It amazes me that every time there is a sensational “discovery” of giants, the trail back to the original sources quickly runs into a wall. Today Ancient Origins published a piece claiming that a set of skeletons measuring nearly eight feet tall were found 70 miles from Cuenca, Ecuador by a British anthropologist named Russell Dement. Their source is an article from Monday by Liam Higgins in the Cuenca High Life magazine, an expatriate publication aimed primarily at British retirees who have made Cuenca their home. That article added the detail that Dement was working with Berlin’s Freie Universität to study the remains. Naturally, attempts to check this information ran into a wall. I can find no record of Russell Dement anywhere outside the two articles linked, and Freie Universität has no publicly available information about Dement or the supposed Shuar settlement near Cuenca where the giants were unearthed, despite Dement’s claims that the university is funding his research.
Dement dated the skeletons to the 1400s or 1500s. “I don’t want to make claims based on speculation since our work is ongoing. Because of the size of the skeletons, this has both anthropological and medical implications,” he told Higgins.
Naturally, Dement declined to provide Higgins with photographs or other evidence to document his claims. So far as I can tell, Higgins did not do basic reporting to verify Dement’s identity or his affiliation, or check whether the Ecuadoran government had records of excavation permits or human remains export permits.
It seems odd that Dement would break the news in a lightly read expatriate publication without even a hint of the supposed discovery making it into mainstream Ecuadoran news sources.
If this seems to have a ring of familiarity to it, it would be because the area where this supposedly happened is the famous Tayos Cave of Ecuador, where Erich von Däniken alleged that space aliens had constructed laser-carved caves filled with golden statues and texts. Tayos Cave is apparently just 30 minutes from Cuenca. According to fringe claims that I cannot verify, the local Shuar people claim that the cave contains evidence of giants who descended from heaven. Ancient astronaut authors report that the caves are sometimes said to be the work of giants. In 2013, Bruce Fenton, a fringe researcher who appeared on the Science Channel’s Unexplained Files, identified a nearby natural rock formation as a lost city of giants.
Cuenca is also less than 125 miles (200 km) from Guayquil, were the Natives reported to Pedro Cieza de Leon that a tribe of sodomite giants had come ashore and had been wiped out by an angel during an orgy. That legend had a pretty clear origin point. From 1543 down the present, the region has been well-known for the “giants’” bones found in there, bones known since the nineteenth century to have belonged to Pleistocene megafauna. The story was meant to explain the bones that erupted from the ground from time to time.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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