A March 22 Facebook post claiming that archaeologists unearthed seven-foot-tall human skeletons with horned skulls in Pennsylvania racked up more than 1,000 shares in two days.
“During an archaeological dig in Sayre, Bradford County, Pennsylvania in the 1880s, several human skulls were unearthed,” reads the Facebook post.
“These skeletons were anatomically correct, except for the anomaly of their projections – two distinct ‘horns’ two inches above the eyebrow and the fact that their average height in life would have been around seven feet tall.”
The T2 post claims that the bones were sent to the “American Investigating Museum” in Philadelphia, where they were stolen – “never to be seen again”.
But there is no evidence to support the claim.
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USA TODAY has reached out to the Facebook user who shared the post for comment.
No evidence of human skulls with horns, skeletons with gigantism
Some people grow to an unusual size – and ancient skeletons have been found of people suffering from gigantism.
This is a genetic disorder caused when individuals experience abnormal linear growth due to the excessive action of insulin-like growth factors, said Erin Kimmerle, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Central Florida.
“Basically, you keep growing even if the growth plates are fused,” Kimmerle said in an email.
“The frequency is believed to be around 8 cases per 1 million people. I’m not sure if it was more frequent in the past because earlier tests and treatments are possible now.”
It has been archaeologically excavated since the 1880s
But the horned skull shown in the Facebook post is a fake, Kimmerly said. USA TODAY found no credible news or scientific reports of such a discovery.
Researchers at the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archeology described the history of the horned giants in Pennsylvania as a compilation of stories that, over time, took on a life of their own.
Newspaper articles from the 19th and early 20th centuries included multiple versions of the story.
Peabody researchers attributed the references to giant skeletons to misidentified extinct animal species and written records that exaggerated the height of individuals who were tall for the time.
Although the University of Pennsylvania has a collection of 1,300 skulls included in the Penn Museum’s Morton Collection, there is no museum with the name “American Investigating Museum”, as the post states. Kimmerle confirmed that the museum does not exist.