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Fact Check-Claims that the Smithsonian destroyed ‘thousands of giant skeletons’ are many years old and satirical

Claims that the Smithsonian Institution admitted destroying “thousands of giant skeletons” in the early 1900s originated on a website that identifies its content as “satirical” and “fictional.” Although the claim has been debunked since 2014, some social media users have recently been duped into thinking the report is factual.

At least two Facebook posts sharing the claim have jointly garnered over 220 shares (here) (here) as of the writing of this article.

Other recent examples are viewable (here) (here) (here) (here) (here).

Posts recently sharing this claim feature a photo that was digitally created.

The image, showing a giant buried skull next to a caterpillar escalator and three people, has been online since at least 2013 (here). It was originally posted on website DesignCrowd, which was holding a photoshop competition, encouraging readers to “create a hoax archaeological discovery” (here) (here).

The purported report is fictional and years old.

A keyword search on Google did not lead to any reputable news sources backing up the claim, but surfaced fact-check articles and a tweet from Dec. 21, 2014 (here) (here) (here).

The tweet, from a verified account, included a link to an article titled “Smithsonian admits to destruction of thousands of giant human skeletons in early 1900s” (here) on website World News Daily Report.

The text being shared on social media in 2022, which also alleges the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered the Smithsonian Institution “to release classified documents dating back to the early 1900s”, is virtually the same as the one found in the title and lead of the article on World News Daily Report.

World News Daily Report clarifies at the bottom of their website that their content is of “satirical” and “fictional” nature. Since at least Dec. 17, 2014, the website has included a similar message in their “Disclaimer” tab (here).

Previous debunks by Snopes and The Florida-Times Union are available (here) (here)

A spokesperson for the Smithsonian Institute told Reuters the claim is false.

Back in 2007, National Geographic said that tales about ancient giant humans had been triggered by an “internet photo hoax” (here).

Reuters previously addressed purported images of giant skeletons that have been taken out of context (here) or digitally created (here).

VERDICT

Satire. The Smithsonian Institution did not admit destroying “thousands of giant skeletons” in the early 1900s. The story which has been circulating since 2014, originated on a website that posts “fictional” and “satirical” content. Recent posts include a digitally altered image made to look like it showing a giant skull.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

Update Aug. 8, 2022: Includes response from the Smithsonian Institute

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