The Truth Behind the Disturbing Mystery of the San Pedro Mountains Mummy
The Truth Behind the Disturbing Mystery of the San Pedro Mountains Mummy

The Truth Behind the Disturbing Mystery of the San Pedro Mountains Mummy

Natasha sheldon - January 4, 2018

The Truth Behind the Disturbing Mystery of the San Pedro Mountains Mummy

Pedro and Chiquita

Pedro’s tiny size led many to believe he was the remains of a baby even before the experts analyzed him. Indeed some thought he was the corpse of a deceased child, stolen and modified to deceive the credulous. However, while the scientific tests proved Pedro was no means contemporary or a composite, several anthropologists from the University of Wyoming and Harry Shapiro of the American Museum of Natural History did believe him to be an infant.

Shapiro reputedly undertook the initial X-rays and a lung analysis of Pedro. From these results, he concluded that the mummy was, in fact, a baby suffering from Anencephaly. Anencephaly is a congenital disability that occurs in the womb and leads to the absence of part of the fetus’s brain, skull, and scalp. Even if a child suffering from such a disease survived birth, it could not survive infancy. Size aside, parts of Pedro’s skull did appear to be missing, leaving the brain exposed- compelling evidence in support of Shapiro’s theory.

In the 1950s, Goodman lost Pedro, probably to a New York con man and the mummy has never been recovered. Modern anthropologist George Gill continues to make a case for anencephaly, using the old evidence- and recent comparative material. Gill, who works for the University of Wyoming first became involved with the case of the San Pedro mummy in 1971. In the 1990s, after a TV appearance, he was approached by a Native American family who presented him with the preserved remains of a baby remarkably similar to Pedro.

The Truth Behind the Disturbing Mystery of the San Pedro Mountains Mummy
Chiquita. Google Images

The little girl, nicknamed Chiquita, was mummified just like Pedro. Measuring only inches in height, her arms and legs were also in the same position as the San Pedro mummy’s. “Nowhere else in Wyoming do we have burial sitting up like that. Never sitting up with legs crossed and arms folded across their chest,” said Gill. “There’s a clear connection between the two of them, besides being in the same region.” While Chiquita had not been set to rest in a cave (The family who protected her had kept her in their attic), the remains had never the less been precious enough to guard for 500 years.

For although Gill was only allowed to analyze Chiquita on three separate occasions, he was able to establish her date of birth as being sometime in the 1500s. Despite her blond hair, her DNA also revealed the little mummy to be of Native American origin. But most compelling of all, the anthropologist was able to establish that she died from anencephaly. The similarities to Pedro lend credibility to the anencephaly theory. However, without Pedro’s body, it cannot be proven he suffered from the same condition- especially as there is evidence that suggests Pedro was not a child at all.

The Truth Behind the Disturbing Mystery of the San Pedro Mountains Mummy
The Nimerigar. Google Images

The Nimerigar

Pedro’s full height has been estimated to be 14 inches in total- certainly the right size for a baby. However, he also exhibited features associated with a fully-grown adult. The mummy had a full set of teeth and x rays also revealed what appeared to be the remains of solid food in his stomach. Furthermore, there were signs on his body that he did not die a natural death. The mummy’s spine appeared to be damaged, his collarbone broken and his skull been smashed by a blow that could have resulted in the exposed brain tissue.

Some experts reconciled this discrepancy between Pedro’s size and development by declaring that Pedro was, in fact, an adult dwarf. Local Native American tales tell of a mythical race of little people– the Nimerigar who lived in the area of Wind River and the Pedro ranges of Wyoming. The legends say that the Nimerigar ranged between 20 inches and three feet in height. They were gifted with magical powers and the healing arts- yet were also extremely vicious, hence their name which means, “People Eaters.” As with European fairies, it was unwise to cross the Nimerigar who would attack those who displease them with poisoned darts.

The Nimerigar also reputedly killed off those in their community suffering from debilitating age or infirmity with a blow to the head-, which could account for Pedro’s head injury. This injury, taken in conjunction with Pedro’s size and unusual appearance has led to speculation that the mummy was a representative of a now lost race that inspired the Nimerigar legends.

The Truth Behind the Disturbing Mystery of the San Pedro Mountains Mummy
Reward Poster for Pedro’s return. Google Images

Physical evidence for a race of small people exists in the US. In 1876, The Anthropological Journal and New York Times both reported on a six-acre graveyard of between 75,000-100,00 ‘pygmy’s’ in Coffee County, Tennessee. The deceased were found to be “buried in a sitting or standing position.” Although they were first thought to be children, the skulls were found to have wisdom teeth, leading investigators to deduce they, in fact, belonged to “a dwarf tribe of people, about three feet high.” A similar find had also been reported forty years earlier from a site near Cochocton in Ohio.

However, none of these ‘little people” have been found mummified or buried in quite the same circumstances as Pedro. The fact remains, no matter what the similarities are between the lost mummy, Chiquita, mythical or actual pygmy races, without the actual body of the San Pedro Mummy, the best anyone can do is speculate.


Sources For Further Reading:

Legends of America – Little People & the Pedro Mountain Mummy

Weather – Wyoming’s Tiny Missing Mummies

Atlas Obscura – The Mysterious Pedro Mountain Mummy

Billings Gazette – More Questions Than Answers Raised By Tiny, Blond, 500-Year-Old Mummy

Billings Gazette – Photos: A 500-year-old Wyoming mummy

Oregon Live – Meet Chiquita: Wyoming’s 500-Year-Old Mummy

Star Tribune – Man offers $10,000 for Pedro Mountain Mummy

History Collection – This Amazingly Well-Preserved Mummy Told Many Secrets!