Nguma Monene

Unknown LIZARD of Central Africa. Etymology: Lingala (Bantu), "large boa." Variant names: Ngonde monene, Nyama monene, Yoli (Baka/Ubangi).

PP'hysical description: Huge, serpentine lizard. Length, 30-50 feet. Body is 2-3 feet in diameter. Grayish-brown. Head and neck are snakelike. Forked tongue. Serrated ridge along the spine. Short legs.

Behavior: Amphibious. Moves rapidly through swamps. Eats birds and monkeys.

Distribution: Eastern Cameroon; Motaba River, Republic of the Congo.

Significant sightings: In 1961, the eldest sister of First Secretary of the General Assembly Michel Zabatou was bathing in the Motaba River when she saw a snakelike head and neck emerge from the water about 50 feet away. Villagers ran to the spot when she cried out, and they all watched the animal moving in the water. It flicked its forked tongue in and out as it moved upstream.

In November 1971, Joseph Ellis was making his way along the Motaba River in a dugout canoe when he saw a 30-foot serpentine animal with a serrated back swim across the river about 200 feet away and move out of the river and into the jungle.

PP'ossible explanations:

(1) A surviving dolichosaur, a member of a group of marine reptiles intermediate between snakes and lizards that lived in the Late Cretaceous, 95 million years ago, suggested by Roy Mackal. These animals had long, slender, snakelike bodies and reduced limbs. Fossils have been found in England, Yugoslavia, Germany, and Lebanon.

(2) The Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus), a semiaquatic lizard that grows up to 7 feet long and is found throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, including the Congo basin. When disturbed, it often swims away to the safety of overhanging vegetation. However, its back is smooth, not serrated.

(3) An unknown species of elongated


Monitor lizard (Family Varanidae), also suggested by Roy Mackal.

Source: Roy P. Mackal, A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe (Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1987), pp. 255-266.

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