Were there ever giant humans?

I'm curious because on VenomFangX's youtube video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=36Ga-nMcCVo) he shows a picture of a fossil of what looks like a giant human, so I'm just curious.

I'll leave this to my paleontology colleagues to answer in detail but will mention that I can see no reason why some ancient men could not have had growth hormone secreting pituitary tumours just as are described today. If these occur in childhood before the epiphyses of the bones have fused (ie pre-puberty) then that leads to giantism and people have been recorded well over 8 foot. Of course that leads to many medical problems and shortens the person’s lifespan but that probably was not relevant in those days where average life expectancy was in the 20/30s!

Cro-Magnon people, who lived tens of thousands of years ago in Europe, were probably slightly taller on average than modern humans, but the difference was no more than a few inches. If anything, however, most fossil hominids were substantially shorter than people today. For example, the famous specimen nicknamed "Lucy", a member of the primitive hominid speces Australopithecus afarensis, was less than four feet tall. There is absolutely no evidence for fossil humans that were large enough to be reasonably described as "giants" - let alone humanoid giants that existed in the Cretaceous Period, when the footprints referred to in the video were formed!

Incidentally, I watched the entire video, and found it to be a fabric of distortions, misrepresentations, and outright errors (for example, palaeontologists have known for more than a century that primitive mammals existed alongside the dinosaurs, in contrast to what the video claimed). The supposed fossil skeletons of giant humans don't look particularly like real human remains, which is probably why our friend VenomFangX didn't discuss them in detail or give them much screen time. If giant fossil humans really are discovered someday, they'll be splashed all over mainstream anthropology, archaeology and palaeontology websites, not to mention newspapers and TV programs, and their existence will quickly become a matter of very obvious public record.

Hi Adrian,

first of all I would like to make the blindingly obvious statement that even if giants walked the Earth, there is no particular reason why the Bible's description of their existence is any more evidence for God than the older Greek pantheon which describes the presence of mythical beasts (without reference to a single omnipotent deity).

Next I would say that there were Pleistocene apes called Gigantopithecus that stood about 10 feet tall. Their remains are very similar to those of humans, particularly when the skull is damaged. Mammoth and elephant skulls are also remarkably humanoid in appearance when they are damaged.

It is easy to see where stories of giants come from.

Finally I would say that I have seen various other videos that are photo montages of "giants" and these are frequently forced perspective shots or images taken from angles that are meant to mislead (none include a scale bar, none follow recognised photographic conventions used in science such as lateral, dorsal and ventral views).

There is a reason for scientific methodology and that is to avoid suspicion of tampering with the evidence - if you ever find a photo of remains that "blow apart evolutionary theory" make sure that the correct procedures have been followed in documenting it. There is a rather famous case of fossilised "human" footprints alongside dinosaur tracks at Glen Rose, that have subsequently been demonstrated (by Christian and non-Christian scientists) to be weathered theropod tracks that had been misidentified (and later reworked with a chisel).

The fanatical end of the Creationists still maintain that the tracks are human despite overwhelming evidence against that opinion. The trouble with entrenched views is that the evidence is often altered to fit the views, when it is the views that should alter to fit the evidence.

Last edited by Paolo Viscardi (23rd Mar 2008 21:37:44)

Fossil "giants" have been shown to be hoaxes time and time again.  For example:
http://www.skepdic.com/cardiff.html
http://www.snopes.com/photos/odd/giantman.asp

And a note on David's comment, just to clarify:  while it is possible that some prehistoric humans/hominids had gigantism (caused by an out of control pituitary gland or tumor), they probably didn't have giant kids.  If you look at a list of people with gigantism, you will not see them founding giant families - children of two parents with gigantism don't tend to live long, and giants often have lowered fertility.  So it wouldn't be realistic to imagine a whole population of people over 8 feet tall.

Just to add to Ajna's comments: 

Isolated familial acromegaly is a well recognised but very rare familial disorder, and only about 40 such families have been described.  This autosomal dominant genetic disease exhibits varying penetrance, and pituitary tumours tend to occur in young patients, and a quarter present with gigantism.

To add back: the low penetrance of acromegaly means that most people in the family aren't particularly tall.  So I still don't think it at all likely that there ever could have been a clan of giant humans.  At any rate, there is certainly no good evidence for one.