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Monday, 21 August 2017

The Yeti of Bourganeuf Meets The Minnesota Ice Man

    There is quite a little industry going in “alien bodies” and other artefacts.  You can make quite a lot of money if you aim it at the right sort of people –the gullible ones.

" . . . Yeti de Bourganeuf: this name has been applied to a large corps (2.63 meters) [approximately 8' 7-1/2"], which was exhibited for a short time at a fair in Bourganeuf, France, in March of 1997. A small local magazine had published four photos of the corps [of which we have apparently only three]. The events that followed the publication of these photos, including the discrediting, appeared extremely "fishy." The specimen in these four photos appear, to fit the description of an almasty, who may have very well have been killed right here in Europe.

“The yeti of the Himalayas has prolific facial hair like the North American troglodytes, whereas the almasty lack this facial hair, thus exposing their very human external morphology. Myself (Scott Elliott White), and one of the most outstanding historical hominologists - Christian Le Noël, have investigated this affair and found the discrediting to be pure fabrication. This is, in my opinion, the most relevant photo of a troglodyte to ever "over-come" the authorities, and reach the "public eye" as to the date of March, 1997 . . ."

    Well, after a statement like that who could be left in any doubt?  After all one of the men involved, Christian Le Noel, is in fact the Editor of the French cryptozoological magazine "Hominology & Cryptozoology".  I’ve written to M.Le Noel but without any success.  Scott Elliott White I have heard of, though his website has vanished and I’ve been unable to track him down.

    Le Noel and Elliott White were the only two 'hominologists' to examine the body which, after all, was encased in ice.  Then the body vanished to be replaced by a “life-like” replica.  The photographs, all over the internet and elsewhere,  are said to have been taken before the switch.

    If you know anything about Hominology –the study of creatures such as Bigfoot, the Yeti, et al—there is almost a sense of deja vous here.  A big sign lights up in your head reading “The Minnesota Ice Man”.

    During 1968, Frank Hansen, was displaying a man-like creature frozen in a block of ice around state fairs and carnivals in Minnesota and Milwaukee.  The alleged creature was described as a male (sexual organ was visible), around 6 feet [1.8m] tall, 3-4 inches [9cm] long dark brown body hair and with large hands and feet.  The nose was flattened and one of its eye-sockets lacked any eye-ball; it was allegedly blown out by a gun shot to the rear of the head.  One of the arms also looked broken.

Above: A close up of the “almasty” and compared to the Minnesotta Ice-man, it’s okay but quite obviously not real!

    Obviously, if this “ice-man” was genuine then it would be an anthropological /zoological sensation.  Cue Dr. Bernard Heuvelman and Ivan T. Sanderson.

    Seen as the “founding father” of Cryptozoology, Dr. Bernard Heuvelman, whose 1955 book Sur la Piste des Betes Ignorees, was published in English in 1958 as On the Track of Unknown Animals  and is still regarded as one of the best and most influential cryptozoological works –the handbook for anyone even thinking of looking into the subject.  Born in France but raised in Belgium, Heuvelman was no armchair academic basing research simply on old books and papers, he was a true scientist-explorer-researcher.

Above:dare I say even  more unrealistic?

    Ivan Terence Sanderson was a naturalist and writer born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and who later became a naturalized citizen of the United States. A biologist, naturalist and explorer, Sanderson also collected specimens for many museums around the world.  These travels resulted in a number of unusual sightings/encounters, widely written about when he became a professional writer/author.  In the 1940s Sanderson was based in the Carribean area and worked for British Naval Intelligence.  It was in the 1940s that he coined the term “cryptozoology” –his writings covered nature as well as strange phenomena and in 1961 wrote the handbook for hominologists, The Abominable Snowman:Legend Come To Life.

    Together, Sanderson and Heuvelman’s gained access to the “ice-man” and examined it as best they could considering that it was encased in ice.  Both were convinced by what they saw and noted "putrefaction where some of the flesh had been exposed from the melted ice."  Sanderson wrote about the ice man for Argosy magazine and even talked about it on TV.

Above the “iced Almasty”

    Heuvelmans later wrote a scientific paper about the ice-man and named it,as a new species with neanderthal affinities,Homo pongoides.  This alone enfuriated the zoological community as naming a new species out of hand was just not the done thing!   But Heuvelman also theorized that the hominoid was shot and killed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

    Then the Smithsonian Institution became briefly interested in the ice-man, asking John Russell Napier,Primatologist and physician who became Director of the Primate Biology Program at the Smithsonian Institution, to investigate.  Napier had also examined the famous footage of an alleged Bigfoot, known as “the Patterson-Gimlin film”.  Napier later, in 1973,wrote the book Bigfoot; The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality.  It was also suggested that the Federal Bureau of Investigations investigate because of the alleged shooting and killing of the creature.

    This was getting too hot for Hansen and the ice-man was withdrawn from public display and disappeared.  Hansen later claimed that the California owner of the body ordered this and replaced the ice-man with a different but similar exhibit –clearly a model.

Above:The cover of Argosy in which Ivan T. Sanderson  reported on the Minnesotta Ice Man

    Frank Hansen was always claimed to have been sole-owner of the "iceman", but his statements often contradicted one another and he made a number of quite contradictory statements as to the ice-man’s origin and how he obtained it.  It was these statements that led to claims of a hoax.  But Hansen reportedly claimed he had the real frozen creature as well as the replica and claimed that he only ever exhibited the fake because of the original's “value and fragility”.  And there were other claims that seemed equally as far-fetched.

Above:Photo of the Ice Man and next to it the artistic interpretation of what lies within the ice – but real or a hoax?

    For instance; while touring with the ice-man, Hansen claimed that he was detained by Canadian customs officials, who were concerned that he was transporting a cadaver –or a possible health risk. Hansen reported that he contacted his senator, Walter Mondale, who was able to "pull the right strings to let the Iceman come back home."  A claim that some sources say Mondale refuted or confirmed based on the fact that Hansen was simply a businessman he represented who just needed a misunderstanding over a fake exhibit sorted out.

    Hansen was no dope.  He gave the odd statement over the years that kept fuelling the debate.  Some argued that the ice-man was a gigantopithecus  (a quite ridiculous theory) or Neanderthal and genuine.  Others said it was an outright hoax and Sanderson and Heuvelman had been duped.

    The problem is this: wax or other figurines on display can either look bad or almost real and what Heuvelman and Sanderson saw was encased in ice.  The smell of putrefaction can be quite easily faked and would add the touch to a hoax that might convince two competent investigators.  I think Heuvelman and Sanderson saw a very convincing fake displayed in cramped quarters in a block of ice.  That’s what I think and I have to point out I was not there.

   But Hansen was still the perfect hoaxer when,in a 1995 interview, when asked if the ice-man was genuine, he stated that: "I never did find out".

    As to where the fake is now –who knows?  There are claims that the U.S. military or some “covert operations” unit seized the ice-man.  Why I can only guess –if I was that sad.  There was even a claim that a secret deal was done with the Viet Namese government to return the specimen back to its native country,where you think they might have made a big show of it and how the Americans had committed such an unlawful act.

    Certainly the funniest theory I heard was that the ice-man was in fact a human~alien hybrid that went wrong and had to be destroyed –no doubt this is where the UFO-U.S. military conspiracy comes in.  Apparently, the “hybrid” was found to be missing after low level flying over a certain hangar at the secretive Nevada Area 51 base.

    I personally think that the ice melted and the poor ice-man realized he was in a foreign country with no legal papers and stole money from Hansen in order to get on board a ship heading home, where he now lives with his wife and five kids.

    But what, then, of the Yeti of Bourganeuf?

    This most genuine ever body of an unknown hominoid was put on display in a freezer in the Creuse region as a sample of still existing wild man or Neanderthal.  However, the cryptozoologist Emmanuel Janssens Casteels was in part responsible but not as an hoaxer.  One forum states:

          “…the ABEPAR (which publishes the journal Cryptozoologia) are (involuntarily) responsible. Emmanuel Janssens Casteels,  animal sculptor and a collaborator of the magazine, relates in  the June to August 1998 issue of Cryptozoologia that two friends  of his have helped people who wanted to make a giant copy of  Bernard Heuvelmans’s frozen man: "In fact, it was a sculpture made            with sponge rubber on which hairs of horse tail have been pasted.  The eyes have been simply bought from a provider specialized in  taxidermy."

    There appears to have been some humour behind the exhibit since it was obviously based on the Minnesota ice-man.   And rather like the Minnesota iceman, this obviously fake looking exhibit has resulted in arguments right up to 2017.  There are those who claim, like Elliott White, that the French fake looked exactly like the Bigfoot creatures they had personally seen.  Perhaps it did look like the hominid they had seen, which I’m guessing is what  the intention was, but surely hominids are not made of foam rubber in reality?

    I know that for some any photograph, even seemingly obvious hoaxes (such as the dead bear hanging from a tree that has been badly altered using photoshop), are proof of their beliefs.

 However, those claiming to be seasoned hominid researchers should know better.

    Were a genuine hominid shot and killed there might well be the fear of prosecution under one law or another, but should one be sold on to appear in some travelling fair, might not the old “cry wolf” adage prevent it being investigated by serious scientific investigators?

Above a photograph that first appeared around 2005 with no background info but is not a genuine dead Bigfoot but a rather crudely photoshop constructed image using a dead bear as the basis for the hoax.

1.    Sanderson, Ivan T., ”The Missing Link?”, Argosy, May,1969,pp.23-31

2.    “The Abominable  Snowman”,  Fortean Times No. 83,October,1995

Tracking down printed sources on the Minnesota Ice Man can be time consuming and expensive.  So, the internet is a good starting point. The Unmuseum has a fairly good write up on the case at:

Bigfoot Encounters has a more recent piece on the ice-man plus a new theory!

When it comes to the Bourganeuf ice-man then the internet is the limit –many sites and even videos uploaded to You Tube.  I can find no English language articles on this affair outside of the internet.

2017 update

Where is the Minnesota Ice Man today?  It is now no longer a secret.  It is on exhibition at the Museum Of the Weird.  If you can ~go see it!
Article up~dated and taken from Some More Things Strange & Sinister

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