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"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."

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Friday, November 19, 2004

Lizardman - Dinosaurs Among Us

Lizardman, by Cliff Hursey, (c)2004cryp-to-zo-ol-o-gy
Function: noun
1 : the study of the lore concerning legendary animals (as Sasquatch) especially in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence
2 : not a common occupation in Bishopville, SC

The story that follows is true. Names and places that I mention are real. These events actually happened.

On the 24th of October, 1878, the Louisville, Kentucky COURIER HERALD published a story stating that a "wild man of the woods" had been captured in Tennessee and had been placed on display in Louisville. He was described as being six feet, five inches tall and as having eyes twice the normal size.

His body, reportedly, was covered in scales.

It was cold, crisp, and clear. The kind of night you only get when the weather is still chilly and the leaves are long gone from the trees. The kind of night when ice still glitters in the moonlight on every tree branch, and if you stand still you can listen to them tinkle like millions of tiny bells. The kind of night when all your senses are as sharp as a scapel, and you can see forever.

It was 1972, just outside of Loveland, Ohio. The time was 1:00 am. Officer Williams was traveling towards Loveland on the Loveland Road when he thought he saw a dog illuminated by his headlights beside the highway. As he approached, it stood upright, looked at him in the glare of the patrol car's headlights, and lept over the guardrail. He watched the creature scrabble down an embankment into the Little Miami River. Officer Williams had no idea what it was, but it wasn't a dog.

The creature, Williams said, was about forty to sixty pounds and had smooth "leathery" skin. It was about three to four feet tall.

And it had a face "like a lizard."

Williams went immediately to the police station and joined up with officer Johnson. The two of them returned to the scene to see if there were any evidence. They found scrape marks on the embankment where the creature had scrabbled down towards the river.

Two weeks later, officer Johnson was traveling just outside of Loveland when he came to an animal lying in the middle of the road. Thinking that it was the carcass of some unlucky roadkill, he stopped to clear the road. However, when he opened his squeeky car door, it sprung into a crouched position "like a football linebacker."

It was the same creature, or one just like it.

It began hobbling and limping sideways (injured?) towards the guardrail, never taking its eyes from Johnson. As the creature lifted one leg over the rail, Johnson decided to shoot it. "I must not have hit it, since it didn't slow down," he said. It vanished into the night.

At least one other farmer in the area reported seeing a "large lizard like creature" during the same month as the officers' sightings.

(Source: "Genesis and History of the Cosmic Conflict", which is mostly junk, but did have some good detail on the Ohio sightings.)

In 1973, during the summer, residents of the Newton-Lafayette area of New Jersey begin sightings of a "giant, man like alligator." This becomes known as the "New Jersey Lizard Man." Newspaper reporters relate an old indian tale about a giant "man sized fish" that can never be caught. Other tales begin to surface in Ontario, New York and California.

Some researchers begin to collaborate their knowledge, and it slowly becomes evident that the concept of a lizard or reptilian hominid is not only widespread, but almost universal. Wikipedia reports that legends exist in almost every major people group.

For example, the Greeks said that Cecrops, the first king of Athens, was half man, half snake. Heroditus describes reptilian "flying lizards" that were similar to pterodons.

Indian legends include references to the Naga, a race of reptilian men who were said to have lived on an island in the Pacific that sank beneath the waves. They also refer to another reptilian race called the "Sarpa" who may have been the source of the Hindu caste system and demanded human sacrifice.

In China, the first emperor, Huang Ti, was said to be "part dragon."

In the Middle East, legends of "serpent men" were common. In Byzantium, there are references to the Emperor Justinian and his wife as being "Dracul," or dragons. In Africa, shamans relate tales of a reptilian race called the Chatahuri. In Australia, the Aborigines speak of a reptilian race that lived on an island that sank beneath the Pacific ocean, and claim that they are descended from this race.

Most interesting though, is the fact that legends persist in the Americas, from the Mayan legend that a reptilian race helped them build the pyramids, to the legend of a reptilian huminoid in the folklore of the Cherokee Indians of South Carolina, where this story takes a startling turn.

Browntown, South Carolina and its small population of less than 200 would have been known only for being a "suburb" of Bishopville, had it not been for the events that transpired in the Summer of 1988. In a short few days the small swampside enclave became the focus of media worldwide, and the scene of a set of events that embraced the ridiculous and bordered on hysteria. Not to mention providing lots of work for local T-shirt and coffee mug vendors.

Reports of strange things started years before. Poor blacks in the area used to tell of a "wild man" that frequented the ridge running parrallel to Hwy 441 near Browntown, in the Scape Ore Swamp. A creature had even been seen crossing I-95, which was under construction, around 1974, and it was suspected to have killed some goats at a nearby farm.

In 1983, Doug Kelly, an experienced outdoorsman and hunter, had an encounter with a creature he described as "too tall for a man and too erect for a bear." It frightened him so badly that he wouldn't even speak of it to his own family for weeks.

In 1988, things kicked into high gear.

The first indication of what was to follow came when two men reported to Lee County Deputy Chester Lighty, who patrolled the Browntown community, that they had been drawing water from a spring and a "creature" had chased them out of the swamp.

A few days later, more strangeness occurred. Tom and Mary Waye, residents of the area, claimed that their car had been damaged. UPI reports that they "...found the chrome battered, molding ripped off, wires pulled out of the engine and the hood ornament broken."

"I hope nothing don't come back," Mary Waye said. But, apparently, it did.

He was sweaty, dirty, tired and above all, disgusted.

It was 2 am on June 29th, 1988. Christopher Davis had just finished his late night shift at McDonald's and was heading home for a shower and a good night's sleep, when all of a sudden BANG his tire blew out.

He pulled over his brown, 1976 Toyota Celica. This was the middle of nowhere. Then again, most places here were the middle of nowhere. This was the Scape Ore Swamp, and there were places in there that no man had ever been, it was that wild. Sure, some of it was farmed, like that bean field over there, but most of it was deserted.

"Of all places to have a flat," Chris said as he opened his trunk and unscrewed the car jack. There was no choice, the tire had to be changed. Even though he was exhausted. "Out here, won't nobody else come by, and ain't a house for miles," he thought. Well, at least the moon was out.

The temperature had to be 95 or 100 degrees, and the swamp seemed to fill the air with moisture. The mosquitos buzzed around his ears while he worked sounding like little dive bombers. The sweat dripped from his nose and hair as he tightened the lug nuts on the spare, grabbed the flat, collapsed the jack, and put the jack and the flat tire in his trunk. He slammed the trunk lid.

A loud THUMP erupted from the bean field.

Chris described what happened next:

“I looked back and saw something running across the field towards me. It was about 25 yards away and I saw red eyes glowing. I ran into the car and as I locked it, the thing grabbed the door handle. I could see him from the neck down – the three big fingers, long black nails and green rough skin. It was strong and angry. I looked in my mirror and saw a blur of green running. I could see his toes and then he jumped on the roof of my car. I thought I heard a grunt and then I could see his fingers through the front windshield, where they curled around on the roof. I sped up and swerved to shake the creature off.”

After sending the creature flying from the roof of his car, Chris headed home, almost hysterical. When he entered the house, still in a panic and saying that he had been attacked, his parents try to calm him down. His father goes out to examine the car.

The mirror on the car door was twisted and hanging off. The roof had deep scratches and grooves into it.

Within a couple of days, word spread through the small community and neighbors already familiar with the Waye's experience called the sheriff.

Sheriff Liston Truesdale declared "It's the beatin'est thing I've ever seen."

Deputies sent to investigate found tracks that appeared to have been consistent with a three toed, seven foot creature. These were the first of many that would be found in the area.

In a matter of days, it seemed that everyone knew about the "Lizard Man of Lee County." Groups of hunters and posses showed up to head into the swamp and bag him. In the meantime, more and more sightings were called into the Sheriff's office.

According to press reports at the time:

Investigating the area around the swamp, state trooper Mike Hodge and Lee County deputy sheriff Wayne Atkinson found three crumbled, forty-gallon cardboard drums. The tops of saplings were ripped off eight feet above the ground. And there were, according to Hodge, 'humongous footprints,' fourteen-by- seven-inch impressions in hard red clay. Following the tracks for four hundred yards, the officers backtracked and found new prints impressed in their car's tire tracks.

About this time the Sheriff's department had to set up a special hot line for Lizard Man Sightings since literally hundreds are being called in. A reporter from the UK calls Sheriff Truesdale and asks if Browntown has an international airport.

Also, about this time, Chris Davis surfaces again, selling autographed Lizard Man T-Shirts for $10 and posing for pictures and interviews in front of his Toyota Celica, eagerly pointing out the scratch marks. With him is Joye Reis, from nearby Sumter, who is acting as his agent, taking 10% of everything he makes. She says that its only right he should benefit from all the media attention. "I'm not in it for my health," Davis says.

WIS TV in Columbia, SC, about 45 miles away, offers a million dollar reward for the Lizard Man. Things really begin to heat up.

"Brownsville Rd.," Sheriff Truesdale says, "looks like the traffic for a Carolina Clemson game on a Saturday night. There's cars lined up all down both sides." He's afraid that with all of the thousands of people stomping through the swamp, some of them are bound to shoot each other.

Sightings begin to be called in even from Bishopville, but the most frequent sighting seems to be the Lizard Man bric-a-brac: Lizard Man coffee mugs, Lizard Man Dolls, Lizard Man ink pens, inflatable toy dinosaurs and "wanted" posters with a drawing of the Lizard Man on it.

In early August, Chris Davis took a polygraph test. The test showed that he believed that he saw a red eyed seven foot monster that chased him. Questions he answered correctly included "Was the creature that attacked your car green and black? Were you drinking or smoking drugs? Were you really driving 35 mph when a creature jumped on your car? Did it occur immediately following your changing a flat tire?"

In late August, the story was dying down with the last of the dog days. The Sun tabloid in Britain ran the banner headline "9 Year-Old Girl Says Lizard Man Made Me Pregnant."

In July 1990, there was one last terrifying encounter with the Lizard Man. Bertha Blythers and her five children were traveling through the Scape Ore Swamp area. Her 17 year old son Johnny was saying "There ain't no Lizard Man because if there was, somebody would have seen him or caught him by now."

Just then, it leaped out of the bushes, ambushing the car. "It came out of the bushes and jumped out in the road. My mother swerved to miss it and mashed the brakes... it acted like it wanted to get in the car," Johnny's statement read.

Mrs. Blythers said "I know I saw it and it wasn't a deer or a bear. It definitely wasn't a person, either."

Sightings have tapered off to almost nothing since the early 90's. Many of the people who reported sightings have passed polygraph tests. All of the sightings remain unexplained.

Some paranormal groups think the Lizard Men are aliens.

Some fringe religious groups claim they are demons or an ancient race that is ruling the Earth through a conspiracy.

Some say that they are really a "Skunk Ape", or Big Foot, just wet, and the slicked down fur looked like scales.

And some, like Billy Moore, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, say he had no doubt that there was something on the road with Davis that night.

"I believe he saw something. What it was I have no earthly idea. But it wasn't no Lizard Man," he said.

Authenticity matters little, though--our willingness to accept legends depends far more upon their expression of concepts we want to believe than upon their plausibility.
--David P. Mikkelson, snopes.com, February 25, 2000

Permalink: 11/19/2004 11:19:00 PM |
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