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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ostrander skull supposedly an erectus skull

Ostrander Skull
Ostrander skull to the left, allegedly from the Hueyatlaco Site. On the left a modern skull. Adapted from [1](Fig. 5) by Austin Whittall

Seeking more information on the possible migration of Homo erectus into America long before modern humans evolved in Africa, I have been checking different leads. Some seem reasonable, but others, like the subject of today's post, don't. Let's look into the "Ostrander skull"

"Ostrander skull" the background

The paper from which I took the image shown above, [1], states the following (I have highlighted some words that are interesting:

The second skull [from the Valsequillo area, the other was the Dorenberg skull, the Ostrander skull apparently was collected by someone at Hueyatlaco in the late 60’s or early 70’s (personal communication, anonymous). I have only one photo of it, sent to me by the late Professor Ostrander in the mid-70’s (Fig.5). Note the thick brow ridges, the low brain case. Merced College in California, where it has been stored all these years does not answer my letters of inquiry concerning it. Rumor has it (personal communication, anonymous) that they have given the skull to a Native American tribe for reburial without attempting to date it.[1]

So here is a skull whose history and fate are based on rumors and anonymous communications. It is an alleged finding of uncertain date, and it probably was reburied at an unknown location to effectively remove the formal proof.

My analysis

Regarding the photograph, the article states that: "I have only one photo of it, sent to me by the late Professor Ostrander in the mid-70’s" [1].

The photographs shows two skulls, one facing the camera, the other rotated to the right, and on an angle tilting it away from the table on which it is set.

I just took the image and drew some lines to measure it (we only have this photograph as proof of the skull's existence). One line across the uppermost part of the skull (roughly the coronal suture where frontal and parietal bones meet), the other aligned with the top of the eye sockets.

For the "Ostrander" skull, shown on an angle, I "straightened" the skull by applying a simple Pythagorean maths, by measuring the sides that make up the right angle of the triangle (yellow lines) and applying Pythagoras' theorem, I came up with the height of the skull (blue line right skull) and compared it with the same dimension on the modern skull (blue line left skull). I admit that due to the skull's rotation (up and to the right), the triangle is an approximate measurement, but, as the results show, pretty accurate.

As the yellow sides measured 96 pixels and 190 pixels the blue one is "X" so:

962 + 1902 = X2

Which works out as: X = 212 pixels.

The modern skull measures: 221 pixels. Just 4.2% more, which seems to be a very small difference and does not prove that the "archaic" skull is erectus.

Furthermore, Charles Ostrander of Mercedes College, appears in a Chemical Directory as [2] its librarian. He also wrote a paper in a chemical jounal. Is it the same Charles Ostrander? I ask this because he does appear as a member of the American Association Of Physical Anthropologists [3]: Ostrander, Mr. Charles R., Merced College,. Merced, California 95340..


[1] Virginia Steen-McIntyre, (2002). Approximate dating of tephra using the microscope: "seat-of-the-pants" methods to roughly date quaternary archaeological and paleontological sites by associated pumice and volcanic ash layers". Proceedings Volume International Symposium: Early Man in America and the Implications For the Peopling of the Basin of Mexico August 7-9, 2002 Mexico City.
The image shown above and adapted by me to be able to measure it, is Fig. 5 of the above mentioned paper.
[2]Donald M. Bain (Editor), (1969). International chemistry directory, 1969-70. W.A. Benjamin, pp. 350.
[3] Members. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Volume 40, Issue 2, pages 299–319, March 1974
[4] Online

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
2011 International Year of Forests
2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall © 

1 comment:

  1. in this magazine: Page 17, Virginia Steen-McIntyre clarifies this information stating: "For a short time I
    believed it to be a skull collected at the Hueyatlaco site, illegally, some time in the late 60s or early 70s after the site was closed, and published the same (2006, p. 161). Turns out my usually reliable information source was wrong about that, so I
    was wrong too. "
    So it isn't from Mexico!, the author states "... the Ostrander skull (partial) from central California."


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