The Spirit Cave mummy is the oldest human mummy found in North America. It was discovered in 1940 in Spirit Cave, thirteen miles east of Fallon, Nevada by the husband-and-wife archaeological team of Sydney and Georgia Wheeler.
The Wheelers, working for the Nevada State Parks Commission, were surveying possible archaeological sites to prevent their loss due to guano mining. Upon entering Spirit Cave they discovered the remains of two people wrapped in tule matting. One set of remains, buried deeper than the other, had been partially mummified (the head and right shoulder). The Wheelers, with the assistance of local residents, recovered a total of sixty-seven artifacts from the cave.
These artifacts were examined at the Nevada State Museum where they were estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old. They were deposited at the Nevada State Museum's storage facility in Carson City where they remained for the next fifty-four years.
In 1994 University of California, Riverside anthropologist R. Erv Taylor examined seventeen of the Spirit Cave artifacts using mass spectrometry. The results indicated that the mummy was approximately 9,400 years old - older than any previously known North American mummy.
Further study determined that the mummy exhibits Caucasoid characteristics resembling the Ainu, although a definitive affiliation has not been established. There is also a possible link to Polynesians and Australians that is stronger than to any Native American culture. The new findings were published by the Nevada State Museum on April 24, 1996, and drew immediate national attention.
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.
This first mummy was examined using X-rays which determined that it was the body of an anencephalic infant "whose cranial deformity gave it the appearance of a miniature adult." A second mummy examined by University of Wyoming anthropologist George Gill and the Denver Children's Hospital in the 1990s was also shown to be an anencephalic infant. DNA testing showed it to be Native American and radiocarbon dating dated it to about 1700.
The Pedro Mountain Mummy (also called the Dwarf Mummy of Wyoming) is a small (approximately 40 centimeters or 14 inches) mummified corpse, that was found in 1932 by two prospectors named Cecil Main and Frank Carr in a cave in the Pedro Mountains in Wyoming.
The mummy was put on public display at Jones' Drug in Meeteetse, Wyoming, before being sold to Ivan Goodman, a Casper, Wyoming, businessman, in the mid-1940s. Thinking it would be a good way to attract business and publicity, Goodman displayed the mummy at his used car lot for several years. The mummy was also displayed publicly at the Rialto Cigar Shop in downtown Casper for a time during the late 1940s.
In 1950, Goodman had the mummy examined by Dr. Harry Shapiro, an anthropologist from the American Museum of Natural History. X-rays showed that it was indeed human but this is where anthropologists and other scientific experts part company. The anthropologists were unanimous in agreement that the mummy was an infant but another group of radiologists and doctors believed the remains were of a 16-65 year old male.
Goodman died in 1950 and the mummy was passed on to Leonard Wadler, a New York businessman, a July 7, 1979, article in the Casper Star-Tribune states. 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. After the mummy vanished, its X-rays were examined by George Gill, an anthropology professor at the University of Wyoming in the 1970s. Gill concluded the mummy was the remains of an anencephalic infant, according to a February 3, 2003, Casper Star-Tribune story.
Although the exact nature of the mummy may never be determined, some speculate it to be the remains of a Nimerigar, a race of Little People spoken of in the legends of the Shoshone Indians. Others have claimed it was an extraterrestrial. The head was covered in a dark, gelatinous substance, leading some to accuse Main 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. This mystery will remain until the mummy surfaces and faces a battery of modern day tests ... if ever.
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