The Truth Behind the Alien Reptile Hoax

Why Dinosaurs Pop Up in Some Very Unlikely Conspiracy Theories


London Natural History Museum

In 1990, a former British soccer player named David Icke began sharing his "psychic visions" with the world. According to Icke, our planet is secretly being controlled by a race of humanoid reptiles from the Alpha Draconis star system, 300 light years away. Not only do these "reptoids" or "reptilians" live underground beneath the earth's major cities, Icke contends, but they drink human blood and have the ability to shape-shift. Sadly, most of the world's leaders have already been co-opted by these evil reptiles; Icke and his followers believe that former president George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II are both reptoids in disguise.

Of course, Icke isn't the first person in history to ascribe supernatural powers to reptiles. Snake- and crocodile-like gods are common in ancient mythology, and there were some notable pop-culture reptilian references that preceded Icke (and may, in fact, have directly influenced his philosophy). In 1983, the hugely successful TV miniseries "V" featured an invasion by conniving alien reptiles disguised as humanoids. After Icke appeared on the scene, the most famous fictional reptilian is arguably the snake-like Voldemort from the "Harry Potter" books; however, there's no evidence that J.K. Rowling even knows who David Icke is.

Are Reptoids Really Intelligent Dinosaurs?

It's unclear whether or not Icke believes that his alien reptoids descended from, or were somehow responsible for, the dinosaurs that roamed the earth until 65 million years ago. However, bizarre conspiracy theories have a way of rapidly mutating, and the Icke cult has spawned a subset of enthusiasts who believe that dinosaurs didn't, in fact, go extinct, but evolved into super-intelligent reptoids—so super-intelligent, in fact, that they've managed to evade detection to this day, except (perhaps) by ex-footballers prone to psychic visions.

These conspiracy theorists have received an unintentional boost from North Carolina State paleontologist Dale Russell, who in 1982 published a paper speculating about what might have become of the dinosaur Troodon had the K/T Extinction not happened. Since Troodon was an uncommonly intelligent dinosaur, Russell surmised, its uninterrupted evolutionary arc might have resulted, tens of millions of years later, in a race of super-intelligent, humanoid reptilians.

One common attribute of conspiracy theorists (not to mention religious fundamentalists and disbelievers in the theory of evolution) is to take the speculations of reputable scientists as established, carved-in-stone fact. Today, most adherents of the reptoid cult cite Russell's paper as "proving" the existence of humanoid reptiles, and many uninformed readers have helped spread the word. Russell himself, of course, meant no such thing, and is doubtless embarrassed by the cult he unintentionally fueled with his research.

Are Humanoid Reptiles a Scientific Possibility?

Despite what Icke and other conspiracy theorists claim, there's absolutely no proof that a race of super-intelligent reptoids (or Martians, or swamp monsters) lurk beneath the sewers of Paris, New York, and Beijing. There is also no evidence that the earth has ever been visited by flying saucers or that reptilian aliens have tinkered with human DNA, or that Queen Elizabeth II is a lizard in disguise (though some Icke cultists claim to have seen a "second eyelid" flickering across her pupils, if you look really closely at slowed-down news footage).

But is it possible that an isolated population of meat-eating dinosaurs (Troodon, or some other genus) managed to survive the K/T Extinction, and persist to this day on some remote island or in the middle of a dense rain forest? The odds are vanishingly small, but not zero. However, the chances are even more remote for a scenario in which these dinosaurs have evolved into super-intelligent beings, which would require (among other things) a huge increase in their population, making detection by (and competition with) contemporary human beings a certainty. The fact is that reptoids, reptilians, or whatever you want to call them simply don't exist, despite what David Icke and his followers claim.