King Kong’s playmate: Kongamato

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 14th, 2010

With the passing of the producer of one of the King Kong movies, perhaps we should revisit one of the cryptids from the skies that is always in that movie.

Is there a group of Jurassic pterosaurs (which includes the subgroup of animals called pterodactyls) alive and well in Africa? Sub-Saharan reports of giant flying monsters called kongamato ("overwhelmer of boats") by natives of today’s Zambia (formerly Rhodesia) have been discussed in the West since 1923.

It was in that year that Frank H. Melland wrote about them in his book, In Witchbound Africa. Melland described huge flying animals with membranes instead of feathers on its wings, great scary teeth in their mouths, and wings four to seven feet across.

In 1925, southern Rhodesia produced reports of a Kongamato attack on a man in a swamp, and reports issued from Africa in 1928, 1942, the 1950s, up through modern times, including a colleague of cryptozoologist Roy Mackal’s who saw one in 1988. I summarized all these reports in my 1999 book, Cryptozoology A to Z.

Look at the old 1933 version of King Kong and you will see some Kongamato clones. When the new Peter Jackson movie King Kong opened on December 14th, 2005, of course, he had pterosaurs flying around a few scenes of that film.

To which, CryptoInformant adds:

“Pterosaurs did not just live in the Jurassic! They were around for the entire duration of the reign of the dinosaurs, and this time period was known as the Mesozoic! The Kongamato are most likely pterosaurs, probably rhamphorhynchid, or short neck, long head and long tail with teeth and, apparently, a bad attitude.”

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

5 Responses to “King Kong’s playmate: Kongamato”

  1. cloudyboy87 responds:

    I don’t care what “skeptics” or as I like to call most of them “deniers” say, I know for a fact that some Pterosaurs are still alive and well. I can’t speak personally on the Kongamato, but i have seen a Pterosaur myself and that’s all the evidence one could ask for. I would love to find another or to travel looking for Cryptids but that will have to wait a long time.

  2. E responds:


    As much as I would love it to be true, I have problems believing you. There just is no evidence of them alive and kicking today and you could have, as many others, been a victim of a miss ID.

    But this “denier” sure hopes he is wrong =)

  3. Sordes responds:

    A little note, the flying monsters in Peter Jackson´s adaption of King Kong are no pterosaurs at all. Actually there is not a single pterosaur visible in the whole movie. Those creatures are -according to “The World of Kong – A Natural History of Skull Island” a creature whose ancestors are rodents. Of course this creature, named Terapusmordax obscenus, is completely imaginary, as well as all other creatures in the movie. “The World of Kong” lists also several other strange flying creatures, for example the night stalker, a smaller relative of Terapusmordax or the pugbats, imaginary flying descendents of cynodonts. There is only one single line of pterosaurs remaining on Skull island, but this creatures are comparably small and flightless, and don´t look much like pterosaurs at all.

  4. kgehrman responds:

    Please tell us the story of your sighting!
    Were you living somewhere near the Arizona/Mexico border area?

    On a related note:
    The the original print of bottom-most photograph (kingkong1933) Loren has posted of the 1933 O’Brien King King was recently auctioned of in LA for $27,500. I think thats pretty cheap for such an image.

    Joan Knox the daughter of Ernst Bachrach sold off some vintage King Kong photos and negatives that her father took on the 1933 set. The image I mention was part of a collection that brought much more money. If you are interested in seeing a cool video of this auction check out “Hollywood Treasures” Episode “Joe Goes Ape” on the Sci Fi channels.

  5. dogu4 responds:

    They survived into the Mesozoic? Really? I’d like to know more about that evidence if possible. Cheers.

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