Unknown Lizard of Central Asia.
Etymology: Apatani and Nisi (Sino-Tibetan) word, possibly from its call.
Physical description: Roundish, elongated body. Length, 11-14 feet. Mottled blue-black above. Broad white band on the underside. Head, 20 inches. One account gives it three plates on the head, one on the top and on each side. Eyes are close behind a flat-tipped snout. Flat teeth, except for a single pair of large, pointed teeth in both the upper and lower jaws. Forked tongue. Neck, 3 feet. Three lines of short spines run down its back and sides. Back, 18 inches wide. One account said it has legs 20 inches long with clawed feet, while another only gave it paired lateral flanges. Round, tapering tail 3-5 feet long and fringed at the base.
Behavior: Completely aquatic. Raises its head out of the water occasionally. Basks in the sun on the bank in the summer. Remains in the mud when the swamps dry up. Makes a hoarse, bellowing noise. Does not eat fishes. Young are born alive in the water. Can grab a man with its tail and drag him underwater.
Distribution: Swamps and lakes near Ziro in the Apatani Valley, Arunachal Pradesh Union Territory, India; 50 miles to the southwest in the Dafla hills, Arunachal Pradesh Union Territory, India.
Significant sightings: In 1945 and 1946, James Phillip Mills and Charles Stonor collected descriptions of the Buru from the Apatani people, who are said to have killed the last of them in their area when they were draining swamps for rice cultivation.
In 1948, Ralph Izzard and Charles Stonor visited a swamp in the Dafla hills near Chemgeng in the hopes of finding a living Buru but returned with conflicting stories from the Nisi people.
Present status: It may still be possible to find skeletal remains of the animals in the Apatani Valley, since the precise kill spots are still known. Possible explanations:
(1) A surviving dinosaur of some type, suggested by Ralph Izzard.
(2) An unknown species of Monitor lizard (Varanus sp.), suggested by Roy Mackal.
(3) An unknown species of Crocodile (Order Crocodylia), suggested by Tim Dinsdale.
(4) A large, swamp-dwelling Lungfish (Order Lepidosireniformes) would explain the Buru's ability to keep submerged in mud, according to Karl Shuker. The body structure also matches a lungfish more than a reptile. Its bellow might be caused by its ventilating air.
(5) An unknown species of Bonytongue fish similar to the Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas) of South America, which also has an air bladder fashioned into a lung.
Sources: Christopher von Für er-Haimendorf, "The Valley of the Unknown," Illustrated London News 121 (November 8, 1947): 526—530; Ralph Izzar d, The Hunt for the Buru (London: Hodder and St ought on, 1951); Desmond Doig, "Bhutan," National Geographic 120 (September 1961): 384, 391-392; Tim Dinsdale, The Leviathans (London: Rout ledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), pp. 105-110; Roy P. Mackal, Searching for Hidden Animals (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1980), pp. 79-98; Karl Shuker, Extraordinary Animals Worldwide (London: Robert Hale, 1991), pp. 54-61.
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