Dr. Roy P. Mackal (sometimes credited as R. P. Mackal) is a retired University of Chicago biologist best known to the general public for his interest in the Loch Ness MonsterTemplate:Ref and other cryptozoological entities.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1925, Mackal served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II before attending the University of Chicago, where he received his B.S. in 1949 and his PhD in 1953. He would spend the rest of his academic career with Chicago as an instructor and researcher until retiring in 1990. Much of his early research with the university was in biochemistry and virology, and during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, he contributed to the university’s influential “virus project,” studying bacteriophages and the lysogenic cycle. He later served as a professor of zooology.
Investigations at Loch NessEdit
Mackal began his serious research into the Loch Ness Monster phenomenon during the 1960s. While vacationing in London in 1965, he took a trip to the Scottish Highlands and met several members of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, who were monitoring the loch in observation vans in hopes of seeing the creature(s). Fascinated by their work, Mackal began monitoring the waters himself and, after raising money in America, he became the scientific director for the project, a position he held until 1975. During this time, the LNIB conducted sonar probes of the waters near Urquhart Bay and installed underwater strobe cameras with the hopes of providing evidence of the Loch Ness Monster(s). Mackal also designed a “biopsy harpoon,” a dart-like contraption he attached to a submarine in order to collect tissue samples from the alleged creature.
The team never had an opportunity to use the biopsy harpoons, and though they did acquire some sonar signals suggestive of large objects in the loch, along with some tantalizing photographs allegedly showing a flipper, they were unable to provide any conclusive evidence that the monster(s) existed. However, Mackal himself was convinced that something lived beneath the waters after recording his own sighting of the creature in 1970, and in his 1976 book The Monsters of Loch Ness, he suggested that a population of large, previously-unknown amphibians were living in the loch. (Although Mackal has since changed his mind and now believes that the creatures are zeuglodons, serpentine whales believed to have gone extinct several million years ago.)
During the 1980s, Mackal turned his attention to another legendary creature, the Mokele-mbembe, an alleged living dinosaur in the Likouala swamp region of the Congo. Accompanied by University of Arizona ecologist Richard Greenwell and Congolese biologist Marcellin Agnagna, Mackal undertook two expeditions, the first in 1980 and the second in 1981, to find and photograph the creature. Mackal himself did not actually see the creature, but he and his colleagues did collect multiple firsthand reports from Congo natives, who, according to Mackal, consistently described a creature similar to a long-necked sauropod. During his interviews with the natives, Mackal also heard anecdotes about the Emela-ntouka, another possible “living dinosaur” which supposedly resembled a Triceratops or Monoclonius.
In 1987, Mackal wrote a book about his adventures in the Likouala swamps called A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe. He had tried to obtain funds for a third expedition to the region, but his plans were never realized, and the mystery of the Congolese “living dinosaurs” remains unsolved.
Mackal is widely considered to be one of the seminal figures in cryptozoology, the systematic study of “hidden animals,” like Nessie and Mokele-mbembe, along with Bigfoot, the Yeti, and others, which have yet to be recognized by mainstream science. Along with Richard Greenwell and Belgian zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, he was one of the founding members of the International Society for Cryptozoology, which was created in 1982 at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., with the hopes of bringing a degree of respectability to what is often seen as a pseudoscience or quixotic hobby. The organization published a quarterly newsletter and an annual journal, and members met annually at meetings held at universities throughout the world. Mackal was the ISC’s vice-president for the entirety of its existence, although the organization gradually folded in the early 21st century due to lack of funding and the deaths of Heuvelmans and Greenwell.
Mackal has said of his interest in cryptozoology, “I admit that my own views are tinged with some romanticism, but certainly not to the extent that I would endure extreme hardship, even risk my life, to pursue a dream with no basis in reality” Template:Ref.
- Mackal, Roy. The Monsters of Loch Ness. Chicago: The Swallow Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8040-0704-7
- ---Searching for Hidden Animals. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1980. ISBN 0-385-14897-6
- ---A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe. New York: E.J. Brill, 1987. ISBN 90-04-08543-2
Mackal has also written multiple articles that have been published in scientific journals, including the following:
- Mackal, R.P. and L.M. Kozloff. “Biochemical studies of virus reproduction. XII. The fate of bacteriophage T7”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 209 (1954): 83-90.
- Mackal, R.P., J.F. O’Donnell and E.A. Evans, Jr. “An analysis of the acid-soluble fraction of normal and T2r-infected cells of Escherichia coli, strain B”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 233 (1958): 1523-7.
- Mackal, R.P., R. Koppelman, R. Timmons, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Biochemical studies of lysogeny”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 235 (1960): 175-80.
- Mackal, R.P., F. Meyer, Tao M., and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Infectious deoxyribonucleic acid from gamma bacteriophage”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 236 (1961): 1141-3.
- Mackal, R.P., E. Brody, L. Coleman, B. Werninghaus, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Properties of infectious deoxyribonucleic acid from T1 and lambda bacteriophage”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 239 (1964): 285-9.
- Mackal, R.P., B. Werninghaus, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “The formation of lambda bacteriophage by lambda DNA in disrupted cell preparations”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 51 (1964): 1172-8.
- Mackal, R.P., E. Brody, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Properties of infectious T1 deoxyribonucleic acid”. Journal of Virology 1 (1967):76-85.
- Mackal, R.P., B.I. Weinstein, B. Werninghaus, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Studies of DNA-infected disrupted cell preparations”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 62 (1969): 420-7.
- Mackal, R.P., B.I. Weinstein, B. Werninghaus, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Bacteriophage formation in disrupted cell preparations”. Virology 43 (1971): 185-97.
- Mackal, R.P., B. Werninghaus, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Origin of DNA and protein in lambda DNA infected disrupted cell preparations”. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 42 (1971): 89-96.
- Mackal, R.P., B. Werninghaus, and E.A. Evans, Jr. “Infectious DNA preparations from T2 and T4 bacteriophages”. Virology 46 (1971): 192-9.
- Mackal, Roy P., J. Richard Greenwell, and M. Justin Wilkinson. “The Search for Evidence of Mokele-mbembe in the People’s Republic of the Congo”. Cryptozoology 1 (1982): 62-72.
1. Template:Note Though the Loch Ness Monster is generally referred to in the singular, most researchers who support its existence believe that there would have to be a community of similar creatures in the loch in order for the species to survive through the centuries.
2. Template:Note qtd. by Russell B. Adams, et al. Mysterious Creatures (Morristown, New Jersey: Time-Life, 1988) 97.
- Adams, Russell B., et al. Mysterious Creatures. Morristown, New Jersey: Time-Life, 1988. ISBN 0-8094-6332-6
- Clark, Jerome. Unexplained! Farmington Hills, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 1999. ISBN 1-57859-070-1
- Coleman, Loren and Jerome Clark. Cryptozoology A to Z. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999. ISBN 0-684-85602-6