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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Decemystery (2022.3) 13: The Sabertooth Lion Man


When I was young, my favorite prehistoric animal was the sabretoothed cat; it was to the point where I wanted them not to be extinct since I wanted to own one as a pet. I was a stupid kid and had stupid dreams; don’t judge my meager 6-year-old mind too harshly!

Anyway, despite not wanting to own one anymore on account of my desire to still have limbs (and a head—that’s also important), I still think Smilodon is awesome. In fact, I still kind of hope it’s survived since I think it’d be awesome to see one in person. I may not want to own one as a pet anymore, but I’m still filled with idiotic dreams and desires, like seeing a creature in person that could rip my head off like it was made of paper.

My moronic yearnings aside, today’s Decemystery entry is one that caught my eye for a few reasons, not the least of which is the inclusion of the word “sabretooth.” Yes, I know that in the actual story, it’s spelled the British way, but I spell it the way I’ve spelled it my whole life. So, without further ado, let’s take a dive into the realm of the unknown once again and talk about The Sabretooth Lion Man!

Tooth and Claw

I found this story very early on when browsing through the archives of About. It was posted in November 2004 under the name “Sabretooth Monster.” The author went by cjlethal; I’m unsure of their gender, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that CJ’s a guy and refer to him as, well, CJ from here on out.

When and where this story occurred, I have no idea. Given CJ estimated the creature’s height in feet, I’m tempted to say it may be in the United States, but it’s not the only nation to use the Imperial system. Additionally, it’s possible CJ could have changed it if he knew the site had a lot of American readers.

As for when this took place, I have absolutely no clue. CJ mentioned at one point that it was autumn and that it happened when he was 10 years old, but he never said how old he is now. Additionally, I have no idea if About had any sort of profile system or a comment section that didn’t get archived. So, yeah, to say we’re going into this story dark is an understatement.

Our story begins before the dawn of time when everything was nothing. Then, the lights were turned on, and everything was something. Hey, if CJ won’t tell me when this occurred, I’ll do it myself.

Once everything was settled, CJ eventually came to be. When he was 10, he was outside playing with his friends. They opted to play hide-and-seek outside when it was dark. CJ was chosen to go hide and ran into the woods, believing that none of his friends would be brave enough to follow. 

This belief proved to be correct as none of CJ’s followed him. Despite this, he “heard the rustling of leaves” as he got near a tree. He hid behind it but still heard the “rustling of the crunchy, dead leaves” nearby. He checked to see if his feet were, for whatever reason, moving; they weren’t. I have no idea why he’d suspect that, but he did specify it was a “chilly autumn night,” so maybe he’d have been shivering.

CJ looked around to see if there was someone else wandering around the woods but found no one. Then, he “looked over” somewhere and saw something. That something was a 7-foot (2.1-meter) creature. It turned around, revealing glowing yellow eyes. CJ described it as resembling a “mutated being that took on the form of a lion.” For this next bit, I’m going to directly quote from the About post because it blows me away with just how absurd it is.

At first, I thought it was one of my friends playing a Halloween prank on me, so I tried to laugh it off, but it held no laughter, no remorse.

This, at the very least, tells us that this occurred on or around Halloween, which is nice. However, that’s not what I wanted to draw attention to. No, what I want to draw attention to is how CJ said he believed it to be one of his friends. I understand that kids can be naïve and stupid, but this thing was apparently 7 feet tall. How in the world could that be one of your friends? Was one of your friends Shaquille O’Neal? There’s naïvety, and then there’s whatever the heck CJ was suffering from here.

The laughter evidently did not go over well with the monster, who began to approach CJ. I want to note right now that CJ never goes into more detail about how it looked, whether it had a mane like a lion or if it had paws or hands and feet. It was dark out, but if he could tell that it resembled a mutant that took on the guise of a lion, I would have liked more details. But, hey, maybe he forgot them.

Understandably scared of the encroaching man-beast, CJ began to throw rocks, sticks, branches, and anything else in an attempt to stall it. This makes me wonder how close it actually was, but I digress. After setting up a series of unconquerable obstacles, CJ ran off. Unfortunately, the creature was able to bypass the obstacle course and ran after its prey.

Lucky for CJ, he was somehow faster than this abomination. He then leaped off a small cliff and landed on a parking lot below. For whatever reason, the monster didn’t follow and let its would-be snack go free.

Eventually, CJ met back up with his friends and told them about his close encounter with Manimal. Some of them believed him, while others did not. I wish I knew why some believed him since that may help to establish if this creature is—or was—a local legend or not.

CJ ends off by saying this was his “first creature sighting” and that he named this one “Sabretooth.” Given he said it was his first creature sighting, I have to wonder if he had more sightings. Unfortunately, I have no idea since I can’t find any others from CJ. If I ever do, I’ll be sure to cover them.

Now, as for why the creature was given that name, CJ never explicitly says it, but I assume it had teeth like those of Smilodon. Unfortunately, CJ did not specify, and therefore, I can only make an assumption. This is beyond detrimental to the theories because there’s one that only has one flaw, and that’s related to the creature’s teeth.


Anyway, with that, the story of the Sabretooth Lion Man comes to an end. It follows a trend that a lot of stories from About in that it doesn’t provide a lot of detail. It’s a serious shame because there are a couple of theories that would greatly benefit from just a bit more detail. Though, why say that here when the theories are right below us; let’s jump into them!


1. An escaped government experiment

The first theory is one that I don’t think has anything to stand upon outside of CJ’s claim that the creature looked like a mutant that took on the guise of a lion. In hindsight, that’s an aggressively vague description that I don’t really know what to make of, but I digress. I’m still including this since there are a handful of stories that we’ll be covering this month (and have already covered, like The Bagodemon) that I think warrant this being mentioned. With that said, I also won’t linger on it for too long since it’s rather shallow.

Although I think the US government is the one most would think of when it comes to creating killer mutant supersoldiers, that dubious honor can go to just about any nation on Earth with a GDP above 1. It doesn’t matter if you create an herbal remedy or juice up the nearest tough-as-nails John Cena look-alike. All that matters is you can get a bulletproof beast to kill your enemies! Unfortunately, with this story, I have no idea where it took place, so I can’t speculate on whether this was some sort of experiment to help in Operation Iraqi Freedom or some other conflict in the Middle East.

What I can say is that, if nothing else, the idea of a man-beast would be great for stealthy operations. Sure, its height and weight wouldn’t allow for that, but you’d at least have the unfathomable power and agility of a lion mixed with what I can only assume would be the intelligence of a human. Alas, without any knowledge of where this took place and if there were any government facilities nearby—along with the other many, many flaws this theory brings with it, I’d err on the side of caution when buying into it.

2. A humanoid cryptid

For our second theory, we have what I believe may be the most logical—if we’re to assume that this thing was something that cannot be explained. By all accounts, this creature was something that sounds like, well, a hairy hominid. However, there are two things that stand out a lot.

The first is the lion-like appearance. There are a lot of different animal-man cryptids. Gator Man, Mantis Man, the list goes on and on. Practically every single animal you can think of has some sort of animal-man to its name. Lions are no exception, as you can read here on the Chilluminati Podcast subreddit. However, I don’t know of any other encounters with a creature like this off the top of my head. I’m sure they exist, but they don’t appear to be common.

The second problem is one that plagues this story, though it isn’t a complete hindrance here; the saber-like teeth are easily this creature’s most identifiable trait, and they’re not something I’ve seen in a lot of cryptids outside of two. The first is with supposed sightings of sabretoothed cats. I know, a real shocker; now, carrying onto the second, we have to take a trip to the Land Down Under. You see, there’s one cryptid I want to zero in on since it’s the first thing to come to mind when I first read this story.

In 1932, there was a flurry of sightings in Victoria, Australia, of a creature dubbed the “Yowie.” Most know of that beast as Australia’s version of Bigfoot, though the one the people of Victoria saw was different. You see, this Yowie—if it was a Yowie—had large tusks, not unlike those of a sabretooth tiger. Unlike those beasts, the “Tusked Yowie” had four. Like any Bigfoot-type creature, it was hairy and tall—in this case, 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall. While a sketch of the monster exists (see below), it doesn’t showcase four, but a newspaper report from the time does mention it having four tusks.

I won’t go into the full details of this creature since I want to cover it in the future; the Yowie is an incredibly interesting tale. However, if you want to read about one of the attacks—where the beast tore a man’s shirt apart—click here. Thanks to Truth is Scarier Than Fiction for linking this in a Reddit post on the creature. It’s always nice to see people who cite their sources!

My ultimate point is that the monster CJ saw bears some similarities with the Tusked Yowie. I have no idea if this type of Yowie—if it ever existed—has been seen in the decades since it was first reported. However, given the similarities, I won’t rule out the possibility of something like it existing elsewhere. Unless, of course, CJ resided in Australia. In that case, I guess we can assume the Tusked Yowie was around whenever this story took place!

3. A product of the imagination of a child

A child’s imagination: it’s that thing that lets them believe their action figures are actually involved in real, epic battles. It’s also what leads them to believe that every shadow is a monster that’s going to turn their life into the plot to Insidious. Okay, maybe that last part was because I’ve had Blumhouse movies on my mind as of late, but you get the idea.

The imagination of a child is something that can explain a lot of supposed monster sightings; couple that with no given timeframe for how long ago this occurred, and you can definitely make an argument for this having been inside of CJ’s mind. However, there is one question that begs for an answer: what would CJ have seen that led him to think there was a lion-man? Well, some can argue about a tree that had a nearby light source creating a strange shadow, but there’s one that I personally like—one above all others: a wild animal.

There are two suspects I want to single out: a bear and a mountain lion. Let’s start with the former since it’s the easiest of the two to go over.

Given the lack of a clear description of the lion man, it’s hard to tell what exactly it looked like. The one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that bears don’t have saber-like teeth. However, when standing upright, a black bear can be upwards of 7 feet tall. So, while they may not have crazy teeth that stick out like knives, they are the same height.

Additionally, bears are also beefy and huge; while I have no idea how bulky the lion man was, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to mistake one standing upright for something akin to Bigfoot. In fact, one of the most common explanations for Bigfoot sightings is a bear walking upright!

With that said, there is one issue—aside from the lack of saber-like teeth—that puts a major kink in this theory. Assuming this was a black bear, it’d be rather hard to outrun one. Black bears can run 30–35 mph (48–56 kph). While the distance between CJ and the bear may have been relatively sizable, throwing things at a bear and then running is a surefire way for you to be found without a face, scalp, and quite a few other very important things you need in order to keep living.

Still, it’s possible the bear ran off for whatever reason, perhaps being intimidated by the stunning display of throwing rocks and sticks. That leads us to the second suspect, and it’s one that’s exceedingly unlikely, but I feel it still needs to be mentioned, just in case.

Whether you call them mountain lions or cougars, one thing remains the same: they aren’t something you want to come across when you lack a means of defending yourself. The thought of being out in the woods or anywhere, really, and coming across one of these animals is nothing short of a nightmare. Sure, attacks are rare, but that doesn’t mean coming face-to-face with one wouldn’t be intense!

Mountain lions aren’t known for wandering into residential areas, but it does sometimes happen. Assuming that this was one of those rare instances, it’s possible that what CJ saw was a mountain lion trying to climb up onto a nearby tree for one reason or another. But wait, how was it walking upright? Well, that can be explained. Per the Mountain Lion Foundation’s website—specifically chapter four: An Almost Perfect Predator:

Cats and many other carnivores walk upright on their toes, a stance known as digitigrade, as opposed to the plantigrade stance found in humans and bears) Webbed skin and fur between the toes muffle sound as the cat walks, and while stalking or walking on snow or a muddy surface, the hindfeet can be placed almost exactly in the track of the forefeet.

So, as absurd as it may sound, it’s apparently possible that this was a mountain lion that was walking upright because it was muddy—or it had been trying to climb the tree. Is it likely? I have no clear idea since I’m not an expert on these animals—or any animal, for that matter. But, from the sound of it, it could have happened.

However, even if that were the case, I have absolutely no idea how on Earth CJ was able to outrun it unless the small cliff was incredibly close. Mountain lions are incredibly fast, capable of reaching speeds of 40–50 mph (64–80 kph). I sincerely doubt that there’s any feasible way that this thing was unable to catch him unless it had been running away from him the entire time, and he merely thought it was gaining on him.

Even then, I have to admit that this theory is flimsy. I have no idea how common it is for a mountain lion to stand upright, nor do I know if one would ever do rather than pounce on its prey. Additionally, even though it’s incredibly obvious to anyone with a single brain cell, mountain lions don’t have saber-like teeth.

Despite that, it’s possible that CJ’s imagination ran wild, and he ended up mistaking either animal for a monster. It’s also possible that, against all odds, the animal ran off because of him throwing stuff at it or something else scared it off. If that weren’t the case, then CJ is the fastest kid alive because he managed to outrun whatever was chasing him.

4. A guy in a costume

I’m including this theory on account of CJ believing it may have been one of his friends and that it was Halloween (or around Halloween). As we discussed during the Pennsylvania Pumpkinhead story, people like to pull pranks, especially during Halloween time. Being a boring plebeian who isn’t a fan of Halloween, I’m not into that kind of thing, but I have to admit that pranking my friends can be quite enjoyable, even if I’m certain they want to throw a toaster at me.

This theory is by absolutely no means implausible; the idea of someone dressing up in a costume to potentially scare someone doesn’t strike me as odd, especially if it was Halloween time. I’m also pretty sure there are ways to recreate eyeshine.

To play the game of hypotheticals, I would say that it’s not out of the realm of possibility for this person to have been out with some friends when they decided to cut through the woods. They may have gotten split up or something, and this person might have thought CJ was their friend. That could explain why he wasn’t followed off that small cliff; it finally clicked that that wasn’t their friend.

However, there are two main issues with this. The first is that somehow, this person didn’t realize their friend was the size of a 10-year-old child. It’s possible they were with a younger sibling or relative, but I’d be concerned about how this person lost track of them. I know kids can go running off, but dang, man. You have to be more careful. You can’t get a warranty on a child.

The second one, and the one that bothers me considerably more, is that this thing was 7 feet tall. Look, let’s set aside the connotations of this person having chased after a child; I know there are many uncomfortable directions that can go. But let’s just set that aside and focus on the height because this is something that needs to be mentioned if this theory is to work.

In 2011, in an edition of Sports Illustrated, Pablo S. Torre used data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to estimate that “no more than 70 American men are between the ages of 20 and 40 and at least 7 feet tall.” You can read the entire article on The Boston Globe’s website, but it’s only two sentences, and it’s about the percentage of people who get into the NBA.

Now, as for around the world, the number of humans (again, according to the CDC) who are over 7 feet tall is around 2,800 (that’s 0.000038% of the world’s population). This information was cited in yet another article relating to basketball, this time from WUSA9.

While it isn’t impossible that CJ happened to run across someone in a lion costume who was 7 feet tall, I would argue that it’s astonishingly unlikely—to the point that it would be next to impossible. Especially since I cannot imagine that there would be anyone who’s that tall who wouldn’t be pursuing a career in some sort of sport; the idea of dressing up in a lion costume and traveling through the woods rather than either sleeping or training to become the next greatest NBA star, is beyond absurd to me. Oh well, I digress; on to the next theory.

5. A hoax

I’m not sure if this theory has much of a leg to stand on, but I’m including it since it’s the easiest theory to run with on any given day. Besides, I know there has to be someone reading this who will subscribe to it!

As you’ll see throughout this month, stories that originate from About are vague and next to impossible to find additional information for. This story is no exception, and because of that, it’s hard not to look to this theory as the answer to everything. It would make my life a lot easier since carpal tunnel is making it hard for me to write! Too bad nothing in life is easy; if it was, I would have billions to my name and a spaceship.

In all seriousness, I think this theory explains everything well enough, but I’m hesitant to outright dismiss CJ’s experience. I mean, compared to something like The Bagodemon, this is an outright normal case. Anyway, let’s carry on before I go in circles like a dog chasing its tail.

6. An alien

I’m actually lying about this one; I just wanted to have a total of seven theories since it’s a lucky number.

7. An escaped mascot for Crest toothpaste 

4 out of 5 dentists recommend not touching its teeth.

My Take

This story has all the hallmarks of a case of misidentification. It occurred late at night. The eyewitness was young, and he ended up panicking before running off. To me, it has everything you’d find in a case like that. However, there’s one detail I cannot make sense of: the saber-like teeth. 

I wish for nothing more at this point in time than for the opportunity to ask CJ if it had teeth like Smilodon or if they were closer to that of a normal big cat. While the nickname of “Sabretooth” implies that they were like those of a sabretooth tiger, a part of me is inclined to wonder if maybe his mind played tricks on him, and it was a mountain lion that had wandered into the area and was trying to climb a tree.

Now, admittedly, that sounds rather unlikely. If a mountain lion were to chase after you, I sincerely doubt you’re going to outrun it, especially if you’d thrown stuff at it. Additionally, I cannot imagine it would have walked toward CJ upright in order to get close to him. I’m not a professional when it comes to animals, but that seems really odd.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the only explanation—aside from it having been made up (which I’d say is the easy route out)—is that it was some sort of humanoid cryptid. Unless CJ happened to mistake a bear for a humanoid lion thing, I don’t know what else not could have been. Well, aside from a hoax, of course.


Writing the stories for this month has been an experience—and that’s being modest about it. This one, in particular, was insane to write. My carpal tunnel has gotten so much worse with the blitz of writing, and this story was, for whatever reason, one that made me wish I could replace my arms with robotic ones. I guess it’s kind of fitting; I’m certain that’s what I would have needed had I ever owned a sabretooth cat. That, or I’d be dead, and that fluffy kitten would be stuffed and on display in the Smithsonian.

Anyway, with all of that now said and done, I have but one final question: what do you all think this 7-foot-tall man-beast was? Was it some sort of government experiment, a case of misidentification, or something else entirely? Leave a comment and all that other stuff because, honestly, I can’t figure out how to end things anymore; I’ve hit the point where I feel like I’m on autopilot. Oh, and as always, stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you for reading!

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