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Giant North American Lizard

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Giant plated lizard - colchester zoo
Large, unknown Lizards of North America.

Variant names: Canip monster lizard, Crosswick 
monster, Giant pink lizard, Gowrow, 
Mini-rex, Mountain boomer, River dino, River 
lizard.

Physical description: Various sizes and descriptions.

Behavior: Some are bipedal, others quadrupedal.

Tracks: Three- or four-toed.

Distribution: British Columbia, Canada; Colorado; 
Texas; South Dakota; Ohio; Kentucky; 
Pennsylvania.

Significant sightings: Prior to 1820, when a 
drought exterminated them, pink lizards 3–8 
feet long were said to inhabit “Catlick Creek 
Valley,” which Mark Hall has identified as 
Scippo Creek in Pickaway County, Ohio. The 
animals were said to have horns like a cow’s.

In the late nineteenth century, two young 
boys fishing in a stream near Crosswick, Ohio, 
were attacked by a lizard that stood 12–16 feet 
tall. Three men rescued the boy, but the lizard 
escaped into a huge hollow tree. Later in the 
day, townsfolk came to cut the tree down, but 
the animal ran away on its two hind legs.

Myrtle Snow claimed to have seen five “baby 
dinosaurs” near Chromo, Colorado, in May 
1935 when she was three years old. John Martinez 
had shot one a few months earlier after it 
killed some sheep. It was 7 feet tall, gray, had a 
head like a snake’s, short front legs with claws, 
large hind legs, and a long tail. Snow saw similar 
animals near a cave in 1937 and October 
1978.

Several reports of smallish, bipedal lizards 
have come from Vancouver and Texada Islands, 
British Columbia. In one instance, railroad 
workers came across a nest of 12-inch-tall lizards 
that scampered away on two legs.

In July 1975, there were several sightings of a 
large, black-and-white-striped lizard with a red, 
forked tongue near Canip Creek in Trimble 
County, Kentucky. It left clawed tracks that 
were 5 inches long by 4.5 inches wide. Clarence 
and Garrett Cable saw it on three occasions in a 
junkyard near Milton. It appeared to be about 
15 feet long.

In 1981, a 2-foot, green, crested lizard was 
chased by some boys along a railroad track in 
New Kensington, Pennsylvania.

In the early 1990s, Jimmy Ward investigated 
rumors of a green or brown, bipedal lizard with 
a booming voice in west Texas near the Big 
Bend National Park. It was called the Mountain 
boomer and stood 5–6 feet tall on its hind 
legs.

In 2000, Ron Schaffner obtained some photos 
showing small, dinosaur-like lizards allegedly 
taken in the Fountain Creek, Colorado, area, 
but the animals might well be rubber models.

Possible explanations: 
(1) Unknown monitor lizards (Family 
Varanidae), though existing species are 
known only from Africa, Asia, and 
Australasia. 
(2) Surviving Matthewichnus caudifer, a 
fossil amphibian whose tracks are known 
from the Carboniferous period, 300 million 
years ago, in Tennessee, suggested by Mark 
Hall. 
(3) A neotenic Mole salamander 
(Ambystoma spp.), also suggested by Hall. 
However, this overgrown, underdeveloped 
larva (axolotl) does not leave the water. 
(4) Escaped pet Colombian black-and-white 
tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), which looks 
somewhat like a monitor lizard and grows 
to 4 feet long, suggested by Chad Arment 
for the Canip Creek animal. 
(5) Escaped pet Green basilisk (Basiliscus 
plumifrons), a bright-green, arboreal lizard 
from Central America that grows to 3 feet 
and has a banded tail and dorsal crest, 
suggested by Chad Arment for the New 
Kensington lizard. 
(6) The Eastern collared lizard (Crotaphytus 
collaris collaris) is, for unknown reasons, also 
called the Mountain boomer, though it has 
no vocal cords. A Western subspecies (C. c. 
baileyi ) is found in the Big Bend area and 
grows to about 2 feet in length. It runs on 
its hind legs.

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