment in the earth’s crust marking the switch from the Cretaceous Period (K) to the Paleogene Period (Pg). This indicates that non-avian dinosaurs became extinct at or before the creation of this boundary.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

However, that hasn’t stopped the stories. According to native tribes, a mythological creature known as mokele-mbembe (“one who stops the flow of rivers”) exists in the Congo Basin. Many cryptozoologists believe this creature could be a real-life sauropod. However, no one has ever found definitive proof of its existence.

Does the mokele-mbembe exist? Is it a sauropod? Curiously enough, in 2009, the television show MonsterQuest claimed to have seen sonar images of long, serpent-like creatures in the Congo Basin. Of course, sonar imagery is always problematic. But still…

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition