The Minnesota IcemanThe Minnesota Iceman came to prominence in the 1960s and was toured around the world for years. It was - if genuine - one of the most remarkable cryptozoological finds of all time: a strange six foot tall, hairy hominid - a bigfoot type specimen - that had been almost perfectly preserved in a block of ice.
Missing Link or Sideshow Hoax?Unfortunately there are a number of reasons to be suspicious of the Iceman, not least the fact that its owner seemed to keep changing his story as to its origin. Many researchers consider the Minnesota Iceman simply an elaborate hoax worthy of pride of place in any fairground but no place in a natural history museum.
The Iceman corpse was under the control of Frank Hansen who kept it in a refrigerated glass case. The strange "creature" was toured around the carnival sideshow circuit and Hansen charged visitors to view it. It became widely known in 1968 when two cryptozoologists - Ivan Sanderson and Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans - became aware of it. They studied the body as best they could in its icy coffin and declared it genuine. Heuvelmans dubbed the creature Homo pongoides.
Sanderson and Heuvelmans were so convinced by the Iceman that they went public with their findings. Sanderson wrote an article in Argosy Magazine. Heuvelmans wrote a paper for the Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences entitled "Preliminary Note on a Specimen Preserved in Ice; Unknown Living Hominid".
Following this declaration of authenticity, the Smithsonian Institute became interested in the Minnesota Iceman and asked Hansen whether they could borrow it for study. Hansen at this point declared that the original Iceman had been returned to its mystery "millionaire owner". Hansen was, he said, now touring with a replica made for him by friends. At other times Hansen claimed that he only ever toured with the replica because the original was too valuable too risk.
It remains unclear whether it was the original or the replica that Sanderson and Heuvelmans had "verified". Either way, the Smithsonian quickly distanced itself from any interest in the weird "creature". Sanderson and Heuvelmans also backed away from their original claims of authenticity.
So even if there was a genuine Minnesota Iceman, the sideshow attraction which thousands of visitors paid to see was simply a model. The "real" Iceman was only ever seen by the anonymous owner, Hansen, and possibly by Sanderson & Heuvelmans.