Internet Photo Hoax: “Skeleton of Giant Found in India”


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Bhima's son Gadotkach-like skeleton found
Image courtesy IronKite

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The above image of a giant’s skeleton is in fact a digital collage of three different photos created by a Canadian illustrator using the alias IronKite. It was placed third in a 2002 competition titled “Archaeological Anomalies 2,” run by Worth1000, a website that hosts contests for digital artists. The website asked contestants to create a hoax archaeological discovery.

Blogs, emails, and even a newspaper have used the above “photograph” to give credence and to substantiate their so-called reports that the National Geographic Society had discovered an ancient race of human giants in India.

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Bhima's son Gadotkach-like skeleton found - 2

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Recently, I came across the above image of a news item included in a YouTube video titled “RACE OF GIANTS found in India” uploaded by YTABUSESusers on December 15, 2008. This news, submitted by G. Subramaniam of Chennai, in a less known Indian newspaper called “Hindu Voice” looked dubious. It does not carry the date of publication.

In the article titled “Skeleton of Giant” Is Internet Photo Hoax” in National Geographic News, James Owen wrote: “An often cited March 2007 article in India’s Hindu Voice monthly, for example, claimed that a National Geographic Society team, in collaboration with the Indian Army, had dug up a giant human skeleton in India.”

Subramaniam reported:

“Recent exploration activity in the northern region of India uncovered a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size.” The story went on to say “The discovery was made by National Geographic Team (India Division) with support from the Indian Army since the area comes under jurisdiction of the Army.”

Hindu Voice magazineHowever, the monthly, “Hindu Voice,” based in Mumbai (Bombay), published a retraction after readers alerted its editor P. Deivamuthu to the hoax. The editor said: “We are against spreading lies and canards,” and he added “Moreover, our readers are a highly intellectual class and will not brook any nonsense.”

On December 14, 2007, James Owen for National Geographic News wrote: “The National Geographic Society has not discovered ancient giant humans, despite rampant reports and pictures.”

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Canadian artist IronKite used this mastodon-excavation photo taken in 2000 in Hyde Park, New York as the basis for his entry in an online photo-manipulation contest

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IronKite used the above photo taken in 2000 of a mastodon-excavation in Hyde Park, New York as the basis for his photo-manipulation.

In December 2007, he told National Geographic News that he digitally superimposed a human skeleton over the mastodon-dig photo. Later on, he added a man holding a shovel and re-colored his clothing to match that of the man in the above, authentic picture. The goal was to make the shoveler appear to be part of the excavation team. “To create the photo collage, I kept most of the wood frame from the dig site and replaced most of the muddy dirt with ground from the skeleton picture, using a fuzzy ‘brush’ to fade the two so no hard lines would be visible,” IronKite said.

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Mastodon-excavation photo taken in 2000 in Hyde Park, New York
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Though the above authentic photograph of the New York State mastodon excavation was not used to create the completed ‘giant’ skeleton image, it served as the foundation for the digital artwork.

Since 2004, this digitally manipulated artwork inspired unfounded reports of archaeologists unearthing a skeleton of an ancient human giant in India. IronKite, the Canadian digital artist, had nothing to do with the subsequent hoax.

Avi Muchnick who runs Worth1000, the web site that sponsored the photo-manipulation contests that inspired this fake photo said: “We have thousands of people who regularly create images like these in image-editing tools like Phoenix and Photoshop. So, it’s no surprise to us when some of these images get passed around the web as authentic depictions of actual events.”

James Owen wrote: “Variations of the giant photo hoax include alleged discovery of a 60- to 80-foot long (18- to 24-meter) human skeleton in Saudi Arabia. In one popular take, which likewise first surfaced in 2004, an oil-exploration team is said to have made the find. Here the skeleton is held up as evidence of giants mentioned in Islamic, rather than Hindu, scriptures.”

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