Step right up for the incredible real-life story of the marvelous Cardiff Giant

Originally published at:


Terrible hardware, but that OS was great!


Something the article doesn’t mention is that in 1868 the first reasonably complete dinosaur skeleton, Leidy’s Hadrosaurus foulkii, was mounted for display.

Prior to that, many people scoffed at scientists’ claims that the gigantic bones they were unearthing were those of a previously undescribed and now extinct group of pre-human saurians by quoting the King James bible’s version of Genesis 6:4 - “There were giants in the earth in those days”

So Hull’s hoax was not only a get-rich scheme, I think it was one specifically intended to gull the Bible-thumpers of the day who were utterly flummoxed by Leidy’s Hadrosaur and were desperately seeking reaffirmation of their religious biases.


The gypsum from the giant was from my hometown, Fort Dodge Iowa. I grew up watching a replica giant being carved. You can go see it, if you are so inclined:


If only there were some kind of phrase concerning the people who would pay to see the hoax and the hoax of a hoax.

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There was a Simpson’s episode that was based on this, I had no idea 'til now. A choice quote from Lisa from the episode: “I refuse to believe, that everyone refuses to believe, the truth.”

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According to Wikipedia, the Cardiff Giant is on display at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY. It also says that Barnum’s replica is at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

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The literal truth of giants was an accepted creationist thing at the time (and still is). And as, well frankly pissed, about the early dinosaur finds they were. IIRC mammoths, mastadons and what have had already been frequent finds and well known for a while. So right around the time of the Cardiff Giant there was already (and still is) an active interest among the churchy in finding preserved or fossilized giant humans. The Cardiff Giant wasn’t the first hoax giant, nor was it the last. Some of them having been presented (and still are) by creationists seeking to create the proof they couldn’t find. And there were regular hoax articles in papers around the country.

So the Cardiff Giant was absolutely intended to give them what they wanted. Tweak their noses. And expose the half assedness of the newspapers at the time.


Even the place is fake. Cardiff - more properly spelt Caerdydd - is in Wales, not this fake ‘york’ of which you write.


Great link! I had never heard of the Solid Muldoon before.

I hadn’t heard it either, but its a good one. What with it essentially being a joke about a wrestler. Stories of “petrified” bodies of various sorts were another trend at the time. Apart from, and along with the giants and other biblical “fossils”.

Mark Twain even made one up.



Still, the attribution is pretty murky.

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Yeah, I’ve been to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum (which is filled with old coin operated amusements and is a hoot) and have seen the giant. (Well … and least they say it is Barnum’s giant …)


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