• Giant Denisovan Fantasies

    In the world of the “alternative” scholars, the Denisovans are a race of giant psychic shamans with problematic teeth, who can take credit not just for the Lost Civilization (aka Atlantis) but for the achievements of later human civilizations as well. They are the Nephilim, the giants of the Bible, the Annunaki, the culture-bearers, the wellspring of all wisdom and ancient lore. They’re pretty hot stuff in the world of the alternos.

    Archaeologists and paleoanthropologists find all of that very surprising. In the academic world, the Denisovans are a long-extinct hominin line known from a handful of bones and teeth and—thanks to a happy accident of preservation— enough usable DNA to enable their contribution to the existing human genome to be tracked. They are a work in progress and an exciting new piece in the jigsaw puzzle of human origins, but it’s extremely unlikely they were giants, or psychic; their teeth were probably just fine, their culture and lifeways are as yet unknown, and they died out long before civilization became a thing. So where did all that other stuff come from?

    Well, it seems to be another example of pseudoscience co-opting a genuine scientific issue, as we saw with the Lost Civilization community’s ecstatic adoption of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. Most of what the alternos attribute to the Denisovans, as far as I can tell, derives not from the archaeological evidence, but from a pre-existing alterno literature on giants, Nephilim, and so forth, onto which the Denisovans were grafted soon after they were first proposed in 2010. Ultimately, it seems that a certain Denisovan tooth is the key.

    This is a left upper molar from an individual designated Denisova 4, a young adult male who lived in Siberia prior to 50K years ago. It’s a big tooth, outside the range of either Neanderthal or H. sapiens, and it has other archaic features as well. (See this article, pp.1058-9, for a description and analysis.) The alternos’ inference is that Denisova 4 must have been large-bodied in proportion to the tooth, which would make him a giant—and there you have it. But, alas for the alternos, tooth size is also related to function; the Denisovan molar nicely fits the size range of earlier hominin dentition, including that of teeny australopithecines standing under four feet tall. As the archaeologist Andy White puts it, “If tooth size was only related to body size, the robust australopithecines would have been large enough to eat the Denisovans for breakfast.”

    That, as far as I can tell, is the whole basis for linking the inoffensive Denisovans with mythical giants and mythical lost civilizations. In fact, estimates of their stature based on groundbreaking genetic extrapolation techniques have put them at about the same average height as the Neanderthals, a little shorter than Upper Paleolithic H. sapiens. The rest comes down to a familiar pattern of unsupported inference, misrepresentation of scientific research, and wishful thinking. Two other factors, which I’ll look at in the rest of this article, are the failure to check primary sources, and the common-or-garden reading fail.

    First, though, I must point out that I am standing on the shoulders of (ahem) giants. Much pseudoarchaeological literature makes an effort to link the Denisovans, or Denisovan/sapiens hybrids, with the curious genre of 19th-century newspaper reports of giants excavated in Native American mounds, often with claims of supernumerary teeth. The afore-mentioned Andy White has commented extensively (and often hilariously) on these, while the indefatigable Jason Colavito has catalogued and critiqued a large number of such reports, and will shortly be bringing out a book on the era of the Moundbuilders. Spoiler alert: the reports of giants are mostly hoaxes, misunderstandings, or the 19th-century equivalent of clickbait. I want to look at how primary sources are handled in a fairly typical example of the Denisovan-shaman literature.

    Andrew Collins is a prominent British alterno with a strong belief in the Denisovans as giants, savants, and culture-bearers who came to the Americas many millennia ago and interbred with Native American populations. The best thing I can say of him is that he does, he really does, try to take account of archaeological evidence; unfortunately, he does it very badly. He either does not read the primary sources with adequate comprehension, or he relies on secondary sources, some of which have pre-mangled the information. Fine examples are found in his paper “The Coming of the Giants: Rise of the Human Hybrids,” originally published in 2014 and currently available on his website.

    Collins claims that the Denisovans/hybrids in the Americas can be distinguished by three major traits, not necessarily all together. First, their remains may have received special treatment on burial, implying they had elite or special status. Second, they were giants, or at least quite tall (Collins defines the term “giant” flexibly). Third, they displayed hyperdontia, extra teeth, in some cases a full extra set. Here are some examples of how Collins deals with his sources.

    Collins: Those readers familiar with stories relating to the discovery of giant skeletons in the United States will be familiar with this disorder [hyperdontia], as there are various accounts of oversized human skeletons where the skulls have been found to contain a “double row of teeth” in one or both jaws (for example, see Bancroft, 1882, IV, 694-5, relating to giant skeletons found in caves on San Rosa Island, California, “furnished with double teeth all the way round the jaw,” and Weston, 1906, 400, regarding a giant skeleton found in Middleboro, Massachusetts, with “a double row of teeth in each jaw”.

    First, Andy White has convincingly shown that phrases like “double teeth all around the jaw” are usually a recent misunderstanding of a 19th-century idiom signifying nothing more than “this guy had all his teeth.” In a century when teeth were notoriously bad and extraction was the primary way of dealing with toothache, a full set of gnashers would indeed be worthy of its own idiom. But if you examine the sources cited in that paragraph, other problems emerge.

    Bancroft (1882) retails an 1861 report from Santa Rosa Island (not San Rosa) describing numerous complete skeletons and skulls in the caves, adding “[s]ome very wonderful skulls are also reported as having been found on the islands, furnished with double teeth all the way around the jaw.” There is no mention of the skeletons being oversized. However, Bancroft’s next paragraph continues:

    “Miscellaneous reports on authority varying from indifferent to bad…are as follows: In 1819 an old lady saw a gigantic skeleton dug up by soldiers at Purisima on the Lompock rancho…Taheechaypah pass and the mission of San Buenaventura are other localities where skeletons of extraordinary size have been found.”

    No mention of teeth. Collins (or his source) conflates skeletons with fabulous teeth reported in one area, with some very dicey tales of oversized skeletons in nearby areas, to produce the hyperdontic giants of San (sic) Rosa. I would call this a reading fail.

    The second example is really quite funny. Collins’ “giant skeleton found in Middleboro, Massachusetts, with ‘a double row of teeth in each jaw’” (Weston 1906:400) turns out to be that of an 17th-century settler named Mr. Richmond, “a man of gigantic stature, bold and fearless…and much feared by the Indians.” When his bones were later dug up in the course of roadworks, his thigh-bone measured 4” longer than normal, and he had “a double row of teeth in each jaw” – but with his European ancestry, he could hardly be regarded as a Denisovan hybrid or psychic shaman. It is hard to believe that Collins checked the primary source that he cites.

    Collins’ major example, taking up nearly a quarter of the paper, is Burial 37 from Blossom Mound in California, a cemetery of the Windmiller culture, 4350-3000 BP. This unfortunate individual, who died between the ages of thirty and forty, suffered from acromegaly, a hormonal disorder that causes bones to continue growing in adulthood, plus a host of complications. Also, his teeth were funny. The primary source Collins refers to is Bartelink et al, 2014, which is not an excavation report, but an analysis of Burial 37’s skeletal pathologies and a diagnosis of probably acromegaly. However, most of Collins’ information appears to be derived (rather selectively) from a secondary source, Pastino 2014, quoting an interview with Dr. Bartelink.

    To summarize Collins’ claims about Burial 37:

    1. His burial was unique on the site, indicating “a different journey ahead of him in the spirit world.” The distinctions were:

    “a rich array of grave goods…including forty-eight beads fashioned from shells of the Olivella sea snail, seven ornaments carved from the shell of the abalone mollusk and an obsidian projectile point. What is more, his body was laid outstretched and face up, his head to the north, whereas the other 176 internees of the grave mound lay face down, their heads to the west. Some time after interment, Burial 37’s skull was removed and placed at over his left ankle…”

    A quick check of the available excavation reports shows that Collins should have made a quick check of the excavation reports. While the majority of the burials were face-down with heads to the west, about 25% were face-up, and head direction varied from west to northwest and even east. Burial 37’s grave goods (shell beads and an obsidian point, plus red-ochre staining, which Collins does not mention) were standard for male burials, especially face-up male burials, but his array was not particularly rich. Compare his modest wealth with that that of nearby Burial 33, who took with him 885 Olivella beads, seven abalone ornaments, a chert scraper, and a quartz crystal; or with Burial 62, who boasted fourteen points, five crystals, 46 Olivella beads, 391 abalone beads, and four abalone ornaments.

    According to Bartelink et al, the skull was most likely disturbed after the soft tissues had decomposed, possibly when an adjacent grave was being dug; in fact, quite a bit of the skeleton was not recovered, suggesting the burial had been disturbed and the position of the skull was not significant. In short, there was nothing in Burial 37’s circumstances to set him (or his journey in the spirit world) apart from the other burials in Blossom Mound.

    2. Burial 37’s acromegaly and hyperdontia suggest he was a hybrid or a throwback expressing Neanderthal traits.

    “Colllins: [C]ompared against fourteen other skulls examined from the mass grave (sic), that of Burial 37 was taller and wider. The skull also possessed a heavy brow ridge, while the body had unusually thick arms and legs, traits that are unusual in modern humans, but are common in Neanderthal anatomy. In addition to this, he had an elongated chin, resulting in a “lantern” jaw, along with a pronounced nose giving it a beak-like appearance (Bartelink, Pastino, 2014). On top of this, the bony pocket in the skull that holds the pituitary gland, which is called the sella turcica as it looks like a Turkish saddle, was significantly enlarged.”

    While admitting that Burial 37 was not a giant—he stood about 5’5” tall—Collins still somehow finds him relevant to the hyperdontic-giant Denisovan thesis. However, Collins suggests Burial 37’s peculiar features reflect Neanderthal ancestry, even as he correctly tells the reader that most cases of acromegaly result from a pituitary tumour. But how Neanderthal-ish was Burial 37?

    Not very. A Neanderthaloid skull would be lower and more sloping, not higher. There is acromegalic thickening of the occipital bone, but no suggestion of the occipital bun characteristic of Neanderthals. And, whereas a Neanderthal skull would be uniformly robust, Burial 37 actually shows a thinning of the parietal bones, which can be a side effect of acromegaly.

    Burial 37 had significant bone deposition above the eyes, but nothing like a heavy Neanderthaloid brow ridge. The “lantern jaw” was absolutely not a Neanderthal trait; our cousins’ chins sloped backwards, whereas H. sapiens chins have a projection called the mental eminence, which was present and exaggerated in Burial 37. The original report does not mention unusually thick arms and legs, though it lists localized “signs of periosteal bone deposition at several enthesis sites,” that is, areas where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone. The enlargement of the sella turcica would be expected in acromegaly, linked to the pituitary tumour at the root of the condition. And then there’s the teeth:

    Collins: One of the most significant points about the skull of Burial 37 is the mis-growth of the eye-tooth, or canine, which is upside down and protruding through the bone just beneath the nose. Although this abnormality can be explained as the effects of acromegaly, the presence of supernumerary teeth in a person is more correctly known in the dental profession as hyperdontism.

    Alas, poor Collins. The tooth in question is not supernumerary, it’s just inverted, and its normal position has been taken over by the right upper first molar. The unfortunate Burial 37 had terrible teeth, including crowding and malocclusion that may be attributed to acromegaly, but he was not hyperdontic. This is not only clear from the primary source, but Dr. Bartelink was kind enough to confirm it in a personal communication. In summary, the hyperdontic Neanderthaloid who took up nearly a quarter of Collins’ article was neither hyperdontic nor Neanderthaloid. He wasn’t a giant, either. So why was he there at all?

    I could go on and on. Every source that Collins referenced in this paper was either misrepresented, misunderstood, or mangled at the outset. The irony is that H. sapiens did interbreed with Denisovans, Neanderthals, and possibly other non-sapiens hominins, but not in the ways and times that Collins and others of his ilk would have us believe. His tall, wise Denisovans disseminating ancient wisdom (and Denisovan sperm) to archaic Native Americans is a fantasy shored up with shoddy research.

    Further reading: A special number of the SAA Record (Magazine of the Society for American Archaeology) includes relevant discussions of genetics in archaeology, early America, pseudoarchaeology, and other relevant issues. And believe me, these guys do check their sources.

    Acknowledgements: special thanks to Dr. Eric Bartelink and Dr. Susan Pfeiffer for generously sending me copies of their publications.

    Note: I did promise to continue answering Scott’s excellent questions in the next post, but ran across Collins’ paper and got entertainingly sidetracked. Normal programming will be resumed.

    Category: FeaturedScienceSkepticism

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    Article by: Rebecca Bradley

    18 comments

    1. On the topic of giants, I have an observation to report. Last year, a very tall migrant passed through my street. I saw him twice. On first occasion I was truly shocked by his height and did not assessed it properly, only from a distance. However, on the second occasion, I decided to do a proper evaluation. Here is what happened.

      I was walking on a pavement about 2 meters wide, and from the opposite direction he was coming toward me, so I decided to bypass him on the street, and from a distance of 1 step, half a meter more or less, assess his height, based on my own known height. From a distance he looked like a tower, and I knew it was not an illusion, because I saw him before. Exceptionally strait in stature, a little bit thin in built, but proportional extremities. I never observed his skull shape, though.

      The street was almost empty, but there was one woman further away, and she looked like a dwarf beside him. OK, women are generally smaller than men are, so the truth is to be revealed when he passes by me on a short distance of 1 step. Both of us were walking relatively slowly, so I had had time to assess his height properly.

      As he was approaching, optical illusions came to play: brain naturally expects that someone who looks like a human is tall like a human, so at first I thought that I should have been up to his armpit in height… no, that was too high. OK, then maybe to his… belly button ?…. No, even that turned out to be too optimistic… Surely, at least I should have been up to his… hips… or at least it appeared so from distance of about 10 meters,… but no, even that was too optimistic… At the closest approach, from a distance of a half a meter, his fist appeared to be as wide as my chest. I straightened myself as much as I could, but my horizontal view was merely reaching to the level of his… pocket in the pants.

      The event happened in Europe, in a country where people are naturally very tall, and where even among them I am notably taller than the average. Yet, in comparison with that man, my height was merely childish.

      My final best estimate is that his height was 3.30 – 3.40 meters.

      1. 3.3 metres would put this “migrant” (how did you know he was a migrant? Is it relevant?) at nearly two feet taller than the tallest man to have ever lived.

        I think it goes without saying that it seems entirely implausible for such a person to be wandering around the streets of an unspecified country in Europe (any particular reason for the vagueness?), utterly unremarked upon outside of this comment.

        1. I know that he was a migrant because he was a black African. There are no blacks where I live. This is only a second black man that I encountered at such a close distance in my country, although I have seen perhaps a dozen more from a distance. I have also encountered 2 black women at such a close rate.

          The tallest man on earth (officially) was a Chinese at 2.7 meters, which I saw on TV once. I don’t know where he came from, or where he is now, but I am very much certain that he was a migrant. The encounters happened in May and October last year (few weeks more or less), and no tourist ever stays that long. Other than that, he looked too despondent to be anything but a migrant, although if one considers how difficult his life could be in a world not designed for such giants, it is no wonder. An ordinary room or a vehicle cannot accommodate him, and he has to crawl to get through a standard door. Tiny cubicles in public toilets are completely inaccessible for him, and you can imagine all the other problems that he faces everyday. Yet, he came all the way to here, probably mostly on foot, and that took courage. If he is ever allowed to compete in any athletic sport, he could set world records with ease in all disciplines. Jumping, running, throwing of objects, whatever. Personally, I read stories of giants before, most notably that from Magellan, where he reported that his crew captured one such man in South America, but he managed to break his bonds and escaped overboard. I found it hard to believe those stories, but they were there and were quite numerous.

          While after this encounter I am no longer a skeptic, I am fully aware that from your point of view this is yet another story. However, the difference is that I do not report about archaeological discoveries, but about a living person, which is a difference. Privacy of humans should be respected, especially of those rare giant individuals, who can’t even use ordinary toilet or bathroom facilities because of their size.

          As for the implausibility, yes I fully agree. What are the chances that possibly the tallest men on Earth comes through one’s own street, completely unnoticed by anyone else ? One in a billion, at the very least, and yet, it did happen. On the question on why nobody heard of him anywhere, I could speculate that perhaps this is so because he is still stuck in a refuge for the migrants that happened to be at the end of a street where I live. Only 3 months have passed since I encountered him last time, and before that in spring, half a year earlier.

          1. Very cool story, CV, but like Patrick and Mark, I would like more to go on than your subjective assessment of this guy’s height, especially in view of the square-cube law. From your description, I wonder if he might have been a Nilotic refugee from South Sudan, perhaps Dinka or Shilluk, who are typically very tall and slender. I remember being awestruck on seeing my first Dinka in the streets of Khartoum. It’s plausible, as I know your country has taken in a few asylum seekers from South Sudan. But your estimate of his height is not at all plausible, without providing good evidence.

            1. Let’s suppose that he still dwells in my street, and so can be traced with a little bit of an effort from my side. What would you consider a good evidence ? Why should I provide one ? How would that benefit that guy ?

              Second, I wonder why you doubt my ability to fairly correctly estimate somebody’s height during the stated circumstances ? If you doubt that triviality, how can you ever trust me on anything more complex ?
              I agree that such measurement is not perfect, but I am pretty sure that my given tolerance of 10 cm is accurate.

              Third, his height, as odd as it might seem, and I fully agree with anyone’s disbelief on this matter, is quite within the stated range of heights of historically reported giants (Gilgamesh et al, Magellan’s records, etc).
              The Europeans kept few percents of Neanderthal genes, and it is well known that individual genes can survive, even when the whole genome becomes lost due to extinction. For instance, lack of chin was a basic distinction of the Neanderthals, and was also a bigger brain. Rarely, I observe a distinctive lack of a chin on local people, which looks odd on humans. I observed that only on females thus far, but I can also add that all those rare few with such a characteristic also exhibited a very high level of mental agility, a. k. a. intelligence.

              In my opinion the gigantism of Yetis/Bigfoots/Giants/Denisovans, or whatever the name of them all is, developed as an adaptation to cold in East Asia during the Ice Ages before Homo sapiens came to be. Those archaic, cold adapted species then logically first had the opportunity or opportunities to migrate to Americas and should be responsible for the existence of all the odd unbelievably old artifacts that are occasionally found there. The problem of archaeologists in finally recognizing that Homo sapiens was not the first to come to Americas in my opinion lies in the fact that the Bible mentions the giants. Emotions then come to play, and science suffers.

            2. Sorry, CV, still dubious. What would convince me? I suggest you tip off the Guinness Book of World Records. They would verify the gentleman’s height, and he would certainly benefit from the attention if he did turn out to be the world’s tallest recorded human – especially by the generous margin of two feet! Until then, we have only your unsupported and subjective assessment. So, no cigar.

              “If you doubt that triviality, how can you ever trust me on anything more complex?” I hate to break it to you, but I don’t actually trust you on matters either trivial or complex. Let me soften that. We’ve had quite a few exchanges, you and me, and here is my studied opinion of your reliability: I think you are an honest soul, and I believe that you tell the truth as you perceive it. But I have no trust in your ability to perceive objective truth.

              Referencing mythical giants does not strengthen your case. Gilgamesh was not a giant in the original Mesopotamian texts – his name was appropriated for a relatively late apocryphal text called the “Book of Giants.” Magellan’s observations were not backed up by Drake, who went through about 30 years later and suggested, basically, that Magellan was generous in his estimates, and economical with the truth. 🙂

              You’ve got it backwards about cold adaptations. High latitude peoples, like the Sami and Inuit etc, tend to be short and robust, with limbs that are short relative to the torso. This fits rather well with the short, robust Neanderthals, and possibly the Denisovans (who were not, by the way, giants.) Gigantism would actually be maladaptive in the frozen north. (I frequently bless my lack of inches in the Canadian winter.) Long gracile bodies with limbs relatively longer than the torso is one of the classic hot-climate adaptations, like that displayed by your African friend.

              Archaeologists would be fascinated by unequivocal evidence of pre-sapiens hominins in the Americas. Alas, no such evidence has yet been found.

    2. So, according to you, I was not deliberately lying, but hallucinating. What makes you think that you are able to perceive objective reality ? Pathoskepticism is a mental illness.

      Then, you mentioned the phrase ‘your African friend’. I clearly stated that I simply bypassed him on the street. How that makes him my friend in your mind ? He is not even an acquaintance. You have a reading comprehension problem.

      Regarding the Guiness book of records, did it ever occured to you that he could have done that by himself but maybe he does not want attention. Nobody wants to be a circus attraction. Please read again the part of my message where I mention the privacy and toilets.

      Anyway, you were lying about Gilgamesh not being decribed as a giant in the original texts. He had a friend of similar strength who was stated to have been raised by a herd of horses and was able to keep up with them in running. An ordinary human could never be able to do that, but a guy of 3.3 meters surely could.

      How could Drake verify the height of a person that Magellan captured ? This is nonsense. You just called Magellan a liar, because he reported something that you don’t like. Or perhaps he too was unable to perceive objective reality. Only you can. No offense.

      Regarding adaptations to cold, may I remind you that Rancholabrean fauna was gigantic. Cold was the reason for that. Any hominid present in America would have benefited from a similar size increase in such an environment.

      1. So, according to you, I was not deliberately lying, but hallucinating. What makes you think that you are able to perceive objective reality ? Pathoskepticism is a mental illness.

        False dichotomy, CV. Who mentioned hallucinations? I will simply repeat, your subjective estimate of somebody you passed in the street is not objective data. In fact, it’s an extraordinary claim, and we have no reason to accept it until you support it with a verifiable measurement.

        Then, you mentioned the phrase ‘your African friend’. I clearly stated that I simply bypassed him on the street. How that makes him my friend in your mind ? He is not even an acquaintance. You have a reading comprehension problem.

        Uh, no. It’s slightly old-fashioned idiomatic English. I could as well have said “our African friend” or “your African gentleman” or something similar.

        Regarding the Guiness book of records, did it ever occured to you that he could have done that by himself but maybe he does not want attention. Nobody wants to be a circus attraction. Please read again the part of my message where I mention the privacy and toilets.

        Dear me. If there were truly an 11’ Giant of Colour walking the streets of your very white city, I’m fairly certain he would have attracted attention by now, with or without you.

        Anyway, you were lying about Gilgamesh not being decribed as a giant in the original texts. He had a friend of similar strength who was stated to have been raised by a herd of horses and was able to keep up with them in running. An ordinary human could never be able to do that, but a guy of 3.3 meters surely could.

        To the best of my knowledge, the original cuneiform texts do not describe either Gilgamesh or Enkidu as giants, though they are tall and strong. I recall Enkidu as having been raised by “wild beasts” but no specific mention of being raised by horses. Gilgamesh and the monster Humbaba are mentioned in the Enochian and Manichean texts, but those are late and derivative and do not match the early narratives in any case. If you can provide a reference to a reliable translation from the cuneiform that supports your claim, I’d be truly interested to check it out. Meantime, it was discourteous of you to accuse me of lying.

        How could Drake verify the height of a person that Magellan captured ? This is nonsense. You just called Magellan a liar, because he reported something that you don’t like. Or perhaps he too was unable to perceive objective reality. Only you can. No offense.

        I didn’t call Magellan a liar—I cited the skepticism of Drake (or rather Drake’s nephew). There is a difference. Drake visited Patagonia not much later and found some very tall people—Drake the Younger, some decades after the voyage, claimed six-or even seven-footers—but no giants of the height Magellan claimed. There is a long and fascinating history of giant mythology from Patagonia (and elsewhere in the New World) along with many other exotic and fabulous claims, but the verdict of history is that a huge amount of exaggeration was involved. Tall indigenes, yes, especially relative to the pathetic average height of Europeans at the time. Monstrous giants of ten feet and more? No.

        Regarding adaptations to cold, may I remind you that Rancholabrean fauna was gigantic. Cold was the reason for that. Any hominid present in America would have benefited from a similar size increase in such an environment.

        Yes and no. I would guess you’re thinking of Bergmann’s Rule, whereby subspecies in colder climates tend to be more massive than their lower-latitude cousins, lowering the ratio of surface area to volume as a way of minimizing heat loss. “Massive” does not necessarily mean gigantic. Quadrupeds can get away with just getting really big, within limits. For humans, however, Bergmann’s rule runs up more critically against the square-cube law, which sets a practical limit on how massive humans can become before their bones can no longer support their weight. Humans appear to conform to Bergmann’s Rule, but – since we are bipeds – populations adapted to the high latitudes do it by being shortish, squat, robust, short-limbed, and often barrel-chested. Massive sideways, so to speak, rather than vertically. Your giants, however, would necessarily remain gracile due of the square-cube law, which would make them more prone to heat loss as per Bergmann’s Rule, which would make them ill-adapted for the cold.

        1. Giant sloth, giant beaver, giant jack rabbit, short faced bear, … Rancholabrean fauna was big. Any member of a genus Homo could have grown big too in such conditions. Resistance to cold does not matter if they lived south in warmer parts of America, or if they have fur on their skin, or, and I emphasize that if they knew how to make cloth like humans generally do. We are talking here about advanced hominins, not animals, remember ? Variations also apply. Some people are fat, some muscular, some tall, some short. For giants, having big foots matters the most to lower the pressure. The one in my street might be gracile in look, but his weight is 200-300 kg. One of his legs alone has equal height, width, and presumably mass as the whole of me.

          If Magellan was not a liar, then he caught a giant man. He might have been one of the very few, though. I have no reason to doubt him and consider his report credible. Other cases reported not so much, and are suspicious.

          For Gilgamesh, I recall horses being mentioned in connection with Enkidu in a translation that I once read. However, the monster ‘Humbaba’ is a volcano, IMHO. The Gilgamesh text is very naive and simple.

          Back to the giant that I observed. In the meanwhile I found out that the average waiting time in the local refuge center is a year, and can be two, depending on the crowdedness. Only families reside in this center, and the countries of origin of people who live there were mentioned. Only one African country was being mentioned, aside from Arab countries. It is not Southern Sudan, but you were very close. It is not necessarily his family, but it very well might be.

          Furthermore, I think that I mentioned clearly that he is black, not of colour. Black and white are not colours, only yellow and red are, of the four races. Or so the physics says. White people tan on sun during summer to become ‘coloured’, or ‘blackened’, often quite intensely.

          I’m fairly certain he would have attracted attention by now, with or without you.

          Somebody has to be the first to notice. Aside from that, people here are not surprised by anything. What reaction do you expect ? Civilized behavior implies that you do not react to peculiarities of another person.

          your subjective estimate of somebody you passed in the street is not objective data. In fact, it’s an extraordinary claim, and we have no reason to accept it until you support it with a verifiable measurement.

          I happened to be an engineer. I know how to measure things. I know math, both complex and simple. I know my height exactly. If I was not hallucinating that giant, and if we agree that I am not lying about encountering him, then I bypassed him as stated. Supposing that his height was as reported, could you estimate my own height ? Margin of error included, assume standard human proportions.

          The question here is reliability of a witness. I am a witness. How do I become a credible, trustworthy witness ? How does anyone become a credible witness ? I suppose that people from the Guiness book of records are not the only trustworthy people on Earth ? Anyone else ? Why ? Suppose that you get that very giant on the phone and ask him how tall he is, would you believe him ? What would he have to do to convince you ?

          Personally, when I met him for the first time, it never occurred to me that he is a giant of that height. Brain discards that promptly. Only deliberate check during the 2nd encounter convinced me. I have to trust myself. You, of course, do not.

          1. Oh, dear CV. I am not going to continue pointing out that your eyewitness report and personal estimate of your giant’s height is interesting, but not objective evidence. It is totally irrelevant to the Denisovan question anyway. As for the rest, I have already pointed out the intersection of Bergmann’s Law and the square-cube law with regard to how bipeds would best adapt to a cold climate. One note: “person of colour” is the polite (politically correct) way to refer to persons of non-white ancestry. I was not implying your giant was, say, red or purple or yellow or any other colour.

            1. Scientifically speaking, black is *not* a color. Politically speaking, it is. Guess who of those two groups of people (scientists vs politicians) lies. I think we were discussing science, not politics. Black is black, not ‘colored’. Why would anyone think that the word ‘black’ is not a polite way of speaking is incomprehensible. ‘Colored’ may indeed refer to a mix of genes of various races, but this one was pure black African, not a mix. The importance of noting the race is in the fact of pointing out that genes for gigantism are not a mutation that occurred in Asia, but are older. This is not a definite proof, but an indication, though.

              Your standpoint was that there were no giants, ever. I testified that there is one living today, thus contradicting your claim. My observation is verifiable, if one makes an effort, which makes it a legitimate testimony. I asked you some questions about what makes one a trustworthy witness, but you answered nothing.

              To summarize:
              A. On my side, the possible errors are:
              1. hallucination
              2. deliberate lying
              3. inability to do simple algebra math, at an elementary school level

              B. On your side, the possible errors are:
              1. Pathological skepticism (meaning mental inability to acknowledge the evidence to the contrary)
              2. malicious blogging (meaning that you do not care for evidence, but have other agendas)
              3. inability to do simple algebra math, at an elementary school level (because you failed to check my math)

              Any of those results in a lack of objectivity.

              Considering adaptations to cold, elephants evolved into mammoths when the Eemian warmth disappeared..

            2. “Person of colour”: it’s not something I made up, it’s common usage. See this link for the definition.

              I have not denied the existence of very tall people. There is a 7’8″ guy who lives locally. I have a great-nephew who is 6’10”. The tallest human on record, Robert Wadlow, was 8’11”. Call them giants if you like, I don’t care. My skepticism was – and is – regarding your claim of accurately estimating the height of a person you passed on the street, as being a couple of feet taller than the tallest human on record. This stupid, pointless wrangle stops HERE.

              And as I said, it’s irrelevant to the Denisovans anyway, because there is nothing to suggest the Denisovans were giants. Nothing, nada, zip.

    3. The one thing that I have noticed about fringe advocates is that no matter how relatively rational and informed they initially appear to be, they inevitably play the “crazy card” such as CV did with his insistence on witnessing a giant (in the fringe sense of the word) that has apparently remained hidden in plain sight. Reminds me of the woman/man who one dates and initially appears to be reasonably sane but then on the 4th date suddenly starts talking about the chip that has been implanted in their neck by a jealous ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who works for the CIA so that they can stalk them from afar. You call them on it and suddenly the crazy comes boiling to the surface. Deal breaker.

      Sometimes the emphasis on big teeth= huge body permeates academia. Russ Cicohon’s “reconstruction” (which drew national publicity in the early 90s) of giganto based on teeth looks like it could eat bigfoot for breakfast. However, recent published work (I’m drawing a blank on the citation) suggests a giganto more along the lines of the size of a particularly big college football offensive lineman.

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