Exposed: The Cardiff Giant
It was Professor Marsh who exposed the famous Cardiff Giant. In October 1869, a farmer named Newell living near Cardiff, NY, twelve miles south of Syracuse, was digging a well when he unexpectedly unearthed a stone giant ten feet long with a body, head, and limbs in perfect proportion. It was at once proclaimed as the remains of a prehistoric man, and numbers of scientists made pilgrimages of examination and recorded their belief in its very great value as a scientific discovery. Even the State geologist of New York became greatly interested in the giant and endeavored to have it sent to the State Museum at Albany. But it was finally placed on exhibition at Syracuse, where it soon became an attraction almost equal to a circus.
Special trains were run from the surrounding country to accommodate the people who wished to see it, and its owners are said to have refused an offer of $300,000 in cash for it, although they subsequently parted with a quarter share. So important did the relic become in the eyes of the scientific world that Professor Marsh visited Syracuse and made an examination of the giant. The next day he wrote to a friend: “It is of very recent origin, and a most decided humbug.”
He found that the figure had been cut from a block of gypsum, similar to that found in many parts of New York, and a close inspection revealed the presence of human workmanship. “As gypsum is soluble in about 400 parts of water,” he wrote, “a very short exposure would suffice to obliterate all traces of tool marks and also to roughen the surfaces.”
Professor Marsh’s letter was published in a Buffalo newspaper. The account of how the stone man was made had the effect of stimulating the manufacture of giants, and to the astonishment of everyone, half a dozen Cardiff giants were being exhibited around the country within a year.
O.C.. Marsh was not without contraversy. In fact Marsh had his own hoax, the Brontosaurus hoax. Marsh named a new dinosaur in fact it was quite the deception. March had placed an apatasurus head on a diplodocus body and a new species that never existed was born. Marsh is also known for the bone wars a childish war between rival Edward Drinker Cope. One of the most embarrassing rivalries in the history of the world.
Professor Marsh’s letter was published
In a Buffalo newspaper. The account of
how the stone man was made had the
effect of stlmulating the manufacture of
giants, and to the astonishment of every
one half a dozen Caidiff giants were be-
Ing exhibited around the country within a