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Monday, 21 February 2011


Heuvelmans's Checklist of Cryptozoological candidate species (CRYPTOZOOLOGY 5, 1986) contains a series of large monitor lizards and in fact possible very large monitor lizards make up a large portion of his total (a fourth to nearly a third of his freshwater categories and easily the dominant category for the freshwater tropics). I have a proposal that will unite several of these cryptid slots into one over-arching species and solve a few puzzles that have been around for most of recorded history in the process.

[Illustration of "25-Foot Sundabarbans Buru" from an internet Cryptozoology site quoting Heuvelmans]

Under heading (2), In Tropical Lakes, Rivers and Swamps, Heuvelmans's first candidate category includes the Burus of Assam. However, his description actually basically means something different. It reads:
*Amphibious animals, probably huge monitor lizards, some up to 20 feet long-and thus larger than the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis)-currently reported from India and neighboring countries. In the Gir area (Kathiawar Penninsula), where they are known as the Jhoor, they are largely mythicized, but they have been fairly well observed in the Sundabrabans (mouths of the Ganges), where, strangely enough, they live in symbiosis with the salt-water crocodile (Crocodylus porosis) In Assam where they are known as the Buru to the Apa Thanis, they seem to have been exterminated in modern times (Izzard 1951, Mackal 1980). In Bhutan, however, some have recently been sighted in one of the Northern lakes, once by the king himself, and they have also been reported from [Northern] Burma[And all along the Andaman Islands-DD]. There is even a historical record extant of their existence in Sumatra during the 16th century (Heuvelmans 1965a)

The next entries also seem to me to be a continuance of the same category
*A dinosaur-like animal resembling a sauropod or possibly a plesiosaur-like animal, seen in two lakes of Pahang, in the Malay Peninsula: the Tasek Bera and Tasek Chini [Nagaq]

* A similarly-described reptile in Lake Patenggang, in Western Java [Naga]

[* To which may be added the large monitor-lizard-like Meikong River Monster, known in Thailand and Laos as a Naga Phaya]

And to this might be the singularly outsized early report of a Komodo dragon more than 27 feet long, if the creature travels by sea as well as living in freshwater and being amphibious. This is in accordance with some of Ivan Sanderson's statements concerning "Evidence for living Dinosaurs" in Indonesia, particularly mentioning certain wood carvings coming from Bali, which brings us further down the line geographically to the Australasian section:

* Gigantic monitor lizards, up to 30 feet in length, known to some Aborigines as Mungoon-galli, in various places of Eastern Australia, particularly in the forests of Northern Queensland [as Water-Monsters-DD], but also further South (see Terrestrial Forms, In Australasia[Australasian Realm]). They could be relic individuals of Varanus priscus from the Upper Pleistocene of Australia.

*Similar amphibious monitor lizards, almost as large, and called Au Angi-Angi [The Snake-snake, or Snake Above All Other Snakes, a term from Pidgin language-DD]by the Papuans of Eastern New Guinea [ALSO in Indonesian New Guinea, Irian Jaya-DD](Heuvelmans 1965a)

*An Unknown species of crocodile (or is it, as has been suggested, a surviving mosasaur?)known as Migo, in Lake Dakataua, on the Island of New Britain, In the Bismark Achipelago (Neill 1956)
-To which can be added more recent "Dinosaur" sightings of New Britain and New Guinea-ALL OVER New Guinea, in fact, and then again reports of seagoing monitor lizards reported in Island Melanesia and Southern Polynesia (Guangin and Ngarara) as far away as formerly in Northern New Zealand (Kumi Lizard and Ngarara)

[Varanid, from Tony "Stormwalker's" New Zealand Cryptozoology site]

For technical reasons (mostly because of habitat but also climate) we can omit BOTH the Burus and the larger "Megalania" or V. priscus sightings in Australia, which include a more recent outbreak of "Tyrannosaurus" sightings. Monitor lizards can stand up on their hind legs, and from the rock art I have seen in photos, these "Tyrannosaurs" are only huge and heavily-built monitor lizards rearing up. And the difference in habitat and description is too much for the Sundabarbans monitors to be the same as the Burus, more than likely they are two distinct species. One easily-observed discriminant feature is that the Burus are relatively stout with a shorter tail: the really long Water-Monitors are not only more elongated overall, their tails are especially long in proportion. They are also shown in Rock art of Southern India, were reported in Roman times as noted by Heuvelmans elsewhere, and reports continue on up into recent times (one recent news item called them "Mosasaurs") Furthermore they seem to be the same as the more "Highly mythicized" Dragons of the Indus (Ahi), the Dragons of Iran and ancient Persia (Azhi, which are represented similarly to Chinese dragons or Lungs) and then again to a giant monitor lizard rumored in the Tigris-Euphrates (Afa) (in Eberhart, Mysterious Creatures)

[AzhiDakha, Iranian Water Dragon, in Cartoon form]
What makes this all fit together is Heuvelmans' curious statement that the giant monitors live in symbiosis with the Indopacific crocodiles in the Sundabrabans. This presumably means they have learned to toleate each other's presence, and that alone would be remarkable enough. Several persons have expressed extreme doubts over that statement, myself included. But it does provide a vital clue: The range of the big water-monitor is basically similar to that of the Indopacific C. porosus, and it seems the two species nest together. Hence the ranges of the two species both match and they are both found from Eastern India to Northern Australia and sometimes further out to sea. They are also about the same size, it seems, and presumably rarely as long as 20-25 feet (30 feet long is probably an exaggeration, as the occasional claom of 50 to 60 feet long-or much longer by counting the wake-would certainly be.)

[Current General range of Crocodylus porosus]
In the case of reports from New Guinea, several Cryptozoologists up to including Karl Shuker stated that reports of extralarge monitor lizards are due to outsized individuals of the Tree Crocodile monitor, Varanus salvadorii. This has led to such statements found on some of the Cryptozoology sites as "Artellia is a giant monitor lizard reported to grow to 30 feet long and to drop down from trees on people." Actually, that combines two different situations: 1) the reports of giant monitors reach to 30 feet or more, and 2) the KNOWN Crocodile monitor is a tree-living creature. For this reason I make a distinction between Tree Crocodile monitors and True Crocodile monitors. They are undoubtedly closely related species (both of them in turn closely related to the Komodo dragon and "Megalania") but besides the decided difference in habitat, the bigger one is at least twice the size of the "Known" species. (A similar situation seems to exist in the case of Indopacific or Saltie crocodiles) The Tree crocodile does not have a recorded length of over eight feet long: reports of the monitor at 12 to 24 feet long or longer are NOT the same as the common "Artrellia" but they would belong to the closely similar but much larger True Crocodile monitor. I append a mockup comparison (The original artist's signature is still on his artwork and I do not mean to take credit for his work, this is for demonstration purposes)

Furthermore, the True Crocodile monitor occsionally appears in Southern China where it is called a Lung (Dragon) Reports can be spotted periodically throughout the historical records.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. There are a few comments posted on the adjoining CFZ blog introduction to this article, BTW.

  2. I've always been interested in dragons, so thanks!


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