More on the Minnesota Iceman...
Preliminary Description of the External Morphology
of What Appeared to be the Fresh Corpse
of a Hitherto Unknown Form of Living Hominid
Written by Ivan T. Sanderson
Genus 25 (1969): 259-78 - (Genus was a scientific journal published in Italy)
However, two separate companies specializing in model-making for waxwork museums, exhibits, and film companies in Hollywood California, have been traced, and individual model-makers working for both have stated that they made copies with wax or latex and using hair from bears. Mr. Hansen, the caretaker, informed us in January of this year that such a model had been made in April of 1967 because the owner of the original was worried about its safety. An object such as this could possibly be constructed, starting with the skin of a large male, pale-skinned chimpanzee, using a human skull, glovemakers wood racks for the hands, and so forth. The original could have been of this nature, and then a copy, or copies, made from it.Just in case this might not be the origin of the specimen, we should consider the alternative; namely, that it is a genuine corpse of a comparatively recently killed specimen--not "fossilized" in any way -- of some form of parahominid. This is the considered opinion of Heuvelmans and is based on as thorough an examination as he was able to make considering that the specimen is encased in ice that is more than half opaque, and sunk about two feet below the glass cover of its container. And, if this is the correct interpretation, we would opine that it would more probably be on the hominid rather than the pongid stem of anthropoid evolution. Just where it should be placed on that stem can not, of course, be said until it has been properly examined out of its ice envelopment. Further, and much more important, will be any analysis of its blood, plasma and other body fluids, if they are still sufficiently preserved for typing. Even then, we may well be confounded because this specimen displays such a combination of characters attributed to the two presently thought quite widely separated families of anthropoid primates. And this constrains us to add a note of added caution.
In view of the fact that pongids and hominids have now been shown to fall into several groups, together--vide the Caucasoid and Congoid hominids with the gorillas and chimpanzees on the one hand; and the Mias, Siamangs, and Gibbons among the pongids with the Mongoloid hominids on the other, is it not possible that not only the hominids but the pongids have a grid-like genetic origin? If this be the case, could the concept not be further extended to include all the anthropoids so that there may have been--and, in this case may still be truly "manlike apes" and "apelike men"? This specimen is by several criteria a hominid, noticeably by its feet, but it has many pongid characters. Are the diagnostic features we are currently employing to separate the apes from men valid? If not, are both our families invalid, and could both groups form but one complex? If so, we will have to add the "Hairy Man" to Desmond Morris' 'Naked Ape'. Anything of this nature will absolutely demand an overall revision of our ideas of both physical and social anthropolpgy, and will present a somewhat alarming problem to scientists and religionists alike.
This author's personal opinion as to the precise identity of this specimen is at the moment not formulated. As a trained zoologist and one who spent many years collecting mammalian and particularly primate specimens for examination, dissection and preservation in the field and while fresh, we would not presume to make any definite pronouncement upon anything other than a purely generalised, overall description of its external appearance. The corpus must be freed from its ice encasement and properly examined first. However, some speculation as to the taxonomic status of this creature, if it finally proves to be real, is perhaps permissible, since we do have detailed measurements and photographs to back it up.
It is Heuvelmans' opinion, which he states categorically in his paper, that this body represents the fresh remains of a neanderthaloid human. Such hominids are currently classed as a sub-species of Homo sapiens, yet Heuvelmans has named this item Home pongoides, and thus of full specific rank. Though we suggested that appellation (pongoides) in the first place, we envisaged it either as a subspecific to H. sapiens--since we have no idea as to the external morphology of the fossil neanderthaloids--or merely as a possible specific for some other genus of anthropoid. However, this suggestion was purely tentative in that, despite the existence of this specimen, we have no more idea of its anatomy, histology, or physiology than we do of the external morphology of the neanderthalers. I am therefore officially disassociating my name from that given in Heuvelmans' paper.
We are constrained to do this not only because we are personally averse to naming any specimen before it has been physically obtained and properly examined, but also more precisely because we are not convinced that this specimen is neanderthaloid or even a member of the genus Homo as presently constituted. Further still, it might not even be an Anthropoid, but rather a survivor of a line divergent from, and possibly lying between, the hominid and the pongid branches, but derived from a common ancestor to all three. In the absence of the corpus itself, as of the time of writing, and in view of our total lack of knowledge of the external morphology of any anthropoids other than the living hominids and pongids, we consider it to be most incautious to attempt to identify this specimen as of now, and more especially to confine it within a subspecific title. And anent this; one essential feature of this specimen seems to have been overlooked.
What can be seen of the conformation of the face, meaning the front of the head, in no way conforms to any known fossil hominid--apart from the juvenile australopithecoids-and particularly to that of any neanderthaler of comparable size. There is no prognathicism; virtually no browridges; the forehead does not slope acutely; the two teeth that can be seen are infantile. In fact, from what can be assessed of the anatomical structure of the fore part of the skull, this creature is almost as far removed from the standard neanderthaloid construction as is possible. In these same respects, it shows no more affinity with Home erectus, H. habilis (what is known of same), or more especially such 'lower' types as were once called pithecanthropines, australopithecines, or suchlike. In fact, if it does prove to be a hominid, by whatever criteria may be decided upon to define that family when and if it is examined, it might well be called Homo pongoides; but it most certainly should not be assigned to the neanderthal race or complex.
conclusion, therefore, is that the specimen we inspected was that of a
genuine corpse as opposed to a composite or a construction -- and that
it is some form of primate. We would categorize it, as of now, as an anthropoid,
but whether it is a hominid, a pongid, or a representative of some other
previously unsuspected branch of that super-family we are not prepared
either to say or even to speculate. There are certain firm indications
that the specimen examined by
Heuvelmans and this writer--though it has been removed from the place
where we saw it, and hidden, while a substitute model has been installed--has
not been destroyed and may therefore eventually become available for proper
scientific examination. Until such time as this is achieved we advise
that it serve only as a pointer to the possible continued existence of
at least one kind of fully-haired, ultraprimitive, anthropoid-like primate,
and be used only as a lever to pry open the hitherto hidebound notion
that any such thing is impossible.
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