"Skeleton of Giant" Is Internet Photo Hoax

National Geographic has not discovered ancient giant humans, despite rampant reports and pictures. But we have discovered how the hoax started and perhaps why people believe.

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Since 2004 this doctored image has helped give legs to tall tales of ancient giant humans.

At least one version of the storypublished in the March 2007 issue of India's Hindu Voicemonthly and cited in countless blog entries and emails this yearclaims that a National Geographic Society team helped make the "discovery" in India.

The picture, however, is an innocent fake.

The image was lifted from Worth1000, a Web site that hosts contests for digital artists. Created by an artist using the alias IronKite, the picture placed third in a 2002 competition titled "Archaeological Anomalies 2," which asked contestants to create a hoax archaeological discovery.

Man, this guy gets around! said IronKitewho does not want his real name used in this storyafter hearing his work had been used to back up the latest false reports.

The National Geographic Society has not discovered ancient giant humans, despite rampant reports and pictures.

The hoax began with a doctored photo and later found a receptive online audience—thanks perhaps to the image's unintended religious connotations.

A digitally altered photograph created in 2002 shows a reclining giant surrounded by a wooden platform—with a shovel-wielding archaeologist thrown in for scale.

By 2004 the "discovery" was being blogged and emailed all over the world—"Giant Skeleton Unearthed!"—and it's been enjoying a revival in 2007.

The photo fakery might be obvious to most people. But the tall tale refuses to lie down even five years later, if a continuing flow of emails to National Geographic News are any indication. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

The messages come from around the globe—Portugal, India, El Salvador, Malaysia, Africa, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya. But they all ask the same question: Is it true?

Perpetuating the Myth

Helping to fuel the story's recent resurgence are a smattering of media outlets that have reported the find as fact.

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