Megalania may or may not exist- but if doesn't it should.
This world needs more giant lizards.
More than a mere mysterious reptile, far better than all those other living fossils that tend be tedious old fish and snails, this 'creature' is Australia's very own domestically produced, breathing dinosaur relic.
From the scarce reports thrown up by a quick internet search I think we can safely say that the Megalania is similar in style to the Komodo dragon, just bigger. It was scaly, reptilian and kind of stupid- but had a fearsome toothy mouth full of highly toxic bacteria to compensate.
No one argues that it did once exist. Heritage wise there seems to be consensus that our scaly friend was one of the megafauna, that pantheon of giant flesh eating kangaroos, and VW sized wombats et al. that lived in Australia until climate change and/or the arrival of the first humans killed them off. Sketchy internet rumors aside it seems to be a semi-realistic possibility that at least a small number of them really did survive and were running around our deserts until relatively recently. One report tells of Megalania bones, that had been assumed to be at least thousands of years old, dating in at a mere 300. Then again, I’m not sure how reliable my sources are here, this information does come from the net after all.
Fossils aside people have reported seeing them at 15 and 30 feet long, though anyone who has been ever fishing will know to take this with a grain of salt.
I would have very much liked to stumble upon even the vaguest forth hand suggestion of any type of Jurassic Park type action going on (say four of five of them chasing a Land Rover full of terrified and previously skeptical zoologists along a dusty outback road until, just as it looks like the car is starting to pull away, one particularly hungry one propels itself, with a single toothy lunge, into the air and right through the back window) but alas I did not. Two of the reports I saw (both from NSW, not quite the outback really, the other one was from PNG, not even a part of Australia since 1975) followed the same pattern. A man whose job takes him to lonely places gets into a car under a big empty sky, closes the door, and is a little startled to see what he had taken to be a big gray log by the side of the road scurrying away into the distance. It’s type of thing that goes well with a bit of imagination.
I used to have imagination.
I lived in a country town when I was little. We got a McDonald's when I was fifteen and left the year after for reasons that were utterly unrelated. I came back for one day five years later, one day was all the time I wanted, and spent a few hours wandering the back roads near the river where town petered out and the bush (woods) began.
When I was smaller it was my wilderness. Darker and more frightening and filled with promise than the Amazon or the hills of Irian Jaya would be today if I could got there.
Physically it hadn’t changed much in the five years I had been away, but what I saw was completely different. I saw that the bush was nothing but brittle scrub and horrible litter- there were burnt out cars and filthy plastic waste was matted around the weeds and rusted metal, there were used condoms and broken glass. I saw how the trees that pushed their way up from polluted soil alongside the poisoned overgrown drain that we had called a river were gray and half dead.
But this was same place where we had been on the trail of the Yowie (hairy bigfoot type creature) the same place we had (after jumping in the river and a wonderful afternoon of burrowing through the mud and slime) found hard evidence of the Bunyip (Aboriginal swamp monster). The afternoon I returned I found the same tree under which, years before, I would have sworn I saw (from a distance) a panther jump up and bolt away. We could not claim have to have seen the Min Min (mysterious Australian night lights) but we believed in them completely. Did you know that if you’re buried under a pile of blankets, and you’ve just watched the X-files, and you’re 10 years old, that rasping noise a possum makes sounds actually the same as an alien?
When I was small these creatures from the bush had frightened me and my band of little friends in the most wonderful sort of way, they made our world huge and mysterious. I hadn’t heard of the Megalania then, and though as far as I can figure, in all likelihood no one around my old town had seen one for over 30,000 years, I’m sure if we had have known about them back then we would have been able to turn something up.
I don’t have so much imagination today, I haven't had it for a long time. Megalania won’t keep me awake tonight.
Animals that are mysterious and probably non-existent are not one of my big fears anymore. Sometimes I wish they were. Given the choice between being hunted by a pack of Tasmanian Tigers or turning 26 and deciding what the hell to do with my life, I know what I’d rather be doing . It’s with a bit of weariness that I realize that I’ll probably never have a chance to worry about the Megalania. I guess if I feel anything towards them it's love. Megalania, even if it doesn’t still exist outside the overactive young imaginations of half a dozen kids on the thorny edge of town in Nowhere Australia, maybe especially if that’s the only place it lives on, makes the world a better more exciting place just by being what it is.
Then again, perhaps I do have reason to be a bit worried on my next outback hike. Who knows what's out there?....
'Keep watching the skies’ (maybe they can fly too)