San Pedro Mountains Mummy

In October 1932, while digging for gold in the San Pedro mountains, Carbon County, Wyoming, two prospectors, Cecil Mayne and Frank Carr, blasted their way through some thick rock that a large vein of gold continued into. When the dust settled, they saw they had opened up a small room, approximately 4 ft tall, 4 ft wide, and about 15 ft deep. This is where they claimed that they first saw the mummy of a tiny person.

Pedro the Mummy

Pedro the mummy was found sitting in an upright position with his arms crossed, covering its crossed legs. It sat perpendicular to the floor on a small ledge in the room. It weighed approximately 12 ounces and was around 7 inches tall sitting, and 14 inches tall (estimated) standing. Its cranium was flattened, the eyes bulging and so well preserved that even the fingernails were visible. The head was covered in a dark, gelatinous substance, leading some to accuse Mayne and Carr of perpetrating a hoax using an infant from a medical collection, since some of the mummy appeared to have been preserved in liquid.

Upon its discovery, it was instantly called a hoax by most scholars. Many believed that it was a dummy or some type of Frankenstein taxidermy. Scientists came from all over the country to take a look at the remains. X-rays were performed on the mummy in 1950 and it was discovered that there was a “manlike” skeleton inside, almost fully formed. Some of the bones were broken, including the spine, collarbone and skull. These injuries and congealed blood at the top of the skull insinuated a violent death.

San Pedro Mountain Mummy Skeleton
Dr. Henry Shapiro’s Findings and Counter Argument

In 1950, the mummy was examined by Dr. Henry Shapiro, a biological anthropologist from the American Museum of Natural History. After examining the x-rays, Dr. Shapiro believed that this mummy was the body of an approximately 65 year old man at the time of his death. Also, this mummy had particularly large canines in comparison with the rest of his body size, almost vampire-like. These findings were substantiated by Harvard University and their anthropology department. However, 30 years later, Dr. George Gill, a forensic anthropologist proposed another theory after looking at the x-ray. He thought that the body could have been an infant of some unknown tribe of Indians. Mummies in Wyoming are not unusual since its arid climate is conducive to preserving tissue, however tiny mummies are a rarity. A second, similar mummy was found in roughly the same area and brought to the attention of Dr. Gill after he appeared on a television show called Unsolved Mysteries. After the discovery of the second, this time a female mummy, he could x-ray her and look at her in great detail. She was only 4 inches high, and in a slumped position. Dr. Gill determined that she was an infant and hypothesized that she was either a prematurely born baby, or possibly a child with anencephaly. After his testing the family that owned the girl mummy took her back and was never heard from again. Gill suggested that both mummies were the result of malnutrition of babies born to a tribe (possibly even immigrants) still adapting to the harsh conditions of the area, about three centuries ago. One problem that arises with trying to date the mummy without it being present is that it was sealed tightly in a cave with thick rock, which could take thousands of years if done by natural processes, or it could have been placed there and sealed at a later date. Thus without the bodies, determining age is improbable.

Little People of Wyoming

Also called the Nimerigar, Native American legends, mainly the Shoshone tribe, speak of an aggressive race of “little people” which ranged in height from around 20 inches to 3 1/2 feet tall. According to Native American lore they lived in the San Pedro Mountains in south central Wyoming and fought constantly with the average sized humans of the area using poisoned arrows. It was often said that if one of the Nimerigar became sick or old, they were killed by their own people with a blow to the head. It was also said that the little mummies brought bad luck to anyone who found them, and to this day Native Americans warn people of the tribe of “tiny people eaters” that roam the San Pedro Mountain Range of Wyoming. Most of these claims were considered folklore until the discovery of what is now known as “Pedro” the mummy

Comparisons with Other “Little People” in Native American Folklore

Other alleged discoveries, like that of the 1876 discovery of a “pygmy” graveyard in Coffee County, Tennessee, has some people saying that a race of pygmy people ranged all over the United states, and they often use Pedro the mummy as the proof. A man plowing his field supposedly found graves that were 2 feet long, 14 inches wide, and 18 inches deep. Other explanations have been offered for the burials, that they were of children or disarticulated people. The Cherokee had a legend of little people who lived in mountains, came up to an average sized persons knee and were quite nice unless you disturbed their homes. There are many Native American stories about little people.

The Disappearance of the Mummy

The mummy ended up in Meeteetse, Wyoming, at a local drug store where it was shown as an attraction for several years before it was bought by Ivan T. Goodman, a Casper, Wyoming businessman. A July 7, 1979, article in the Casper Star-Tribune stated that Goodman died in 1950 and the mummy was passed on to Leonard Wadler, a New York businessman. The mummy has not been seen in public since Wadler, who died in the 1980s, took possession of it. The mummy’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Until the mummy shows up again, it will be impossible to know if the mummy is real. If it is, the primary focus will be on finding the age and nationality of the mummy. There is currently a $10,000 reward for the person who finds the missing mummy according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

Oral traditions of many Native American tribes, including the Arapaho, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow, tell of “little people” who stand from just 20 inches to three feet tall. In some tribes they are known as “tiny people eaters,” in others they were known to have been spirits and healers, and some believed them to be magical, similar to leprechauns or fairies. In any event, the legends were well known among Indians across the nation, long before the Europeans set foot upon these lands.

To the Shoshone Indians of Wyoming , this small race of people were known as the Nimerigar and their legends told of the little people attacking them with tiny bows and poisoned arrows.

The Nimerigar were also known to kill their own kind with a blow to the head when they became too ill to be an active part of their society. Though part of the legend, this practice of sometimes killing the infirmed was a also a regular part of life for many of the nomadic Indian tribes.

Though many believe these “little people” to be only the stuff of legends, several discoveries point to the contrary, the most significant of which, was a 14” inch fully formed mummy found in 1932. Called the Pedro Mountains Mummy, he was discovered when two men were digging for gold in the San Pedro Mountains about 60 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming .

After continually working a rich vein and running only into more and more rock, Cecil Main and Frank Carr used dynamite to blast a section of the mountainside to get at the gold. After the dust cleared, a cave could be seen in the rock face. The small cavern was about 15 feet long and 4 feet high and had been totally sealed off from the outside world by a thick wall of rock.

As the men entered the cave they were surprised to see a small a pygmy-like man sitting cross-legged upon a ledge. The tiny mummy was only about 6 ½ inches tall in its seated position, and estimated at 14 inches tall in a standing position. Its skin was brown and wrinkled, its forehead low and flat, its features displaying a flat nose, heavy-lidded eyes and a very wide mouth with thin lips. The face looked like of an old man. It was so well preserved, its fingernails could still been on its hands and the top of its head was covered in a dark jelly-like substance that was still pliable.

The two prospectors took their find to Casper, Wyoming and in no time, scientists came from all over the nation to have a look at the mummy. Sure that it was a hoax, extensive tests were performed when the professionals assumed it was a pieced-together work of taxidermy. However, the anthropologists would soon be surprised to see that x-rays displayed a perfectly formed, manlike skeleton. The tests also showed that the mummy had been killed violently, as the spine was damaged, a collarbone broken, and the skull had been smashed in by a heavy blow. The soft substance at the top of the head exposed brain tissue and congealed blood. After the tests were complete, the scientists estimated that the mummy was a full grown adult who was approximately 65 years old at the time of his death. One odd finding was that its teeth were overly pointed, having a full set of canines.

These examinations were allegedly performed by the American Museum of Natural History and certified genuine by the Anthropology Department of Harvard University. However, alternate reports also say when the mummy was examined by the University of Wyoming , the body was found to be that of a diseased child.

The mummy was displayed in sideshows for years, before it was purchased by a Casper businessman named Ivan T. Goodman. When Goodman died in 1950, the mummy passed into the hands of one Leonard Walder and eventually disappeared.

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