Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 9th, 2007

Does a Komodo Dragon-type monitor roam the fringes of the Outback of Australia? Is there a surviving population of a huge species of the family Varanidae in Oz? Rex Gilroy thinks so, and he rolls the name off his tongue with ease, Megalania, the man eating giant lizard:

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

20 Responses to “Megalania”

  1. cmgrace responds:

    If there is a chance of a large lizard living anywhere I would bet it is Australia. Isn’t it the most sparsely populated continent besides Antarctica?

  2. Cropper responds:

    The only problem is that Rex is the ONLY Australian cryptozoologist talking about these stories. I’ve been active researching mystery animal reports across Australia since 1975 and I’ve NEVER come across a single independent giant lizard report, either in the media, old newspapers or via my own trips around the country. The eyewitness quoted in the full Animal X story was pretty vague. I have heard of extra-large goanna reports (they can grow to over 2m in length, and sometimes even bigger) but I’m real skeptical about this category of Oz mystery critter being legitimate. Sorry about the bad news! Paul.

  3. Sharmz responds:

    If I’m not mistaken, the Megalania last walked the earth 20,000 years ago. So, I think there’s a very small possibility that they still exist. JMHO

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    It is always good to get the insights of another researcher from the same area, in this case the country of Australia, so I thank Paul Cropper for his comment.

    As to the comment that this species died out “20,000 years ago,” well, in the scheme of things that is “yesterday” in geological times.

    Folks in cryptozoology talk about the survival of Pleistocene animals – e.g. teratorns, Panthera atrox, Gigantopithecus, Neandertals, even in the past, mammoths – routinely as candidates to explain cryptids. An animal that died out 20,000 years ago is seen as a “recent extinction” compared to the coelacanth at 65 million years!

  5. boxerpit responds:

    i keep an open mind to criptids that have yet to be found.
    wow if the megalania is still around i would not want to run into it it looks like it could bit the hood of a car it kinda reminds me of a Dimetrodon with out it’s spinal fan
    remember there are many animals not yet found that 1 day they will be found

  6. Rappy responds:

    Megalania prisca is one of those creatures I am a bit more skeptical of, but wouldn’t mind seeing still around. Giant varanids are one of those things I rarely say no to reading about.

  7. mystery_man responds:

    Wow, this is one I’ve never heard of. The thing I’d have to consider when weighing its possible existence is how adaptable it was. Many may not realize that the Australian outback was once a lush region, which has now been replaced with deserts and grasslands. For nearly half a million years, the continent has gotten drier and drier, and whole habitats have been changed dramatically due to this. A lot of megafuna in Australia were driven to extinction by this steady warming and drying of the continent. Some researchers challenge the idea that the arrival of the aboriginal people had anything to do with these extinctions and instead blame climate change.

    So I wonder what the original ecosystem of the Megalania was and how it would have coped with the cumulative climate change that has occurred in Australia. Was it a lush, forest dwelling animal? Could it have coped with the climate change? Is it possible that it could have adapted and survived where other ancient megafauna of the continent failed? Looking at the place of Megalania within the ecosystem, it’s adaptability, and comparing it to what is found in the outback today is probably going to give a good indication of the odds of it still existing, in my opinion.

  8. Saint Vitus responds:

    How big did Megalania get, exactly? I know the Komodo dragon can reach 10-12 feet in length, so I’m guessing this thing would be substantially bigger than that.

  9. tomdee27 responds:

    Saint Vitus:

    According to Wikipedia:

    Conservative estimates place the length of the largest individuals at a little over 7 meters (23 ft), with a maximum conservative weight of approximately 1940 kg (4,268 lbs [Molnar, 2004]). Average sized specimens would have been a leaner, but still impressive, 320 kg (704 lbs).

    In other words “real friggin big”


  10. Saint Vitus responds:

    Wow, 7 meters! I seriously doubt that they still exist, then. a breedig population of 7 meter lizards would be pretty hard to miss, no matter how remote the location. They would need lots of prey, also(kangaroos maybe?). They dont seem to actually give any evidence that these things still exist.

  11. showme responds:

    In that same segment of Animal X, didn’t a rancher claim to have found a huge lizard footprint on his land?

  12. fmurphy1970 responds:

    Never heard of Megalania before. Wouldn’t want to meet one on a dark night though!
    I’ve always wondered about the criteria used to determine extinction. If it is supposed to have become extinct 20,000 years ago, I assume what is meant is that this is the carbon dating estimate of the latest known fossil/bones. In my thinking that would give a strong indiction the species was extinct, but not a 100% guarantee. And I think that applies to any cryptid we are searching for, expecially those thought to be recently extinct.

  13. cryptidsrus responds:

    I agree the description was pretty vague.

    However, IF one survived i Do agree with cmgrace. Australia would be perfect.

    I also agree that I would not want to be nowhere near this thing.

  14. CryptoGoji responds:

    Well, big or not, I agree with the gentleman in the peice, ” If you ran into on of these in the bush, you wouldn’t come back to tell the tale…” or something to that effect. These things were friggen huge… Twenty to Thirty feet long…. about six and a half to eight feet tall weighting in a something like two or three tons… Wow. The teeth on this thing were almost as big as the palm of your hand… three to five inches long! Its almsot the same length and size as and Allosaurs. And yea, it prolbly could bit the front end of a car in two boxerpit. It would be hard to belive that something like that could walk around in the outback without a sheep rancher finding some tracks or something… I know of several that have ranches the size of Rhode Island or just a bit smaller… were talking hundreds of thousands of acers here. Somebody would have seen some kind of tracks or droppings by now. I say it just doesnt stack up to still being alive. Not too many witness out there, but then you might just die of fear looking at something like that coming out of the underbrush towards ya.

  15. folcrom responds:

    Cant say whether the megalania prisca exists or not, but the australian goanna can grow much large than the oft quoted 2 meters.

    Ask any truck driver who has driven the bush roads south of the Bunyip State park in Victoria. Goannas 8 feet long are sometimes seen sunning themselves on the roads.

    The locals around Tonnimbuk also say that it’s not uncommon to see 12 foot goannas wander out of the park and through farm properties.

    They may not be “prisca”, but they sure are big, as big as the Komodo dragon anyway.

  16. mystery_man responds:

    According to the Geographica World Atlas and Encyclopedia, the population density of Australia is 6.7 people per square mile. Compare that to 79.5 per square mile for The USA and 8.5 per square mile for Canada. Australia is indeed sparsely populated and most of the population is concentrated in metropolitan areas. That leaves a good amount of vast, little explored terrain.

  17. Sordes responds:

    The actual size of Megalania is still a controversy, because the known fossils are only very fragmentary. It seems that many old estimates were much too high, especially the weight calculations were often ridiculous. Today most paleontologists propose a size for the big individuals of about 5,5m. As Megalania was a very stocky animals, and much more bulkier than all living monitors, it had probably a weight more comparable to a crocodile of the same length, what would be roughly 500kg, perhaps more but also perhaps lesser.
    BTW, most weights you can read for the komodo dragon are also highly exagerated.

  18. dandoesasia responds:

    Just to say that I spent a year living in Northern Oz and spent some time in Cape Tribulation. I believe it is the only rain forest not to have suffered during the ice age and as such, species survived that should have been killed off during this period. It is also the only place in the world were coral reefs meet rain forests. Most of it is undiscovered, however whilst I was there, apart from hearing stories about Kangaroos that live in trees, I also heard tales of giant lizards living in the forest.

    I think the guy from Australia who doubted these stories because he had not heard them should take a trip to Cape Trib to see what he can find.

  19. cypto-info responds:

    Megalnanias are a giant(As in giant I mean FORTY FREAKING FEET LONG!!!) It lives in ancient Australias outback. There has been person whos name I can’t remember that actually took a plasture of a giant lizard footprint. People have also seen the megalania. It probly does live in the outback and nobody has discoverd it because Astrailia(Next to Antartica) is the least populated continet on earth. Its full name is megalania prisca which means ancient giant butcher. The Aborigonies might have encountered the megalania and killed the entire species of the largest terrestrial lizard a megalania. I could go on but I’m done.

    (This was written by a 11 year old.)

  20. Deakal responds:

    While doing research into large black cats I was talking to a friend that lives near by about the large goannas and he told me this. After a flood in 2002 he went to check on some fences he thought may have been knocked down. While cleaning rubbish out of the fence his attention was drawn to the largest goanna he had ever seen. He says it would have been a good 12 feet long and about 15 inches wide and was quite dark in colour. He repeated to me a few times that this animal had an attitude problem and he had to leave the fence an move away.

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