On 12 November 2014, the Twitter account @EarthBeauties posted a photograph of what was claimed to be a “satanic leaf-tailed gecko”:
Nearly four years later, the “Pictures in History” Facebook page posted the same photograph, describing the pictured creature as a “flying lizard”:
The animal seen here is indeed a type of lizard known as the satanic leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus), but it does not actually have wings. Those dragon-like appendages were added to a photograph taken by author, entomologist, and photographer Piotr Naskrecki.
The gecko grew wings about a year later when the photograph was posted to the Hybrid Animals subreddit, which encourages participants to “Create new animals by combining species with each other and/or with any other stuff you find appropriate. Using Photoshop.”
The altered photograph began spreading online and received a big viral push on 9 June 2013 when it was retweeted by the Game Of Thrones Twitter account:
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) June 9, 2013
The doctored photograph of the satanic leaf-tailed gecko has seen a few spikes in popularity since it first went viral in 2013, and it will likely see a few more surges over the years. But regardless of how many times the image goes viral, this species of gecko will never sprout wings nor become a member of the dragon family.