Dinosaurs – one of the world’s greatest prehistoric mysteries. What happened to them? Where did they go? There are various possibilities depending on what you believe and no real way to be 100% certain. We all know about fossils and at one point or another we were all obsessed with dinosaurs. For most of us, school would have told us that these prehistoric creatures lived in a time before humans. The first thing we learn about dinosaurs is ‘millions of years ago’, but how do we know that?
A Few of the Most Famous Examples of Dinosaur Sightings
- A black and white photograph of the Loch Ness Monster ‘Nessie’ – most likely a hoax. Credit: BBC
Many of you will have heard about at least a few of these. It is worth noting that, just because these are famous, it does not mean they are true. The possibility of any one of these being real or fake has always been up for discussion. In many cases, however, growing evidence may suggest that there are more to these accounts than fables.
The Loch Ness Sea Monster – Nessie
- An illustration by Arthur Grant of the Loch Ness Monster ‘Nessie’; credit: paulcockshott
While alleged sightings of Nessie can be dated back to the 500s AD, the most famous accounts happened after 1933. Before 1933 the loch was difficult to access and once the road was built, sightings began to be reported. The year the road was put in, there were 52 sightings of the creature. Now, there have been over 9,000 alleged sightings, some clearly being fakes. In 1934, Arthur Grant claimed to have almost ridden into the Loch Ness Monster on his motorbike in the night. He described the creature as having a long neck with oval-shaped eyes on its small head. The creature’s strong tail reached around 1.8 metres and was rounded at the end. In total, the creature was around six metres long. The game warden for Loch Ness claimed to have seen the creature 18 times in the 47 years he worked there.
All descriptions of Nessie point to the creature being a Plesiosaur. It has been spotted both in and out of the water and even with a sheep in its mouth. Some photographs are more believable than others, and some are flat out hoaxes. Images of the dinosaur’s flippers have allegedly been captured, though no one has managed to capture the creature itself. Missions to scan the loch have turned up nothing except the unusual ‘wrinkled’ lake bed. Additionally, the sheer size and depth of the loch, as well as the many caves, make a thorough search impossible.
The Lake Champlain Monster – Champ
- A colour photograph of what is believed to be the Lake Champlain Monster or ‘Champ’; credit: youtube
Lake Champlain is a 125 mile long lake that sits between the New York and Vermont border. Here, the Lake Champlain monster known as Champ has been sighted many times over the years. This dinosaur is also thought to be a plesiosaur or something similar. One of the most famous sightings was from a woman by the name of Sandi Mansi in 1977. Sandi captured a photograph of the creature in the water and famously said that she knew she saw a dinosaur. Both her, her husband and her two children watched the creature for several minutes in awe.
- A black and white photograph of a depiction of the Ogopogo; credit: kelownanow
Reports of this creature are much like that of the Loch Ness Monster. Thousands have claimed to see this dinosaur in the Okanagan Lake, British Columbia. One man who swam the length of the lake claimed that the creature came up under him and thought it was a sturgeon. A family who was camping out on the lake in their boat claimed to have seen two Ogopogo. They said their boat was bumped, waking them up, and they watched two of the creatures swim across the water.
- An illustration of Mokele Mbembe, the dinosaur believed to be in the Congo. Credit: BBC
Alleged to live in the swamps in the Congo, Mokele Mbembe has been believed to be an Apatosaurus. Natives in the Congo claim that these creatures predominantly live in the water. They are rarely seen but have been spotted in the late evening and early morning feeding. According to witnesses, the creatures’ favourite food is the malombo plant. Footprints of the animal have been found and according to some, pygmies in the Congo would kill and eat them.
The Mokele Mbembe has been described as being dark brown with smooth skin and a small head attached to a long neck. They dwell in the watery caves along the river and the locals do not see them as being unusual creatures. Those in the area do, however, fear the animal. This is due to the creature being known to attack crocodiles, elephants and hippopotami in the river. The Mokele Mbembe, along with the ngoubou, have often been encountered in central Africa. When a book of African animals and dinosaurs was shown to locals, all but two images were rejected. The two images the locals claimed to be mokele Mbembe and ngoubou were those of a sauropod and a triceratops.
Lesser Known Dinosaur Sightings
- Largest recorded dinosaur print. Credit: BBC
Not all sightings get the same amount of media attention as Nessie and Mokele Mbembe. In fact, many are covered up by other stories or are not even spoken about. Some people wait 50 years to tell their story for fear of being seen as mad. Others may not speak about their encounters purely because, to them, it is normal. No matter the reason, there are, without a doubt, thousands of untold encounters with what may be dinosaurs.
Scuba-Diving Teenagers Encounter a Dinosaur
- An illustration drawn by the survivor of the 1962 Pensacola Sea Monster Incident. Credit: reddit
In March of 1962, five young men went scuba-diving in Pensacola harbour Florida. Of the five, one survived. The group were going to the sunken ship in the harbour when they were caught in a storm. The storm dragged them out to sea in their raft and left them in a dense fog when it died down. There, they began to hear splashing sounds similar to that of a porpoise and a sickening odour. The odour was like dead fish and then they heard loud hissing as the splashing neared their raft. In the fog, the survivor claimed he saw what looked like a three metre-long pole sticking out of the water. On top of the hole was a bulb-like structure. The ‘pole’ bent in the middle and went below the water, disappearing and appearing again and again as it got closer.
After the young group heard a high pitched whine in the distance, they panicked and put on their flippers. They entered the water to make their escape and yelled to stay together for safety. The fog split them up and shortly after, the survivor heard the screams of his comrades. He got one last look at the creature and described it as having a neck close to four metres long. The creature was smooth and had brown-green skin with an elongated head with many teeth. The witness claimed it had a dorsal-like fin and greenish eyes. He survived the experience by climbing onto the ship and waiting until morning to swim back to the beach.
- Illustration of the Kongamato, or pterodactyl ‘dinosaur’ attacking villagers. Credit: contosdakripta
Both names refer to the same creature. The Kongamato or Batamzinga are said to live in various parts of Africa, from the Congo down to Zimbabwe. According to some, the creatures have lived around villages in Kenya, digging up the dead and eating them. Frank Melland, an African explorer, often heard rumours about a creature by the name of Kongomato. This creature lived in the Jiundu swamps. When he asked the natives what exactly the creature was, they stated that it was a bird, but not exactly. It was more like a lizard with wings of skin resembling that of a bat’s. He showed them illustrations of animals, among them a pterodactyl. Upon seeing the pterodactyl, they all gestured to it and repeatedly muttered kongamato excitedly.
Urufere, the South American Dinosaur
- A kamado dragon, thought to resemble the Urufere. Credit: uberscubakomodo
This creature has been claimed to reside in South America. Locals say it is nine metres long, one and a half metres tall and makes a loud noise. The native people are terrified of it and avoid it at all costs. Urufere, which are thought to resemble kamado dragons, are predatory and have been known to hunt pigs and humans. The creature has remained elusive and many believe it to be nearing extinction if not extinct already. The last known sighting of one of these animals was in 2002 by a hunting party in Brazil.
Historical Documentation of Dinosaurs
- Ica Burial stone depicting dinosaurs being killed by humans. Credit: earthepochs
Many alleged dinosaur sightings happened after the 1700’s, but there is evidence that dates back further. Some evidence comes from first hand accounts by historians and explorers, while other evidence comes from artefacts. In all cases, these findings pose the question of do or did humans and dinosaurs live at the same time?
Alexander the Great
- A mural of Alexander the Great. Credit: Greece-is
Once Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC, he learned of what he called ‘dragons’ living in caves. The people worshipped the creatures and even king Abisarus was said to have kept serpents up to 64 metres long. After conquering parts of India, Alexander came across a cavern where a sacred serpent dwelled. The people implored him not to harm or disturb the dragon, to which he agreed. Upon Alexander and his army passing by the cavern, the creature snorted and hissed so loud that the army became terrified. Those in the cavern reported the serpent to measure 30 meters, though its entirety was not visible. Only the head of the creature poked out from its cave, and its eyes were reported to be the same size as a Macedonian shield. Rulers after Alexander are claimed to have brought back dragons from Ethiopia.
Marco Polo Wrote About Dinosaurs
- Marco Polo. Credit: biography
On his travels through China, Persia and various other parts of Asia, Marco Polo recorded astounding encounters. He lived in China for 17 years and claimed that the Emperor bred dragons to pull his chariots. This may further be proved as China’s Emperor appointed a ‘royal dragon feeder’ in 1611, 400 years after Marco Polo.
“Leaving the city of Yachi… you reach the province of Karazan, which is also the name of the chief city….Here are seen huge serpents, ten paces in length, and ten spans girt of the body. At the fore part… they have two short legs… three claws like those of a tiger, with eyes larger than a forepenny loafand very glaring.
“The jaws are wide enough to swallow a man, the teeth are large and sharp…whole appearance is so formidable, that neither man, nor any kind of animal can approach them without terror… and the following method is used for taking them. In the day-time, by reason of great heat, they lurk in caverns, from whence, at night, they issue to seek their food…
After that, they drag themselves towards some lake, spring of water, or river, in order to drink. By their motion in this way along the shore, and their vast weight, they made a deep impression, as if a heavy beam had been drawn along the sands. Those whose employment is to hunt them observe the track by which they are most frequently accustomed to go, and fix into the ground several pieces of wood, armed with sharp iron spikes, which they cover with sand in such a manner as not to be perceptible.
When, therefore, the animals make their way towards the places they usually haunt, they are wounded by these instruments, and speedily killed…”
Herodotus Witnessed Dinosaurs
- A statue of Herodotus. Credit: tonsoffacts
Herodotus, also known as the ‘Father of History’ claimed to have witnessed strange creatures in his travels. He spoke of flying snakes on the Arabian peninsula that would travel to Egypt. The Ibis were known to kill these creatures as they flew through the rocky pass to Egypt. Flying snakes, which we might guess could be pterodactyls, were known to be cannibalistic and vicious.
“There is a place in Arabia, situated very near the city of Buto, to which I went, on hearing of some winged serpents; and when I arrived there, I saw bones and spines of serpents, in such quantities as it would be impossible to describe. The form of the serpent is like that of the water-snake; but he has wings without feathers, and as like as possible to the wings of a bat.”
Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm
- A carving of a dinosaur in Ta Prohm, possibly a stegosaurus. Credit: atlasobscura
Carved into the stone in Ta Prohm in the Angkor Thom temple complex sits a depiction of what is thought to be a dinosaur. The carving shows an almost rhinoceros-like creature, but with large plates along its back. Ta Prohm dates back to the late 12th century and was built under King Jayavarman VII. It can be found in Cambodia, south Asia. As Asia was deemed the land of the dragons, this carving lines up with historical records such as that of Marco Polo.
Saint George Slaying a Dragon
- An illustration of Saint George slaying a dragon, or dinosaur. Credit: independent
Many will have heard of Saint George. According to legend, St George slew his first dragon in Africa and then later, in 1098 AD, several more. He was said to have slain dragons in Germany as well as England. In England the summit where he defeated the dragon became known as Dragon Hill. At the top a bare patch of white chalk sits. This is thought to be the spot where the blood of the dragon spilled, allowing no grass to grow.
“At the town of Silene, in Libya, there was a dragon, who was appeased by being fed two sheep a day; when these failed, the townsfolk offered by lot one of their young people. One day the lot fell on the King’s daughter, who was led out to the sacrifice, dressed in her wedding gown. George appeared and transfixed the dragon with his spear and then using the Princess’s girdle led the bemused dragon into the town, where it was beheaded.”
Ishtar Gate Dinosaur Depictions
- A coloured photograph of one of the dragons depicted on Ishtar Gate, Babylon. Credit: dia
The Ishtar Gate was built in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar II about 575 BCE. On this magnificent gate are depictions of bulls, lions and what could be argued are ‘dragons’ or dinosaurs. The gate is named after the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and represents the gods. While these may purely represent deities, it seems unlikely that two real animals would be chosen and one mythical.
Conclusion – Where are the Dinosaurs?
- Black and white photograph of a triceratops skeleton. Credit: dailyjstor
If you choose to believe the evidence, it seems clear that dinosaurs have lived, or still do live, among humans. Unfortunately, many cases of reported sightings turn out to be hoaxes, but that should not discredit the true encounters. How can you tell if one is a hoax or not? Sometimes it may be difficult to tell. However, the amount of evidence, even from ancient times, pointing to humans and dinosaurs living together cannot be tossed aside. Perhaps it is possible that these depictions came from fossils, perhaps not. There are many more examples of historical works that did not make it onto the list. There are Nazca burial stones depicting dinosaurs, carvings in the Grand Canyon, and even dinosaur carvings on hippopotamus tusks. Many artefacts date back to Ancient Egypt, Persia and parts of Asia.
The number of accounts may mean something, or maybe they do not. Various countries in Scandinavia have their own versions of Nessie, as does Cornwall and other locations. Some stories of dinosaurs date back hundreds of years, others are far more recent. Do you think that dinosaurs could still be living on this earth?