MIAMI, Florida — The discovery of a bizarre half-human, half-alligator in the Florida Everglades has flabbergasted scientists who say the creature is alive, at least moderately intelligent and possibly even a distant ancestor of modern man!
That’s the world from paleontologist Dr. Paul Ledbrader, who studied the creature in his laboratory for almost three hours before state wildlife officials seized the 5-foot, 11-inch, 180-pound beas and airlifted it to a research facility just west of Miami.
Nobody at the state wildlife commission is talking. But Dr. Ledbrader says the U.S. Forest Service sent no fewer than five experts to the facility to study the reptile in the hope of determining exactly where it came from — and what it might be.
“I know what it isn’t — and that’s an ordinary alligator,” said Dr. Ledbrader.
“I had it in my possession for almost three hours and I’m telling you, this thing is smart as a whip. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s human. But it certainly doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that it’s not reptilian — at least, not all reptilian.
“There is already some speculation that it might be a distant ancestor of man, a ‘missing link’ that jumped off the evolutionary ladder and blazed its own trail into the modern era. I’m personally going to postpone judgment until I have more information in hand.”
Dr. Ledbrader said he found the creature while “communing with nature” in the Everglades just after the break of dawn on April 18. The expert declined to say how he captured it. And it’s doubtful that he will, because alligators are a protected species. Trapping them is illegal.
“Let’s just say I alerted the authorities and they arrived in what I would consider record time,” explained Dr. Ledbrader. “They seized the creature and thanked me for my trouble. Moments later they were out the door and quite frankly, I haven’t heard from them since. They aren’t returning my calls, and for the time being, at least, I don’t expect they will.
“One source did tell me that the feds had come in. But that’s all I know.”
Dr. Ledbrader said the creature showed an instinctive and intense fear of humans during its first half hour in captivity. Although it has a distinctly human head, it did not speak, but hissed like an ordinary alligator.
“It warmed up a little when I offered it some food,” he continued. “My assistant had some fried chicken and a piece of chocolate cake left over from lunch, and it gobbled them up, bones and all, like there was no tomorrow.
“After that, it remained wary but showed no sign of fear. It was eerie, really, to watch it watch us. That face is distinctly human. And the eyes are clearly intelligent. When I spoke with my assistant, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the creature understood at least some of what we were saying.
“I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, that’s for sure.”
While state and federal officials continue their study of the creature in secret, Dr. Ledbrader and other experts are combing the area, looking for similar creatures. “It’s difficult to believe that just one of them managed to survive on its own,” he said.