An image (top) of a giant skeleton being unearthed by an archaeological team began to circulate online in early 2004. It was accompanied by text that described how this skeleton had been found in Saudi Arabia:
Recent gas exploration activity in the south east region of the Arabian desert uncovered a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size. This region of the Arabian desert is called the Empty Quarter, or in Arabic, 'Rab-Ul-Khalee'. The discovery was made by the Aramco Exploration team. As God states in the Quran that He had created people of phenomenal size the like of which He has not created since. These were the people of Aad where Prophet Hud was sent. They were very tall, big, and very powerful, such that they could put their arms around a tree trunk and uproot it...
Ulema's of Saudi Arabia believe these to be the remains of the people of Aad. Saudi Military has secured the whole area and no one is allowed to enter except the ARAMCO personnel. It has been kept in secrecy, but a military helicopter took some pictures from the air and one of the pictures leaked out into the internet in Saudi Arabia.
In April 2004 the picture and details from the story were reported as fact by Bangladesh's The New Nation
newspaper as well as by papers in India, giving the story added credibility.
In reality, the picture was created in 2002 by "IronKite," a member of Worth1000.com who had submitted it as an entry in an "Archaeological Anomalies" photo contest. The contest rules challenged entrants to "create an archaeological hoax... show a picture of an archaeological discovery that looks so real, had it not appeared at Worth1000, people might have done a double take."
The original source of the image was an aerial shot (second from top) of a mastodon dig outside Hyde Park, New York led by researchers from Cornell University.
A variant of the hoax resurfaced in 2007, accompanied by three more images of giant human skeletons (bottom three). These images came from the same Worth1000 archaeological anomalies contest.
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All text Copyright © 2011 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.