Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday Weird: North American Giants

One of my all time favorite Broadway musicals is Into the Woods. I mean, fairy-tale retellings, all wrapped up together? It's the original Once Upon a Time. With awesome songs.

One of the songs happens when Jack comes back from climbing the bean stalk and sings Giants in the Sky:

Then of course, later, some giants come down and wreak havoc and kill a crap load of the characters, including the play's narrator.

Anyhoo. What does this have to do with Wednesday Weird? Simple. Today we're talking about North American Giants. Because forget the giants in the sky. They're not nearly as interesting and weird as the giants that lived among us.

Now. I don't mean people that are born as giants, those occasional people who grow to extreme heights and typically die young because their hearts can only support them so long.

No. I'm talking about actual races and peoples that lived in North America and were giants.

The Paiute Indians of Nevada told tales of the Si-Te-Cah, which they said were red-haired men and women with light colored skin as tall as 12 feet who lived in the area when the Paiute first arrived. They said that these human giants liked to eat the Paiute, which as you can imagine, pissed them off.
Finally, the tribes of the area joined together to put an end to the Si-Te-Cah. They ambushed the giants and killed most of them and the remaining giants took refuge in a cave. So the Paiute piled the entrance to the cave with brush and set fire to it. Any giants that then tried to escape were shot with arrows until all the Giants were killed that way or were asphyxiated in the cave.

Great story, right?

In 1911 bat guano harvesters (harvesting for fertilizer I assume, right? Anyone know for sure? Just curious...) started working in Lovelock cave (formerly known as Horse Shoe cave in the 1800s). After digging out like 4 fee of bat guano, they began to find broken arrows fired into the cave.

And then they found the giants.

Even in shrunken, mummified conditions, the skeletons ranged in height from 8 feet to just under 12 feet (depending on the source, heights listed vary. Some sources say heights only ranged from 6.5 feet to 8 feet. Still quite large).

This whole shebang is cool on it's own. But it's not the only time giant human skeletons and remains have been discovered in North America.

In 1931 two giant skeletons were found in Humboldt lake bed. Both skeletons were wrapped in a gum treated fabric. The first skeleton was 8 and a half feet tall, the second was just under 10 feet.

In 1877 prospectors outside of Eureka Nevada found a human leg broken off four inches above the knee cap including the foot. This leg was found sticking out of solid red quartzite rock dating from the time of the dinosaurs. They measured from heel to knee at 39 inches. The owner would have stood over 12 feet tall.

These are seriously just the top of a huge iceberg of giants found in North America. A quick google search and you can come up with dozens more. Here's a list (though it's uncited. I had a list, with citations I was going to post, but now I can't find it. Sorry). Unfortunately, it's hard to find the remains found in North America in any museums. I've heard most of them are snatched up by the Smithsonian and never put on display, but who knows how true that is.

 But that's not to say that North America is the only place the remains of giants have been found. Peru especially has a lot of uncovered giants, and you can see them in Peruvian museums if you're up for some travel. There's also the Breitenwinner cave on the German/Swiss border as well as these bones in turkey:

Though singular bones and bodies are still fascinating, they're easy to discount as genetic abnormalities. It's much more interesting, to me anyway, when there are multiple bodies discovered, hinting at a separate species or race.

So, what are your thoughts on North American giants? Or giants in general?


Maria Zannini said...

Ref: guano
Yes. Fertilizer. It's excellent so I'm told. (to expensive for me)

Ref: giants
I'd never heard of giants in North America. At first, I thought they were the Vikings who found themselves in America, but I don't think they ever got that tall.

Thank you for posting this! Totally new to me.

Jamie Gibbs said...

That's big bones! I heard about some massive hoax in New York called the Cardiff Giant (I thought it was in Wales at first, silly me). Seems a little far fetched, but anything's possible.

Matthew MacNish said...

Guano makes for excellent fertilizer because of all the nitrogen.

As for giants, yep, I'm sure they existed.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Goliath came from a race of giants, so why not?

Joan Crawford said...

...some giants come down and wreak havoc and kill a crap load of the characters, including the play's narrator.

I must see this at once! I wouldn't be surprised at the discovery of a race of "giants" - we've found that a bunch of other mammals were randomly (and hysterically) huge for a time. Like beavers. There used to be Giant Beavers as far as the eye could see...

*Takes puff on corncob pipe and scans the horizon*

Joan Crawford said...

Anne said...

spot on Joan Crawford, as usual :-)
and yes- you should see Into the Woods- it won't disappoint.
now i need to put that soundtrack in my car immediately

LD Masterson said...

Interesting. I can't think of any reason not to believe it, but I wonder why only a few races grew so tall? What was the natural selection process that worked against them (not counting the massacre)?

Rena said...

I hate to crush all the people saying it was for fertilizer, but bat guano at the time was harvested for the nitrate to make bombs.

Fertilizer is just a few chemical steps away from bombs anyway, so it's pretty close.

And the giants are pretty awesome...

Teebore said...

"There are giants in the sky..."

Seriously, I love Into the Woods. Arguably the best Sondheim musical. It was the last show I worked on at my high school as a student. We did it for the community show the summer after I graduated, and it was tons of fun.

Hart Johnson said...

How had I not heard of these? I wonder if there is any relation to Amazon legends. And I wonder if they are related to the Aztek stories about the gods that would return... And I wonder if they might be alien and a good lot of them were just carted away... Such amazing possibilities!!!

Kimberlee Turley said...

Sounds incredibly awesome, but I'm actually more excited to go look into details about the Broadway because I *LOVE* fairytale mashups.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I'm short so I'd find any giants very intimidating. They wouldn't even need to threaten me by saying they eat people like me.

You know...there are so many tasty things out there that I just don't understand why giants would want to eat smelly people. Especially when salmon is so plentiful.

DL Hammons said...

I'm a believer. Another fascinating Wednesday Weird! :)

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