Throughout history, legends speak of a race of giant beings that once lived and roamed the planet. In North America, natives like the Iroquois, the Osage, and the Hurons, have long heard stories – told by their forefathers – of these ancient giants. Aside from Native Americans, many cultures, including the Norse, Romans, and Greeks, all tell tales of these massive beings. In the last few centuries, over a thousand reports can be found of immense skeletons, seven-feet and taller, being unearthed from ancient burial sites. In the United States alone, newspaper accounts, town histories, journals, and even Smithsonian Institute reports have documented these discoveries. These skeletons have been discovered across the continent, exhibiting bizarre anatomic abnormalities, such as double rows of teeth, enormous jawbones, and elongated skulls.
The Smithsonian supposedly identified at least seventeen giant skeletons in their annual reports. They kept many of these giant skeletons in storage for years, until they were removed and returned after the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. On ethical grounds, this was the correct thing to do; however, it does make it difficult to substantiate the validity of these skeletons. But these North American examples account for only a small sample of the accounts and reports that are so hotly debated around the world. Did they really exist? Were they just another example of the megafauna that once roamed the planet thousands of years ago? Or, is this just another example of legends and stories that have grown over the years with little basis in fact? Here are 15 reasons why these mythical giants just might be real. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
15. The Giants of Doddridge County, 1930
A newspaper article, dated June 15, 1930, found in the Clarksburg Daily Exponent, described something incredible being discovered in Doddridge County, West Virginia. Two prehistoric Native American burial mounds were excavated by Professor Ernest Sutton, of Salem University. He unearthed a huge underground chamber shaped from large, flat rocks, and carefully packed with clay. Inside the chamber was a sitting skeleton, almost 9 feet tall (2.74 meters). In an adjacent, even larger mound, approximately ten feet high and sixty feet in diameter (3 meters high, 18 meters diameter), he unearthed three burials, one of which was an enormously-sized man, seven feet, six inches tall (2.3 meters tall).
Another article, from the Charleston Gazette, mentioned the skeleton discovery as being well-preserved. Reportedly, all the artifacts, including the skeletons, were sent to the Smithsonian Institution, and their official records do indicate receipt. However, an investigation revealed that the skeletons were removed long ago from the archives and only some tools and pottery fragments remain.
14. The Great Serpent Mound, Ohio, 1890s
The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio is a 1,370-foot (417 m) long ancient effigy mound, shaped like the aforementioned serpent, located near Peebles, Ohio. It’s been dated to around 321 BCE, which puts it around the time the Adena civilization occupied the area. In the 1890s, Professor Frederic W. Putnam excavated the area and found skeletons averaging 6-feet (1.8 m) in height. However, a postcard from the dig depicts one skeleton that appears to be in excess of 7-feet (2.1 m) in height.
Though the postcard was uncovered by researcher Jeffrey Wilson, there has been some debate as to whether or not the photo was actually taken at Serpent Mound. The skeleton in the photo has been cut off at the knees, so it is also unclear if the 7-foot description is actually what is seen or if this is an estimation based on the addition of the lower legs and feet. The fate of the actual skeleton is unknown, so a modern examination would be impossible.
13. Cresap Mound Skeleton, 1959
During his excavation of Cresap Mound in Northern West Virginia, Dr. Donald Dragoo, of the Carnegie Museum, unearthed a skeleton measuring 7-foot, 2-inches (2.15 m). Dragoo published a photo of the skeleton in a book he wrote soon after. He joined many other university anthropologists and archaeologists of the time who, were reporting incredible giant discoveries around North America.
Were these all just misidentified remnants of ancient megafauna, such as woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and mastodons? Professors such as Dr. Thomas Wilson, Curator of Prehistoric Anthropology at the Smithsonian around 1900, don’t believe so. He reportedly verified a skull with a massive jawbone that had to have belonged to a man standing over 8-foot (2.4 m). Dr. W.J. Holland, Curator of the Carnegie Museum, attested to finding a skeleton of similar size in Pennsylvania and reported as such in many scientific journals of the period.
12. Mounds in Iowa, 1897
In the November 18, 1897, edition of The Worthington Advance, an article describes the archaeological work being conducted by the Smithsonian Institution’s Division of Eastern Mounds. Smithsonian ethnologist John Wesley Powell was excavating mounds in Iowa with other researchers and unearthed the skeleton of what was reported to be a giant. Measurements taken indicated that the huge person must have stood over 7-foot, 6-inches (2.3 m) tall. Unfortunately, witnesses were disappointed to see, when exposed to air, the massive bones crumbled to dust.
Modern science now knows that many people reach giant proportions due to a pituitary imbalance, gigantism, or acromegaly, which can all be usually treated medically. However, a hundred years ago and farther back, such treatments were unavailable. What heights did people achieve in the days before modern medicine? Were all these reported giants the result of medical anomalies? Or, was this just indicative of the tales of real giants that lived among us?
11. Steelville, Missouri, 1933
The Steelville Ledger, on June 11, 1933, reported that a young boy looking for arrowheads came upon the skeleton of giant standing 8-feet tall (2.4 m). The remains were brought to local doctor, R.C. Parker, and stretched out on the floor of his office hallway. The skeleton remained there for a while, as some public spectators came to view the incredible find. An old photo found on microfilm at the Steelville Library depicts a local man, Les Eaton, who stands over 6-feet (1.8 m) tall, laid next to the skeleton to show comparison.
The paper goes on to describe how the skeleton was carefully packed and shipped to the Smithsonian Institute for study, where it was never seen again. Why do these skeletons keep disappearing once they make their way to Washington, D.C.? Were there elements at the institute trying to minimize the impact that these giant discoveries might have on the anthropological record?
10. Miamisburg, Ohio, 1899
The ancient Native American Adena culture inhabited an area that included what became Miamisburg, Ohio. They thrived in this area as far back as 1,000 BCE. It was sometime during this period that they built what is believed to be the largest conical burial mound in Ohio, nearly 70 feet (21 m) tall and 877 feet (267 m) in circumference. Many skeletal remains were unearthed from the mound, including very large bones and a giant jawbone of immense proportions. This was reported in The Middletown Signal, January 17, 1899, under the headline: “Bones of Prehistoric Giant Found Near Miamisburg.”
Sure, the locals were astounded by the giant skeleton, measured out to a conservative 8-foot, 2 inches (2.5 m) in height; however, scientists called in to examine the remains were also amazed. The Smithsonian’s Professor Thomas Wilson reportedly said that the authenticity of the skull is without question and matched several other large skulls found in the area. Anthropology is mum on the subject, but was incredible size common to the Adena civilization?
9. The San Diego Giant, 1895
First reported in 1895, as a 9-foot tall Native American mummy found in San Diego, California, closer scrutiny determined the remains were closer to 8-foot, 4-inches (2.5 m) in height. Approximately thirteen years later, the mummified giant was being displayed and was again examined by a second group of scientists, who determined the mummy contained an unusual amount of gelatin. To them, this indicated that the remains were a hoax. What’s odd is that the same mummy was certified genuine by a group of anthropologists working for the same institution as the naysayers. Who’s right and why was there a need to inspect it again over a decade later?
Interestingly enough, one of the inspectors was Aleš Hrdlička, who joined the Smithsonian in 1903, after the initial investigation. Hrdlička was on record that he did not believe in giants and was determined to delete them from the anthropological record. Regardless, the mummy was purchased by the Smithsonian for $500, approximately $14,000 today, and sequestered away, never to be seen again.
8. The Alton Giant, Robert Wadlow
Here’s the undisputed truth, Robert Wadlow is the tallest unquestionably verified human to have ever lived. Standing less than an inch shy of 9 feet, Wadlow was born on February 22, 1918, in Alton, Illinois. A few months after his birth, he was diagnosed with gigantism. While still less than a year old, he had grown to a whopping 3-feet, 6-inches (106 cm). By the age of six, he was already taller than both is parents. By the time he graduated high school in 1936, he stood 8-feet, 4-inches (2.55 m) tall.
His immense growth took its toll on his body and he had to wear special leg braces to be able to walk. Wadlow went on numerous publicity tours and public appearances. Unfortunately, Wadlow caught an infection and died at the young age of 22. A few weeks prior to his death, he was measured and was officially 8-feet, 11.1-inches (2.72 m) tall. Doctors acknowledge that at the time of his death, he was still growing.
7. Maximinus of Thrace
In 235 CE, a giant was the most powerful man in the Roman Empire. He was Maximinus of Thrace. He was a huge man and his imposing size brought him to the attention of the Roman emperor. Maximinus wrestled sixteen of the emperor’s strongest soldiers, defeating them all. He then raced the emperor’s horse, before easily fighting off seven more soldiers. The emperor was astonished and inducted him into the army. Maximinus rose through the ranks, proving himself a leader and was eventually given command of the entire imperial army.
In 235 CE, with the backing of his beloved legionnaires, the Senate proclaimed him Emperor of Rome. Ancient Roman texts claim Maximinus Thrax stood over 8-feet (2.4 m) tall. Most afflicted with gigantism do not live long. As Maximinus died in 238 CE, at the age of 65, if tales of his stature are true, he might have been a natural giant, suffering from no growth abnormalities. We might never know as his tomb has never been located and his exact size remains unverified.
6. Catalina Island Giant
The Channel Islands, off the coast of California, have been the location for the reported discovery of many incredible large skeletons. It all started around 1913, when an 8-foot (2.4 m) tall skeleton was unearthed on Catalina Island, along with artifacts like a mortar and arrowheads. The prevailing legend in Mexico about the area is that there was once a race of noble giants that lived on the islands. They existed long before Europeans came to the area and have long since gone extinct.
Between 1919 and 1930, supposedly over 3,000 skeletons have been recovered on the islands, including one purportedly found by archaeologist Ralph Glidden, of the Heye Foundation of New York. He found one measuring a remarkable 9-foot, 2-inches (2.79 m) tall. In the same area, he allegedly found three other skeletons, all over 7-feet (2.13 m). An additional femur bone was found by Glidden on nearby San Nicolas Island that measured 28-inches (71 cm), which would indicate a person standing over 8-foot (2.4 m) tall.
5. Goliath of Gath
This story is ancient and nearly everyone in the Western world has heard it: the battle between the young shepherd boy, future king, David, and the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath. Even if you didn’t grow up in a religious household, you probably still know the tale of David versus Goliath – the young boy facing down the giant with no more than a sling. The Bible speaks of giants often, but never in relation to Goliath. However, the Bible does go on to specify in 1 Sam 17:4 that he was a large man who stood “six cubits and a span.”
If a cubit is approximately 18 inches (45.7 cm), and a span is about 9 inches (22.9 cm), this would put his stature at roughly 9-feet, 9-inches (2.97 m)! Wow! There have been some disputes over his actual size. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the 1st century historian Josephus, and the 4th century Septuagint manuscripts depict Goliath as standing “four cubits and a span,” considerably shorter; however, the Masoretic Text coincides with the Bible at “six cubits and a span.” Again, wow!
4. Og, King of Bashan
According to the Hebrew Bible, Og was an Amorite king of Bashan, in the days of Moses, who fought the Israelites while on their quest for the Promised Land. Arabic texts refer to him as Ûj ibn ‘Anâq. He was said to have been a very large man with an immense bed made of iron, nine cubits long and four cubits wide (roughly 13.5-feet long and 6-feet wide). It is interpreted by his bed size that he must have stood at least 10-foot (3 m) tall (not very scientific, I know…).
To further strengthen the claims of his massive size, Og is said to have been one of the last of the Rephaites (Deuteronomy 3:11), which were known for being extraordinarily tall. Rephaites didn’t refer to an ethnicity, but rather was used descriptively, meaning “terrible ones.” The territory ruled by the Rephaites was reportedly inhabited by giants, the Biblical “Nephilim.” Were they one and the same? Today, the capital of ancient Bashan, Ashtaroth, is the home to an ancient 70-foot burial mound. Does the giant skeleton of Og lie within? We may never know.
3. The Giant of Castelnau
The Giant of Castelnau actually refers to just three bone fragments discovered by anthropologist Count Georges Vacher de Lapouge in the winter of 1890. He recovered the three fragments (humerus, tibia, and a femoral mid-shaft) in the sediment over a Bronze Age burial mound, which could even date back to Neolithic times. According to de Lapouge, it is possible that the fossil bones belonged to one of the largest humans to have ever existed. If the bones are indeed human, the size of the person is estimated to have been about 11-foot, 6-inches (3.5 m) tall.
They were unearthed at the ancient cemetery of Castelnau-le-Lez, in France. His findings were published in the journal, La Nature, Vol. 18, Issue 888, 1890. The journal included a photo engraving of the fossil bones compared to those of a normal-sized human. The fragments were studied by zoologists, paleontologists, and other anatomists, and all believed that they belonged to a human who exhibited “morbid growth.” The fragments have since disappeared.
2. Lompock Rancho, California, 1819
The story goes that, in 1819, at Lompock Rancho, California, American soldiers were digging a pit for a gun powder magazine. As they were digging, they came upon a giant sarcophagus. Inside they found the skeleton of a gigantic man standing 12-foot (3.7 m) tall. The grave was surrounded by carved shells, spears, and huge stone axes, while thin sheets of porphyry, a purple mineral mixed with quartz, were found covering the skeleton. The artifacts were also covered in some unknown symbols.
A closer examination of the skull revealed it had a double row of teeth, on both upper and lower jaws. The soldiers contacted the local Native American tribe, who claimed the grave was of religious significance to their ancestry. The military ordered the skeleton and all the artifacts to be reburied. One witness, an old woman, retold the story years later and, by 1933, various authors were writing about the find. Unfortunately, the military never marked the gravesite. Who was the giant man? What was he?
1. West Hickory, Pennsylvania, 1870
In West Hickory, Pennsylvania, in 1870, the Oil City Times reported an incredible discovery. The find, an immense skeleton, was wearing colossal armor and a rusty helmet of iron. Nearby, a giant sword was found, measuring 9-feet (2.7 m) in length! Found at about twelve feet below the surface, the skeleton was well-preserved with the bones still white.
The skull, like the Lompock Rancho giant, possessed a double row of teeth, on both upper and lower jaws. The skeleton was estimated to be a shocking 18-foot (5.5 m) tall! Reportedly, the skeleton was removed and carefully packed to be sent back to New York for study. This measurement could be an exaggeration, as this size is unheard of in the historical record; however, the report is very intriguing. Alas, we may never know the truth, as no records can be found of where the skeleton resides today.
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