Modern-day dinosaurs

IT is high time that Lightly readers were made aware of the ``Mokele-Mbembe'' before it is too late. According to Jim Culberson, a graduate in marine biology from Florida Institute of Technology who has been in Africa researching these things, Mokele-Mbembe is a 40-foot species of dinosaur which has been seen roaming the Congo. Presumably these dinosaurs date from the Mesozoic Era - about 200 million years ago.

Dinosaurs were supposed to have disappeared with a bang in the Cretaceous Period and haven't been seen for about 350 million years, so if there are a few living in Africa at the present time it is going to make a better movie than King Kong.

A 40-foot dinosaur may not seem like much, since dinosaurs reached a length of 100 feet. But when one considers the wear and tear of surviving 350 million years on short rations, 40 feet is quite impressive. Anyway, it is bigger than an elephant. And if they were much bigger, everyone would see one.

Culberson has been searching certain areas where the natives claim to have encountered the Mokele-Mbembe and are none the worse for it. He has seen pictures, he says, taken of fresh footprints and he states that ``the tracks are about as large as a frying pan with three toes out front.''

The habitat of these dinosaurs is deep in a 60,000-mile area known as the Likouala Swamp where it must be difficult to find things, even if they are 40 feet long. Culberson is planning on going back for another search in 1988 in spite of the skeptical remarks from other scientists.

``The scientific community thinks we are nuts,'' Culberson says. ``... but what you have to understand is that most of the scientists who consider us fringe flakes are armchair scientists. They have not been in there.'' ``In there'' presumably meaning in that Likouala Swamp - and anyone spending much time in the Likouala Swamp could change his mind about a lot of things.

Culberson is raising some money and hopes he will find Mokele-Mbembe on his next trip. One can't rule it out as impossible. There is a huge, prehistoric monster up at Loch Ness, Scotland, so why couldn't there be some related monsters hiding out in the darker reaches of the Congo?

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