period of gigantism confirmed
Professor Lee Berger!
compares a giant femur to a normal skeleton.
the internet you will find an interview with professor Lee
Lee Berger is a renowned paleoanthropologist from the University
of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has conducted
numerous expeditions as an explorer for National Geographic
and was winner of the Society's first Research and Exploration
Prize in 1997.
of South Africa. And not only does he talk about fossilized
bones of human giants - he even shows the interviewer one!
You will find the interview with Professor
Berger on the internet pages of The Naked Scientists - media-savvy
group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University
in England. The interview was done in November 2007 by Dr
Chris Smith when they visited South Africa and could study
the collection of fossils at Witwatersrand University.
Period of gigantism
Professor Berger is first explaining that it is a myth that
ancient humans were tiny, and that when humans moved through
the period of 0.5 million to 300,000 years ago in Africa we
moved into a sort of mystery period where the few fossils
you find are incredibly intriguing:
- Inside of Africa they go through one of
the most incredible things that we've only just begun to realise.
They go through a period of giantism, he says.
Lee Berger and Dr. Chris Smith
To show what he means Professor Berger pulls an enormous femur,
the bit that forms the hip joint, out of a bag. Dr Chris Smith
almost gets a shock because as a doctor he knows how big they
- That's huge! he exclaimes.
Professor Berger explains that it is so big that they can't
even calculate how big the individual was but that it should
be over 7 feet tall. Dr Smith is asking if it could be a just
an abnormality but Professor Berger denies this because they
have found a lot of them and everywhere they find then they
are enormous. Professor Berger explains that they call them
archaic Homo Sapiens but that some people refer to them as
- These individuals are extraordinary, they
are giants, he says.
sometimes called Homo rhodesiensis is
an extinct species of the genus Homo which lived in
Africa, Europe and western Asia from at least 600,000
years ago, and may date back 1,300,000 years. It survived
until about 200,000 to 250,000 years ago. Its brain
was nearly as large as that of a modern Homo sapiens.
It is very likely the direct ancestor of Homo sapiens
(in Africa) and the Neanderthals (in Europe), and perhaps
also the Denisovans (in Central Asia). Wikipedia
Professor Berger explains that the humans could have been
through a period of gigantism that lasted a couple of hundred
thousand years, and that the femur had belonged to an archaic
human that lived about 350,000-400,000 years ago. He believed
the reason was that South Africa at that time had a period
when there were larger amounts of grassland and there were
lots of giants adapting to that, like giant buffaloes with
horns three metres across. That the humans in that tough environment
seemingly were using their body size to enforce themselves
into what was a very dry and tough period.
It was just so incredible for me to learn that a renowned
paleoanthropologist in an interview openly is telling that
we humans have been though a period of gigantism. I could
hardly believe it was true because to say that there has been
giants on earth usually make you the laughing stock of your
friends. For an archaeologist this definitely could be a career
I managed to find the email address of Professor
Berger, sent him a request to confirm the article - and crossed
my fingers that the whole interview not was just a hoax.
I must say I was surprised to receive a
reply, and what more: It was not a hoax! Professor Berger
wrote the following in his email to me: - Indeed the article
Where are the headlines?
So here we have it, folks; A brave professor claiming that
we have been through a period of gigantism and that he has
evidence to proof it.
Should this not be headlines in the newspapers all over the
word? So far I have not seen a word.
read the full interview- click here
see a video on Youtube showing what I believe is the same
bone as Berger is holding in the picture - click here
information on this femur might be what is found in the American
Journal of Physical Anthropology - click here
Research done on this femur - click here
|From: Lee Berger
Sent: Friday, 1 April 2011 2:36 PM
To: Terje Dahl
Copy: Wilma Lawrence; email@example.com
Regarding: RE: Gigantism
Dear Mr. Dahl,
Indeed the article is real.
Someone to talk to in detail about these things would
be my colleague Prof. Steve Churchill of Duke University
who has worked extensively on body size in Middle
From: Steven Churchill Ph.D.
Sent: Friday, 1 April 2011 9:49 PM
To: Terje Dahl
Copy: Lee Berger
Regards: Re: Ancient humans and gigantism
Thanks very much for your message, and for your interest
in our work on body size in archaic humans. It does
appear that the Middle Pleistocene was perhaps the
acme for human body size, and that there was a bit
of a reduction with the origins of our species, Homo
sapiens. I'm not so sure about them being routinely
more than 7 feet tall. The estimation of mass and
stature from skeletal remains can be problematic,
but my efforts to do so suggest that in the African
Middle Pleistocene, the average adult male stature
was 182.5 cm (6'3") and the relatively lean mass
(maybe 10% body fat) averaged 91.2 kg (200.6 lbs).
This may not seem that large relative to a Yao Ming
or Shaquille O'Neal, but relative to populations of
modern humans in hunter-gatherer economies this is
I have attached two articles that address this issue
- you might also look for an article by John Kapplemen
entitled "They might be giants" that appeared
as a commentary to the Ruff et al. 1997 paper.
All the best - Steve
Steven E. Churchill, Ph.D.
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Durham, NC 27708