Support Your Local Reptoid

What started the conspiracy theory that reptilian beings control our governments?

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Aliens & UFOs, Conspiracies

Skeptoid #46
May 21, 2007
Podcast transcript | Listen | Subscribe

Lizard City
Shufelt's map of the Lizard People's city - derived entirely from his dowsing pendulum
© Los Angeles Times

Collect your children and run for cover. Today we're going to look at the terrifying tale that says a race of tall reptilian beings lives among us, and even runs our government.

The concept of reptilian beings on Earth is a surprisingly widespread conspiracy theory, in which the US government and major public companies are complicit in a vast worldwide network of underground bases housing a large population of humanoid reptilian creatures called Reptoids. They speak English and are involved in every major government and corporate decision. They are variously said to either disguise themselves or actually shape-shift into humans, where they have public lives in positions of national importance. Some say the Reptoids are of extraterrestrial origin, and some say they are native to Earth, having developed intelligence before the primates, and have been secretly running things all along.

I first heard of reptilians when planning a trip to Mt. Shasta as a youth. Shasta is one of our fourteeners here in California. As I discovered, it's also something of a sacred hotbed for a whole range of New Age traditions. It not only has a lot of Native American spiritual history, it also figures prominently for any number of modern pagan religions. Shasta is said to be full of secret caverns, jewel encrusted tunnels, and whole subterranean civilizations peopled with all sorts of exotic races. Most notably, it's the home of the Lemurians, an ancient race whose original continent called Mu sank and now make their home inside the mountain, in the great five-level city of Telos. Lemurians, who are tall, white-cloaked beings speaking English but with a British accent, employ invisible four-foot-tall beings called Guardians to protect their city. Bigfoots are also said to populate Shasta. Among all this exotic company, Reptoids would hardly be noticed. The story goes that Reptoids use Mt. Shasta as one of the numerous entrances to their huge underground network of bases.

Reptoids are said to serve at least one very useful purpose: They are sworn enemies of the gray aliens, and may well serve to be humanity's last line of defense against this threat. Among the gray aliens' holdings provided them by the US government is a large underground base at Dulce, New Mexico. Some 18,000 grays are said to reside on level 5 of the base, and they perform terrible genetic experiments on humans on levels 6 and 7. Reptilian beings have been caught trying to acquire information about the Dulce base.

The most outspoken proponent of the conspiracy theory that reptilian beings in disguise are actually running our planet is David Icke, whose book "The Biggest Secret" reveals information like this:

Then there are the experiences of Cathy O'Brien, the mind controlled slave of the United States government for more than 25 years... She was sexually abused as a child and as an adult by a stream of famous people named in her book. Among them were the US Presidents, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and, most appallingly, George Bush, a major player in the Brotherhood, as my books and others have long exposed. It was Bush, a pedophile and serial killer, who regularly abused and raped Cathy's daughter, Kelly O'Brien, as a toddler before her mother's courageous exposure of these staggering events forced the authorities to remove Kelly from the mind control programme known as Project Monarch.

This is a fair sample of most of Icke's evidence that reptilian beings have taken over our government. Virtually any statement that Icke makes is easily falsified by minimal research if not simple common sense, but since his is a conspiracy theory, any evidence against it is simply regarded as evidence proving the conspiracy. Don't laugh: Icke sells a lot of these books. A lot of people believe this stuff.

Where did all of these stories come from? The earliest reference I've come across is from a Los Angeles Times news story from January 29, 1934, which is available from the Los Angeles Times archives. Geophysical mining engineer G. Warren Shufelt had been using "radio x-ray" and had discovered subterranean labyrinths beneath the city of Los Angeles, including pockets of pure gold, and taken x-ray pictures of many of the chambers. Somehow Shufelt met with a man named L. Macklin, said to go by the Hopi Indian name of Little Chief Greenleaf. Macklin told Shufelt of a Hopi legend of Lizard People, an advanced race, who built the city beneath Los Angeles to escape surface catastrophes some 5000 years ago. Their history was kept on gold tablets. It sounded like Shufelt had struck paydirt — almost. He still had to dig it up. Shufelt's crew dug a shaft 250 feet deep, well below the water table, which of course promptly filled with water, and that's where the story came to an end.

So I began looking into the various elements from the LA Times story. First on the list was Shufelt's "radio x-ray" device. Times reporter Jean Bosquet described it:

Shufelt's radio device consists chiefly of a cylindrical glass case inside which a plummet attached to a copper wire held by the engineer sways continually, pointing, he asserts, toward minerals or tunnels below the surface of the ground, and then revolves when over the mineral or swings in prolongation of the tunnel when above the excavation.

So, it turns out, Shufelt's device has little to do with either radio or x-rays and more to do with a common dowsing pendulum. This was all he had to guide his elaborate drawing of the catacomb layout, which you can see online at, along with a picture of Shufelt using his dowsing pendulum.

Shufelt stated he has taken "x-ray pictures" of thirty seven such tablets, three of which have their southwest corners cut off. "My radio x-ray pictures of tunnels and rooms, which are subsurface voids, and of gold pictures with perfect corners, sides and ends, are scientific proof of their existence," Shufelt said.

Shufelt's dowsing results notwithstanding, parts of the story seem unlikely. Gold, and metallurgy in general, was unknown among the Hopi until the mid 1700's. So was chemistry, but Macklin said that the Lizard People "perfected a chemical solution by which they bored underground without removing earth and rock."

I did make a pretty thorough effort to track down any such Hopi legend, but came up empty handed, not counting numerous modern references to Mt. Shasta and the Los Angeles catacomb story. I did find a "Lizard clan" referenced in several Hopi stories, but always among other clans (the Spider clan, the Bear clan), and never any references to underground cities, golden tablets, or any other elements from Shufelt's story. Obviously, my failure to find any evidence of such a legend doesn't prove anything: Native American legends were traditionally passed by word of mouth and never were written down, the only exceptions being those that made it into modern storybook collections. I was also unable to find a man named either L. Macklin or Little Chief Greenleaf in the public birth and death certificate databases for the Hopi Reservation in the Navajo Nation Court, but again, all this proves is that I didn't find it.

If Shufelt's dowsing misadventures truly were the genesis of modern Reptoid legends, there is an ironic aspect. Macklin never said that there was anything reptilian about the Lizard clan, they were simply one subculture of the Hopi, though just as human as anyone else. According to the story Macklin told Shufelt:

Tip Skeptoid $2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

The Lizard People, the legend has it, regarded the lizard as the symbol of long life. Their city is laid out like a lizard, according to the legend, its tail to the southwest ... its head to the northeast.

Most likely, this tall tale from the early days of Los Angeles was little more than an effort by Shufelt to interest investors in his treasure hunt, in which he no doubt believed wholeheartedly. As for Macklin? Who knows, Shufelt could have made him up, or he could have been a real guy, possibly even a real Hopi, and may have even told a genuine — if undocumented — Hopi legend. What Shufelt didn't know was that his little gem in the Los Angeles Times was the kickoff for a whole generation of one of our most bizarre (and entertaining) urban legends.

Brian Dunning

© 2007 Skeptoid Media, Inc. Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Bosquet, Jean. "Lizard Peolpe's [sic] Catacomb City Hunted." Los Angeles Times. 29 Jan. 1934, Volume 53: 1, 5.

Carroll, R. The skeptic's dictionary: a collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. 106-109.

Icke, David. The Biggest Secret: The Book That Will Change the World (Updated Second Edition). Ryde, Isle of Wight: David Icke Books, 1999.

Lewis, Tyson, Kahn, Richard. "The reptoid hypothesis: utopian and dystopian representational motifs in David Icke's alien conspiracy theory." Utopian Studies. 1 Jan. 2005, Volume 16, Number 2: 45-74.

Rhodes, John. "Reptoids Research Center." Reptoids Research Center. The Reptoids Research Center, 1 Jan. 0001. Web. 14 Nov. 2009. <>

Walton, Bruce. Mount Shasta, Home of the Ancients. Pomeroy: Health Research, 1985.

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "Support Your Local Reptoid." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., 21 May 2007. Web. 23 May 2015. <>


10 most recent comments | Show all 227 comments

Yes, Macky. Upon your friendly request - the whole story. I am now 50, a respected professional in the medical/social field. It was on this summer afternoon in 1978 in the better part of a small German city, a minutes walk to the first ridge of the Black Forest.
My parents were out, I was on my bed in my room on the upper floor, listening to music. The window and the door, both led to the porch, were open. I turned my head, and saw fucking scary clawed scaly fingers - and then a head came up - as if the guy had ducked under the windowsill. A head and a figure came up - tall as a tall man, strong, slightly scaly, definitly closely connected by appearance to the reptile part of our nature, but as intelligent and able as a human, even more, it seemed in this moment - and he looked at me, with a kind of amused look - and looking deep inside my little teenager person, with some compassion, as I felt and remember. I do not remember robes, but he had pointed ears!
I turned away in horror - let it end! - and had then for years the conception that I had (for no good reason) seen the devil. The postcard in Cornwall broke the spell, and then I saw a picture in a Hippie-hut painted by some acid-head, and then - the internet came up and with it this issue. So the evolution of the whole Reptoid-theme was for me relief and amusement. Since I fear them not anymore. Not more than the humans or the wild dogs at night.
Stay sane, the world is big.
The story I told you is true.
Keep peace!

John Christiansen, Berlin
February 3, 2013 2:32pm

Thank you John, for your candid account.

A sighting (or happening) of an unusual event or object/being may only happen once in a lifetime to an individual.

It makes it impossible to provide any sort of proof to those who have never seen/experienced such things, and probably never will.

Macky, Auckland
February 6, 2013 12:53am

...and having met a person of this peculiar breed did not at all make me a believer in the numerous concepts and ideas about their involvement in the world of humans.
But I like to read whatever is there about it, and momentarily I am especially interested in the alien-hybrid issue - since I found out that someone´s fantasie is that folks with certain features are hybrids...
and I am freckled, have the bloodgroup B rh-, and so on, maybe the visitor just wanted to check on his, ähh, nephew...?
And even if - why not? And what would be sooo special about such in this big universe?
The "proof" issue is utmost boring. But talking about the validity of certain perceptions - that makes sense.
I, for instance, believe stubbornly that everyone who claims that he/she is a "channel" is just a more or less clever cheater for selfish reasons. But I would be happy to meet one and have perceptions that would change my belief. All the best, thanks for being interested in my story! jc

John Christiansen, Berlin
February 6, 2013 1:32pm

Well John, some things may happen in our lives that only WE know.

I'm sure you have thought about your sighting and tried to think of other explanations for it, only to simply end up taking the sighting for what it was in your eyes, especially when you saw the same on a postcard years later.

Obviously such beings are scientifically unproven, and will probably always be so, by their occasional and transient nature.

I suspect that there are "skeptics" posting to this site who have seen things that they can't explain, or are generally regarded as bunk.
In fact there are a couple of posts on Skeptoid that state exactly that.

At least one of them hastens to add that they of course are "not-real", which is a shame really, as these "ex-woo" individuals are deliberately denying their own personal experiences, blocking them in fact, simply on the grounds that they are not (currently) scientifically provable.

It's a rigid adherence to an otherwise valid system which requires repeatable evidence to many, when such a sighting as you experienced may only happen to one person in thousands, and then only once in a lifetime.

Take care.

Macky, Auckland
February 13, 2013 12:40am

Macky,science is just a name, and yesterday the scientific approach to sickness was unthinkable without taking the witches in the neighbourhood in account...
Yes, surely and a million times I wondered, if it was the boy from next door in a costume, if it was a "hallucination" or whatever...
By the way, in the book "True Hallucinations" by McKenna he meets (under drugs, but even this matters not much) "Gods", and they look at him in the same way as I was looked at - when I read this some years ago it made me even more sure about the validity of my perception (using "validity" to leave out the word "Real", because reality seems to have many facets, and not all are always visible for each and everyone.)
Best wishes!

John Christiansen, Berlin
February 13, 2013 11:16pm

Thank you John for the profound derivative....

Mud, Pho\'s Slave palace, Gerringong the Brave, NSW
April 1, 2013 5:25am

@Yanis K

Ye, I read a book called the psychopath test by an English journalist/author - John Ronson. It details the Hare checklist and the controvosy surrounding it but also is still an interesting eye opener to the sort of percentage of psychos in society and the kind of often warm/charismatic behaviour they display whilst being ruthless and often in seats of power or importance.

Kel_Solaar, Bristol, United Kingdom
November 6, 2013 8:42am

Dear Brian

Being a skeptic was always a good thing to do and you should continue to be one.

However, since the matter of the human race not being at the top of the food chain of this planet is considered by many to be very serious I urge you to examine evidence that exists in the public domain and is unquestionably NOT fabricated.

find the classic 1927 cult film Metropolis and watch the scene where the protagonist's father gets angry with his secretary for allowing his son to visit the machine rooms underground...this scene does not appear in the butchered moroder version and it can be seen better in the 2001 restored version

At approximatelly 15'45'' in the standard version and approx 24'00'' in the restored version just look at his eyes Brian and then tell me if they are human or not...and don't tell us it's the lights cause the lights occupy just the upper half of his reptilian slit

and the best part is that it is there to be seen when it fits perfectly with the film's context cause the father intimidates his secretary this way...just look at the poor secretary...he looks into his eyes and is ready to crap his pants!!!

Ody, Greece
January 9, 2014 4:47pm

Man,you didn't do your homework.The earliest ref you happened to find for the '34 LA times article??? Come on let's be serious. Go and read the SHADOW KINGDOM by Robert E Howard and please observe the DATE OF PUBLICATION in the american pulp magazine"Weird Tales". Holy's been written before the times article!

Now read the story:
-reptile humanoids that have a human shaped body but the head of a reptile
-they lived eons ago, before the first humans appeared
-primitive humans happened to prevent them from invading the world at one point but didn't succeed somehow(hence the story in question)
-the story is set in a fictive remote period said to be"pre cataclysmic"(Thurian Age)
-the king gets to discover underground secret passages that lead from his very own royal castle to the serpent men's lair
-these reptilian people have magical powers which make them take the appearance of any human being
-a magical formula and death can make the "human double" illusion vanish
-they have doubles of actual humans infiltrated into the royal court as counselors, nobles etc.
-the doubles are scheming to assasinate the king and replace him with one of their own, as a first step to overthrow humans and conquer once again the world.

Humanoid reptiles are age old and were not invented by Howard, as they are present in mythology. Howard added the secret plot and magical double element in a scenario of human government vs infiltrated snake men attempting to overthtrow it

Read REH, Valusia
August 31, 2014 4:03pm

Given that reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals etc evolved only comparatively recently in the age of the Earth, is there any scientific reason why a humanoid based on ectotherm/reptilian biology could not have evolved, or could not evolve ?

As distinct from what is currently known.

Macky, Auckland
March 3, 2015 2:28pm

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