Here Be Giants

Until the mid-1900s every time the Smithsonian in the US dug up a giant skeleton there was a big to-do.  However, in the mid-1900s giant skeletons became something of a secret.

Outside of the Smithsonian, no one is quite sure how many giant skeletons the Smithsonian has in it’s collection.  They don’t get displayed very often.  The reason seems to be that giant skeletons don’t fit with Creationism or evolution.  What we do know for sure was that during the 1800s, the Smithsonian had more than 100 skeletons that had been excavated in the US, most from Native American burial mounds, that are over 7 feet tall.

Some estimates put the number closer to 500.  What we can be sure of is that all Native American tribes have stories about giants and not just a matter of a few tall people, but an entire tribe of giant people some well over 8 feet tall.

Interestingly, Native American genes provide some proof that a massive population of tall people existed.  When Europeans first came to what is now North America, they often wrote descriptions of the Natives that described them as being very tall.  Considering the average European male was only 5’9″ or so in the 1500s, modern bias leads us to believe that the Natives were probably about 6 feet tall.  However, Native Americans today are more prone to being in the upper 6 feet to 7 feet range than men descended from African, Asian, or European decent.

In the 1800s the Smithsonian Institute undertook the huge task of excavating the majority of Native American burial mounds on the East coast and found one particular geographical area that had an unheard of amount of burial mounds and of the 25 mounds they excavated, all of them contained at least one skeleton over 7 feet tall.

This is fascinating to me because I have a keen interest in genetics.  Of those that have been DNA tested, none have come up with diseases that we know causes giantism (Marfan’s, giantism, ect).  Making it unlikely that a genetic disorder currently associated with exceptional height is at work.  More interestingly, there is only one other place on Earth were exceptionally tall humans are more common than random distribution… Russia.

Like Natives of North America, there is a slightly taller average among Russians, particularly Russians of a certain geographical decent, than the global average.  There is also a large amount of giant skeletons that have been found in Russia that are free of genetic disorders that cause exceptional height.  The mind instantly goes to the haplogroups that proliferate Russia and Native Americans because they seem to be related.  Haplogroups are based on geographical ancestry.  To some degree, Native Americans in North America do indeed share Haplogroups with modern Russians as well as Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Which is where things make you stop and scratch your head…  While most Pacific Island Nations do include slightly taller males than Europeans, the majority of Asian men are actually bringing down the world average for height.  The reason this makes me scratch my head is because why are Russians, who touch a large number of Asian countries, so genetically different than Asians, especially when it comes to height and why then does that carry over into North America more than the shorter Asian genetics that came along the same migration path?  And that’s with us totally ignoring Haplogroup X which is a completely different genetic anomaly for a different blog post? (the predominate Haplogroups for Native Americans is mitochondrial haplogroups A, B, C, D, and X.

Oh yes, anyway, the point is, giant skeletons are not all that uncommon especially in the US and Russia.  We just don’t hear about them most of the time because we can’t figure out where giant skeletons fit in our genetic family tree.  However, they have to fit somewhere.  They exist and there are populations in the world that are more prone to less dangerous giantism (giantism and Marfan’s syndrome both have awful companion effects that usually kill the carriers young – Andre the Giant is the most famous example of Giantism and many geneticists believe that Abraham Lincoln had Marfan’s Syndrome – both carry heart related side effects beyond normal heart disease).

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