Mahamba

Giant Crocodilian of Central Africa. Etymology: Lingala (Bant u) wor d. Physical description: Lengt h, 50 feet. Head like a Nile crocodile's but wider.

Behavior: Carnivorous. Said to eat humans. Lays eggs. Digs long, underground tunnels.

Distribution: Republic of the Congo; Maika marshes, northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Significant sighting: In 1954, Guy de la Ruwiere saw a crocodile that was at least 23 feet long in the Maika marshes. It lifted its large head out of the water several times, showing an abnormally long neck. It created a huge wave when it dived below the surface. Possible explanations:

(1) Large or old and aggressive specimens of the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). The official size record for this crocodile was set in 1953 at 19 feet 6 inches, though there are reports of larger specimens. Most rarely grow larger than 16 feet.

(2) A surviving Deinosuchus, which lived 80 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous of sout h Texas. Cur r ent est imat es place it s length at 33-50 feet and its weight at 2

t ons, which means it was large enough t o prey on sizable dinosaurs. Other crocodilians of comparable size included the caiman Purussaurus and t he gavialoid Rhamphosuchus, both fossils from the

Miocene, 15 million years ago. Sources: John Reinhardt Werner, A Visit to Stanley's Rear-Guard at Major Barttelot's Camp on the Aruhwimi (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood, 1889), pp. 108-109, 125; Roy P. Mackal, A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe (Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1987), pp. 273-282, 321-326.

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