For almost 30 years, in an otherwise nondescript area of swampland in Bishopville, South Carolina, something extraordinary has been happening. Ever since the 1980s, disturbing reports have repeatedly surfaced suggesting that these seemingly peaceful marshes are home to a creature that is neither human nor beast, but something troublingly in-between. That now legendary beast is ominously known as the Bishopville Lizard Man.
During the middle of a winter night in 1988, a young man had stopped his car next to the swamp in order to change a flat tire, when a terrifying figure emerged from the trees and charged directly at him. Eyewitnesses described a 7-foot-tall, human-like creature with green, scaly skin and three-toed feet and hands.
Various videos have allegedly caught this Lizard Man on film - take a look at this unnerving still from a video recorded in 2012:
Verified Lizard Man or not, that isn't the type of figure you want creeping around your campsite in the dead of night.
Now, after a 3 year hiatus of reptilian sightings, Bishopville's infamous cold blooded resident appears to be back, caught on camera just last Sunday.
The Lizard Man Resurfaces
The image above was taken by a South Carolinian leaving a church in Bishopville, recovering from her startled shock just long enough to whip out her phone and take a snapshot of the beast.
Now, I'll admit that I'm no expert on the existence of dubious mythological creatures, but this thing looks like its come straight out of a Saturday morning kids cartoon from the '90s.
Nevertheless, the woman who sighted the red-eyed giant remained adamant about what she saw, telling ABC News 4:
"My hand to God, I am not making this up. So excited!"
Which, apparently, was enough to convince the folks at ABC - a national news network - to suggest that the half-reptile, half-man was back to its old tricks, terrorizing the local swampland.
But is the Lizard Man actually real, or is this all just some elaborate hoax?
Fact or Fiction?
Well, who better to clear all this up than the staunch rationalists who make up the Paranormal Files investigation squad?
In a 2012 episode of the Syfy series Fact or Faked, former FBI special agent Ben Hansen went looking for the Lizard Man in Bishopville forest's conveniently blurry undergrowth, returning with this video:
If you think that looks like a real life reptilian man, then ABC might have a job for you. If you think it looks suspiciously like a grown adult dressed in a latex suit, that's because it is.
An "Ethical Hoax" to Fool the Masses
Agent Ben Hansen later told the Huffington Post that:
"There was scant evidence out there of his existence, so we filmed what I call an ethical hoax as kind of a social experiment.
The whole idea was to see how much buzz we could generate on social media and online just by having a really vague video showing a figure walking through the dark forest."
The video - which elicited online responses such as "its not fake no man walk like a rapter" from user Brandon brick ninja bbn, and "The best way to send the video to the government because they actually may give you money" from Artie H - was actually of Hanson himself, who wore a fake suit for the hoax shoot:
"We worked with a guy who specializes in transforming himself into a lizard man, using special effects. He helped us create a lizard man suit, which I wore."
Well, it certainly proves how easy it is to convince people of something seemingly impossible with the assistance of a shaky handicam and a Halloween costume.
With Great Virality Comes Great Responsibility
However, what the successfully faked Lizard Man footage really exposes is the alarming power social media has to turn fiction into perceived fact, believed and spread by the masses. Or, to put it another way: to turn two boobs into three.
As the world's largest rumor mill, the internet can effortlessly twist the truth. The speed at which myths propagate over social media is astonishing, the giant digitalized game of Chinese whispers allowing for hoaxes like these to gain credibility with a wide audience. I'll admit that a fake Lizard Man might not be such a big deal, but other viral yarns can be much more insidious.
As for the authenticity of this guy...
...well, you'll have to make your own mind up.
In the meantime, for all your real life human/reptile needs, I recommend you look to this man: