Unknown dlnosaur-like reptile or Hoofed Mammal of Central Africa.
Etymology: Bomitaba (Bantu), "killer of elephants" or "eater of the tops of the palms."
Variant names: Aseka-moke, Chipekwe, Emeula natuka, Emia-ntouka (in the Congo), Forest rhinoceros, Ngamba-namae, Ngoulou (Baka/Ubangi), Nsanga, Nyam a
Physical description: As large as an elephant or larger. Reddish-brown to gray. Hairless. Single, large, curved, ivory horn on its nose. Beaked mouth. Short, frilled neck. Massive legs. Heavy tail like a crocodile's.
Behavior: Amphibious. Foul-tempered.
Snorts, howls, and roars. Feeds on a wide variety of leaves, including the Malombo liana (like the Mokele-MbeMBe). Disembowels elephants, buffalos, and hippopotamuses with its horn. Tracks: Like a rhinoceros. Habitat: Dense rain forest. Distribution: Liberia; Boumba and Ngoko Rivers, eastern Cameroon; Gabon; Loubomo, Kelle, Ouesso, Impfondo, Dongou, and Epena in the Republic of the Congo; Central African Republic; Zambia.
Significant sightings: In 1913, Hans Schom-burgk heard stories from the Klao tribe about a small rhinoceros that lived in the mountains of Liberia.
In 1950, a French official named Millet, stationed at Kelle in the Republic of the Congo, heard of a rhinoceros that lived in the forests. Inhabitants of the district drew sketches of its footprint, which resembled that of a rhinoceros.
In August or September 1966, Atelier Yvan Ridel photographed some 10-inch-wide, three-toed footprints along a riverbank northeast of Loubomo, Republic of the Congo.
Roy Mackal collected information on the Emela-ntouka during his expeditions to the Congo in 1980 and 1981, noting that lore about the animal is often confused with that of the mokele-mbembe. Possible explanations:
(1) A semiaquatic rhinoceros that inhabits the rain forest, suggested by Lucien Blancou, though the large tail argues against it. A semiaquatic fossil rhino named Teleoceras is known from 17—5 million years ago in Late Miocene river and lake sediments of North America. It was hippolike, with short limbs, a massive body, and high-crowned teeth.
(2) Roy Mackal has proposed a surviving ceratopsian dinosaur like Monoclonius, a quadrupedal herbivore about 18 feet long with a backwardly curved nose horn and a bony neck frill. Monoclonius fossils have been found in Montana and Alberta and date from the Late Cretaceous, about 70 million years ago. However, no ceratopsians are known from Africa. Also, they were egg-laying dinosaurs, and no reports of the
Emela-ntouka describe it as oviparous. (3) The elephant-sized Elasmotherium was a Pleistocene rhino with a 7-foot horn in the center of its forehead. It is known from grasslands in Europe, Siberia, and China. Sources: Lucien Blancou, "Notes sur les mammifères de l'Equateur Africain Français: Un rhinocéros de fôret?" Mammalia 18 (December 1954): 358-363; Georges Trial, Dix ans de chasse au Gabon (Paris: Crépin-Leblond, 1955); Herman A. Regusters, "Mokele-Mbembe: An Investigation into Rumors Concerning a Strange Animal in the Republic of the Congo, 1981," Munger Africana Library Notes, no. 64 (1981): 1-27; Roy P. Mackal, A Living Dinosaur? In Search ofMokele-Mbembe (Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1987), pp. 44, 235-249, 316-321.
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