A new photo and video footage have emerged purporting to show South Carolina’s mythic swamp monster known as Lizard Man that was first spotted nearly 30 years ago.
Local legend has it that Lizard Man is 7-foot-tall reptilian creature that lives in the Scape Ore Swamp, not far from the small farming town of Bishopville.
Last Sunday, a Sumter woman named Sarah Berra says she was at church with a friend when she stepped outside and caught a glimpse of the fabled creature running along the tree line.
The woman grabbed her cell phone and snapped a picture of the apparition. The resulting image depicts a comically muscular upright humanoid with three clawed toes on each foot and clawed fingers.
The monster has red eyes, a long Kangaroo-like tail and a snub-nosed face.
‘My hand to God, I am not making this up,’ she wrote in an email to ABC News 4 and other local media outlets. ‘So excited!’
The eyewitness said she was just a mile or so from the site of Lizard Man’s earlier sighting, which took place in May.
The day after Berra’s alleged encounter with the fabled creature – or a guy dressed in a rubber lizard suit – another local resident released a short video shot in May also allegedly showing the anthropomorphic reptile.
The man explained that he had planned to keep mum about his footage until he caught wind of other sightings.
‘I saw your lizard man story and it’s given me the courage to send you a video I took in early May,’ the man wrote to WCIV. ‘Though my wife believes me that it’s real, she said she would be embarrassed that everyone would think I was a loon so I kept it a secret.’
The 24-second clip appears to show a tall dark figure with a long tail darting into the trees.
On Monday, a man by the name Jim Wilson had his own brush with the anthropomorphic lizard.
Wilson said he was on Highway 34 when he spotted a tall figure with a long scaly tail, according to The State.
‘It was almost like an alligator with a short nose and long legs,’ he told Fox Carolina.
Wilson pulled over and began taking pictures. The man claimed he later saw the critter scamper across Scape Ore Bridge.
‘My friend told me it’s probably a pet monitor lizard… but my girlfriend thinks its lizard man,’ Mr Wilson said.
The legend of the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp was born in the summer of 1988, when 17-year-old Christopher Davis claimed to have spotted a 7-foot-tall beast while changing a flat tire overnight, according to The College of Charleston.
Davis said the hulking lizard-like monster charged at him and leaped on the hood of his car, leaving scratch marks on the roof and damaging a side mirror.
There have been multiple sightings of the fabled creature over the past three decades. In 2008, Bob and Dixie Rawson blamed Lizard Man for clawing their minivan, according to a CNN report from the time.
‘You think it’s a joke, but you look at the damage to the vehicle, it’s hard to say,’ then-Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin said.
Local law enforcement authorities have looked into the reports but found no concrete evidence proving the existence of the towering bipedal reptile.
Lizard Man is not your grandparents’ swamp monster: he’s now got a Twitter account.
The account with the handle @LizardmanSC describes the user as ‘Born in swamp, relocated to Bishopville, SC. Shy and misunderstood. Love wrestling, NASCAR and flies. Currently single, but looking.’
Current Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simons said his department has not received any official reports regarding recent sightings of Lizard Man, but over the years he has participated in investigations concerning the scaly beast.
The tales have been documented in a cryptozoology book titled Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster, and the fabled reptile was also mentioned in a 2014 episode of the show Ancient Aliens.
Sheriff Simons has offered his own theory explaining the recent uptick in Lizard Man sightings.
‘You are talking about a small town getting national attention for it. It’s unusual for a small farming town to gain that attention,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t say there is anything to be proud about, but it put Lee County and Bishopville on the map.’
Scott Poole, professor of history at the College of Charleston who wrote a book titled Monsters in America, and even took part in an expedition last month to find Lizard Man, told Daily Mail in an email Friday that in his opinion, the new photos and videos do not provide insight into the reality of the Lizard Man, but they serve as a reminder of what he called the ‘cyclical appeal’ of folk legend.
‘Once a monster narrative is born,’ he said,’ it re-emerges every few years when people need to tell the story again.
Poole noted that local lore often has a commercial aspect to it in the form of merchandise featuring the mythic monster. And as with most legends, there is also an element of escapism to it.
‘South Carolina has had a horrific summer with the terrorist act at Emmanuel AME. Its not too surprising that a tale of wonder, an effort to make the world seem like an enchanted place, would emerge at this time,’ Mr Poole stated.