The Minnesota Iceman has been described as a male, human-like creature that is tall, hairy, with large hands and feet, and a flattened nose. Cryptozoologists Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan Sanderson studied the specimen for 3 days and they believed it was the real deal. The Iceman was shown as an exhibit in a block of ice for several years. Could this be the "missing link" between man and Neanderthals? Or was it a hoax? That's for you to decide.
RECAP: Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan Sanderson were known as the “Godfathers of Cryptozoology.” They learned that Frank Hansen was traveling around to different fairs, showing off a hairy creature in a block of ice that was called the Minnesota Iceman. The two of them spent 3 days studying, photographing, and sketching the specimen. They both believed that the Iceman was real, but Frank’s behavior became really dodgy. He initially said the Iceman was real, but then he said it was a hoax. The Iceman’s origin story changed several times. In the summer of 1969, Frank was attempting to cross the Canadian border with the Iceman that he claimed was fake.
US Customs wouldn’t allow him to bring his trailer into the US because they said he may be carrying a humanoid creature and he needed permission from the US Surgeon General to transport it. They wanted to take a small sample to do a biopsy, which should have been no problem if it was a hoax like he said. Frank refused and said this would ruin his exhibit. He started calling everyone he knew asking for help and he was released 24 hours later without having the Iceman checked. It was clear that Frank Hansen had friends in very high places. Frank shot the creature and he got scared. What if this was a homicide? Could he lose his military retirement?
He waited until snow fell before heading back out and retracing his steps to find the creature. Since he couldn’t bury it in the frozen ground, he and his wife cleared out the freezer and hid the body in the basement. They poured water into the freezer each day until the body was completely encased in solid ice. Frank did some research and learned that there was no statute of limitations on murder in Minnesota, so he kept the body hidden until he came up with a plan....what if he showed the creature off at exhibits? He could convince people that this was a fabrication and even have a replica created. He ended his letter by asking for as statement of complete amnesty for any possible violations, but that didn’t happen.
Frank had contradicted himself so many times, that no one believed this statement. If it’s a hoax, why feed into this? Why offer amnesty if no crime was committed? Everyone just blew this off as another bullshit story. I want to get into a few theories that were happening here.
So, here’s an interesting story that Bernard received. An unnamed person said that a physician reported that they had escaped from a Siberian gulag (goo-log). He had been arrested for insubordination because he refused to perform artificial insemination of Mongol women with the sperm of a gorilla. He said that the Russians had created a race of ape-humans that were on average about 5ft 10 in, tall and hairy all over their body, similar to the iceman. They work in salt mines and possess extreme strength and can work all day without breaks. They mature faster than humans, but they are not able to reproduce. They are taken away from their mother at birth and the secret is closely guarded.
Human maturity rates are slow, especially when compared to anthropoid apes. It’s logical to expect that a creature created from the two would grow to adult size faster than a human and could have a higher level of muscular development.
Theoretically, it could be possible to cross anthropoid apes and humans, genetically speaking. Hybridization requires a sufficient degree of similarity between the genomes of the potential parents, namely in the number and structure of their chromosomes. A human being with 46 chromosomes, couples with an anthropoid ape with 48 chromosomes, would yield a creature with 47 chromosomes, which would make it sterile since it would have an odd number of chromosomes. For example, a horse has 64 chromosomes and donkey has 62, but a mule has 63, and that’s why mules are sterile.
On December 16th, 1972, it was revealed that for years, the corpses of soldiers killed in Vietnam had been used to ship large quantities of heroin from Thailand into the US. On December 11th, a military cargo plane flying in from Bangkok landed at the Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington D.C. There were 62 passengers on board as well as the coffins of two soldiers killed in battle. They were greeted by the Military Police and agents of the US Customs Service. Thomas Edward Southerland was the name on the man’s identity papers, but he was really a civilian in disguise. This was actually a complicated set up where the smugglers had been warned about the sting and they only arrested a pawn who was impersonating a member of the forces and had false documents. The drugs had already been dumped, but it exposed the issue that heroin was being hidden inside the corpses of soldiers killed in Vietnam. Soldier's bodies are transported in coffins. If the body has too much damage, they may be sealed in plastic inside a coffin, and it will say DO NOT OPEN. With that being said, is it possible that the Iceman was transported back in the same way?
Frank Hansen had retired from the Air Force and the “owner” of the Iceman that he always talked about was a pilot. In the book, Bernard Heuvelmans lays out his theory about how this whole thing could have happened and it goes like this: One day, in the 1960’s, in the Vietnamese jungle, a GI shoots down a Neanderthal whom he may have believed was a gorilla. A flyer aka Frank hears about this and thinks he could sensationalize this as a fair attraction, so he buys it. The corpse needs to be shipped back to the US, so it’s placed in a coffin that should be used for the remains of a soldier who died in action. If this happened, Frank would not have been the person in charge of flying the plane back to the US, meaning, he would have needed to cut a deal with someone that is very powerful.
He would need to protect himself by having a replica made so he couldn’t be convicted of fraud. He contacts two of the most well-known zoologists to view the original and very real Iceman because he understands the real scientific value of this creature, but he gets scared and perhaps threatened by his financial backers when the FBI and Smithsonian got involved. The Iceman is withdrawn from the exhibit, thawed and slightly modified, then refrozen and passed as a fake. After the close call with border patrol, Frank had to change his story and claim he shot the Iceman himself during a hunting trip in the US.
An article was published in the journal Scientific Research called “The Iceman Melteth” and its suggested that the Iceman was an artificial fabrication of rubber and hair. A committee of anthropologists, paleontologists, and zoologists gathered to formally request that the International Convention of Zoological Nomenclature (No-men-clay-chur) draw on its authority to cancel, on the basis of article 1 of the Code, the scientific binomial Homo Pongoides Heuvelmans 1969. The article forbids attribution of a zoological name to an entity which is not “an animal reputed to exist in nature.” They didn’t have proof that Iceman didn’t exist and had never viewed the specimen, but it was much easier for them to believe that it was a hoax and they wanted it erased. The press announced that the Iceman was a fabrication, and the damage was done, there was no fixing things this time.
Bernard Heuvelmans details many reasons in his book about why he thinks this wasn’t a hoax and that includes the subtle anatomical details. Anthropologists have long suspected that Neanderthals had an extremely upturned nose, but this has never gained much recognition. It’s also been mentioned that Neanderthals could have had weakly opposable thumbs, or crooked toes, adapted to climbing the mountains, but this is all very controversial. Also, it’s believed that they would be covered in hair, and this would be the logical adaptation to living in a harsh climate. It’s strange that this so called “hoax” had all of these features, especially when it’s the ones that people have such a hard time believing in the first place.
Mark Hall was another cryptozoologist who investigated the Minnesota Iceman. He said that it soon became very clear that Frank Hansen had switched the original for a fake model in the spring of 1969. He wrote that he had observed in April 1969 that “Hansen cancelled his commitments to display the Iceman and arranged new dates and places to exhibit his model. The first date and place was the Midway Shopping Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 5th, 1969. I was there to see the exhibit. I met Frank Hansen and his wife. I requested permission to photograph and did so.”
Mark Hall says that he saw what was being called the Minnesota Iceman at the Illinois State Fair and he briefly talked to Frank. He took photos and sent them over to Bernard and Ivan. They worked together to determine all the differences between the body that they originally studied and photographed and the one that was now on exhibit. They were able to find 15 specific differences that they all agreed on.
It’s been mentioned that Frank Hansen always meant to keep the Minnesota Iceman a secret. He believed he could show off the exhibit and tell people it was fake, and he told Bernard and Ivan to keep it a secret after they viewed it. Ivan vaguely mentioned the body on The Tonight Show with Jack Jones, a Johnny Carson guest host, on December 24th of 1968. On January 18th, he informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the body and that’s when Bernard went to the Smithsonian and the FBI. Then, Bernard rushed his version of the discovery into print and the release of the report on March 10th, 1969, is what set the media flurry into motion. He hoped that this would pressure Frank into releasing the original specimen for review. Ivan’s discovery was released two months later, and this severed their relationship. Ivan continued to blame Bernard for the rest of his life for jumping the gun and pushing out that discovery. It gave Frank time to come up with a plan to stop people from getting near the original.
Once this was all in motion, the Smithsonian contacted Frank Hansen and he said, “We have framed an illusion show for 1969 which, in many respects, resembles the specimen photographed by Dr. Heuvelmans while a guest at our ranch. I cannot say with any certainty if the original exhibit will ever be presented again as a public attraction.”
Mark Hall followed clues left by Frank Hansen and he believes that the real owner of the Iceman was movie director Robert Wise. He believes that the body came to the US via Hong Kong in a filmmaker's luggage. He says the key to this theory is the Robert Wise movee, The Sand Pebbles, which was released at the end of 1966, starring Steve McQueen. The crew had to bring tons of equipment to the set and that could provide the perfect cover to bring back the Iceman. The Sand Pebbles was filmed in Taiwan and Hong Kong in November of 1965. It was scheduled to take 9 weeks but ended up being about 7 months.
In July of 1970, Saga Magazine published “I Shot the Ape-Man Creature of Whiteface” by Frank Hansen. It was clear to see that he was trying to stir up new business, but it didn’t work. It just confused people more because the story changed again, and he had openly stated that the exhibit was a fake. Everyone wanted to see the real thing.
All of the key players in this story ended up passing away. Ivan Sanderson died from cancer on February 19th, 1973, Bernard Heuvelmans died on August 22nd, 2001, and Frank Hansen died on March 23rd, 2003. You would think that would be the end of the Iceman saga, and it was, for a while. In 2012, Adam Peck, an employee of the person who owned the model, said that the Minnesota Iceman could be bought. The International Cryptozoology Museum was going to purchase the model and they had a verbal agreement and set up a payment plan. The new owner of the model was Bill Zywiec (ziv-ee-itch). He ran Zywiec’s Landscape and Garden Center in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. He had purchased the Iceman from Frank Hansen’s son and he was storing it in a shed, unfrozen and unprotected. The model had mold and wasn’t holding up well. It was just being used for Halloween hayrides by this point.
Even though a deal was already in motion, the owner listed the Iceman on eBay in 2013. The museum attempted to come up with the cash, but it was too late. On February 20th, 2013, at 8:14 PM, the auction ended with a winning bid of $19k. The buyer was the sideshow-oriented Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas. The replica had its grand opening at the Museum of the Weird on July 13th, 2013, and visitors were charged extra to see it.
The way we view Neanderthals has changed over the years. Lee Rimmer from Ancestry wrote, “Over the last 100 years, reconstructions of their appearance have slowly become ‘humanized’ with each new revelation about their culture and physiology, culminating in the stunning discovery in 2010 that up to 4% of the genome of all modern humans of European and Asian origin carry Neanderthal DNA, as a result of interbreeding between the two species.”
Anthropologist Carleton Coon wrote, “The problem can be brought within sight of solution only after we have disposed of the popular image of Neanderthal man, that he was a squat, slouching, low-browed, stupid, and vicious brute, wooing his women by clubbing them over the head and eating his deceased parents.”
The Iceman was labeled as a Neanderthal, but the interesting thing is genome studies have proved that Neanderthals were actually red-haired, freckled, and fairskinned.....and they were not covered in hair. If we’re to assume that the Iceman wasn’t actually a Neanderthal, what was he? Bernard Heuvelmans theorized that the body came from Vietnam, and he found good comparisons in reports known as the Kaptar in the Caucasus Mountains and the Ksy-gihik in Central Asia.
Helmut (Hel-moot) Loofs-Wissowa, an anthropologist at Australian National University, thinks that Bernard is correct in his theory. He says the Neanderthals, represented by the Minnesota Iceman, as the source of surviving relict populations of wild men, the Nguoi Rung, (Nye-zoong) he studied in Vietnam. His creative work links the semi-erect penis of Homo pongoides with what he sees in Paleolithic cave art and other evidence he connects to Neanderthals.
Jordi Magraner (Mag-rain-er) also believed that the Iceman could be a Neanderthal. Jordi was a Spanish zoologist who did 12 years of field work in North Pakistan and Afghanistan, in search of the local wild man, the Barmanu. Jordi was murdered in Pakistan in 2002, but he had collected more than 50 first-hand sighting accounts, and all eyewitnesses recognized the reconstruction of the Iceman. The witnesses were shown drawings of apes, fossil men, monkeys, and other various creatures, but they all selected Bernard Heuvelman’s Homo poingoides.
There is a possibility that the original Minnesota Iceman was a hoax, but there’s also a possibility that it was real. Frank Hansen was convinced that the Iceman was real when he first acquired it, but maybe he was duped. It was encased in ice, so it’s possible that everyone got duped from the jump. It would be hard to explain away the parasites seen on the body, the food stuck in the teeth, and the odor from decomposition, but who knows? Perhaps Frank was able to use a clever creation to make some money, but then you have to believe that he was capable of convincing two respected zoologists that this was real. What became of the original Minnesota Iceman? Well, that remains a mystery.
Bernard Heuvelmans | The Bigfoot Portal
Ivan T. Sanderson | The Bigfoot Portal
I Killed The Ape-Man Creature Of Whiteface (bigfootencounters.com)
Neanderthal: The Strange Saga of the Minnesota Iceman: Heuvelmans, Bernard, LeBlond, Paul, Coleman, Loren: 9781938398612: Amazon.com: Books