This article is about a confirmed hoax
The subject of this article, be it purported cryptid or a supposed event, is known to have been deliberately made up.

The Great Brontosaurus Hoax, also called the Lepage-Gapelle hoax or Lepagapelle hoax was a famous 1919 hoax, in which two fake sightings of neodinosaurs were reported from the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, possibly inspired by recent reports of a Rhodesian cryptid called the chipekwe or mbilintu. The hoax, which also featured claims of a reward offered by the Smithsonian, provoked at least one man, Leicester Stevens, to hunt for the Brontosaurus in the Congo. The perpetrator and motive behind the hoax is unknown, but several claims and theories exist.[1][2]


In 1921, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society named Mrs H. L. Lees claimed that Lepage, whom she identified as an Australian engineer named David Le Page, had hoaxed the entire incident himself. According to Lees, Le Page, having returned from a hunting expedition empty-handed...[3]

[...] met a Mr. Raymer, a man attached to the American Drilling Sondage, who asked him if he had "had any luck." Le Page answered in the negative, but began to spin a yarn about an animal the like of which he had never seen before, which upon seeing him had disappeared into a swamp, and described it as a gazika. Raymer, evidently much impressed, sought Le Page again next day to glean further details of the animal in question, and again the imagination was drawn upon.

According to Lees, Raymer subsequently sent an account of Le Page's claim to FitzSimmons, who in turn released the information to the press.[3] An engineer named David Le Page was indeed working in Rhodesia at this time.[4] A different version of this story was given by Arthur "Ingeinyama" Davison in 1950. According to Davison, Le Page (here identified as David La Page) initially told his story to a party of missionaries, one of whom wrote up the story as true. According to Davison, Le Page subsequenty became known throughout Africa as "Brontosaurus Dave".[5]

Notes and references

  1. Heuvelmans, Bernard (1978) Les Derniers Dragons d'Afrique, Plon, ISBN 978-2259003872
  2. Mackal, Roy P. (1987) A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe, Brill, ISBN 978-9004085435
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Congo Fiction: Gazika or Brontosaurus," The Farmer and Settler (11 March 1921)
  4. Who's Who in Mining and Metallurgy (1910)
  5. Davison, Arthur "Subscriber Number One," The Northern Rhodesia Journal, Vol. 1 (1950)
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