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Pedro the Mountain Mummy - A true and weird tale from Wyoming.


From Mysteries of the Unexplained, Reader's Digest General Books, The Reader's Digest Association, 1982.

He was found sitting cross-legged on a ledge in a small cave in a granite mountain. His hands were folded in his lap, in the timeless attitude of a Buddha. He appeared to be middle-aged. His skin was brown and wrinkled, his nose flat, the forehead low, the mouth broad and thin-lipped. And he was 14 inches tall.

The mummy was discovered in 1932 by gold prospectors blasting the walls of a gulch in the Pedro Mountains, 60 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming. After studying it, puzzled scientists ventured the theory that it was a mummified pygmy and possibly the progenitor of the American Indian. When it died, it was given a ceremonial burial.

Displayed in sideshows for several years, the Pedro Mountain Mummy was eventually purchased by Ivan T. Goodman, a Casper businessman, and taken to New York City. The remains, X-rayed by Dr. Harry Shapiro of the American Museum of Natural History and certified as genuine by the Anthropology Department of Harvard University, was thought by some to be those of a 65-year-old person. The speculation generated interest in the legends of the Shoshone and Crow Indians of Wyoming about a miniature people, only inches tall.

Following Goodman's death in 1950 the mummy passed into the hands of one Leonard Waller and disappeared, but interest in it continued nationwide. In 1979 pictures of Shapiro's X-rays were given to Dr. George Gill, professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming. The withered little body, he concluded, was that of an infant or a fetus, possibly of an unknown tribe of prehistoric Indians. He believed that the infant had been afflicted with anencephaly, a congenital abnormality that would account for the adult proportions of its skeleton. Discoveries of mummified remains are not uncommon in Wyoming, which has an arid climate. As Dr. Gill pointed out, the Indians may have found other mummies of similarly diseased infants and quite naturally assumed that they were the remains of small adults. This in turn would tend to support the legend of a "little people."

But Pedro, as the mummy is known, remains a scientific curiosity. "All we have are tantalizing bits of information," Dr. Gill remarked. He and other anthropologists still hope to locate the missing mummy for further examination. (The Casper Star-Tribune, July 22 and July 24, 1979; The Casper Tribune Herald, October 22, 1932; C.J. Cazeau and Stuart D. Scott, Exploring the Unknown, p. 222