Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Neanderthal-like skulls in Minnesota

The book that mentions the Minnesota Neanderthals. Cover of [1], from

Tne mysterious Neanderthal-like skulls in Minnesota
In the internet there are several sites that are “copy-pasted clones” of each other, dealing with an alleged cover-up by the Smithsonian Institution: the deliberate “loss” of some unusual skulls sent to them from an archaeological dig in Minnesota in 1968). To see them, just Google the keywords “great Smithsonian cover up”. Lets look at what facts can be found beyond the cloned posts and sites:

Original text source

The online posts quote a book written by Vincent Gaddis and published in 1977, [1] which states the following (yes, I am copying and pasting):

In 1968 two Neanderthal-like skulls with low foreheads and large brows were found in Minnesota. As for dating, University of Minnesota scientists said they were reluctant to destroy any of the material, although carbon-14 testing only requires the burning of one gram of bone. They were sent to the Smithsonian. Later Dr. Lawrence Angel, curator of physical anthropology at the institution, said he had no record of the skulls there, although he was sure they were not lost. [1]

An analysis

The text mentions a “Dr. Lawrence Angel” and “University of Minnesota scientists” gives a date (1968) and not mouch more. Lets see what can be found.
An entry in a publication of the “Instituto Interamericano” of Denton, Texas, US, which is shown in the image below [2], and whose text is copied further down (I have highlighted the interesting parts in bold):

RARE BONES: Human skulls, bones and artifacts were found near Ely, Minnesota, in 1968 but have just now been publicly reported. The exact site of the find is being kept secret for fear of looters. Dr. Eldon Johnson, Minnesota state archaeologist, said that the extremely low foreheads and heavy brow ridges suggest that the skulls are examples of what must have been either an early type of man or an inbred population. “the skulls may well represent a pre-Indian type of man that is more closely related to Neanderthal man than any previously found in America” said Dr. Richard Adams and leader of the University of Minnesota team which first examined the find. Dr. T. Dale Stewart of the Smithsonian has the bones and will determine if they are sufficiently unique to warrant a C-14 test... [2]

minnesota neanderthal skull text
Original Text on Neanderthal skulls found in Minnesota in 1968. From [1].

This snippet has given us the names of three people involved in the finding, Eldon Johnson, Richard Adams and Dale Stewart, besides Lawrence Angel mentioned in the original article. Details on these men below:

1. Elden Johnson (1923-1992). Actually the name is wrong, the state archaeologist is really Elden and not Eldon. And he was also part of the University of Minnesota (210 Ford Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455). However, the “Minnesota Archaeological Newsletter” (click to read it online) mentions Mr. E. Johnson several times, but, during the 1967-1972 period has not one entry regarding skulls of Neanderthal men found in Minnesota.

Furthermore, the online biography (Minnesota Univ.) does not mention the skulls or anything related to them. [7]

2. Lawrence Angel. He was a very busy man during the period of the “Minnesota findings” as we can see in his papers: [3]
1962-1986. Curator, Division of Physical Anthropology, Department of
Anthropology, United States National Museum (later the National Museum of Natural History), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
1967. Field work in the Near East: Turkey, studied skeletal remains from
Catal Huyuk at the University of Ankara, and skeletons from Antalya, Elmali, and Karatas; Greece, studied skeletal remains from Franchthi cave, Athens, Kea, Nauplion, Corinth, and Asine; supported by the Hrdlicka Fund. Organized a symposium on paleodemography, diseases and human evolution at the 66th meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, D.C. 1969. Field work in the Near East: studied material from Kephala, Karatas, and Franchthi cave; supported by the Hrdlička Fund and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
1970. Visiting Professor, Harvard University (Spring). Organized the 39th
meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists held
in Washington, D.C.
1971 The People of Lerna: Analysis of a Prehistoric Aegean Population.
1972. Field work in the Near East: studied skeletons from Asine and Agora
in Greece; supported by the Hrdlička Fund.
1962-1986. Professorial Lecturer in Anthropology at George Washington
University, Washington, D.C.
1963-1986. Lecturer in forensic pathology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.
1965-1970. Visiting Professor of Anatomy, Howard University Medical School, Washington, D.C.

This means that he may have not been aware of a package with “Neander” bones sent to the Smithsonian in 1968.

3. Richard Adams (1931-?). His online biography states that his field is Latin American archaeology and especially the Mayas. “Adams has been to the Rio Bec region in the central Yucatan peninsula several times from 1969 to 1973. In an excavation from 1969 to 1971 . [6] So he probably did see the bones in 1968 and then moved on to other things.
His bio does not mention them. He has not written about them.

4. Dr. T. Dale Stewart (1901-1997). He began working at the Smithsonian Institution in 1924, becoming curator in 1931, and working under Ales Hrdlicka. In 1961, he became the head curator of the Department of Anthropology, and in 1962, director of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. During the period mentioned (1968-1972), he was the senior scientist in the department of anthropology. He retired in 1971. [5]

Though he upheld Hrdlicka’s view on an Asian origin for Americans, he thought that the arrival of humans to America happened at an older date than the one proposed by Hrdlicka (who was strongly in favor of a recent arrival). He studied Neanderthal remains in Asia. [5]

He does not seem to be the kind of scientist who would deliberately destroy or conceal “old” bones, which in fact upheld is beliefs. also mentions the skulls, and gives two references which are copied below for those interested in reading the original sources: [4]

  • Gordon Slovut, “Old Skulls Have State Expert Scratching Head”. Minneapolis Star, 12 July 1972.
  • Associated Press dispatch from Ely, Minn., 12 July 1972.

It also places the site where the bones were found at: the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota.

So, not one of those mentioned in sources [1] or [2] seem to have written any papers on this amazing finding. One of those involved supported the notion of an "ancient" peopling of America. Why would any of them have contrived to make the bones disappear? Maybe the remains just got lost or misplaced.

A mystery.

Anyway, if true, it points towards "thick browed" native Americans date unknown that, may actually have been "American Homo erectus" who evolved from Asian stock in America and thus resembled Neanderthals.


[1] Vincent H. Gaddis, (1977). American Indian myths & mysteries, Chilton Book Co.
[2] Carl B. Compton, The Interamerican. “Rare Bones”. Vols 14 to 23.
[3] Robert Lynn Montgomery, (1994). Register to the Papers of John Lawrence Angel. Revised by Jennifer Chen, Jill Fri and Gayle Yiotis, 2006. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
[4] Sources
[5] Smithsonian Institution. Thomas Dale Stewart Papers 1954.
[6] Minnesota State University, Mankato. R. Adams’ bio.
[7] Same site, E. Johnson’s bio.

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  1. Years back I read online about a Homo Erectus-like skull fragment found decades ago in Chapala Mexico.

  2. Another explanation is also possible but even more controversial. There have been thousands of documented sightings of Bigfoot all across the United States, with hundreds of sightings in most states. So, is it possible that the Minnesota skulls were Bigfoot? Although Bigfoot is normally much larger than any known Homo species, they have brow ridges (according to the consistent descriptions).

    There have also been at least two cases of apparent Bigfoot skulls being sent to a university for analysis and not being heard of again.

    This is clearly a ridiculous situation. We need objective, scientific work to be done on this but the official experts apparently cannot cope with the subject. The archeological establishment appear to have some sort of religious belief against even the possiblity that any human has survived in recent times other than Homo sapiens. When are the scientific community going to grow up on this topic and actually investigate the evidence?

  3. Thank you both for writing! indeed, perhaps Bigfoot = extant hominid (H. erectus or Neanderthal, or even H. habilis - from a pre-H. erectus Out Of Africa migration). My belief is that hominds are the most rational explanation for sightings of "ape-men" or "wild-men" in America and especially in Patagonia.
    Regarding the scientific establishment, unfortunately they can't think out of the box that College puts their mind into so the thought of pre-sapiens people in America does not even cross their minds! Even if they saw stone tools made by H. erectus they would disregard them as made by nature.

  4. Thanks for your reply. However, I think Bigfoot is probably a different creature to the known humans (Neandertal, H. Erectus), except possibly the Denisovans. This is because it is consistently reported as being much larger than than any of those humans (being typically 7-9 feet high) and also because Bigfoot seems to lack a material culture (no tools, no use of fire, no body ornamentation) which contrasts with the growing evidence that these earlier humans were reasonably sophisticated and more like us than we previously thought.

    In contrast, Bigfoot appears to have developed traits that totally compliment Homo Sapiens and which mean they have continued living until today in habitats that are unfrequented by us, such as the boreal forests, mountainous regions and swamps. They have physical characters like great strength, speed, probably night vision - the glowing red eyes, apparent ability to make ultra-low noises that we can feel but not hear etc. (based on the reports of encounters).

    So, while Bigfoot may, like us, have developed from one of the known early humans, I believe we should consider it a separate modern species for the time-being.

    I do, however, think the Denisovan might be the same as Bigfoot, only because it comes from one of the areas that Bigfoot (Almasty) has been regularly seen, the date of the fossils is very modern, and also we know nothing about the Denisovans so there is no conflicting evidence!

  5. Very interesting article and comments! I am an anthropologist and, frankly, I DO believe early hominins made it to the Americas somehow. Don't think there is not any evidence for this as there is, in fact, much evidence including stone tools mostly of the Oldowan type which many people in the Americas including myself have found. NO they are NOT geofacts!

    Regarding Bigfoot I have studied this hominin for a long time now and have come to believe that it is human or, at least, a human hybrid. It's behavior is much like that of both humans and apes. FYI humans have many ape-like behaviors as well so don't think we are that "special." Further, having observed these hominins I have noted that they are intelligent and capable of many human behaviors. They are also innovative just as humans are. They seem to use Oldowan-like tools, ironically.

    I don't know exactly what Bigfoot is BUT I'm pretty sure it is some type of hominin or, to put it another way, "proto-human hybrid."

    Returning to Homo erectus coming to the Americas I see no reason why this species could not do so. Erectus was much more intelligent and innovative than we think and the evidence points to that clearly. Erectus was an innovator and explorer possibly even a conqueror. It is also highly likely Erectus came here by some kind of boat or dugout following the ancient coastlines. Many ask where is the evidence (boats) for this? Answer: under about 400 feet of ocean water! Ancient coastlines were NOT the coastlines we see today.

    Great article Austin!!


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