Revisiting the ‘Minnesota Iceman’ hoax

Redrawings of (at left) the Minnesota Iceman as it looked when frozen, and (at right) as it was interpreted by Heuvelmans and Sanderson. Images in public domain. Credit: Darren Naish.

It’s a fair bet that if the “missing link” is discovered, it won’t be in a trailer in Altura, Minn.

In the 1960s, promoter Frank Hansen insisted that the man-like creature, frozen in ice, was the link between Neanderthal and humans. A couple of cryptozoologists traveled to his southeastern Minnesota home and declared it was legit, a new species of human genus, paving the way for a traveling exhibition that hit all the scientific hotspots — shopping malls — around the country.

Today, Scientific American, revisits the fascinating hoax.

Somewhere along time, Hansen appeared to have switched whatever the two cryptozoologists examined with a latex model.

Hansen’s dodge for this was that he had withdrawn the original, genuine specimen from display (mostly from fear of being found guilty of killing what might have been a form of human) and replaced it with a model. Sanderson supported this by saying that the specimen examined by Napier was obviously different from the original one he and Heuvelmans had examined. Photos show that, over the years, the form of the face and body varied somewhat. In some photos, the mouth is closed, and in others it’s open, clearly revealing a complement of large teeth. Maybe there was more than one model, and some of the models looked more realistic than others, but it also seems possible that as the model used by Hansen was defrosted and frozen again for each annual outing, it would have taken on a slightly different pose and appearance each time.

Where is the Minnesota Iceman now? It was sold on EBay in 2013 and is in museum of the weird in Austin, Texas.

Mainstream science dismissed his “find” years ago.