Kongamato is a pterosaur-like creature from the border area of Zambia, Angola and Congo. There are reports that people have been seeing flying creatures that match the description of pterosaurs for a long time. People have even been, reportedly, killed by them. It would seem impossible that these creatures could have survived to the present day. After all, if they existed surely people would see them flying about as they hunted for food. How could a flying population of reptiles remain hidden?
In 1923, Frank Melland described the belief of the Kaonde, native people of Zambia. The natives called this creature kongamato (“overwhelmer of boats”), which was said to have lived in the Jiundu swamps in the Mwinilunga District in western Zambia, near the border of Congo and Angola. It was described as having no feathers at all, smooth skin, a wingspan between 4 ft. and 7 ft., and possessing a beak full of teeth. When crossing rivers, some of them carried amulets that would protect them from a Kongamato. When he showed them pictures of pterodactyls in books, they identified them as looking like the Kongamato.
In 1925, G. Ward Price heard stories of a monstrous bird with a long beak that attacked people in the swamps of Zimbabwe. When a man who had been wounded by the animal was shown a picture of a pterodactyl, he screamed in terror. In 1942 Colonel C. R. S. Pitman reported stories the natives had told him of a large bat/bird type creature that lived in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in a dense swampy region–supposedly to look upon it was death. Tracks of the creatures were seen, with evidence of a large tail dragging the ground. These reports were not limited to Zambia, but also came from other locations in Africa such as Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Engineer J. P. F. Brown saw two flying reptiles in January 1956 near Mansa, Zambia. He estimated a wingspan of about 3 to 3 1/2 feet (1 meter) and a beak-to-tail length of about 4 1/2 feet (1.5 meters). It reportedly had a long thin tail, and a narrow head which he likened to an elongated snout of a dog.
A man was brought into a hospital in Mansa in 1957, suffering from a chest wound. He claimed a huge bird in the Bangweulu Swamp had attacked him. When asked to draw the bird, he allegedly drew a creature resembling a pterosaur. This drawing does not appear to have survived to the present. Reports of prehistoric looking flying creatures are not just limited to dense swampy regions. There are also reports of giant flying lizards from the deserts of Namibia. In 1988 Professor Roy Mackal led an expedition to Namibia where reports of a creature with a wingspan of up to 30 ft were collected. The avian cryptid usually glided through the air, but also was capable of true flight. It was usually seen at dusk, gliding between crevices between two hills about a mile apart. Although the expedition was not successful in getting solid evidence, one team member, James Kosi, reportedly saw the creature from about 1000 ft. away. He described it as a giant glider shape, black with white markings.
Carl Wiman suggested that the Kongamato tradition originated with natives who assisted in the excavation of pterosaur bones at the Tendagaru fossil beds in Tanzania prior to World War I. A possible explanation is a surviving pterosaur, the flying reptiles of the Mesozoic era and maybe they live in a hidden cave. Fossils of Pterodactylus (wingspan 1–8 feet, short tail), Dsungaripterus (wingspan 9–12 feet, short tail), and Rhamphorynchus (wingspan 1–6 feet, long tail) from the Jurassic have been found at Tendaguru Hill, Tanzania. Only two pterosaur fossils from the Cretaceous have been discovered in Africa: a wing bone of an Ornithocheirus (wingspan 14–16 feet) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a neck vertebra from a species similar to the giant Quetzalcoatlus (wingspan 36–39 feet but no teeth). However, the fossil record in South America is much richer, and since the two continents were joined at the time, there is reason to suspect more specimens will turn up.
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