In October 1932, two prospectors from Wyoming named Cecil Mayne and Frank Carr, who had been digging for gold in the mountains of San Pedro, came across a small cavern buried deep within the thick rock. They blasted their way through the rock and when the dust settled, they found a small room in the cavern and claimed to have found a mummy of some tiny person.
Nicknamed as “Pedro Mountains Mummy,” it was found sitting in an upright position with its arms crossed, covering its crossed legs. It sat perpendicular to the floor on a small ledge in the room. It weighed approximately 12 ounces and was around 7 inches tall sitting, and 14 inches tall (estimated) standing. Its cranium was flattened, the eyes bulging and so well-preserved that even the fingernails were visible. The head was covered in a dark, gelatinous substance, leading some to accuse Mayne and Carr of perpetrating a hoax using an infant from a medical collection, since some parts of the mummy appeared to have been preserved in liquid.
In 1950, the mummy was examined by Dr. Harry Shapiro, a biological anthropologist from the American Museum of Natural History. After examining the x-rays, Dr. Shapiro believed that this mummy was the body of an approximately 65-year-old man at the time of his death. Besides, this mummy had particularly large canines in comparison with the rest of its body size, almost vampire-like.
These findings were substantiated by Harvard University and their anthropology department. However, in 1971, Dr. George Gill, a forensic anthropologist proposed another theory after looking at the x-ray. He thought that the body could have been an infant of some unknown tribe of Indians.
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Mummies in Wyoming are not unusual since its arid climate is conducive to preserving tissue, however tiny mummies are a rarity. The second, similar mummy was found in roughly the same area and brought to the attention of Dr. Gill after he appeared on a television show called Unsolved Mysteries.
This second mummy was about four inches tall and had blond hair. Dr. Gill had this mummy X-rayed and tested. DNA and radiocarbon tests revealed that it was an infant who suffered from anencephaly and died in the eighteenth century. These results, as Gill said, “confirmed everything that I had ever thought” about the Pedro Mountain Mummy, including the diagnosis of anencephaly.
One problem that arises with trying to date the mummy without it being present is that it was sealed tightly in a cave with thick rock, which could take thousands of years if done by natural processes, or it could have been placed there and sealed at a later date. Thus without the bodies, determining age is improbable.
Legends of Little Men
While modern testing could provide many more answers about the origins of Pedro, such testing is not possible because the location of the remains has been unknown for several years. It is said that the remains were put on display during sideshows in the 1940s, and were then purchased by a man named Ivan Goodman.
Also called the Nimerigar, Native American legends, mainly the Shoshone tribe, speak of an aggressive race of “little people.” According to Native American lore, they lived in the San Pedro Mountains in south-central Wyoming and fought constantly with the average-sized humans of the area using poisoned arrows.
It was often said that if one of the Nimerigar became sick or old, they were killed by their own people with a blow to the head. It was also said that the little mummies brought bad luck to anyone who found them, and to this day, Native Americans warn people of the tribe of “tiny people eaters” that roam the San Pedro Mountain Range of Wyoming. Most of these claims were considered folklore until the discovery of what is now known as “Pedro” the mummy.
Interestingly, the Pryor Mountains, located in the states of Montana and Wyoming, are centered with legends and myth of mysterious little people known as “Nirumbee” (Awwakkule).
Nirumbee are the little people of Crow Indian folklore. They are usually described as goblin-like beings between one and two feet tall, with sharp teeth and squat necks. They are generally enemies of humankind, their behavior ranges from annoying but harmless mischief such as stealing objects or tying knots in hair, to malevolent attacks such as stealing children or mutilating animals. In a few folktales, a nirumbee does show himself to help a Crow person, particularly during a sacred fast or in return for a kindness done for them.
Nirumee were often described as being closer to animals than to humans, but the Indians recognized that the Nirumbee were more developed than they were. There is a story that in those days when the Indians still had bone arrowheads, the Nirumbee were already making stone-tipped arrows with might and main, which inflicted more dangerous wounds.
One of the most famous Crow leaders to encounter the Little People was the legendary Crow chief Plenty Coups (Aleek-chea-ahoosh). When he was nine years old, Plenty Coup’s older brother (who was a great warrior and quite handsome, and whom Plenty Coups loved deeply) was killed by raiding Lakotas.
With the remains nowhere to be found, the mysteries of Pedro linger to this day. Most scientists agree that Pedro’s remains were those of an adult male human. When Goodman died in 1950, the mummy passed into the hands of Leonard Walder and eventually disappeared.