Solving the mystery of the Giant Skeleton

Sanal Edamaruku

The Giant Skeleton

News appeared recently in a section of the media in India, Bangladesh and many other countries that a giant skeleton of enormous dimensions was excavated in some unknown desert. There was also a photograph of the skeleton with two investigators standing nearby. The skeleton's size can be judged from the height of the person standing near its skull. If calculated proportionately, the skeleton would be of a human having 60 to 80 feet height.

The first report appeared in the internet, telling that the skeleton was found somewhere in the deserts of western India. The Indian government had the area cordoned off by the Indian army and nobody was allowed to visit the site except a special National Geographic excavation team. For some unknown reason, all information about the discovery was kept secret. The report also mentioned about a stone tablet found along with the skeleton with ancient carvings in Sanskrit language on it. The inscription was deciphered and it revealed the secret of the skeleton. "In ancient times there lived giants who were called Rakshasas. They challenged divine orders and were eliminated for that."

The Indian mythology speaks about giants namely Rakshasas, who reigned over the forests. They ruled a country with the name Lanka and challenged the authority of the gods. In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Vishnu, the chief of the trio of supreme Hindu gods, incarnated in a royal family and killed the king of the Rakshasas. The report of the excavation of a skeleton of a Rakshasa was taken by some people as welcome proof for the reality of the Hindu mythological story. Without verifying the facts, the internet posting was further forwarded, spread widely and was taken very seriously by a large section of people.

A new version of the story appeared on 22 April 2004 in the Bangladesh newspaper The Nation. While reproducing the picture, a report by one Saalim Alvi from Riyadh told about a discovery in the south east of Saudi Arabia. In search of natural gas, a Saudi Aramco exploration team found a giant human skeleton in the desert. In the new version of the story, there is also a stone tablet, but the inscriptions are in Arabic language. They reveal that the skeleton is of a man of the ancient tribe Aad. The Aads were the descendants of the Quranic prophet Nooh (Noah in biblical mythology). They have been mighty giants, who were able to pull out big trees with one hand. The Aads were in charge of controlling the people of ancient times. But they challenged Allah's orders and were wiped out by him. The place where they lived is known as Rab-ul-Khaale, the empty place. The area where the skeleton had been discovered was overtaken by Saudi military, claimed the report in The Nation, and the picture was taken by a military helicopter.

Without any verification, the story of the discovery of the giant skeleton snowballed through magazines and newspapers around the world.

Genesis of the picture

The paranormal investigation center at the headquarters of Rationalist International made primary inquiries and found that no such discovery had been reported or confirmed by any independent source. The photo, experts suspected, could be manipulated with a photo-editing software. In fact, a close look at the picture revealed that the light falling on the catwalk and the two men in white shirts comes from a different angle and is of different intensity than the light falling on the skeleton. The long shadow in front of the skull does not match with other shadows in the photo. An extremely enlarged version gave further proof that the picture was coined together from different elements. It seemed to be an authentic photo of an excavation with a superimposed human skeleton. The investigation could have ended here. But we found more. With patience and verification of vast possibilities, the original excavation photo was traced in the internet:

This photo was taken on 16 September 2000 at an excavation site outside Hyde Park, New York. It is part of the documentation of a sensational excavation under the Paleontological Research Institution and the Department of Geological Sciences at Cornell University. What the team of more than 60 scientists, students and volunteers under paleontologist Prof. John Chiment discovered was, however, not the skeleton of a giant human being, but the skeleton of a mastodon, an extinct predecessor of the elephant. Actually, the find included one of the most complete fossils of a mastodon and possibly a less-complete mammoth. The animals lived between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. More information at [http://www.graphics.cornell.edu/outreach/mastodon/aerial-views.html]

There is an interesting detail: At the lower right of the photo is an intact tusk behind a plywood dam and under a protective coating of mud. A major challenge, explains the excavation report, is to allow this tusk to dry without having it shatter into fragments. This mastodon tusk is still visible in the manipulated photo of the giant human excavation!

The last station in the history of the picture is the website "Worth1000", which presents a wide range of altered pictures, some artistic, some humorous. The picture that was spread world wide as the Giant Skeleton of Rakshasa of Indian mythology or Aad of Islamic mythology was simply an artistic creation of "IronKite" and was submitted in a competition in the web site Worth1000.com. The original of the altered picture done by "IronKite" is available at http://www.worth1000.com/view.asp?image=18978