4. The Cardiff Giant
In the year 1869, workers were busy constructing a well on a farm in Cardiff, New York. While they were digging, they uncovered what appeared to be the ancient body of a 10-foot-tall, petrified man.
Naturally, the discovery spurred a massive reaction from the public, and scientific experts jumped on the bandwagon, claiming the “Cardiff Giant” was historically significant. However, the giant was actually just the mischievous workings of George Hull, a cigar manufacturer and proud atheist. While Hull was traveling through Iowa for business, he got involved in a heated debate with a minister about a passage from the Book of Genesis that stated: “There were giants in the earth in those days.”
Intent on making a point to people who interpret the Bible too seriously, Hull hired sculptors in Chicago to create a human replica using gypsum. Once the product was finished, he shipped it to his friend, William “Stub” Newell, and buried it on his farm. Within a year, Newell would take Hull’s advice to dig a well on his land and find the body.
Once the “giant” was resurrected, Newell’s farm was a sensation, and he began charging admission to see it. The discovery was short-lived, however, when Othniel Charles Marsh, a paleontologist, declared the giant as a hoax. By 1870, the sculptors also confessed to the prank, ending the conspiracy of the Cardiff Giant.