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He’s Back: Lizard Man

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 2nd, 2008

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Wetzel’s “It” by Bill Rebsamen from Mysterious America (page 273).

In 1970, John A. Keel’s book Strange Creatures from Time and Space was first published. I’d been corresponding with Keel for several years by then, and had been feeding him reports, cases, and sightings of reptilian creatures in North America. Keel turned my files into over a third of the foundation for his wonderful Chapter 10, “Creatures from the Black Lagoon.”

Keel creatures

For decades, I’d been gathering and analyzing accounts of these cryptids. I began to write about them in Fortean Times, and then in my books, honoring Keel’s terminology, by calling them “Creatures from the Black Lagoon,” in Chapter 6 of Curious Encounters (1985). I updated the collection in Chapter 5, “Lizardmen,” in my Mothman book, which came out in 2002.

Between 1985 and 2002, despite my keen awareness that reptilian-styled creatures were reported in this country, I was not ready for how significant and sensationalized the whole topic would become with merely one case from South Carolina in 1988.

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The sighting of the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp (also known as The Lizard Man Of Lee County) was a major media event. First with one sighting and then others, it was said to be a humanoid cryptid, perhaps a merbeing, inhabiting areas of swampland in and around Lee County, South Carolina.

The Lizard Man was described at the time as being quite tall, bipedal, and having what appeared to be scaly skin and glowing red eyes. In the popular media rendering, it was said to have three toes on each foot and three fingers on each hand that end in long black claw-like nails.

The first reported sighting of the Scape Ore creature occurred on June 29, 1988, but was soon followed by others, including information that was revealed about an earlier sighting in 1987.

Now, almost exactly twenty years after the initial media flap of the Scape Ore event, is the Lizard Man back?

It appears something is afoot.

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Bishopville, S.C.- After a nasty surprise Thursday morning [Feb. 28, 2008] for one Bishopville resident, she’s wondering if the “Lizard Man” is back.

Dixie Rawson of Bishopville sent WIS News 10 an e-mail about a big surprise she got at her home Thursday morning. “The whole front half of our van is chewed up. There are bite marks right through the front grill. Both sides of the van above the wheel wells were bitten and the metal is bent like a piece of paper.”

It reminded Dixie of the local legend of the “Lizard Man” that stretches back for decades. Now some are wondering if the Lizard Man is back.

The legend blows in with a brisk winter wind, sending chills through neighbors in Lee County.

“I couldn’t believe it, I just couldn’t believe it,” says Bob Rawson. He looks down at the blood and claw marks on his van. “He literally bit, you can feel where he bit straight through here.”

Who is “he”? It’s a point of renewed debate in the area. Some are sure they know the only creature capable of this kind of damage is the Lizard Man.

If it is the Lizard Man, he’s back nearly two decades after first being spotted near Scape Ore swamp.

No one’s ever been able to confirm the account of the seven-foot monster with green skin, three toes and a three clawed fingers.

In addition to the car damage, the Rawsons didn’t find their cats in the boxes where they usually sleep. They did find the towels inside shredded, and the same story with the morning paper. Whatever did this, the Rawsons aren’t taking any chances.

His Glock loaded, Mr. Rawson is ready to shoot what he feels is most likely a bear. Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin says it could be a coyote, but then again, “All the scratch marks, people are saying, ‘Sheriff, it’s Lizard Man.’ Don’t know. It’s hard to say.”

Several of the Rawsons’ 20 plus cats have also disappeared. They’re hoping they were just scared away. “Lizard Man Returns?” by Dan Tordjman

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Loren Coleman – has written 5491 posts on this site.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


36 Responses to “He’s Back: Lizard Man”

  1. plant girl responds:

    WoW! Try explaining that to your insurance company.

  2. Fred Facker responds:

    Very interesting. I’m going to take an educated guess and say that whatever this animal is, it was attempting to eat the cats. One or more of the cats probably took cover under the van and hopped up inside the engine compartment, which resulted in the attacking animal chewing up the van trying to get to them.

    Whatever it is, it must be quite the aggressive hunter to keep chewing up the van after the cats escaped up inside of it. I’m going to venture a guess that it was actually more than one animal hunting because when animals hunt together they feed off each other’s excitement and tend to get more aggressive. I’m going to guess this was more likely to be a several coyotes and less likely to be lizard man.

    Of course, I’m sussing this all from the article. Examining the car and surrounding area for tracks might lead to a different conclusion.

  3. Richard888 responds:

    Were the blood samples turned over to the nearest forsenics lab for DNA testing? This would be the right thing to do, not speculate endlessly.

    Comment on:
    “He looks down at the blood and claw marks on his van.”

  4. eireman responds:

    This story is similiar to an old (possibly yellow journalism) tale from the Tahlequah, OK area. It was recorded in a 1920 edition of the Oklahoman but the events took place back in 1842. It seems that some creature had been harrassing the local populace. It was described by one Arch Campbell as having the “head of an alligator.” Tales by local Osage warriors agreed, adding that it reeked of a “foul odor” and had scales that no bullet could pierce. Unfortunately, details as to its bipedalism are lacking.

  5. cmgrace responds:

    Fred Facker, do you really think a coyote or similar animal has a sufficient enough bite to leave damage like that? I’m not saying they don’t, I am just curious. And why would they, or it, continue to bite. Wouldn’t the owners have heard the commotion (spelling?) even if it was a known animal like a bear or coyote?

  6. Pa Wildman responds:

    Ah, honestly, today’s cars seem to use some very flimsy metal, it wouldn’t take a whole lot to bend or puncture holes in the metal, not saying I’m an expert, I have limited autobody experience. Personally there isn’t enough for me to blame that on the lizard man, maybe an eye witness would at least give it a little weight in my opinion, Richard888 sums up what I’d feel needs to be done in this matter.

  7. cryptidsrus responds:

    I agree most probably a coyote or bear would not have been able to do QUITE the damage that was done to that car. Whew.

    Unless it was a group of them. Or simply mutant bears or coyotes. (Heh-Heh-Heh). I don’t think even a group of them could have done that. And I agree, CMGRACE, there would have been a commotion or something heard by them.

    On a related note, I wonder where Christopher Davis is right now? He was the (then) 17-year old who almost got killed by the “thing” at 2 AM and “started” the whole “flap” back in 1988.

    He got away, but his car got almost torn apart.

    Judging by the way a good portion of eyewitness accounts gets treated these days, I would not be surprised if he’s on the other side of the country right now—with a new, changed name.

    At least, that’s what I would have done.

  8. cryptidsrus responds:

    Pa Wildman:

    If it’s “flimsy metal” then I want my money back!!!

    What’s this country coming to these days???

    (Mock Outrage).

  9. Blue Mako responds:

    @cryptidsrus, I’m not sure a bear couldn’t do that. iirc, they’re able to mangle cars pretty badly when they feel like getting at something inside.

    Although I don’t know why *anything* (hypothetical Lizard Man included) would chew on the hood of a car in the first place…

  10. Alivegarden responds:

    I have no doubt that a grizzly bear could do that kind of damage, but there are no grizzlies in South Carolina, so could a black bear bite through a car? Coyotes can be nasty little fellers, but again, could they bite through a car? I would say yes on both accounts, though it is still a weird incident…

  11. cryptidsrus responds:

    BLUE MAKO:

    Could indeed be a bear, but could a bear chew on a car THAT way??? (Referring to the pictures).

    And like you said, why chew on the car in the first place?

    I’m not saying you might not be right or that it couldn’t happen…I just think a bear or coyte suddenly deciding to use a car a glorified chewtoy is a tad off to me…(although I agree the whole Lizard Man phenomenon is “off” as well).

    I agree DNA testing should be done.

    My favorite Lizard Man story happened about five years ago. A woman in a town adjacent to Bishopville reported she had seen TWO Lizard Men in her backyard at night. The officer investigating told her not to worry, since “they like to check on people from time to time.”
    Don’t you love it? Obviously the said officer never had to be have one almost chew through the roof of his/her car, like what happened to Davis.

    IF the Lizard Man exists, of course.

    If that had happened to me and the officer had told me that, I would have REPRESSED (I’m not stupid) the urge to tell the officer:
    “Yes, you’re right, officer. They were checking on me. Unfortunately, they interrupted my nightly ritual of watching your wife/husband give oral sex to a cow. I must say, he/she has an interesting technique. I wonder where he/she got it from?.”

    Of course, again, I would not say that in real life, but one can always dream what-ifs, can’t one?

    Anyway, I agree more investigation needs to be done.

  12. Sunny responds:

    I need somebody’s help, as I can’t find it in the archives — there was a case about a year to 18 months ago that was purported to be a cryptid, because it chewed up a car much like the photos in this one — they did the DNA testing on the blood and saliva and found it to be….coyotes, I think, but I can’t remember for sure — but I do remember it was a known (and common) species trying to get to a smaller animal that had climbed into the engine compartment.

  13. cryptidsrus responds:

    Alivegarden…

    Agreed.

  14. Grant responds:

    I’d like to think that an actual half-man, half-lizard exists. To paraphrase Ambrose Bierce (who was writing about the centaur), it would combine the physical grace of a man and the higher intelligence of a lizard.

  15. mystery_man responds:

    I always just find myself wondering how biologically plausible a bipedal, humanoid reptile like this is. There’s nothing approaching anything like it in the fossil records and it would be highly unlike anything in the reptile world today as we know it. Also, three toed fingers and eyes that cast their own illumination? There are just a lot of things that to me cast doubt on this being any kind of real animal and I’m loathe to go into supernatural or alien explanations at this point. Could it be a specimen of an extinct, bipedal dinosaur that has managed to sustain a breeding population and survive into the present day? Maybe refracted light from, say headlights, caused the glow? I suppose, but I am skeptical.

    I would say finding a lizard man like the one in the drawing would be far more shocking and unexpected to the zoological world than even finding a sasquatch would be. At least with sasquatch, we have existing and prehistoric creatures that somewhat correlate, meaning apes (not as big a jump as the closest reptile to the lizard man is), human beings (we are bipedal), or ancestors of humans (bipedal and possibly exhibiting more characteristics consistent with sasquatch). All of these display at least some sort of similar morphological features. The lizard man on the other hand is just way out there as far as anything we know of in the natural world with the exception of certain bipedal dinosaurs. Interestingly, I once read a great book about what dinosaurs would have looked like today if they hadn’t gone extinct. It was put together by actual biologists, based on plausible extrapolations, and one of the creatures was what would have been an intelligent, humanoid looking dinosaur very much like I imagine this lizard man would look. Could there be an explanation in that?

    So I’m curious to know, if it is real, what could it possibly be? A surviving relic? An evolved form of bipedal dinosaur? Something completely new and unrepresented anywhere in the fossil records? What do you all think?

  16. hudgeliberal responds:

    I am far from an expert, but that just doesn’t look like a bear or coyote marks and bites. I would say bear more than coyote. Did you notice the size of some of those holes? Whew. I like the theory that whatever it was probably chased the cats, which fled under the car and up into the engine. Many cats sleep up on engine blocks to stay warm. I lost one of my pets this way one morning as a child my father was taking me to school and when he started the van we heard several thumps. One cat was split in half but the other siamese lived but had to have several operations and over 120 stitches from getting caught in the fan. That story makes sense, probably chasing the felines. Strange for sure!

  17. Fred Facker responds:

    FYI, the bumper, grill and fenders of that Dodge Caravan are mostly plastic. And yes, I think an excited, hungry coyote could do that. I’ve seen a cow chew up a metal truck fender just because it was bored. I’ve also seen my labrador decide to attempt to chew his way back into the house after being put outside. He ate through the siding, and it cost several hundred dollars to replace it.

  18. Endroren responds:

    I remember the 1988 incident vividly. The very best part was the news footage. A bunch of locals, a mix of police and civilians, are standing around in the middle of an isolated dirt road, showing off a footprint in the dirt. Apparently the thing had scared some local kids and the head of mob…er….I mean “party of concenred citizens” was interviewed…it went something like this..

    Reporter: So what are your plans now.

    Mob Leader Cocks Shotgun: Well, we’re gonna find it, and we’re gonna kill it. You don’t go scarin’ our kids and then keep runnin’ around.

    Behind him, the rest of the “straight out of central casting” posse of mesh ball-cap wearing, plaid shirt guys and the silver shade wearing cops are nodding vigerously while brandishing their own weapons.

  19. rmanges responds:

    the front of this van is made of fiberglass & plastic look more like off road damage or a dog on a chain

  20. Leibolmai responds:

    http://culturegarage.com/2008/01/20/pitbulls-are-not-a-fan-of-honda-s200s/

    Its not the Sunny posted about, I’m sure I saw that as well. I thought DNA came back pitbull so googled that, and came across this damage to a Honda. Seems to be similar.

    I’ll keep looking for that other case.

    Cheers

  21. Alligator responds:

    “Tales by local Osage warriors agreed, adding that it reeked of a “foul odor” and had scales that no bullet could pierce. ”

    Where did you see that bit of information eireman? I know the Osages well and elders have told me about a lot strange stuff and creatures from their lore and history, but never anything like this lizard man or even bigfoot. Actually, giant leeches, little people, ghosts and underwater panthers figure a great deal more into their cultural lexicon.

  22. Valen responds:

    To mystery_man: I agree, there is no evidence that any such creature ever existed on Earth in the past. That said, maybe it’s not from Earth? Not that I am convinced one way or the other this thing is real and one chewed up minivan does not make a lizard man!

  23. rmanges responds:

    dodge fiberglass junk & plastic it a dog on a chain

  24. eireman responds:

    Alligator: “It was recorded in a 1920 edition of the Oklahoman (the state newspaper) but the events took place back in 1842.” It took place near Tahlequah, OK and was local legend until the story was written down in the paper many years later. I don’t believe it was an Osage “legend”. The way the story reads, the Osage knew about the creature, in the sense that they had encountered it as well. It was never intimated that they had a long oral tradition of this creature as they do with little people, etc.. While I don’t know about the Osage names for Bigfoot in Oklahoma, the transplanted Seminoles call it Ssti Capcaki and the Choctaw call it Hattak Lusa Chito.

  25. eireman responds:

    The newspaper account is told from a non-native perspective and native knowledge of the creature could have been added after-the-fact (if any such event even took place) by the locals who built upon the story, fleshing it out with an “Indian legend”. American folk tales and legends are replete with such attributions, usually concerning a local tribe’s knowledge of buried Spanish treasure or ghostly apparitions. So, since the story was told to the newspaper, many years later by by a likely non-native source, I would take it with a grain of salt that the Osage in the area ever even heard of it. And who know, as I said in my first post, it could be an entirely fictional, tabloid story written to generate sales. That happened a lot in the early part of the last century.

  26. steele79 responds:

    seems silly that a 7 foot tall reptilian man would be chasing cats and attacking car grills. If this is real and i doubt it going after cats would seem like a waste of time energy wise when he could have easily attacked the elderly couple and had them for a snack. I mean when was the last time you ever heard of a grizzly bear chasing rabbits to eat just seems like this was prob a bunch of kids havening fun with the lizard man story

  27. plasticjeezus responds:

    Though fun to read, it’s these stories that make the researchers of the “abnormal” sciences look like fruitcakes by association.

    It was a dog or a coyote. The scratch patterns are exactly what you find when they have an animal trapped. Nip, grab, shake, dig, repeat.

    A bear is easily ruled out for the lack of the damage not being spread out. Bears are “testers”. Sniff, claw, pry (with paws), repeat until a weak spot is found. It it were a bear there woudln’t be a grill on that car with that many “grab points” available. There are numerous pics of post-bear raids on cars, many of which show car doors being grabbed by the top and peeled down like a sardine can. Hoods have been peeled up in the same manner when food has been left on dashboards.

    As for Lizard Man…what a hilarious visual…a 7 foot bipedal cyptid chases a cat to a car, looks around for some way to get at it, shrugs to itself, and drops down on its hands and knees and starts nipping at a hood with its front teeth. Talk about evolution coming to a screeching halt.

    (Hunting partners standing by fence chewing on a tabby watching this:)

    “Ya know Zanu, I think we should leave Blech back at the swamp next time…”

    “Probably right, but I promised his mom I would bring him along…”

    There are a heck of alot of unexplained phenomenon out there, but I doubt this is one of them.

    (The couple probably found the damage on the way to pick up their Lizard Man t-chirts from the screen printers down the street ;) …….)

  28. Gadfly22 responds:

    Not buying it. A tall, bipedal creature would need to get on its hands and knees, cock its head at an unnatural (for a biped) angle to get a purchase on the car parts shown and then nibble.

    Even if you assume that it wanted something in the hood area of the car, a biped with use of its arms would be likely to do some pounding and denting and smashing. Not nibbling.

  29. clemtar responds:

    All I want to know is where do I get one of those lizard man tshirts? I have checked for links, but didn’t find anything.

  30. mezmer1 responds:

    Guys I am here in Columbia SC not far from bishopville. I have seen the damage on the vehicle and all I have to say is that with all the bite marks and scratches anything like a coyote or bear would have left a claw or tooth behind. Those animals aren’t just gonna gnaw away at a hunk of metal like that. And if they did I would be pretty certain that it would have left a tooth or something behind. Unless it was our fearless heroe canine UNDERDOG !!!! That damage is a little much for any regular animal to have done. One or two bite and scratch marks , yes, but the whole front grill come on that is just pure CATTLE BRAINED thinking. Think about it the world is something like 70% water. Do you for 1 second believe that we have found every species of every living thing that inhabits the parts of the world that are water. Heck, we can’t even reach a quarter of the way down the Marrianas Trench.Who knows what is out there. I have a good test. Why don’t all of you who are so adimant that this creature doesn’t exist come onn out to bishopville and we’ll use you guys as bait. Hey, you’ve got nothing to worry about, RIGHT !!!!!!!

  31. emmiejo responds:

    I grew up about 15 minutes from the Lizard Man phenomenon. It was great! I can remember the whole family getting in the car and our dad drove us over to see the Lizard Man. My little sister and I were terrified. Of course we were approximately 5 and 7 years old at the time.

    Anyway, agreeing with an earlier post, I wanted to find the t-shirts again. I started looking for them about a year ago and have been unsuccessful so far. Anyone seen them around?

  32. emmiejo responds:

    Dang it! My comment didn’t post and I can’t remember what I wrote. Anyway, I grew up 15 minutes from Bishopville, SC (where the Lizard Man was spotted) and it was great! I can remember my mom and dad taking my little sister and me over to the swamp where he was seen. Of course we were terrified, but we were 5 and 7 years old. Good times, Good times. I am actually trying to find a Lizard Man t-shirt. Has anyone seen them anywhere?

  33. plasticjeezus responds:

    To mezmer1: If you want to pay for my travel expenses I’ll be there in a heartbeat; I’ve never been to South Carolina before, but I have been many places in this country with their own “unique” local characters, and have a few “close calls”. If the Skinwalker Ranch observations were still up and running I’d plop my butt down in the middle of that if given the chance.

    I am NOT joking. Name the date. I’ll be willing to camp, hike, bait, and document for one month. I have my own back country equiptment. I am not one of those,”Oh well, we gave it a good 2 days, but we didn’t find Bigfoot! Now give me my $3000.” I’d do it for a fraction of that. Just get me there and transportation to the hot spots, and we’ll be having a beer discussing where to start before you know it.

    The only stipulation is there will be NO harm brought to the “creature”. It will documented and evidence will (hopefully) be gathered for testing and that’s THAT.

    So, you’ve been called out on it by a VERY serious person. What’s it going to be?

  34. TPL responds:

    That damage is not above what a Black Bear is capable of. They have been known to rip entire doors off cars just to get to an ice cooler. Take a 250-500 lb. animal, give it the tenacity and cleverness of a Black Bear, and you have a recipe for something like this. Here, check out an example of what a Black bear once did:

    http://outhiking.com/bears_car1a.jpg

    It took the entire back seat out of the car, and ripped part of the door-frame out.

    Also, it should be noted that there have been recent animal on pet attacks in SE, North Carolina. I looked over the evidence, including the damage done to an APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier), and the pawprints, and I have determined it was in fact a Mountain Lion. It makes complete sense seeing as Virginia to the North has confirmed Mountain Lions in the Blue Ridge, and Florida to the south has confirmed Panthers. Given the Marshy environment of Southeast North Carolina, and even South Carolina, it is not too difficult to imagine a Panther/Mountain Lion existing in such an environment.

  35. bigbird responds:

    Looks like there is more info related to this recent event. Turns out a dead coyote and a dead cow were found just yards from the minivan and the damage to the minivan included “dented in” quater-panels and ripped-out wheel wells. (check out wistv.com). Also I remember from older reports that the “Lizard Man” has attacked motor vehicles before. I guess he or she has a problem with automobiles.

  36. Kittie Danger responds:

    I believe that you can get a Lizard Man T-shirt and bumper stickers , etc. from the Lee County Chamber of Commerce. I think you just have to call them up, I found them under The Company Store, w/tag words Lizard Man, etc.



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