4. It Took Centuries to Dispel the Myth of Patagonian Giants
The first challenge to the tall tales of Patagonian giants came from Sir Francis Drake, the famous British seaman and pirate, who encountered Patagonians during his own circumnavigation of the globe. As described by his nephew: “Magellan was not altogether deceived in naming these giants, for they generally differ from the common sort of man both in stature, bigness and strength of body, as also in the hideousness of their voices: but they are nothing so monstrous and giant-like as they were represented, there being some English men as tall as the highest we could see, but peradventure the Spaniards did not think that ever any English man would come hither to reprove them, and therefore might presume the more boldly to lie.”
Nonetheless, the stories of South American giants persisted. As late as 1766, rumors circulated that a British Royal Navy ship had encountered a tribe of natives who stood nine feet tall. However, when the ship’s account of the voyage was finally published, the natives were recorded as being six and a half feet tall. That was tall, especially for that era, but not incredibly so. It certainly did not make the natives giants. In reality, the tribe in question, the Tehuelche, were statuesque and bigger than average. However, they stood in the six foot range.