The Dinosaur Expedition…What Went Wrong?

The Newmac Expedition, which hoped to investigate the legend of mokele-mbembe, the so-called last living dinosaur, appears to have come to an abrupt end. What went wrong?

Mokele-mbembe…the Last Living Dinosaur?

The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They described the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in the mokele-mbembe. The mokele-mbembe, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur…the last living dinosaur.

The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”

“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero

On July 19, we reported rumors that the Newmac Expedition had gone extinct. This has yet to be confirmed.

What happened to the Newmac Expedition?

Two days ago, Marrero posted an article on his website detailing his reasons for withdrawing from the Newmac Expedition. Ultimately, it came down to financial problems.

“Two days before Stephen and Sam left for the Congo, I had begun to suspect that the expedition had financial problems when I was told that a specific purchase was not within the budget. Within two days of the team entering the Congo, I was forced to withdraw from the expedition when I was told that there “wasn’t enough funds for three months.” This was shocking and I was disappointed that I had placed my reputation on the line, only to have someone I trusted disappoint me with their poor financial planning.” ~ Joe Marrero, “So what happened to the Newmac Expedition?”

Marrero also cleared up the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of the Newmac Expedition’s social media platform. It seems he was running the Twitter account as well as the website. When he disassociated himself with the group, he began the process of transferring those things to Stephen McCullah, co-leader of the Newmac Expedition.

Marrero announces Expedition to find Mokele-mbembe

In his article, Marrero stated his intention to launch a separate expedition to search for the mokele-mbembe. He plans to work with a professional hunter named Cam Greig. Apparently, Greig has led dozens of expeditions to Cameroon and seven to the Congo.

As many of you know, we’ve been working on our own expedition here at Guerrilla Explorer. Planning such a trip is no easy task. With that said, we’d like to offer a piece of advice for Marrero and Greig. They may want to consider targeting a different cryptid. If the Newmac Expedition is indeed defunct and ends up forfeiting on its promises, it could prove difficult to gather support for another expedition to the Congo.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

At this point, the rumors of the Newmac Expedition’s extinction are still just that…rumors. Its current and future status remains unknown. But as we mentioned the other day, the team members might experience financial ramifications from this whole affair. Kickstarter funds come at a cost. Project leaders are expected to fulfill certain pre-determined packages based on the amount of the donation.

In the case of the Newmac Expedition, packages range from $5 (which promises daily updates and pictures as well as “a genuine pygmy made string and bone bracelet) to $10,000 (which promises a whole bunch of stuff including having “a chosen species” named after the pledgee).

Based on Marrero’s article, the Expedition is at the very least short on cash. If the rumors are true and they were forced to return to the U.S., they’ll need to fund another trip to the Congo and find a way to fulfill their pledged promises. Either that or they’ll have to give out refunds, which could be difficult if the money has already been spent on gear and other things. The third option is to forfeit on the promises. We’re not sure what would happen in that case.

We’ll keep an eye on this situation for further developments. But for the moment, it appears the mokele-mbembe, if it even exists, is safe from discovery.


Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition

Recent Comments

  • JVolker
    July 21, 2012 - 10:42 pm · Reply

    Another thing I noticed: Stephen’s Facebook page has the url: Gavin Foxx. Generally people use their own names. I searched MySpace for Gavin Foxx and found an account – The pictures are of Stephen. A friend on his Facebook posted to his profile “I sure do hope you come back alive,and don’t have to become a Gavin Foxx again. (: hope your having fun and miss you!” I’m interested what this alter ego may be. I tipped you off a few days ago about the possible “extinction.” I was nervous to sign my name at first because I am friends with McCullah on Facebook because of this expedition. I don’t actually know him, but I have great interest in Mokele Mbembe. Though I cannot PROVE he is home, his online status is usually “mobile log-in.” When in the Congo he was never online. ~ Jonathan R. Volker

  • David
    July 22, 2012 - 12:25 pm · Reply

    Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for keeping us updated on this situation. We’re still not sure whether Stephen and Sam are in the Congo or the U.S. Stephen may have talked about the situation in his last Kickstarter update. Unfortunately, we have no way of reading it.

    We’re interested in Mokele-mbembe as well. So, hopefully we’ll get some news soon.

    Thanks again!

  • Joe Marrero
    July 22, 2012 - 5:15 pm · Reply

    @Jonathan R. Volker — If you are a concerned backer, then why don’t you just ask him. You are one of his Facebook friends by your own admission.

    @David — “As many of you know, we’ve been working on our own expedition here at Guerrilla Explorer. Planning such a trip is no easy task. With that said, we’d like to offer a piece of advice for Marrero and Greig. They may want to consider targeting a different cryptid.” Finally, your true agenda is revealed. I encourage you to do your own expedition if it’s what you want, but please don’t tell me not to do mine.

  • David
    July 22, 2012 - 5:55 pm · Reply


    Thanks for your visit. We definitely don’t have an “agenda.” Our own expedition is a long way (if ever) from being a reality. And even if we do mount an expedition, it won’t be to look for mokele-mbembe.

    It was merely intended as a piece of friendly advice. No more, no less. If you wish to pursue mokele-mbembe, then by all means go for it. We just figured it could prove difficult to fund another such expedition via Kickstarter if the Newmac Expedition, for whatever reason, fails to deliver on its pledges.

    With that said, we wish you luck on your next adventure.

  • Bill Gibbons
    August 14, 2012 - 6:49 pm · Reply

    It does not surprise me that the Newmac expedition is in trouble. Raising money for such adventures is one thing, but actually knowing what you are doing is quite another.
    Regardless of where Stephen McCullah has been in the past, the Congo is an entirely different ball game. Having been there in 1985-6 and 1992, including four expedition to Cameroon (2000, 2001, 2003 & 2009),slow motion bureaucracy, corruption, poor transportation and the perenial African way of always being able to get money out of you for all kinds of things, all add up to frustration, discouragement and quickly deflated egos.

    It takes time and patience to learn about doing business in Africa – the right way. Its easy enough to get a tourist visa for the Congo, but once you are in the country, additional visas and documents (all very costly) are needed before you can even step out of the capital city. This is one of the reasons why places like equatorial Africa have not developed much beyond its colonial years. Corruption and greed are everywhere, particularly in the Congo where there is always a long line of petty bureaucrats lined up to syphon off a few dollars for themselves as soon as they spot your white skin. And you can’t argue with them. Its do things THEIR way or you can leave.

    I offered Stephen McCullah advice and contacts before he left for Africa, but he assured me that everything was in order. I could easily conduct two full expeditions in Cameroon for the money that the Newmac expedition had raised. And we would be able to spend much more time in the country with far less problems.

    Good reliable contacts are everything. But it takes time to develop them, especially in places like the Congo.

    Having said all that, there are no recent reports of Mokele-mbembe activity coming out of the Congo. No one has been there looking for the animals for quite some time, and the inhabitants of the Likouala Region are reluctant to discuss their knowledge and sightings with white outsiders.

    Cameroon, on the other hand,seems to be where the animals have been seen more recently. The confluence of the Dja,Boumba and Ngoko Rivers have seen the most recent activity. The native peoploe there are different from the Congolese. They are not as superstitious, nor do they attribute “magical powers” to Mokele-mbembes like the Congolese do. While the natives who live along the Dja and Boumba Rivers do not like Mokele-mbembes (the animals are a problem they can do without), they are not afraid to discuss what they know about them with us. Plus, I have made solid relationships with key people in Cameroon that are happy to facilitate our expeditions when we are able to go there. Sure, you have to take them “gifts” and treat them to dinner, but its not nearly as bad as in the Congo. Plus, we get our government papers quickly and without fuss.

    I will be in Cameroon this November for a two-week intelligence gathering trip. Hopefully (funding permitting), I will return soon after for a more extensive expedition.

    Best Wishes,

    Bill Gibbons

    July 21, 2013 - 12:53 pm · Reply


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