Many mythologies mention some form of "giants". Those giants may or may not be described as greater in height, but are always described as greater in strength and are portraied as violent. Examples are the Greek "gigantes" or the Biblical "Nephilim".

Has there ever been any scientific study, on whether those myths could hint to contact of ancient, yet anatomically modern human, people with another species of the genus Homo? Could it be that other species of Homo have had a bigger physiognomy (e.g. as described for the Homo ergaster)? Is there a theory, that over the centuries, contacts with such a species in ancient times could lead to the myths we read today?

  • Fossils are more likely. For example, tales of the cyclops may come from misintetpreted mammoth skulls with the large hole in the front for the trunk.
    – Spencer
    Jun 19, 2020 at 23:14

2 Answers 2


Unlikely. The last hominid species that went extinct is the Neanderthal around 30.000 BCE. It's very improbable oral tradition would have kept this relation intact in the stories for 30 millennia. Anthropological studies of oral traditions have illustrated the original content of such stories is very quickly distorted beyond recognition.

  • Unless it contains an error correcting code
    – R. Emery
    May 30, 2020 at 3:32
  • So 25.000 years before we invented writing, primitive man first invented ECC? A correction code is based on a checksum principle, so they also invented mathematics and assigned each phoneme a numerical value? its.caltech.edu/~matilde/CodingLing.pdf
    – Codosaur
    May 30, 2020 at 9:41
  • People then were just as smart as they are now
    – R. Emery
    May 30, 2020 at 16:01
  • @Codosaur human speech is an error-correcting code. Jun 8, 2020 at 13:06
  • Then please show me a study of oral traditions that proves the content is not garbled over a period of at least hundreds of years, let alone thousands. Don't just make statements without empirical evidence. Speech can at the very most be regarded as error-correcting on the grammatical level, not on content. And that's not even taking into account grammatical changes and lenition.
    – Codosaur
    Jun 8, 2020 at 14:04

There are some very old oral traditions circulating even the largely demythologised West. We also know that, for example, Australian oral tradition recounts a number of extremely ancient and nevertheless historical events. An example is the formation of certain volcanoes that occurred more than 35,000 years ago.

Other examples, from Australia and America.

I think it is very likely that at least some, and most likely only the most ancient of European folklore about Trolls and the like, is strong evidence for sapiens's recollection of real neanderthals.

  • 3
    There's a much more obvious explanation for the origin of trolls. All troll legends originate in Norse stories, and most of them have in that common trolls turn into stone. Norway is geologically rich in stone crags and outcroppings. Just like our pattern-searching brain finds shapes in clouds, these stories more likely originate in seeing human-like shapes in the rock formations,
    – Codosaur
    May 29, 2020 at 7:39

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