Tag Archives: human skull

article: Phrenology


Phrenology is the study of the shape of the human skull in order to draw conclusions about particular character traits and mental faculties. Phrenologists believe that traits like intelligence are mirrored through elevations in the skull overlying particular areas of the brain. German physiologist Franz Joseph Gall developed the theory around 1800, but modern neurology and physical anthropology regard phrenology as a form of quackery. What is the difference between phrenology and craniometry? More… Discuss

This Day in the Yesteryear: THE CALAVERAS SKULL HOAX BEGINS (1866)

The Calaveras Skull Hoax Begins (1866)

What began as a practical joke became a famous, decades-long scientific hoax when a prominent geologist not only fell for it, but vigorously defended it as real. After miners in Calaveras County, California, claimed to have found a human skull deep within a mine, Harvard University Professor Josiah Whitney—then the State Geologist of California—announced that it was the earliest evidence of humans on the continent. Where might the miners who planted the skull have obtained it in the first place? More… Discuss