Photo of cryptozoology skeptics from this year's TAM9 conference. From left to right, Sharon Hill, Blake Smith, Ben Radford, Donald Prothero, Joe Nickell, Matt Crowley, Karen Stollznow, Daniel Loxton. Photo by Crowley, via Flickr.
I've shared Donald Prothero interviews here. I've shared MonsterTalk episodes. Today, like creamy peanut butter and the finest chocolate, they come together and we are so much the richer for it. On episode 43 of MonsterTalk, D-Pro and hosts Blake Smith, Karen Stollznow, and Ben Radford talk about stories of living dinosaurs, specifically the Mokele-Mbembe of the Congo Basin, a putative surviving sauropod. It will come as no surprise to readers here that I'm pretty suspicious of these "reports," but when D-Pro lays out just what the evidence is, I was shocked by just its flimsiness, considering the relatively high profile of Mokele-Mbembe in the cryptid menagerie. They also touch on a human trait that likely plays into the continued prominence of cryptid sightings in general: skrilla.
Smith: I've also heard the suggestion that the frequency of modern sightings can be directly tied to the fact that the locals have learned that if people come up the river asking to see Mokele-Mbembe, they'll spend a lot of money and time...There's plenty of good discussion of why it's so extremely unlikely that a sauropod could have survived the K-Pg extinction, escaped detection in the fossil record (while their probable competitors for resources, giant mammals, did not), and stayed hidden away in a tiny pocket of the world. There's even a bit of ichnology!
D-Pro: Once people discover that there's money to be made by telling you what you want to hear, they'll tell you what you want to hear.
This installment of MonsterTalk was voted in as the podcast's special Halloween episode by listeners. People love dinosaurs! they really do! Also, keep your eyes peeled for Prothero's forthcoming cryptozoology book with Daniel Loxton, due next year.