The Dinosaur Expedition goes…Extinct?

Several months ago, the Newmac Expedition raised $30,000 from private donors to fund a trip to the Republic of Congo. Among other things, they hoped to investigate the legend of mokèlé-mbèmbé, the so-called last living dinosaur. Less than a week ago, the expedition hit a major snag. Now, it appears to have run into more troubles. Has the Newmac Expedition gone extinct?

The Hunt for 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 mokèlé-mbèmbé. The mokèlé-mbèmbé, 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 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

The Newmac Expedition…goes Extinct?

Yesterday, we received an anonymous tip that the Newmac Expedition had returned from the Congo. Supposedly, the group was forced to curtail its 3-month trip. The exact reason remains unclear but we were told that Expedition member Stephen McCullah posted a message on his personal Facebook page about a lack of research permits. We’ve also heard that the Expedition suffered gear losses via theft.

This information has yet to be confirmed. But if true, it explains Marrero’s decision to withdraw from the Expedition. Adding fuel to the fire are the changes made to the Newmac Expedition’s social media platform. Its website has been abandoned. The last Facebook update came on June 21. The last Twitter update, announcing the departure of Joe Marrero, came on July 10. And the last update on Kickstarter (which we are unable to access) came on July 13.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Let’s assume for a moment the Newmac Expedition has gone defunct. What are the consequences? Well, the money raised from Kickstarter wasn’t free. People in various pledge categories (ranging from $5 to $10,000) were promised certain packages. For example, here’s the package for the $5 category:

“Everyone in this pledge category will receive daily updates and pictures of progress- Via text or email, so you will be one of the first to see the findings. Weeks ahead of the media. Furthermore we’ll send a you a genuine pygmy made string and bone bracelet to commemorate the launch of The Project.” ~ Documentary Expedition to Congo- KILLER REWARDS!!!

This package was initially scheduled for delivery in June. According to recent comments on the team’s Kickstarter page, at least some of the backers haven’t received it yet. However, from what we understand the delivery date was switched to October (coinciding with the Expedition’s original expected return date).

The $5 package is the simplest one. For example, people who pledged $50 were promised “an authentic piece of a new species of plant.” People in the $100 category were promised “a DVD collection of the entire trip and a handcarved Spear made by the Baka Pygmy people along with a picture of the person who carved it holding YOUR spear.” And the rewards only get more complicated from there.

If the project is indeed defunct, then this would appear to be a case of over-promising and under-delivery. And according to Kickstarter, unsuccessful projects are expected to be refunded.

“If you realize that you will be unable to follow through on your project after it has been successfully funded, you are expected to offer refunds to all your backers. To avoid problems, don’t over-promise when creating your project. If issues arise, communicate immediately, openly, and honestly with your backers.” ~ Kickstarter FAQ

All along, skeptics have claimed the Expedition was poorly-planned and perhaps ill-conceived. Unfortunately, that now appears to be the case. We’re still waiting for official word from the team. It’s always possible they will attempt to relaunch after they get everything straightened out. In fact, we have reason to believe this is their plan. But for the time being, it appears the Newmac Expedition has gone extinct.


Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition

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