For a more detailed analysis of the Bigfoot reality, please read The Myth Of Man by JP Robinson.
During the summer of 1967, a man from Minnesota named Frank Hansen first revealed to the public an incredible exhibit in the form of a sideshow attraction which he labelled ‘The Minnesota Iceman’. [Some believe the image above to be the original Minnesota Iceman, but the absence of ice to preserve the creature suggests this could be the replica Hansen made to exhibit on tour.]
The unusual exhibit consisted of an extraordinary primitive-looking, hair-covered humanoid which had been shot dead and laid in water in a refrigerated coffin and subsequently frozen until the creature became fully encased in a large block of ice (see image below).
Following a controversial and most dubious origin story which Hansen concocted no doubt to add some mystery to the exhibit, in which he claimed that the Iceman belonged to an anonymous Californian who had acquired it in Hong Kong where it had been sold to him by fishermen who had found it frozen in an iceberg floating in the Bering Sea, Hansen reluctantly was forced to change his story. As the corpse had obvious bullet holes in it, witnesses were quick to point out to Hansen how incredulous the whole iceberg story was, leading him to confess to killing it himself somewhere in the woods of northern Minnesota.
The initial lie was enough to taint the whole affair with an overall feeling of gamesmanship and hoaxing, a feeling which stuck like mud and became increasingly difficult to discard. Hansen’s somewhat amateurish approach put off any prospective scientists from looking any closer and indeed put a stop to any serious research from taken place, with the exception of cryptozoologists Ivan T. Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans. As Lloyd Pye remarked ‘Had Frank Hansen been a different kind of man, the issue of hominoid reality might be far behind us today’.[i]
The FBI became aware of his claims to having murdered this primitive human-type creature, which led Hansen to retract his story once again by announcing that he was just trying to make money and the “monster” had in truth been manufactured by professionals in Hollywood. This may have been the case once Hansen was beginning to attract the attention of the law, and also the Smithsonian museum, which sent out Sanderson and Heuvelmans to Frank Hansen’s farm to inspect and take photographs of the iceman through the ice in December 1968.
By May 1969, Hansen had switched the bodies, and was now exhibiting in St Paul, Minnesota and Grand Rapids, Michigan, a dummy version of the original Iceman which he was now billing as a deliberate hoax. Time-Life magazine’s photographs of the new exhibit revealed many differences between the original and the replacement now on show.
As the widely-renowned Ivan Sanderson soon discovered during his examination of the body, the anatomical technical accuracy on show revealed that whatever originally lay frozen in that opaque block of ice was no latex creation constructed by human hand, but a very real, fresh corpse of unknown origin. Because of ‘the switch’ the whole story became very clouded, and with the original now stored away out of sight it became increasingly difficult to prove the existence of the Bigfoot type creature which had already been seen by so many.
In a letter to Dr. John Napier, who had recently informed zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans that the Smithsonian were backing out of further investigations due to the possibility of a hoax, Heuvelmans expressed his disappointment: ‘I have examined the specimen very carefully for 11 hours (eleven!) over three days and am absolutely positive about it being genuine. In my scientific notice I had to consider the possibility of a fake because it was theoretically one of the possibilities, but practically I can assure you that I cannot have been fooled.'
Below left: Drawing of the Iceman by Heuvelmans. Right: Original photograph taken by Heuvelmans.
Sanderson wrote an analysis of the frozen anomaly after having studied the creature alongside Heuvelmans, of which he titled Preliminary Description of the External Morphology of What Appeared to be the fresh corpse of a Hitherto Unknown Form of Living Hominid. Sanderson’s analysis claimed that the dimensions of the frozen beast – about 6 ft. tall and 250 lbs in weight – would suggest that this particular specimen was most likely to be in the 10 to 12 year old range, meaning that Icechild would be a more accurate description.
Viewed from no closer than one foot, Sanderson’s first impressions were of the immense bulk of the body, with the hands seeming out of proportion, a trait shared by most primates during adolescence, where the extremities are enlarged as they continue to ‘grow into’ their adult bodies. His second dominant impression was the uniformity of the hair coverage over the majority of its body, with the hairs averaging 2-3 inches long in most places, which due to the frozen water led the hairs to be suspended upwards allowing great views right down to the skin.
He had an extremely wide face and jaw with prominent cheekbones and thin lips. The bullet through the left eye socket had blown away the crown, but still the eye sockets on show were of extreme size and very round like that of a fossil hominid. The left eyeball was missing and the right was dislodged due to the impact of the bullet, with tendrils of blood streaming up from both sockets.
The face was hairless except for the brow ridges which had short bristles growing out, and the light yellowish to pinkish colour of the face was consistent with the Bigfoot’s immature age. The nasal structure was like that of a gorilla; large, round, heavy with fleshy nostrils which jutted up rather than appearing flattened.
Another bullet hole, this time in the middle of the chest, revealed more bloody tendrils flowing upwards into the ice. The upper arms appeared more slender than the hair covered massive forearms with extremely wide wrists. A compound fracture which was caused by another bullet lay three inches from the left wrist.
Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans was convinced of the authenticity of the Iceman and was more than happy to say so on record; “we examined this creature for three days very carefully, and we were very suspicious I can tell you, at the start. But after a while that was quite ruled out. There is absolutely no doubt for me that I have been examining a Neanderthal man – a surviving Neanderthal man.”[ii]
Both men noted that the Iceman was neither human nor primate but somewhere in-between, and was not modelled on any known existing living creature. Sanderson wrote, ‘This body is not that of any known hominid or pongid and, what is much more significant, it does not conform to any reconstruction or artist’s conception of any fossil man or ape or other anthropoid. Its general features and particular characters as detailed above display an extraordinary mixture of what have until now been assigned either to men or apes, but it also shows others that have never been assigned or attributed to any of either.’
He believed that the specimen he had studied was ‘a survivor of a line divergent from, and possibly lying between, the hominid and the pongid branches, but derived from a common ancestor to all three.’ Both Sanderson and Heuvelmans left convinced of the creature’s authenticity but still none the wiser as to its origin or type, despite the close proximity of their examination.
He concluded his analysis by stating, ‘the specimen we inspected was that of a genuine corpse as opposed to a composite or a construction — and that it is some form of primate. We would categorize it, as of now, as an anthropoid, but whether it is a hominid, a pongid, or a representative of some other previously unsuspected branch of that super-family we are not prepared either to say or even to speculate.’
In 2013, Steve Busti, the owner of The Museum of the Weird, in Austin, Texas, paid $20,000 on eBay for what was advertised as the original Minnesota Iceman. The exhibit is now on show at Busti’s museum, but one would be naive to accept that the creature he bought to be the original and authentic specimen which was so diligently examined by Bernard Heuvelmans. It would appear most likely that the exhibit which Busti purchased was the original rubber replica which Frank Hansen used to replace the original specimen.
Of course, one has to be open to the possibility that the frozen mystery was always just a clever creation used to make a few dollars during a time of innocent public gullibility of which Hansen, just like P.T. Barnum before him, milked for everything he could get. However, anything capable of convincing zoologists of its genuineness must be worth consideration in the context of this research.
[i] Pye, Lloyd – Everything You Know Is Wrong - Book One: Human Origins, Authors Choice Press, 1997.