Roy Mackal was born in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1925, after World War II, were he served in the United States Marine Corps; he attended the University of Chicago where he earned his B.S. in 1949 and his Ph.D. in 1953. The majority of his early research with the university was in the fields of biochemistry and virology, and during the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s he contributed to the university’s influential virus project which studied bacteriophages and the lysogenic cycle. He would later serve as a professor of zoology and spent the rest of his academic career with the University of Chicago as an instructor and professor until he retired in 1990.
In cryptozoological circles Roy Mackal is best known for his serious research of the Loch Ness Monster in the 1960’s. While vacationing in London in 1965 he took a side trip to the Scottish Highlands were he met with several members of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, who at the time were monitoring the loch in observation vans with the hope of spotting the creature or creatures. Mackal immediately took interest in their work and it wasn’t long before he became the scientific director of the Bureau, a position he held until 1975. During his time with the Bureau they conducted sonar probes of the water near Urquhart Bay and installed underwater strobe cameras in hopes of capturing the beast on film.
Mackal also designed a so called Biopsy Harpoon, which was a dart like contraption he attached to a submarine in order to collect a tissue sample. The team never got the chance to use the Biopsy Harpoon, and though they did acquire some interesting sonar evidence, along with a photograph which appeared to show a flipper, they were unable to collect any conclusive evidence that the Loch Ness Monster existed. Roy Mackal himself was convinced that something very large did live beneath the waters of Loch Ness and even reported had his own sighting of the creature in 1970. Although one of Mackal’s books would suggest that a population of large, unknown amphibians were living in the loch, he would later change his opinion and now believes that the Loch Ness Monster may be a group of zeuglodons, a large, serpent like whale thought to have gone extinct several million years ago.
During the 1980’s Mackal became increasingly interested in another legendary creature, Mokele-Mbembe, thought by some to be a living dinosaur in the swamps of the Congo. In 1980 and again in 1981, Roy Mackal, along with ecologist Richard Greenwell and biologist Marcellin Agnagna, undertook two expeditions into the Congo to find and photograph the creature. Though they did not locate the beast the group did collect multiple first hand reports from the Congo natives, who, according to Mackal, consistently described the creature in similar fashion to a long necked sauropod.
Mackal also studied creatures like Bigfoot and Yeti, along with other animals which have yet to be cataloged by mainstream science. Mackal served as the vice president of the International Society of Cryptozoology until the organizations collapse in the early 21st century, largely due to the death of two of its founding members, zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans and Richard Greenwell. Roy Mackal continues to be a well respected member of the cryptozoological community to this day, known for his enthusiastic optimism as well as an analytical and practical intellect that makes his research stand out above the rest.
Quick Info: (where applicable)
Date of Birth:
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
• The Monsters of Loch Ness (1976)
• Searching for Hidden Animals: An Inquiry into Zoological Mysteries (1980)
• A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe (1987)
Schooling and/or Degrees:
• B.S. – University of Chicago
• Ph.D. – University of Chicago
• International Society of Cryptozoology (vice president)
• Lock Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau (scientific director 1965 – 1975)