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

In July 1934, two miners in the San Pedro Mountains came across something rarer than gold. After blasting their way into a hidden mountain cavern, the miners discovered a diminutive human body, no more than 14 inches at its full height, naturally mummified by the Wyoming climate. The tiny mummy was unique. After the miners removed it from its cave,  it was exploited as a spectacle by various local business Wyoming businessmen, before its mysterious disappearance in the 1950s.

Before it vanished, the mummy, which became known as ‘Pedro’ was subjected to rudimentary scientific tests. However, its mysterious disappearance frustrated the solution of the most compelling mystery of all: was Pedro an adult or a child? For some of the experts believed Pedro to be the only preserved example of a lost Native American pygmy race, while others maintained the mummy was, in fact, the tragic infant victim of a rare congenital disorder. Attempts have been made using comparative evidence to answer these questions in the absence of the body. But is it possible to solve the mystery of the San Pedro mummy in its absence?

The San Pedro Mountains. Google Images.

The Discovery of ‘Pedro’

During the summer of 1934, Cecil Main and Frank Carr were mining for gold in the San Pedro Mountains. They were chasing a particular seam of gold when it disappeared into the rock face. The two miners had no choice but to blast away the rock to reach their goal. However, once the dust from the explosion settled, Main and Carr discovered to their disappointment that the gold had disappeared. Instead, they had found a small cave measuring no more15 feet long and 4 feet wide. Inside it, sitting cross-legged on a ledge, his arm wrapped around his torso was a most unusual find.

Main and Carr had discovered a diminutive human figure, no more than six and a half inches tall in its sitting position The withered creature had been naturally mummified by the environment, leaving it perfectly preserved. Its brown, wrinkled flesh remained intact- even down to its fingernails. However, its other features were curious. The head was covered with a gelatinous substance. Beneath this, the mummy’s facial features seemed unusual. The nose was flattened, as was the skull, which gave it a low, flat forehead. The mummy’s heavy-lidded eyes bulged, and its broad, thin-lipped mouth hid a full set of teeth.

The little mummy’s appearance was contradictory: childlike- and yet ancient. The two miners immediately recognized they had a phenomenon on their hands- one that people would pay good money to see. So they took ‘Pedro’ as the mummy came to be known, 60 miles southwest to the town of Casper. And so Pedro’s career as a Wyoming ‘sideshow’ exhibits began. The mummy passed through several pairs of hands until in 1936; it was on display in a drug store window in the town of Meeteetse. The drug store owner, Floyd Jones made good money from his unusual window display by selling postcard souvenirs. In this way, Pedro’s fame began to spread.

Pedro in his display case. Google Images

Eventually, Pedro returned to Casper, to the sales room of Ivan Goodman, a car dealer. Goodman showed the mummy off in a glass case, as part of his advertising display. “It’s educational! It’s Scientific! It will amaze and thrill you. It’s a pygmy preserved as it actually lived!” declared the posters accompanying Pedro, which claimed the mummy was thousands of years old and a progenitor of the human race. X-ray pictures of the mummy included on the posters were used to substantiate this.

The claim was nonsense. However, the x rays were genuine, for, by this time, Pedro had been examined by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who had had their work verified by the Anthropology Department of Harvard University. These two institutes agreed that the mummy was no composite hoax as some people maintained, but a genuine, human specimen. However, the experts disagreed as to precisely what Pedro was. One theory is that he was, in fact, a baby suffering from a rare genetic condition: anencephaly.