One popular area of the unexplained is the idea that history as we know it is somehow wrong, that we have a fundamental misunderstanding of past events and how they played out. A very common corner of this is the phenomenon of strange archeological anomalies and what are called "impossible fossils," remains preserved in very ancient stone that have no business being there. Such discoveries take many forms, many of which I have covered before, but one which is very little known is the case of a full skeleton of a human woman that was supposedly found in rock tens of millions of years old.
In 1810, the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe was captured from the French by the English navy, and subsequently a good amount of booty was seized and sent back to England. Among these myriad items was a large slab of stone kept by the French that held within it the unusual feature of a human skeleton encased within the rock, which had been pulled from a much larger slab on north-eastern coast measuring over 1 mile long. The remains were nearly complete, missing only a head and the feet, and they appeared to have been of a modern woman, who would have measured about 5 feet 2 inches tall in life. It was a pretty odd finding considering it was unknown just how this skeleton could have possibly found its way into what was described as hard, impenetrable rock estimated as being from possibly the Miocene age, around 25 million years old, a time which many of you might have already surmised is a time when there were no modern human beings on Earth. And so would begin the strange and controversial story of the “Guadeloupe Woman.”
The governor of the island at the time, Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane, had the mysterious skeleton and its surrounding rock grave sent to the British Museum in 1813, where it would be further examined and found that the skeleton was indeed from a modern woman and that the bones themselves had not actually been fossilized. The rock was also found to be a type of sandstone of an indeterminate age, yet nevertheless, the stone around it was estimated as being so old that it was quickly seen by creationists in the late 19th century as evidence of the Biblical the Genesis Flood. The bizarre skeleton was put on display in the museum as an anomaly and in 1881 was moved to the Natural History Museum, where it remained on display drawing wonder and awe, especially when Darwin’s Theory of Evolution became popular, as it was seen by some to defy Darwin’s ideas. The Guadeloupe Woman stayed on display all the way up until 1967, when it was moved to the museum’s storerooms, from which it still manages to generate debate to this day.
The skeleton obviously has some use for creationists, as it is often touted as proof that the world is younger than evolution says it is, and in this case the skeleton has long been talked about as evidence of the biblical flood of Noah’s Ark fame. After all, how else would modern human remains get into ancient limestone from the Miocene Age? Of course creationists love this sort of thing, as it is a chance for them to latch onto some sort of evidence that humans did in fact co-exist with dinosaurs. There are also the wild theories that this is indicative of the existence of time travel, with these explorers accidentally leaving evidence of their passing behind during their journeys through the recesses of ancient history and prehistory, and there is even the idea that ancient aliens could be behind such finds. There has even been conspiratorial talk from some corners of the creationist argument that the museum intentionally took the skeleton off of display in order to hide it away in some conspiracy to cover the truth and promote their evolutionist agenda. While it seems so exciting to think that our natural history could be so spectacularly misunderstood up to now, it seems more likely that sadly this is mostly either hoaxed evidence or misinterpretation of natural phenomena, and there has been much to debunk these creationist conclusions.
For one, the rock is actually a type of hardened calcareous sand, and although it was originally thought that it might date back as far as the Miocene, it is more likely that its concretion happened much more recently. Another strike against this being a modern human embedded in solid rock tens of millions of years ago is the location of the site where the skeleton was found. It just so happens that many other human remains were found here as well, and that is because the site lies at the location of a cemetery that dates all the way back to the 15th century and the time of Columbus’s voyages to the Caribbean, which was unknown at the time of the discovery of the Guadeloupe Woman, having been unearthed in later years. The idea here is that this was just a body interred in the sandstone here, or had accidentally fallen there, and that the soft stone had formed around the body to later harden. Due to all of this, the idea that the Guadeloupe Woman is an actual example of a modern human being in 25-million-year-old rock is largely scoffed at and is considered mostly debunked, yet some are still not convinced. One opinion representative of this argument is given by a writer called Black2Tell, who calls himself an "expert," and has argued against the mainstream scientific view of the skeleton, and not only that, he thinks it may even up to 66 million years old, saying:
Now, this skeleton may indeed be a 15th century skeleton. However, it is not proven to be so. It still could be of a much older age even of 28 million years old. This skeleton’s age may not be “discredited” at all because of the probabilistic nature of science and the fact that a modern age has not been proven either. To properly determine its age one would have to examine the geology of the matrix surrounding the skeleton, examine the skeleton, itself, and properly study the geology of the island of Guadeloupe. To the best my knowledge, none of these things have been done. So, there is a real lack of evidence on the side of traditional “mainline” archaeology to support a claim of a recent, 15th century, age for this skeleton.
Now, can we find any other evidence to support a claim of an older age? Yes! First, the skeleton was imbeded in rock. This is a process that takes some time. Second, we can consider a new technique, one that I have pioneered, that is the use of plate tectonics – the movement of the continental plates.
If we do this we arrive at an unexpected surprise. Guadeloupe, as with all the islands of the West Indies rest on the Caribbean plate and neither on the North America nor South American plates. This means if we extend the location of Guadeloupe backward in time we find that at the end of the Cretaceous Period, 66 million years ago, it was located south to southwest of the Yucatan. With the meteorite impact that killed the dinosaurs, a huge tidal wave of 1100 feet in height flooded all of Mexico and the surrounding area and could have carried bodies of individuals to Guadeloupe. A closer look at the eastern side of the island shows an indentation that could have been caused by this tidal wave. Of course, additional geological research is needed to confirm this.
So, we claim that the skeleton has not been discredited until further research is done. Furthermore, the fact of the Caribbean plate movements due place Guadeloupe much closer to the Yucatan opens the door to the possibility that the skeleton maybe not 28 million years old but 66 million years old. The question is still open.
It is unclear whether this question is really still open or not, and for science it most certainly is not, but it is surely apparent that some people want it to be. So what are we to think of the Guadeloupe Woman? It is most likely just a modern skeleton that has managed to become more mysterious than it really is, but it definitely shows that there is strong interest in uncovering mistakes with what we think we know about our history. There is at present no solid evidence to show that there were ever humans walking around tens of millions of years ago, and it is mostly a very fringe idea. The Guadeloupe Woman certainly doesn't prove it, but the speculation and debate will probably continue on, and it is all very entertaining at the very least.