25 August 2013

Giant skulls in Ancient America?

Daniel has returned home to California after working for the LDS Motion Picture Studio this summer. On the way, he stopped at the Humboldt County Museum in Winnemucca, Nevada. Why, you ask? There are Internet rumors about red-haired giants, their skeletons and ancient remains having been found in the nearby Lovelock Cave. One of the skulls is said to be housed in the museum. Some Book of Mormon enthusiasts are interested in legends of giants in the Americas, claiming there might be some connection to the Jaredites, although there is no scriptural requirement for it.

Stopping in at the small museum, Daniel looked at the exhibits and asked the curators about the skull. His first disappointment came when he was told that the skull and other remains were there, but that they were not exhibited and by agreement with the local Paiute tribe, could not be shown to the public because of the sacred nature of Native American remains and their tradition against their display. He was also told that the remains were of average size and there was nothing particularly unusual about them. One curator even pulled out a photocopy of an article about the Lovelock Cave remains, debunking the claims of their giant size. It seems that others had stopped by to inquire about the skull, so the museum had a prepared document to explain and refute any such rumors.

As usual, many of the websites about the giant skull make claims with very little support to back them up. The photo shown above came from one of them, but there is no way of knowing its origin or where these skulls are. The museum in Winnemucca now has no human remains on display. Besides, judging on the size of what is
apparently a quarter in the photo, these skulls seem of normal size. The only other image specifically connected to this legend is shown here. The story is that someone brought in a full-size dental cast to compare it to the jawbone at the museum, often with the description that the jawbone's teeth were twice the size of the teeth in the cast. This may be true; in the past before the agreement with the Paiutes, the museum may have allowed visitors to see Native remains. The photo seems genuine, but further observation is necessary. The ancient jaw is in front and higher up, which should make it appear larger and angles can distort scale. Also, the cast is of the teeth only, not the entire jaw, so it will obviously look much smaller. But if the dental cast teeth are outlined and overlaid on the teeth of the jawbone, it can be seen that although the modern teeth appear smaller and the width of the mouth less, the distance from front to back is almost the same. Since this comparison is limited to the angle of the photo, it may not be completely accurate, but it is enough to see that the size of the jawbone for the modern teeth would be about the same size as the ancient 'giant' jaw. Actually, the modern teeth outlines would need to be sized up as they moved forward and up to match the ancient teeth, but that was not done in this comparison. In all likelihood, the dental cast teeth and the ancient teeth may be very similar in size.

Local Paiute legends tell of an ancient people they called the Si-Te-Cah, described as red-haired cannibals. Oral traditions say that after years of warfare with them, the Paiute banded together and defeated the cannibals, the last of them being trapped in what is now known as Lovelock Cave. The original traditions say nothing of giants, but some versions mention their lighter skin. The 'giant' aspect seems to have been invented by later explorers and guano miners at the cave. The article handed out at the museum does state that conspiracy theorists will claim that evidence is being covered up, but that since science has no orthodoxy, there is no need to hide surprising finds such as this. That may be true, but there are too many examples where individual scientists ignore or marginalize finds that don't fit nicely into the current scientific thinking, or 'orthodoxy.' Supporters of the Book of Mormon have experienced this phenomenon. But the red-haired giants of Lovelock Cave appear to be no more than myth. Similar giant stories of the past have relied upon evidence that has dissipated under further scrutiny. There may have been lighter skinned, red-haired giants in ancient Nevada, but so far, the proof eludes us.

16 August 2013

More interviews and articles

Daniel's time in Utah working for the LDS Motion Picture Studio is over and he is heading home to California. During his time in Utah, he has been able to do some interviews and talk about our books. Recently, the Uintah Basin Standard newspaper interviewed him for a book review of both An LDS Guide to Mesoamerica and An LDS Guide to the Yucatán.

He also stopped by FAIR's conference in Provo, UT earlier this month to talk to a few people and see what it was all about. Tyler Livingston, who works with FAIR, later videoed Daniel for an upcoming DVD they are working on about Book of Mormon evidences.

The blog i am a reader.com also had a post about our books and Daniel supplied some personal information for it as well. Check it out to find out his favorite flavor of ice cream and who should play him if a movie were made of his life.

Click here to read the reviews in the Uintah Basin Standard.
Click here to read the blog post about Daniel and the books.