The Cryptid Zoo: The Buru, Giant Lizards and Giant Crocodiles

If the buru turned out to be a real animal, it would likely be the largest species of monitor lizard alive today or in the recent past. Monitor lizards are the biggest and most dragon-like of the lizards. The largest monitor lizards accepted by science today are the famous Komodo dragons. A huge monitor lizard truly deserving of the name "dragon" lived in Australia until the early Australians killed it off some thousands of years ago, so it is not out the question for a monitor lizard even larger than the Komodo dragon to have survived in some inaccessible corner of the world.

The buru looks much like a Komodo dragon, except that it is dark blue with white spots and a white belly. It has three lines of spines on the back, changing to a double row of looser fringe that runs down the top of the tail. It prefers an aquatic habitat. Thus, it can also be classified as a lake monster, if you want to get picky. Perhaps 20 feet in length, these giants are reported from remote waterways situated in valleys of the Himalaya mountains in northeast India. Some cryptozoologists believe the buru is still alive, but others suggest it has probably become extinct in recent decades, due to the incredible pressures placed on the land as India's population surged above one billion. Either way, if it could be proven to be real, scientists would still be interested in it.

Other giant lizards are reported from many areas of the world. These often get classified as dragon legends and thus get relegated to the realm of mythology, but sometimes they are taken seriously by researchers. When cryptozoologists do pay attention to these sightings, they usually think they are dealing with a very large monitor lizard, though sometimes they think the animal is actually a surviving dinosaur.

Examples of other giant lizards include the amali, reported from the jungles of Gabon in Africa and said to spend part of its time living in the water, and the 30-foot-long artrellia or "tree dragon" of Papua New Guinea, a rain forest reptile resembling a monitor lizard that prefers to lurk in the treetops. The previously mentioned extinct giant monitor lizard of Australia still exists in modern reports, some of them made by experienced herpetologists. It is called the mungoon-galli by Aborigines. This lizard is supposed to reach lengths of up to 30 feet, and is sometimes blamed for killing cattle. A similar Australian giant lizard, the whowhie, is told about in legends from near the Murray River. It was large enough to consume 30 people at one time. Australia's largest known living lizard, the perentie, gets no longer than eight feet.

Giant lizards are also reported from areas where they seem quite unlikely. One example is the Canip monster of Kentucky. It was described as looking much like a monitor lizard with black and white stripes, but it was 15 feet long. Some of the first white settlers of Ohio claimed that pink lizards reaching lengths of up to 8 feet lived there, but these animals were easily killed off, within a decade or so (some researchers think these were really giant salamanders). An American giant lizard with more normal coloration is the so-called "mountain boomer" that is sighted near Big Ben Ranch State Park. This creature is described as bipedal, three to five feet tall, and its scales are a combination of brown and green. Some researchers label this a dinosaur.

Extremely large crocodiles have been reported from a number of places, including the ocean. Some of these reports, if confirmed, would simply increase the upper size limits of one or more known species of crocodile, while other reports describe animals so different from known crocodiles that confirmation of their existence would almost certainly mean a new species.

One creature that has been classed in the latter category is the Ambon "sea serpent," a creature seen near the northeastern coast of Africa that resembled a caiman, but was of giant size and had a fin on its back. Another possible giant ocean-dwelling crocodile is the U-28 "sea serpent," reported in the North Atlantic during World War I. This creature was described as looking like a giant crocodile 60 feet in length. Oceanic giant crocodiles are sometimes reported as being followed by their much smaller young, and their legs are sometimes described as looking more like flippers than legs.

Some researchers consider oceanic giant crocodiles to be identical to the reptilian creatures dubbed "three-toes" that are reported from beaches around the world (despite that all known crocodilians have five toes). These tracks have three toes and a bipedal gait with a six-foot stride. They exit the ocean and then enter it again. Mostly, people just find the tracks, but some of the rare eyewitnesses describe something that resembles a giant crocodile walking on its hind legs. Some researchers consider three-toes (and possibly also other reports of oceanic crocodiles) to actually represent either aquatic dinosaurs or prehistoric mosasaurs instead of giant crocodiles.

Africa reportedly has at least one unrecognized species of giant river crocodile, called lipata in Angola, kipumbubu in Tanzania and mahamba in the Congo. Reports describe animals of up to 50 feet long, similar to at least three species of prehistoric crocodiles that are thought to be extinct.

You can find out more about the Buru, Giant Lizards and/or Giant Crocodiles from the following sources:


Campbell, Elizabeth Montgomery and Solomon, David. The Search for Morag. New York: Walker, 1973. Pages 57, 60, 174

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 50-51
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Coleman, Jerry D. Strange Highways: A Guidebook to American Mysteries & the Unexplained. Alton, Illinois: Whitechapel Productions Press, 2003. Page 186

Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America: The Revised Edition. New York: Paraview Press, 2001. Pages 69, 88

Izzard, Ralph. The Hunt for the Buru.

Krystek, Lee. The Unmuseum: Giant Lizards

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Page 6, 13, 20-21, 28, 30, 58, 60, 78, 84, 101, 122, 126, 133, 136-138, 159-160, 165, 178-180, 184, 187, 211-213, 219, 221, 226, 231, 236-237, 242, 245, 250, 253, 254, 263, 277, 279-280, 296, 303, 304-305, 309, 312, 314-316, 326, 329, 332, 335-337, 344-345, 359, 375, 398-399, 402-405, 407, 417, 419, 433, 450, 453, 463-464, 469-470, 474, 480, 485-487, 489, 491

Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2000. Page 394

Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003. Page 287

Sundberg, Jan. Scientists from Bangladesh Claim that Giant Prehistoric Lizards have been Found in their Country

Wikipedia, The. Buru

Wikipedia, The. Komodo Dragon

Wikipedia, The. Megalania prisca

Wikipedia, The. Mosasaur

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