Artrellia

Dragonlike Lizard of Australasia.

Etymology: Papuan (Austronesian), "tree dragon."

Variant names: Au Angi-Angi, Kaiaimunu, Rharhru.

Physical description: A huge lizard. Length, 12-40 feet.

Behavior: Arboreal. Said to eat humans.

Distribution: Papua New Guinea.

Significant sightings: In the 1930s, members of the American Museum of Natural History's Archbold Expedition to the interior of Papua New Guinea were told of a man-eating dragon.

Robert Grant and David George were exploring the Strachan Island District in 1961 when they encountered a gray lizard about 26 feet long. Its neck was more than 3 feet long.

An animal captured in swampland near the Gulf of Papua in 1980 by the Operation Drake Expedition proved to be a juvenile specimen of crocodile monitor. Its length has been variously reported as 6 feet 6 inches and 7 feet 3 inches long. One of the group's zoologists, Ian Redmond, later sighted a 12-foot animal.

Possible explanation: The Crocodile monitor (Varanus salvadorii) has curved teeth, elongated toes, strongly curved sharp claws, and rubbery pads on the bottom of the feet. Its long tail is up to two and a half times the length of the head and body. The color is black, with white speckles. The animal may regularly grow over 12 feet, making it the longest lizard in the world. One specimen was measured unofficially at 15 feet 7 inches, and there have been rumors of individuals 20 feet long.

Sources: David M. Davies, Journey into the Stone Age (London: Robert Hale, 1969); John Blashford-Snell, Mysteries: Encounters with the Unexplained (London: Bodley Head, 1983); John Blashford-Snell and Ann Tweedy, Operation Raleigh: Adventure Challenge (London: Collins, 1988); Mark K. Bayless, "The Artrellia, Dragon of the Trees: Meet New Guinea's Crocodile Monitor ( Varanus salvadorii)," Reptiles 6 (June 1998): 32-47; Rex Gilroy, "Giant Lizards of the Australian Bush," Australasian Ufologist4, no. 4 (2000): 17-20.

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