Australia is a country I hope to have the opportunity to visit someday for many reasons. One of which is the wide variety of unusual animals found on the continent, including sightings of the megalania prisca, a dragon-like creature thought to be extinct since the Ice Age.
Some of the most immense creatures known to have existed in Australia before the Ice Age were called megafauna. The largest of the meat-eating megafauna were the reptilians, such as the giant goanna, megalania prisca, which often grew to 30 feet in length, and weighed over one thousand pounds, twice the size of its cousin, the Komodo Dragon.
Large lizards were considered to be extinct until 1912, when a pearl fisherman reported seeing “enormous, prehistoric creatures” on the island of Komodo, part of the Lesser Sundas in Indonesia.
Several expeditions were sent to the island, but interest wasn’t aroused until 1926 when W. Douglas Burden, of the American Museum of Natural History, went to investigate the claims.
Measuring ten feet in length, weighing close to two hundred pounds, and capable of killing water buffalos, the giant lizards were called Komodo Dragons.
Known to run as fast as a man (even faster traveling uphill), their claws are large and curved, and their teeth are monstrous. They are known for their intelligence, which appears to be reflected in their eyes.
The dragons are still very much a part of Komodo Island today, and have been discovered on other nearby islands. Although relatively rare, they have been known to attack and eat humans. The only item remaining of a tourist from Switzerland was his camera.
Komodo dragons have a very keen sense of smell, especially for rotting meat, which they will happily consume for their supper. If necessary, they will attack their victims by hiding, and waiting until the prey is alone and vulnerable. Then the dragon will rush out and take a huge bite. The victim usually becomes unconscious from loss of blood, or from the toxic bacteria in the dragon’s saliva. Their prey can include most animals they encounter, and have been known to cannibalize, although their normal diet consists of deer or boar. They are said to be able to consume up to eighty percent of their own weight in one meal.
Recent sightings of the Megalania, in Australia and elsewhere, are causing many to rethink the “extinct” label for this creature as well.
In the summer of 1979, Australian Cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy, was informed of some huge tracks in a recently plowed field. Upon investigating, Gilroy discovered more than thirty tracks that appeared to be from a giant lizard. Although mostly ruined by rain, Gilroy was able to make a plaster cast of one, and was amazed by its resemblance to what might be left by a Megalania.
That same year, Herpetologist Frank Gordon, was walking back to his vehicle after some field work in the Wattagan Mountains of New South Wales. He saw a fallen tree near his car, only to be startled when the thirty-foot “log” suddenly ran off! A similar incident was reported by a surveyor in the area.
A farmer in the area observed a giant lizard approximately twenty-five feet long, while he was walking by one of his fields.
A group of woodcutters reported a lizard they estimated to be twenty feet long.
During the 1960s, a French priest was traveling toward his mission with a native guide, heading up river. The priest spotted a giant lizard sunning itself on a fallen tree trunk of equal length and, asked the guide to stop the boat. The native must have thought that was a crazy idea, because he refused. When the priest returned and measured the tree at a later time, it was forty feet long!
In the summer of 1963, a fifteen-foot-long giant lizard was reported by the Karlsens, a couple traveling on a bush road between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. It came out of a ravine, and ran across the road in front of their vehicle.
In 1981, a soldier from Queensland reported an interesting sighting from October of 1968, when he was with his unit on a jungle training exercise, on the Normanby Range. The unit came upon the remains of a dead cow in a swampy area. The bovine had literally been torn in two. They discovered “large reptile tracks and tail marks” in the area of the dead cow. It appeared to have been killed elsewhere, and dragged to the swamp. The unit left quickly.
Four teenagers claimed to see a giant reptile on a jungle track ahead of them near Townsville in 1977. They described it as having a huge head, long neck, “enormous legs and big claws, and a long, thick tail.” They said its body was “almost elephant-like,” and covered with “large scales of a mottled grey colour.” Its length was more than forty feet, and it stood at least six feet on all fours.
Locals from Queensland report that large goannas live in the forests of Kuranda. Sometimes the giant lizards take chickens and calves. There have also been reported sightings by aborigines from Cape York and Gulf country forests.
A retired Army Major claimed to have seen a giant goanna when he was a young man, in 1913, at Emerald Creek in Queensland.
After speaking with so many eyewitnesses, and extensive investigation, Rex Gilroy is certain that these contemporary dragons, called Megalania, are living in Australia today, and that eventually a live one will be found much as its cousin, the Komodo Dragon, was discovered in 1912.
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