There are several pictures making the rounds on the Internet claiming to be of excavations of giant human skeletons. Many have wondered whether they could be corroboration of the giants mentioned in Scripture. However, some thinking about these pictures and a little research shows that these pictures are ‘Photoshopped’.
The pictures are fake
In every instance, we can find the original provenance of the ‘giant skeleton’ photo to see the original image. And upon close examination, it is usually obvious that the photo is faked. In some places, the odd way the shadows fall makes it clear that the light source on the skeleton is from a different angle than the light source illuminating the background, meaning that the images were cobbled together.
One of the most famous pictures of a giant human skeleton was created in 2002 as an entry for a Photoshop contest, and it is the picture that we get asked about most often.1 Interestingly, if you look closely at that particular picture, the man is holding a shovel handle with no shovel.
Humans can only get so big
Humans as large as the faked photographs portray are physiologically impossible. This is because of the ‘square-cube law’. For example, if a human were scaled up 10 times, his surface area and cross-section would be 100 (10²) times larger—so his bones and muscles would also be 100 times stronger. However, his volume would be 1,000 (10³) times larger—and so will his mass and weight. So his muscles and bones would be far too weak to support his weight. A giant would need radical modifications to the entire body plan, making the bones much thicker, altering the circulatory system to allow for the greatly increased amount of blood flow required, and so on. The giant ‘human’ would not even be the same species as an average-sized human. The square-cube law has many other implications for the minimum and maximum size of body plans.2
What about biblical giants?
There are a few biblical mentions of individuals who were very large. Goliath is probably the best known (1 Samuel 17). His height was recorded at 6 cubits and a span (2.97 m, 9′9″), or 4 cubits and a span (2.06 m, 6′9″) according to the Septuagint.3 Even the smaller height would be gigantic to a people with average male adult height of 152 cm (5′). Either way, there are recorded modern examples of people almost 9 feet tall, so it is well within what we know to be biologically possible.4 These giants are fully human at the taller side of the range of human height.5
References and notes
To see this picture and other entries in the contest, see worth1000.com/contests/447/archaeological-anomalies-2. Return to text.
See J.B.S. Haldane’s famous essay, On being the right size, Harper’s Magazine, March 1926; irl.cs.ucla.edu/papers/right-size.html. Return to text.
The Septuagint is a 2nd and 3rd century BC Greek translation of the Old Testament. Return to text.
I always appreciate the work of CMI in answering and explaining popular misconceptions. This is one such case. Your work makes my work so much easier.
Ben J., Australia, 27 March 2017
I usually agree with things on CMI, and I do agree that the skeleton pics floating around facebook are clearly fake. That said, I don't believe you can rule out humans being vastly bigger than their current size because of the need of extra blood flow, etc. This is falling into the trap of assuming the earths atmosphere was identical before and after the flood, when clearly there were significant differences, as dragon flies and large long necked dinosaurs testified (they could never live at that size in this current atmosphere).
Clearly before the flood, things were very different. Whether there was higher atmospheric pressure, or a protective layer, is open to debate. Also, nutrition plays a huge role in our body structure, and I believe it would have been vastly superior pre-flood, simply because the soil was in a way God designed it to be. Whichever hypothesis is subscribed to, I think we can be very sure things were very different pre-flood (they lived 10x as long for one). Even trees grew at least 3 times taller than it is physically possible for them to grow in today's atmosphere.
Again, I generally agree with you guys, and have a lot of respect for the work you do. However, respectfully, while I agree with the title, I disagree with the reasoning, which seems rooted in uniformitarianism, which I don't believe can be sustained by reality or by a plain reading of the bible.
Either way, thanks again for the great work you guys do. God bless.
Lita Cosner responds
People can debate about what conditions were like on the pre-Flood earth and what that might do to human physiology. The point is that we don't have any proof one way or another, and the supposed 'proofs' of giant humans are clear hoaxes.
Joseph B., Australia, 27 March 2017
Hey, I love this topic so much and I think alot of this is fake, however, I'm pretty sure pre-flood conditions (hyperbaric chambers) have been shown to accelerate growth hormones and stuff. So I think people were definitely bigger and stronger for their size but yeah I don't think they were 20 ft men, hahah
Love the constant articles
Eddie C., United States, 27 March 2017
I understand that these photos are faked, but there are actually some other claims of historical reports of giants and a supposed cover up by the Smithsonian Institute here in the US. These are the conspiracy theories that seem to be most prominent. There's even an article that was supposedly published in the New York Times in 1912 about giant skeletons found in Wisconsin (as well as other such news stories from about 80-120 years ago). These 'historical' reports of giant skeletons are usually in the 8-12 ft range. I think that most people would agree that images on the web of 20 and 30 ft giants are faked. However, I don't think you're going to convince anyone unless you address the conspiracy theory of the Smithsonian giant cover up. Of course, like all conspiracy theories lack of evidence sometimes only fuels suspicion of cover up rather than an actual lack of factual evidence to support a claim.
You mention a limitation to human height and I agree, but I have to think of the vast difference between great danes and chihuahuas. To play devils advocate, what is your position that some ancient groups of humans who became isolated could have had genes that allowed for them to grow up to twelve feet? I would imagine someone that had that kind of height could be two to four times more massive than your average six foot person, a real giant even by today's standards. How tall do you think the Amorites were?
Lita Cosner responds
My article was narrowly focused on certain popular photos that people have forwarded to CMI over and over. However, there is a limit to the size a human-like creature could grow and retain skeletal features that look remotely human. I purposely did not speculate, but simply dealt with the obvious fakery involved with these particular photos and noted the physical impossibility of humans being over a certain height.
james G., United States, 27 March 2017
I agree, Lita. I do accept the Genesis 6 account as referring to 'giants' (Nephelim, Rephadim, and sons of Anak) of whom are Goliath and his brothers. We read of the 9-10 foot lengths and there have been 7 and 8 foot tall human basketball players and native Americans. The Zulu in Africa also are taller than usual, but to suggest men as tall as 20 feet is a bit far fetched. We are so susceptible to fraudulent claims, we need to be wary when we hear such claims and 'prove all things'.
Steve S., United States, 28 March 2017
One of the main reasons people argue for ancient giants is because of the Nephilim. A lot of people agree that they came before the Flood, but the argument is if they came back after the Flood. I tend to learn towards them coming only before the Flood. I also heard about the etymology arguments of Nephilim: was it originally Hebrew or Aramaic, and whether it meant fallen in Hebrew, or giant in Aramaic, or maybe something entirely different. I tend to go with the Hebrew fallen etymology. And the other argument is whether the report was really a lying report, or were they telling the truth and God was only upset they didn't obey and fight them anyway. I tend to lean towards it being a lying report.
Graeme M., Australia, 28 March 2017
The jury is still out for me on this one!(Giant hoax)
Goliath's height, I tend to lean toward the 9'9 Bible suggestion, mainly that the Israelites soldiers were intimidated by him. Alternatively if he were of the 6'9 suggestion there would have had to have been at least a fair number of Israelite soldiers that would have been a near match in height so there shouldn't have been the staunch unwillingness to engage him! Something else worth noting (it certainly caught the Israelites eyes, to make mention of it!) that Goliath's spear was the size of a 'weavers beam'(Bible), so his hand span would have had to be large enough to comfortably enable him to carry and dispense it!
K. F., Canada, 29 March 2017
I totally love your website and magazines . And I do agree that there are many crazy hoaxes on the internet about giants , but everything in the fossil record is WAY bigger than now ( plants, animals ) . So why not humans too ? ( Neanderthals ?)
Lita Cosner responds
Neanderthals were well within the normal human size range. The square-cube law makes it biologically impossible for human-type skeletons to support the weight of a human-type body beyond a certain size.
Terry W., Canada, 2 April 2017
"Goliath's height, I tend to lean toward the 9'9 Bible suggestion" - Graeme M
I lean towards this figure not so much because of how intimidated Isreal was, but because the Septuagint has been found to be unreliable with its numbers, as discussed on pages around here talking about the Genesis 5 and 11 genaeologies. I'm surprised Lita Cosner didn't mention this in the article.
Lita Cosner responds
The LXX issue is complex, and I simply didn't have room to cover it in a short 1-page Creation magazine article. Thanks for bringing it up though!