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Support Your Local Reptoid

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

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Aliens & UFOs, Conspiracies

Skeptoid Podcast #46
May 21, 2007
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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:

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.

By Brian Dunning

Please contact us with any corrections or feedback.


Cite this article:
Dunning, B. "Support Your Local Reptoid." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 21 May 2007. Web. 28 Nov 2015. <>


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.


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