|Genus name:||Enugrobrontosaurus gigas|
|Name meaning:||"Giant aquatic thunder lizard"|
|Native name meaning||"One whom stops the flow of rivers"|
|Maximum recorded height:||4.00 metres (13.13 feet)|
|Maximum recorded length:||21.34 meters (70.00 feet)|
|Maximum recorded weight:||29.94 metric tons (33.00 short tons)|
|Island range:||Island range|
|Scientific classification:||Kingdom: Animalia|
The Mokèlé-mbèmbé (Enugrobrontosaurus gigas) is a species of extremely highly adapted sauropod dinosaur. Though small by prehistoric standards, Enugrobrontosaurus surpasses even the African elephant in size, inevititibly making it the largest terrestrial animal alive. The aborigonal name for the species roughly translated as "one whom stops the flow of rivers," likely in reference to its immense size.
The Mokèlé-mbèmbé resembles an enormous reptile with its most notable features being its hugely extended neck and tail; as was the case with its cretaceous ancestors.
The Mokèlés are the largest creatures on Muertes, particularly the older specimens. The creatures it seems, take a trait from crocodiles and many other reptiles in the way they continue to grow their whole lives; and to add to this, once they reach a certain size they become immune to predators. Therefore the accounts of seventy foot Mokèlés reported by the natives would most likely be of extremely old animals, possibly as old as one hundred years. Despite this, adult Mokèlés generally range from around twenty to forty five feet long depending on age and gender.
Neck and tailEdit
The neck's length ratio, souly in comparison to the body, is roughly analogous to that of a giraffe. It is however, much more flexible than the mammals, particularly in a side to side motion. The Mokèlés tail is also of extreme length, being almost that of the neck and body combined and reaching thirty feet on the largest known specimen. The tail is extremely powerful and muscular, comparable to that of a crocodilian. This feature may have evolved both as a defence mechanism and an aid for swimming. The head of the Mokèlé, in match with ancient sauropods, is extremely small in comparison to its body, being barely larger than a horses head. This head is very reptilian in appearance, bringing that of a python or lizard to mind, although lacking the fangs on a snake due to its herbivorous nature. The Mokèlé also possess an inflatable dewlap sac on the throat which allows the creature to emit its vocalization.
Body and skinEdit
The body of a Mokèlé is very thick and heavy. As with all other dinosaurs, the Mokèlés legs support its body from underneath, rather than splayed out the side as with reptiles. The legs are powerful and elephantine, with circular feet. Each foot also possesses three claws. Fully grown Mokèlés have extremely tough scaly armour covering the back, another similarity to crocodilians, with an underbelly significantly softer.
The skin possesses a dull, drab, brownish grey colouration. The young Mokèlé of the western swamp region possess a more vivid reddish-brown skin tone and are yet to develop the thick, rough scales of the adults, showing more of a smooth skin. These younger animals generally range from five to ten metres in length. The species shows traits of sexual dimorphism. The adult male of the species has a shorter neck than the female but shows a single row of dermal spines, like an iguana, down the length of the spine. The female has a longer neck but does not possess these spines.
Biology and BehaviourEdit
Unlike the sauropods of the ancient world, Mokèlés are have evolved to be semi-aquatic, spending the majority of the time that it is not feeding in the deeper rivers or in the lake. Mokèlés have remarkably evolved from entierly terrestrial creatures into a semi-aquatic habitat. These adaptions were likely to have occured to accommodate the soaked tropical swamps that cover enormous sections of their island home.
Although strictly a herbivore, Mokèlés are extremely unpredictable and dangerous animals. The island's natives fear the species for its habit of attacking canoes that enter its territory. This is mainly due to its extreme territorial nature and intolerance of any other large creature that might share its habitat. This behaviour probably stems from intense competition for food in the shrunken ecosystem of the island. Because of this, the Mokèlé demands total control over large stretches of river, ferociously attacking crocodiles, Emela-ntouka, and even the giant serpent Nguma-Monene whom invade its territory. When attacking one of these competitors, or cornered by a predator, The Mokèlé- mbèmbé defends itself it via simultaneously lashing with its tail and darting at its opponent with its snake-like head. Despite being fiercely territorial of competition from other herbivores, it is notably shy of predators, including humans, and will attempt to flee into deep pools when confronted. The Young are known to completely submerge themselves under water when threatened.
Social and reproductive behaviourEdit
The Mokèlé- mbèmbé are solitary animals. More than one individual are only seen together whilst mating, in migration or a mother with its young. Their birth instincts of the Mokèlés are quite unusual for a reptilian animal. The animal gives birth to live young, this does occur in some reptiles, but is very uncommon and different to prehistoric sauropods whom laid eggs. More peculiar however is the fact that a female Mokèlé gives birth every twenty years, which means only once in their life for most specimens. This trait may have evolved to prevent over population of the animals on the small and delicate ecosystem of Isla De La Muerte. These bizarre reproductive behaviours are as follows. In September, every twenty years, the mature Mokèlés in the jungle of giants will mate will specimens of a similar age. The females will then go on migration to the stagnant swamps through a pass known as the Aisle of Giants. This migration also requires them to cross the lake. In the swamps the mother will make dig a tunnel-like nest in the side of the river where she will give birth to her young. After giving birth, the mother then remains with her offspring for about a year before migrating back to the swamp; using this time to prepare the young for life on their own. The juveniles then grow to a suitable age in these swamps before migrating together with their surviving kin to the Jungle of Giants where the cycle begin again.
Diet and FeedingEdit
The diet of the Mokèlé- mbèmbé is entirely vegetable. The favourite food however, is a kind of liana vine with white blossoms, a milky sap and apple like fruits. The creatures seek out these particular vines and can often be found where the plant is abundant. In addition, Mokèlé- mbèmbé are also notably fond of the leaves of the Esem tree. The highest browsing animal on the island, when rearing upon its hind legs, the Mokèlé can feed at a height of up to about twenty eight feet. The Mokèlé is known to climb ashore to feed mostly between three and five in the afternoon, although it is also known to feed during the night.
Habitat and DistributionEdit
The Mokèlé- mbèmbé's habitat consists of the enormous swamps, flood plains and central lake of the Islands lowest points. The adults of the species live and mate generally in the larger rivers of the jungle of giants and in the central lake. The younger species reside in the more in the stagnant swamps and the river of souls. The Mokèlé-mbèmbé dwell in the caves that have been washed out by the river in the clay of its shores of river sharp bends.