Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Creature Feature #5: Kasai Rex (1932)
The Kasai Rex is truly a mystery. It is an animal claimed to be a surviving carnivorous dinosaur in Africa. There are conflicting descriptions of it, and the only original reports are suspected by most cryptozoologists to be dubious.
There have been several sightings throughout the years, but the most popular one took place in 1932. A Swedish plantation owner, named John Johnson, and his African servant were once walking through the Kasai valley in Africa (the location of this particular sighting was where the creature got its name), when they came across a grazing rhinoceros. They were careful not to disturb the animal. All of a sudden, a 40-foot-long, two-legged lizard-like beast ambushed the rhino. During this attack, Mr. Johnson actually fainted while his servant ran away in terror. When Johnson woke up, the creature was still feeding on the rhino carcass. He described the animal as having have long, sharp teeth, big jaws, a long, thick tail, and thick legs, which he said reminded him of the legs on a lion. He also described the color of the creature: a dark red, with dark-colored, vertical stripes running down its neck, back and tail. He then saw the huge beast walk back into the jungle after it had eaten its fill.
A similar story appeared in the 1932 edition of the Rhodesia Herald, with slight differences; the names changed (Johanson to Johnson), the creature eats a rhino, and the servant flees. Criticism surrounds this story, claiming it is from one single source.
Two photographs are said to exist, each showing radical differences from the other. One shows a creature resembling a large monitor lizard. In this photograph, a white line surrounds the creature; it appears to be a cutout from a nature magazine. The other photograph depicts a tyrannosaurus-like creature eating a rhinoceros. There are very few students of cryptozoology who accept either as genuine.
It is perhaps notable that, of all cryptids reported from Africa, this is the only one without a name in a local language - and yet a carnivorous animal of this size would not have escaped attention by the local population.