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The Kasai Rex: A Living Dinosaur or a Modern Myth?

The Kasai Rex is a name given to a mysterious creature that is said to inhabit the savannahs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to some reports, it is a gigantic reptile that resembles a theropod dinosaur, such as a Tyrannosaurus rex. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support its existence, and many skeptics dismiss it as a hoax or a misidentification. In this blog post, we will explore the origins, sightings, and explanations of the Kasai Rex phenomenon.


The term “Kasai Rex” was coined by the Rhodesia Herald newspaper in 1933, after a Swedish hunter named John Johnson (sometimes spelled Johanson) claimed to have encountered and photographed the creature in the Kasai Valley in 19321. Johnson said that he was hunting elephants with his servant when they saw a rhinoceros being attacked by a huge reptile that was 13 meters (43 feet) long and had a reddish color with black stripes. He said that he shot at the creature, but it escaped into the undergrowth. He later saw it again in a swamp, where it was feeding on the carcass of another rhino. He managed to take a picture of it before it submerged into the water2.

Johnson’s story and photo were published in several newspapers and magazines, sparking interest and controversy among the public and the scientific community. Some people believed that he had witnessed a living dinosaur, while others accused him of fabricating the whole story or mistaking a crocodile or a monitor lizard for a prehistoric beast.


There are several possible explanations for the Kasai Rex and related sightings, ranging from natural to supernatural. Some of the most common ones are:

  • A surviving dinosaur: Some cryptozoologists, who study unknown animals, suggest that the Kasai Rex and other creatures are remnants of a prehistoric fauna that survived the mass extinction that wiped out most dinosaurs 65 million years ago. They argue that the Congo basin is a vast and isolated area that could harbor undiscovered species of animals, especially in its dense forests and swamps. However, this hypothesis is highly improbable, as there is no fossil evidence of any tyrannosaurid or other large theropod dinosaur ever living in Africa, let alone surviving until the present day. Moreover, the climate and ecology of the region have changed drastically since the Mesozoic era, making it unlikely that any dinosaur could adapt and thrive there.


  • A giant monitor lizard: Some zoologists, who study known animals, suggest that the Kasai Rex and other creatures are exaggerated or misidentified sightings of large monitor lizards, such as the Nile monitor or the water monitor. These lizards can grow up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) long and have a similar body shape and coloration to some of the descriptions of the Kasai Rex. They are also known to prey on small mammals, birds, and reptiles, and occasionally scavenge on larger carcasses. However, this hypothesis is also doubtful, as no monitor lizard can reach the size or exhibit the behavior of the Kasai Rex, such as attacking a rhino or roaring loudly. Moreover, monitor lizards are not native to the Congo basin, and their presence there would be an invasive and ecological anomaly.


  • A hoax or a legend: Some skeptics, who doubt the existence of unknown animals, suggest that the Kasai Rex and other creatures are either deliberate hoaxes or legends that have been embellished over time. They argue that Johnson’s story and photo were fabricated to gain fame or money, or to promote his hunting business. They also point out that the photo is of poor quality and shows signs of tampering, such as the mismatched scale and perspective of the animal and the background. They also claim that the other sightings were either lies, mistakes, or influenced by the local folklore and culture, which have stories and beliefs about mythical beasts and spirits that inhabit the land.


The Kasai Rex is a fascinating and controversial topic that has intrigued and divided people for decades. Whether it is a living dinosaur, a giant lizard, a hoax, or a legend, it remains a mystery that challenges our understanding of nature and history. Until more conclusive evidence is found, the Kasai Rex will continue to be a source of speculation and debate among cryptozoologists, zoologists, skeptics, and enthusiasts alike.

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