By Brent Swacer
Within the realm of cryptozoology and encounters with strange creatures some accounts are certainly weirder than others. There are those reports that describe something that lies not only firmly within the bizarre, but also seems to lie totally outside of biological possibility, outside of nature, propelling these cases way out into the extreme reaches of the fringe. Certainly among these are the various reports of humanoid creatures that can only be described as some sort of bipedal lizard. These accounts are incredibly bizarre, often unsettling, and which serve to defy any easy classification or reason.
By far one of the more well-known of the mysterious Lizard Men is that of a massive bipedal, reptilian creature supposedly native to the U.S. state of South Carolina, where it is variously called the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, the Lizard Man of Lee County, and the Monster of Bishopville. The first sighting of the creature was made in the fall of 1987, when a George Holliman Jr. was riding his bicycle in the vicinity of the Scape Ore Swamp when he stopped near a stream to take a rest and have a cigarette. As he sat there he would claim that what he at first had thought to be a log had suddenly stood up to reveal itself to be a huge reptilian humanoid standing an impressive estimated 7 to 8 feet in height and with red glowing eyes. The monster stood there merely staring at him until a passing car sent it stalking off into the swamp.
This would not be the last sighting of the swamp’s Lizard Man, and a far more widely publicized report would further push it into the public consciousness. In the early morning hours of June 29th, 1988, a young man named Christopher Davis was driving along a dark and remote road through the woods of the Scape Ore Swamp in the area near Bishopville, South Carolina, when he got a flat tire and got out to fix it. As soon as the spare was put on, Davis would be met with a terrifying sight, as a very large and apparently very aggressive reptilian mystery monster dashed from the gloomy wilderness to give him an experience he would never forget. Davis would say of what happened thus:
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; it had 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 the menacing creature was gone, Davis sped home as fast as he could, and would notice that not only was his rear view mirror totally destroyed, but that there were various deep gashes along the roof of the vehicle and some of the chrome on the fenders had been torn away. He told the whole dramatic story to his father, who then called the Sheriff, a Liston Truesdale, who was more than a bit skeptical. Although the damage to the vehicle was just as Davis had said, Truesdale suspected that it had been the work of pranksters, and that the boy had then made up the whole story of the swamp lizard man. He was so suspicious of the outlandish story that he had Davis take a lie detector test, which he surprisingly passed.
Interestingly, it would turn out that just a few weeks after Davis’ encounter there would be another report of a similarly damaged vehicle, although in this case the perpetrator was not directly witnessed. On July 14, 1988, a couple in Bishopville by the name of Tom and Mary Wayne reported that their car had been rather viciously vandalized, with the sides of the doors gashed and dented, a hood ornament twisted and totaled, and pieces of the engine apparently torn out, with frazzled wires protruding from the gaping wounds. Even stranger was that parts of the car even seemed as if they had been gnawed or chewed on, as if by a very large and angry wild animal. All around the car were found massive, three-toed tracks, which the authorities would make plaster casts of and state did not appear to be from any known wildlife of the area.
After this, reports of the mysterious Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp would begin to come in at a regular pace, with a full 12 sightings made during the summer of 1988, as well as numerous reports of something shrieking or howling in the night, and cases of vehicles maimed or damaged by something extremely powerful, all within a 5 km radius of Scape Ore Swamp in the direct vicinity of Bishopville. One of these sightings was made by teenagers Rodney Nolfe and Shane Stokes, who saw it lumber across a road as they were out on a double date, and another was from construction worker George Holloman, who claimed that the Lizard Man had attacked him as he drew water from a well. At one point, a deputy and state trooper who were investigating one of these reports allegedly found 40 gallon drums smashed and tossed about as if they were toys, as well as uprooted saplings and trees with thick swaths broken off seemingly by hand. The two authorities would find three-toed footprints measuring 14 by 7 inches meandering all about the scene.
One of the more well-known of the reports from that summer came from a witness from the Shaw Air Force Base named Kenneth Orr. On August 5, 1988, Orr claimed that he had encountered the Lizard Man out on Highway 15, and had actually managed to shoot it. In this case there was even physical evidence brought forward in the form of alleged blood and scales from the wounded beast. When authorities sought to charge him for carrying a pistol without a permit, he retracted his statement. It is unknown just what happened to the supposed physical evidence. This was one of the accounts that encouraged the radio station WCOS to offer a reward of 1 million dollars to anyone who could bring in the beast alive or dead, which brought in all manner of monster hunters traipsing about the area with loaded weapons.
Although the sightings dropped off somewhat after the summer of 1988, they did not stop altogether, and there have been sporadic sightings of the creature ever since. In the 1990s there was the report by a Robert Cooper, of the Army Corps of Engineers, who claimed to have seen a creature that looked half-man, half-dinosaur running alongside the road. In 2004 a girl claimed that a huge lizard-like humanoid had leapt from the river to try and grab her. The following year in 2005 there was the account of a woman in Newberry, South Carolina, who reportedly saw two of the creatures with glowing red eyes outside of her rural home. Most recently of all is a 2008 report, in which a Bishopville couple, Bob and Dixie Rawson, claimed that their minivan had been mauled by some sort of animal, leaving huge gashes and heavy damage to the sides and grill, and that there had been found a dead cow and coyote in a nearby field.
What was the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, and if it ever was real is it still out there? No one knows. While a swamp might be the perfect place one might imagine a Lizard Man to appear, there have been other reports in vicinities that don’t exactly seem to be quite as inviting for such a creature. One such account originates from none other than the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, in the United States, where in February of 2014 three mountain bike cyclists were making their way along the challenging 17- mile Old Pueblo Race Course, just east of Tucson. The course is apparently a grueling one, with a dry, withered moonscape of land to traverse and packing water and food a necessity if one wants to make it through alive. At around the halfway point, they came across something perhaps none of them had ever expected to see out in these sun blasted badlands, and one of the witnesses would say of the encounter thus:
We had been riding for about… I don’t know maybe nine hours, taking breaks every now and then. Then Michael says he needs to stop for a minute. We are waiting for him to finish when all of a sudden we see this lone figure walking across the trail. He is maybe about 6-foot tall, very very skinny, and it had an awkward gait, like a monkey …or a man with a disease, almost robotic. Then all I remember about Michael is him saying what the hell is that? Or something like that. But he sounded far away. He probably used a different word instead of hell. Thing is, we had somehow walked a little towards the thing. Don’t ask me why…maybe to look at it better, not knowing what it was. He (the creature) stopped and it made eye contact with me and I could see him clearly. The eyes were kind of like a snake’s, but black and with a yellow stripe in the middle of the eye. It had green and red scales on the face and head. The red color was kind of like the same as the desert sand there, and it looked like it had a sandy texture too. It didn’t have a nose, only two holes on it. I couldn’t see any ears or hair. A red mouth that looked like it had blood around it, but it didn’t look like it was bleeding, it looked like a pattern. It reminded me of a chameleon, but it looked like a person too.
The odd creature then stood up to its full height and apparently raised its long arms to gesture at them, all the while making an unearthly chattering sound, before scampering off like “a lizard trying to hide.” The unsettled men excitedly talked about what to do, and they decided to just keep going and finish the course. However, the strange encounter did not leave them, and none of them could forget it. One of the witnesses would later say:
When you read these stories online or watch them on TV, well, you think man these people are crazy, on meds or something or in need of attention, but this has made me a believer. There has to be more of them out there. If there’s one, there’s gotta be two at least right? I know most people won’t believe a word I said, that’s the way I used to be. I don’t blame them at all. But they are out there. Now I’m not saying this is an alien or a chupacabra or anything like it, all I’m saying is I have never seen anything like it in my life. But I am no biologist so what do I know.
There have been even earlier reports of such creatures in the deserts of Nevada, such as one given by a Cherry Hinkle, of Henderson, Nevada, in 1977. She claims that her 13-year-old son had gone out to explore in the area of Black Mountain, which is littered with all manner of abandoned mines and caves. They would then hike out across the desert landscape and climb the foothills of the mountain until they found a cave they felt like peeking into. The narrow entrance forced them to crawl in on their stomachs, using their pocket flashlights to chase back the oppressive darkness within, and they eventually came to a circular room about 9 feet across. There they found a pit in the ground, into which led some branches haphazardly formed into a crude ladder. As they explored the room, they heard what sounded like voices and the far-off humming of some sort of machinery.
Looking around further, they apparently came across a rusty metal door deeper in an adjacent tunnel, with a rod of some sort lying nearby, which seemed to be made of some kind of aluminum-like material and with engravings on the side. As they examined the rod and the strange doorway, they purportedly heard some guttural voices approaching and decided to hurry to the entrance from which they had come, taking the bizarre rod with them. As they approached the entrance, they then heard what sounded like the door they had seen creaking open, after which there was a ominous growl of some sort as a greenish humanoid creature began to emerge from the cave. The boys then turned and ran as fast as they could from this place, later telling Cherry about the strange incident and showing her the rod they had found. She would say of this rod thus:
I looked at the bizarre symbols engraved in a three-inch section of the rod. It was just symbols, from spirals, circles of different sizes, a few triangles, and a few unknown symbols. There were no levers or buttons, and the cap at the end didn’t seem to move. The rod, with its professionally created symbols and smooth to the touch, I knew it was not a toy, but nothing I recognized.
It seems like it was a nice rod, and the Lizard Man apparently wanted it back. That evening as the boys slept, something very strange indeed happened. Cherry would say of the sequence of surreal events:
It must have been around two in the morning when Marc shook me whispering harshly that someone was trying to get into his bedroom window. I hoped it was just a nightmare, or his nerves were still on edge. Quietly we slipped into his bedroom and listened to the sounds of scraping at the window edge! He was not mistaken—in the light of the moon I could make out the silhouette head and shoulders of a man.
I was alone with my four kids, no husband to protect us, so I grabbed my flashlight; suddenly tossed the curtains open to face the man. There was a glare from the flashlight on the window, but past glare that I could clearly see a large head with ridges on the top, other ridges on his cheekbones, and the glow of golden eyes. Marc and I stood still, unmoving, both fear and shock kept us frozen. The Lizard Man didn’t move either his hand still poised in his attempt pry the window open. He hand was large, with webbed rough, gnarly looking fingers, with powerful claws.
After a couple minutes, not seconds, but long agonized minutes with our hearts pounding I knew I had to do something. One hand still holding the flashlight beam on his face and my eyes still locked into those golden eyes, I fumbled around in the dark with my other hand, hoping to find something to use as a weapon, is needed. He glanced at my hand, looked back into my eyes. He turned his head a little, as if he was asking a question, he slightly opened his lipless mouth, displaying four of his pointed teeth, and suddenly he turned and ran off into the desert.
She would later surmise that the bizarre creature had come for its rod, and so she and her husband, Marc, decided that they would return it to the cave, lest it come back again. They hiked all the way out to the area where the boys said they had found it and put the object by the cave entrance. According to the report, they just left it there and headed back, and there is no further mention of what happened after that or if the irate Lizard Man came for them again or not. Were these creatures aliens, inter-dimensional beings, or a product of the imagination? It is hard to say.
Other reports are hard to really categorize as any particular phenomenon, and one that certainly seems to evade any simple explanation is an account from northern California in 2014. The anonymous witness claimed that she was sitting with her dog on the doorstep of her home in Colusa, California, when she apparently saw a man walking up the sidewalk at approximately 3 AM in the morning while smoking a cigarette. The stranger purportedly passed by to give the witness a nod before continuing along his way, walking around the corner and disappearing. A week later, the same man allegedly showed up one evening at the same time again, and this time they would exchange some words. She would say of the weird encounter:
I saw him at 3 a.m, again. He smiled and said very softly and meekly ‘hello’, and bowed his head. I returned the greeting. It is a small rural farming town. No one was out and I could hear his hard sole shoes make a clatter in the still of the night.
The odd stranger would come by yet again exactly a week after this, at the same time early in the morning, and she explained that this time she could see that rather than a man he was some sort of reptilian creature with empty eye sockets and a slit for a mouth. The startled witness explained:
I slept with the double front doors open into my studio-type home for ventilation. At 3 a.m., I heard the man walking by. He had a reptilian face. He was wearing a hooded jacket. We both stared a each other for about 10 seconds. He had a brow ridge. The scales looked like those of a snake and had a bluish color to it. I felt it was the same man, but was seeing a reptile being.
The man then walked away and was reported as wearing the same clattering shoes he had worn on previous occasions. Who was this apparently shape-shifting reptilian humanoid? Was the woman just making this all up? It is a weird case to be sure. There have been other reports from places other than the United States, and one of the stranger of these popped up in 2015, when a photo showed up on the Internet that appears to show some sort of Lizard Man in the Son Doong Cave of Vietnam, which is a vast cave system that I have covered on Mysterious Universe before, and which actually has produced a fair number of reports of mysterious creatures roaming about its murk. The photo was purportedly taken by a visitor who described it as a “devil creature,” which appears to be some sort of reptilian humanoid. Is it real or a hoax?
From Romania we have the account of a retired military general named Emil Strainu, who speaks of an odd account of reptilian humanoids experienced by a close friend of his near the Retezat Mountains in the Carpathians. The friend had apparently been traveling back from a vacation through the area when he pulled over to fill his tank up with gas. There at the gas station he saw a brown Humvee with its engine running, which he though to be odd since it was very early in the morning and no one else had been on the road. As the witness paid for his gas and headed back to his own vehicle, he noticed that the front door of the Hummer was wide open, and that within it sat a “reptilian being” wearing nothing but a pair of military boots.
The frightened witness rushed to his car and looked back to see the creature glaring at him, after which he got into the car and drove off as fast as he could. It must be mentioned that General Strainu has frequently come forward with odd reports of out of place archeological discoveries and other anomalies which he says are being covered up. He is also the Director of the Special Situation and Research Center on UFOs and Psihotronics, Founder of the Association for the Study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomenon, and author of several books on unexplained phenomena, so one wonders just what is going on here.
Of all of the mysterious creatures said to be sighted around the world, lizard-like humanoids just might be among the strangest. It is difficult to figure out just what we are dealing with here. Are these some sort of undiscovered reptilian biped, and if so how did this come to be? Are they aliens or some sort of inter-dimensional beings? Are they merely the product of hallucination, delusion, or tall tales? There is no real evidence to give us a clue for any of these, and so we are left to wonder just what these creatures could be, and if they are real, just what they want or why they are here.
Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He’s written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America. You can follow Brent on Twitter and Facebook.