On the Trail of the Mokele-Mbembe, the Last Living Dinosaur
Email this review


 Nugent (The Search for the Pink-Headed Duck, 1991--not reviewed), a specialist in cryptozoological adventures--combing the far regions of the earth for undiscovered beasties--takes on Mokele-Mbembe, a brontosaurus-like dinosaur reported to dwell in the rain forests of central Africa. Most of Nugent's wry account consists of his misadventures in getting to Lake Tele in the Congo, purported home of Mokele-Mbembe. The clues are scarce: a few sightings by explorers; a questionable footprint; Pygmy tales of a rusty-skinned, long-necked creature with a single giant tooth. The natives, avid fetishists, revere Mokele-Mbembe as an immensely powerful spirit or god. A determined Nugent spends weeks in the broiling heat of Brazzaville, pleading with petty officials for a travel permit, even undergoing a naked exorcism to help his cause. Finally, the permit materializes and the author sets out for Lake Tele. Along the way, he collects gorgeous butterflies and hideous beetles, drinks crocodile brains, gets butted by a pangolin. And some illusions are shattered: He arrives at a remote village with trinkets for the natives only to find mowed lawns, clipped hedges, and stereos blasting heavy-metal music. But eventually the primeval jungle appears, and Nugent gets lost in it, encountering Pygmies who threaten him with bows and arrows. At last, he spots from about a kilometer away an ``elongated black form that curves in on itself,'' but when he dashes in for a closer look, his guides restrain him at gunpoint, explaining that ``The god can approach man, but man NEVER can approach the god. He would have killed us all.'' Much wittier than most cryptozoological reports (which veer toward stuffiness to counterbalance the jeers)--and a spanking good travelogue to boot. (Photos--not seen)

Pub Date: June 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-395-58707-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993