Ol' Rip the Horned Toad

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Ol' Rip (died January 19, 1929) was a horned lizard (commonly referred to as a "horned toad") whose supposed 31-year hibernation as an entombed animal is believed by some and doubted by others. His name is a reference to the fictional character Rip Van Winkle. In 1897, a horned lizard was placed in a cornerstone of the Eastland County Courthouse in Eastland, Texas along with other time capsule memorabilia. When the courthouse was torn down 31 years later, the cornerstone was opened on February 18, 1928, a live horned lizard was produced, allegedly from within the time capsule. The lizard became a celebrity, and went on tour, even being taken to Washington, D.C. to meet President Calvin Coolidge.

Ol' Rip died 11 months later, and his remains can be seen on display in the new Eastland County Courthouse. In 1973 the body was stolen and an anonymous letter explained that the finding of Ol' Rip alive had been a hoax and demanded other unnamed co-conspirators should come forth. When no one did, another letter was received stating that the coffin and body could be found in the county fairgrounds. The coffin was found there and returned to the courthouse, though some suspected the body in the coffin was a substitute for the real lizard who now resides in a secret private collection somewhere.

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