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Big Buried Secrets: Giant Skeletons and the Smithsonian

The debate over whether The Smithsonian has hidden evidence of “giants” in American prehistory continues to be torn apart by proponents from both “believer” and “skeptic” camps. Yet sadly, there is a question underlying the debate that is far bigger than even the largest giant skeleton. 

The question has long been asked: have giant skeletons been discovered throughout the Americas, and if so, is the Smithsonian Institute in Washington actively seeking to cover up those discoveries?

Admittedly, while there is actually some legitimate historical information that may have to do with discoveries of this kind (which we will examine shortly), in modern times we would be hard pressed to explain why there are so few–if any–credible specimens that appear to depict humanoids of large enough proportions to qualify for being actual giants, let alone those which are kept from public view for clandestine reasons. The obvious skeptical assumption would be that this is simply because no such specimens exist. However, this lack of evidence, in the mind of the more conspiracy-minded among us, has more to do with a vast coverup than the actual non-existence of giants in ancient times.

A number of researchers have argued that evidence for this can be found within a minority of “credible” cases that exist mostly in nineteenth century newspaper articles. Herein, of course, lies a big part of the problem: obviously, while we cannot rule out as hoaxes every instance where a newspaper reported the discovery of large, seemingly human remains prior to the 1930s, we must acknowledge nonetheless that journalists took much greater liberties with the facts in those days. Newspaper hoaxes were actually very common in the nineteenth century, with renowned writers the likes of Mark Twain even admitting to the use of journalism hoaxes for politically-driven satire. If anything, even the “good” reports of anomalous remains that turn up in old newspaper accounts should be taken with more than just a grain of salt.

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This point was brought up in a recent blog by skeptical researcher Jason Colavito, who took a shot at tackling the mystery of giant skeleton conspiracies and the Smithsonian Institute by exposing what he sees as the faulty logic of the conspiracy argument:

The “reports”—from old newspapers—are assumed true [by conspiracy theorists], so the fact that no such remains exist (or ever existed) at the Smithsonian is now proof of a cover-up. The claim that the Smithsonian had the skeletons of giants, incidentally, does not appear in the literature of the nineteenth century, when these giant bones were allegedly consigned to the museum; presumably, the Biblical literalists of the day would have made as much of them as they did of the Cardiff Giant, and yet it was not so. In fact, as early as 1865 the Smithsonian published a document by Ducrotay de Blainville, following Cuvier, attributing “giant” humanoid bones to mastodons.

Colavito goes on to note that there “should be some record in the Smithsonian materials of these alleged bones,” particularly during a period in history like the mid-to-late nineteenth century, when belief in the existence of giants might have been taken for granted. “I find it interesting that I can track down no claim of missing giant bones from the Smithsonian,” Covalito concludes, “until the rise of the modern creationist and alternative history movements in the middle twentieth century, when suddenly Victorian yellow journalism became proof of biblical truths.”

Colavito is correct in asserting that there are no indications in the historic record where large “anomalous skeletons” have gone missing from the Smithsonian. However, as we shall soon see, this does not mean that such gigantic remains were never found at all.

In contrast, one commenter on Covalito’s post, Eric Johns, offered an example from 1911, where researchers named Pugh and Hart had found the remains of large, red haired humans at Sunset Cave close to Lovelock, Nevada. The remains found there were said to be between 6.5 and just over seven feet tall, and some of the remains were shipped to the Smithsonian Institute by L.L. Loud, an archaeologist with the University of California, one year later.”These notes are still on digital file at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology,” Johns shared, “listed under reference number 544, An Anthropological Expedition of 1913.”  But interestingly, Pugh and Hart, while releasing the majority of the remains to the Smithsonian, also managed to keep a number of the strange artifacts and bones they found, including several skulls, which Johns says remain today at the Humboldt Museum in Winnemucca, Nevada. The boxes obtained by the Smithsonian, however, cannot be accounted for so easily:

[The University of California] seems to have misplaced the skeletons, yet the other material is still there and on display in their exhibits. The same can be said of the Smithsonian, who still use some of Loud’s artifacts for their Southwest exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian. Again, no giant skeletons to be found in their exhibits or catalog. 

Responding to John’s comment, Colavito wrote:

If 6.5 feet is a “giant,” that makes my grandfather, at 6’6″, Goliath. While unusual for their era, these sizes are not unheard of for human beings and are therefore neither shocking nor supernatural.

The skeptic in me would agree with Covalito that, indeed, it is not impossible (or even all that unordinary) in modern times to find a person of similar stature to the “giants” discussed by Johns in his commentary. Maybe this wouldn’t necessarily constitute an “anomaly” to assume such persons existed in America several hundreds of years or more ago.

However, debating whether the size of these specimens fits the criteria for being “giants” or not is an exercise that misses the greater point entirely: that an independent museum managed to maintain record of the remains discovered at Sunset Cave, while the Smithsonian and University of California apparently did not. Had the folks on the receiving end of this odd shipment to the Smithsonian simply been exercising extreme incompetence, or was there some other reason for the “loss” of certain parts of the shipment? This case wouldn’t have to involve human remains of large stature in order call into question why the Smithsonian would misplace portions of the batch shipment, while maintaining others for display. In other words, the mystery has as much to do with the misplacement of a discovery as it does the claims of “giant” bodies being what were actually uncovered.

Also, most modern skeptics would likely look at the rather unimpressive estimated height of 6’6″ skeletons in the Pugh and Hart case, and use this as an argument against the existence of giants in American prehistory altogether. At very least, they might use it to bolster the assertion that conspiracy theorists, creationists, and the downright gullible simply exaggerate the details of “giant” discoveries, so as to cater better to the fantastic stories that such “researchers” would seek to promote.

Colavito is right to assert that a 6’6″ individual is “neither shocking nor supernatural.”  He is probably right again when he states that he could find no mention of missing giant bones in the nineteenth century, thus suggesting that the conspiracy assertions are a more recent phenomenon.

What cannot be denied, however, are the historical discoveries of giant skeletons much larger than those discovered at Sunset Cave in 1911. Records for these discoveries still exist today, and are available in the public record, along with detailed descriptions. But these accounts won’t be found in any questionable newspaper accounts from more than a century ago, or even in the hearsay and speculation of the finest alternative history buffs. Instead, what may be the very best evidence of curiously large skeletons from America’s past were published more than a century ago by the very target of the so-called conspiracies: The Smithsonian Institute.

In the Twelfth Annual Report from the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian, published in 1894, Cyrus Thomas and Thomas Powell of the Bureau of Ethnology wrote of several discoveries where large, seemingly human skeletal remains were found. The first we’ll examine here was discovered in Roane County, Tennessee:

“Underneath [a] layer of shells the earth was very dark and appeared to be mixed with vegetable mold to the depth of 1 foot. At the bottom of this, resting on the original surface of the ground, was a very large skeleton lying horizontally at full length. Although very soft, the bones were sufficiently distinct to allow of careful measurement before attempting to remove them. The length from the base of the skull to the bones of the toes was found to be 7 feet 3 inches. It is probable, therefore, that this individual when living was fully 7½ feet high.”

Often, such accounts end up being fabrications or portions of text that are taken grossly out of context. Hence, I decided to see if any scans of the original published report could be found online for download. Indeed, the entire Twelfth Annual Report from the Smithsonian’s Bureau of Ethnology can be found online at Archive.org, with a PDF version here that can be viewed freely in its entirety. The relevant portion from the excerpt above can be found on page 362, and is pictured below:

skeleton-1

Another instance occurs in the same report, this time at presumed Indian burial mounds at Dunlieth, Illinois:

“Near the original surface, 10 or 12 feet from the center, on the lower side, lying at full length on its back, was one of the largest skeletons discovered by the Bureau agents, the length as proved by actual measurement being between 7 and 8 feet. It was clearly traceable, but crumbled to pieces immediately after removal from the hard earth in which it was encased….”

Page 115 of the printed report features the relevant text:

skeleton II

Indeed, it seems that the Smithsonian at one time did discover and document what could only be called “giants,” during the same period that many of the American newspapers were reporting similar stories. Whether this bolsters the legitimacy of those reports may still be questionable; however, few would argue that trained scientists the likes of Powell and Thomas–despite the allegations of coverups and conspiracies–likely knew what they were talking about when they took these measurements, and reported on the existence of humans that, when alive, would easily have stood taller than seven feet.

Also, it should be noted that in the latter of the two cases, it states that the skeleton “crumbled to pieces” when attempts were made to remove portions of the body. Hence, the reason in this instance for why the Smithsonian would possess no remains in their record seems clear: they weren’t able to retrieve a skeleton at all, since the discovery was too fragile to remove from the site. In other words, while the Smithsonian has actually acknowledged finding such large skeletons, there may be legitimate reasons as to why no bones were ever recovered in some instances.

That isn’t to say that this scenario is always the case, however. Further complicating the mystery of missing giant bones is the following excerpt from an article I wrote several years ago, which included the inquiries of the late zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson, along with his frustrations with what appeared to include more allegations of evasive attitudes by the Smithsonian:

Sometime in the 1960s, Sanderson wrote about an odd letter he received regarding an engineer who, during World War II, had been stationed on the Aleutian island of Shemya. While building an airstrip, the bulldozing of a group of hills in the area led the engineer and his crew to unearth several sedimentary layers of human remains. They noted the extraordinary length of the crania and leg bones at the site, having apparently belonged to people of gigantic proportions. The skulls were said to have measured up to 24 inches from base to crown, far greater than the length of an average human skull. Also of interest was that each was said to have been trepanned, the strange process of drilling or cutting a hole and removing a top center portion of the skull, thought by some ancient cultures to enable a variety of alleged “benefits”, including psychicabilities, etc. Sanderson actively began to search for more proof of this incident, and later was able to contact another member of the unit who he said confirmed the bizarre story. By all accounts, the remains were said to have been gathered by the Smithsonian Institution, but no record of where they were taken was ever issued. Sanderson seemed convinced that the institute did indeed retrieve them however, going so far as to ask ‘is it that these people cannot face rewriting all the textbooks?’ “

Of course, when it comes to good science, few would argue the difference between hard evidence, and a really good story. The 1894 Bureau of Ethnology report provides us with historical documentation by agents with the Smithsonian for the discovery of large, anomalous bones that appeared to be human, and on at least two instances. Stories like that of Sanderson and the Sunset Cave discovery of 1911 suggest the discovery, as well as the potential mishandling, of otherwise precious bits of information about ancient America. And yet, none of these “stories,” whether told by independent researchers, or agents like Dr. Cyrus Thomas, really provide us with a complete specimen: if one good, complete giant skeleton were known to exist in its entirety, which scientists today could openly study and discuss with the public, there would be little need for discussion of a conspiracy.

Of course, the knowledge that such skeletons may indeed have been found at times, paired with the Smithsonian’s apparent inability to keep very good records about their discovery, no doubt helps to fuel the conspiratorial speculation. With all the unknown quantities present here (and whether they are largely fact, or merely fiction), at times it does become difficult to know whether the entire truth is really being told.

Regardless, do such discoveries of giant bones that are known to have existed, as the 1894 report seems to indicate, further lend to the claims of the conspiracy theorists? Or do they merely point to a deeper level of the mystery that has yet to be explored… and something which may contain new keys to life in ancient America?

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Mysteries

Water on the Moon: NASA cannot understand where it came from in temperate latitudes and what keeps it there

It is unknown where the frozen puddles appeared for the first time in the temperate latitudes of our natural satellite.

Water on the moon – in the form of ice, of course, was first found 10 years ago. Found in deep, dark and cold craters located at the poles. They were also delighted with this, deciding that in other – warmer and sunlit places – there could be no water. It would have disappeared long ago, even if it had come from somewhere.

However, either the scientists were mistaken, or they misunderstood something then, but the “new” water on the Moon was found exactly where it was not expected at all. The stratospheric observatory SOFIA (NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) found characteristic traces of “real” water not bound in minerals. 

Her telescope, equipped with an infrared camera (Faint Object infraRed CAmera), is installed on board a Boeing 747SP aircraft. Flying at an altitude of 15 kilometers, he observes our natural satellite – catches radiation – as part of a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

Water on the surface of the Moon - in its temperate latitudes - was discovered by NASA's flying observatory.

Water on the surface of the Moon – in its temperate latitudes – was discovered by NASA’s flying observatory.

Water, as shown by recent observations, “splashed” the crater Clavius ​​(Clavius ​​Crater), located in the southern hemisphere of the moon on its visible side. The water in it is distributed over areas of about 40 thousand square kilometers. It is about 412 ppm. Not much – in the Sahara Desert about 100 times more. But there is water on the moon. The researchers reported this on the US Space Agency website and in the journal Nature Astronomy.

How the water ended up in temperate latitudes, scientists do not yet know.

Water comes from somewhere and something keeps it there, – Casey Honniball, who led the research from NASA, is perplexed. But he suspects that water can be distributed over the entire surface of the moon, and not just in its individual nooks and crannies.

The search for lunar water will continue – in other places. In parallel, scientists will try to more accurately estimate its reserves.

Up to the waist, and somewhere up to the neck

The fact that the moon is by no means dry became known many years ago. Analyzes of the lunar soil, which were brought to Earth by Soviet automatic stations and American astronauts, demonstrated that water in a bound form is part of local minerals. It’s there – from 64 parts per billion to 5 parts per million. Not so little.

Scientists who have conducted a second analysis not so long ago, testify: if you “squeeze out” all the water trapped inside the rocks of the moon, and pour it over the surface, a layer 1 meter thick is formed. Almost up to the waist.

Scientists were experimentally convinced of the fact that there is not bound, but real – frozen – water on the Moon in 2009 by sending a stage of the Centaurus rocket, previously docked with the LCROSS probe and the probe itself to the Cabeus crater . The analysis of the exploding cloud of the explosion made it possible to find the cherished H2O molecules.In 2009, vapor from lunar water kicked up an explosion from a rocket stage hitting a crater.

In 2009, vapor from lunar water kicked up an explosion from a rocket stage hitting a crater.

In the same 2009, NASA specialists processed the data obtained using the radars of the Chandrayaan-1 probe of the Indian Space Research Organization. And they understood: there is more real water, hidden, however, under a layer of soil, on the Moon than one could imagine. Much more. In a relatively small area near the North Pole of our natural satellite, they found as many as 40 craters filled with ice. The crater diameters range from 2 to 15 kilometers. They contain at least 600 million tons of water. It’s almost a cubic kilometer – a huge lake in total. Deep in places.

In 2018, Chandrayan-1 came in handy again. Thanks to a device called the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (MMM), installed on board, astronomers from the University of Hawaii and Brown University, along with colleagues from NASA (Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley), saw for the first time naked lunar ice – a kind of “skating rinks”, filled in the polar and subpolar regions. Where there is always a terrible frost.The location of frozen bodies of water at the South (left) and North Poles of the Moon.

The location of frozen bodies of water at the South (left) and North Poles of the Moon.

And here is a new discovery: water on the entire lunar surface. It inspires optimism for future conquerors of extraterrestrial spaces – there is no need to import water from Earth. Its own, obtained right on the moon, is enough to get drunk, and wash, and produce rocket fuel.

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Mysteries

Murder Mysterious: What Happened at the Hinterkaife Farm?

This story, which took place on April 4, 1922, on the Hinterkaifike farm, located between Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen in Bavaria, still excites the minds of lawyers and journalists. Then they found the bodies of the owner of the farm and his wife, their daughter and her two children, a maid who had recently come to them to work …

Everyone in the village knew about the Gruber. They were a wealthy family, but with a bad reputation. The father of the family, Andreas Gruber, was a cruel and rude man, so the workers on the farm did not stay long. Although everyone wanted money, few were willing to endure Andreas’ harsh temper. Cecilia Gruber, his wife, used to be the owner of Hinterkaifeke – she inherited the farm from her husband. From him, she left two children, Martin and Cecilia. Soon the couple had a daughter, Victoria. She was not the only child, but the only one survived to adulthood – the rest of the children died in the absence of proper care. 

Victoria grew up with Cecilia the younger as a sister. She was a quiet girl who sang in the church choir. Andreas did not deny himself the pleasure of making fun of both girls, and when Victoria turned 16, he forced her to enter into a relationship with him. Nobody knew about this, because the family lived as hermits, and the locals preferred not to pry into other people’s affairs. 

Cecilia the younger got married and left. At the age of 27, Victoria also found herself a husband, Karl Gabriel. According to rumors, he married solely for the sake of a share of the land, but upon learning of the incestuous relationship between his wife and father-in-law, he dropped everything and went to the front. A month later, Victoria gave birth to a daughter, Cecilia. 

In the end, Victoria broke down and told about incest in confession. Gruber was sentenced to a year of hard labor, and she herself was imprisoned for a month. However, when Andreas returned, everything was resumed. Once their neighbor Lorenz Schlittenbauer wooed Victoria – his wife died then, he had sex with Victoria several times in the barn and must have decided that his farm still needs a mistress, besides, he is a respected non-poor man. But Andreas refused to marry his daughter, claiming that he “fondled her himself.” When it turned out that Victoria was pregnant, she persuaded Lorenz to recognize the child as her own, but she never got married, and Gruber was named his guardian. So Lorenz was forced to pay child support until the child came of age, not even being sure that he was from him.

The baby was named Joseph. Unfortunately, he was unwell, grew poorly and was often ill. For the villagers, this served as a signal that Joseph was born as a result of an unnatural relationship between Victoria and her father.

Footprints and ghosts

Shortly before the murder, Victoria was seized with anxiety. She repeated that she felt that the farm was being watched. She saw the silhouette of a man, but could not find out who it was. Andreas also noticed oddities: footprints in the snow around the house, rustling in the attic (and when he got up, no one was there), flashing torches … Once he found a Munich newspaper that no one in the family subscribed to. He also lost his keys.

On March 31, a couple of days before the murder, the maid Maria arrived at the farm. The previous one asked for a calculation when she began to suspect that a ghost was in charge of the house.

Murder

For several days, nothing was heard about the Gruber, but life was in full swing on the farm: smoke poured from the chimney, sounds were heard, someone walked … But after several people with whom Andreas had appointments, they could not getting inside, their neighbor Lorenz became worried and called the police. 

The bodies of all six were found in a house that was in perfect order. Little Joseph was killed in his cradle, Maria – in her bed, the rest were piled up in a heap by the barn and obviously not the first day dead. All residents of the farm were killed in one way – hitting the head with a hoe. At the same time, nothing of the valuable things and money, which was abundant on the farm, was not lost. Cynologists with dogs were able to take the trail of the criminal, but lost him at the edge of the forest.

The police interviewed about a hundred suspects, chief among whom was a neighbor of the Lorenz farm, whom Victoria had deceived and, perhaps, her ex-husband, who allegedly died at the front, could in fact be alive. In 2007, the students of the police academy, as a practice, re-investigated the case, found a new suspect, but out of respect for their relatives, they did not disclose their name.

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Mysteries

A dead star in our galaxy has sent a new radio signal

Magnetar SGR 1935 + 2154, which emitted the first known rapid radio burst from inside the Milky Way in April, flared again, giving astronomers another chance to unravel the cosmic mystery.

The little dead star that sent the signal earlier this year did it again.

On October 8, 2020, the CHIME / FRB collaboration discovered SGR 1935 + 2154 emitting three millisecond radio bursts in three seconds. Following the CHIME / FRB detection, the FAST radio telescope detected something else – pulsed radio emission corresponding to the rotation period of the magnetar.

It is very interesting to see SGR 1935 + 2154 again, and I am optimistic that if we study these bursts more closely, it will help us better understand the potential relationship between magnetars and fast radio bursts, “says astronomer Deborah Goode of the University of Britain Colombia in Canada and a member of CHIME / FRB.

Until April of this year, fast radio bursts (FRBs) were ever recorded only from outside the galaxy, usually from sources millions of light years away. The first was discovered in 2007, and since then astronomers have been trying to figure out what causes them.

As the name suggests, FRBs are bursts of extremely powerful radio waves found in the sky, some of which release more energy than hundreds of millions of suns. They only last a millisecond.

Since most sources of fast radio bursts seem to flare up once and no repetition is detected, they are highly unpredictable. In addition, the ones we detect usually come so far that our telescopes cannot distinguish individual stars. Both of these characteristics make it difficult to track the FRB to either the exact source galaxy or a known cause.

But SGR 1935 + 2154 is only 30,000 light-years away. On April 28, 2020, it spat out a massive millisecond pulse that has since been dubbed FRB 200428 under the fast radio transmission naming convention.

Once the signal strength was adjusted for distance, FRB 200428 was not as powerful as the extragalactic fast radio bursts, but everything else was in line with the profile.

“If the same signal came from a nearby galaxy, such as one of the closest typical FRB galaxies, it would look like an FRB to us,” said astronomer Srinivas Kulkarni of the California Institute of Technology. “We’ve never seen anything like it before.”

We don’t know much about the three new bursts yet. Since scientists are still working on the data, it is possible that some of the early findings could change, Goode said. But now we can say that they are both similar and not similar to FRB 200428.

They are a little less powerful again, but they are all still incredibly strong, and they all lasted only milliseconds.

“Although less bright than those detected earlier this year, they are still very bright flares that we would see if they were extragalactic,” Goode added.

“One of the more interesting aspects of this discovery is that our three bursts appear to have occurred during the same rotation period. The magnetar is known to rotate every ~ 3.24 seconds, but our first and second bursts were separated by 0.954 seconds, and the second and third were separated by 1.949 seconds. This is a bit unusual, and I think we will look at it later. “

This could reveal something new and useful about the behavior of magnetars, because – let’s face it – they’re pretty weird.

Magnetars, of which only 24 have been confirmed to date, are neutron stars; it is the collapsed core of a dead star, not massive enough to turn into a black hole. Neutron stars are small and dense, about 20 kilometers in diameter, with a maximum mass of about two Suns. But magnetars add something else to this: a stunningly powerful magnetic field.

These stunning fields are about a quadrillion times more powerful than Earth’s magnetic field and a thousand times more powerful than a normal neutron star. And we still do not fully understand how they came to this.

But we know that magnetars have periods of activity. As gravity tries to hold the star together – an internal force – the magnetic field pulling outward is so powerful that it distorts the star’s shape. This results in a constant voltage that sometimes causes giant starquakes and giant magnetic flares. SGR 1935 + 2154 is undergoing such activity, which suggests a link between magnetar attacks and at least some FRBs.

Obviously, astronomers have found that the source of the first intragalactic FRBs is of great interest. When CHIME / FRB reported their discovery, other astronomers decided to look at the star, including a team led by Zhu Weiwei of the National Astronomical Observatory of China, which had access to FAST, the largest single-aperture radio telescope in the world.

And they discovered something interesting, which was also reported on the astronomer’s Telegram – pulsed radio emission. These radio pulses were nowhere near as strong as the bursts, but they are extremely rare: if confirmed, SGR 1935 + 2154 will only be the sixth pulsed radio frequency magnetar. And the pulse period turned out to be equal to 3.24781 seconds – almost exactly the rotation period of the star.

This is curious, because until now astronomers have not been able to find a connection between magnetars and radio pulsars. Pulsars are another type of neutron star; they have a more normal magnetic field, but they pulsate with radio waves as they spin, and astronomers have long tried to figure out how the two types of stars are related.

Earlier this year, Australian astronomers identified a magnetar that behaved like a radio pulsar – a possible “missing link” between the two and evidence that at least some magnetars could evolve into pulsars. SGR 1935 + 2154 might be another piece of the puzzle.

“Based on these results and the increasing burst activity, we hypothesize that the magnetar may be in the process of transforming into an active radio pulsar,” Weiwei’s team wrote.

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