Manipulated images show imaginary creature, not 'extinct animal' found in Sri Lanka

A national park in Sri Lanka said it had recorded no sightings of a "chikibilla", contradicting social media posts that said the dinosaur-like creature had re-emerged there after it was thought to be extinct. Wildlife experts also told AFP that no such creature exists. The images appeared to have been digitally manipulated.

"The 'Chikibilla', which was thought to be extinct, has been found after 103 years in Yala National Park," read the Sinhala-language caption to three images shared on Facebook on March 24, 2024.

Yala National Park, a vast park and nature reserve in Sri Lanka's southeast, is home to a wide variety of mammals and bird species (archived link).

The pictures appear to show four-legged creatures in a dark wooded area.


Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on April 24, 2024

The same images were shared alongside similar claims elsewhere on Facebook here, here and here.

Comments by some users suggested they believed the images showed a real animal.

"Seeing this would be enough to scare you to death," read one Sinhala-language comment.

Another said: "How many more animals are hidden?"

But the images do not show a real animal in Sri Lanka.

"No such thing has been reported from Yala National Park," a spokesperson for the park told AFP on April 30.

Wildlife experts also told AFP there was no truth to the claims.

Kanishka Ukuwela, a senior lecturer in zoology at Sri Lanka's Rajarata University told AFP, "There is no animal called 'Chikibilla' in Sri Lanka. I doubt there is such an animal in the world either" (archived link).

Ruchira Somaweera, principal environmental scientist at community design company Stantec, also dismissed the claims (archived links here and here).

"This is an absolute myth with no truth whatsoever," he said. 

A reverse image search on Google led to a Facebook page that posted the same images, but which has since deleted them (archived link).

The page's description states it publishes "AI assisted SciFi/Horror". It also adds that fan art on its page is made from a combination of sketches, AI and Photoshop.

Images of creatures in a similar woodland setting were posted elsewhere on the page here (archived link).

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