Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
Giant Ethiopian lizard
Giant Ethiopian lizard Coudray

Reconstruction of the Giant Ethiopian lizard by Philippe Coudray in Guide des Animaux Cachés (2009).

Category Giant lizard
Proposed scientific names
Other names
Country reported Ethiopia, Sudan
First reported 1952
Prominent investigators Bernard Heuvelmans

The giant Ethiopian lizard was a cryptid lizard reported once from the Ethiopian-Sudanese border region, by an unidentified big game hunter and taxidermist, who told his story to Adrian Conan Doyle around 1946, when both men were on a cruise off East Africa. Doyle published the story in his book Heaven Has Claws (1952).[1][2]

The hunter had been trekking through a particularly hot and barren region of the desert when he came across a lush, wooded, rush-filled swamp between two hills. Investigating, he came across a clearing in the woods, where he saw "a thing like a huge lizard" near some termite mounds. He told Doyle that it was 10–12 ft (3–3.6 m) in length, with lumpy dirty grey skin, a "saurian-type head," a "high crest of wattles" along the backbone and tail, and large claws. Knowing that the animal must be extremely rare, the hunter did not shoot it, and after a few moments it disappeared into the swamp. Its tracks revealed that it had three toes, and their blurred quality suggested it had been dragging its feet somewhat. The hunter's guide told him its native name, which is not recorded by Doyle.[3][1]

Doyle, an avid reader of Bernard Heuvelmans' works who had corresponded with him on his father's sea serpent sighting, confirmed the truth of the story to Heuvelmans, but died before he could give more information, including the hunter's name, in person.[1]

Despite the eyewitness' anonymity, resulting from an early mockery of his claim, Heuvelmans found the story reliable because of the prosaic, undramatic description of the lizard's appearance and behaviour. The largest known lizard in the region is the Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus), but no known monitor lizard has a dorsal crest, and few lizards of any kind have only three toes, a characteristic more associated with the dinosaurs. Heuvelmans observed that the lizard was most reminiscent of an iguana or a sailfin (Hydrosaurus sp.), which are found in the Americas and the East Indies, respectively.[1] Dale A. Drinnon suggests that it may have inspired the story of St. George and the Dragon,[4] which originated in North Africa.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Heuvelmans, Bernard (1978) Les Derniers Dragons d'Afrique, Plon, ISBN 978-2259003872
  2. Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc., ISBN 1576072835
  3. Doyle, Adrian Conan (1952) Heaven Has Claws
  4. Drinnon, Dale A. "Revised Checklist of Cryptozoological Creatures," CFZ Yearbook (2010)