The Gnome of Girona: A Real-life Smurf Hoax

The preserved remains of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

The preserved remains of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

Sometime in September 1989, two couples named Añaños and Pujals went camping in a forest near the Spanish city of Girona. While the four friends were barbecuing and listening to music on a cassette player, a strange creature suddenly walked out of the bushes. The “Gnome of Girona”, as it was later called in Spanish media, was a small rabbit-like creature that had glowing red eyes and bluish skin. Apparently attracted by the music, the Gnome walked up to the cassette player and stood as the campers watched.

When one of the men turned the music up, the creature let out a loud laugh like an old man’s, and tried to run away. To prevent its escape, the campers threw a blanket over it and placed the Gnome in a birdcage. It smelled like sarsaparilla and had very soft skin. Aside from three pieces of hair found on the back of its neck, the Gnome was hairless. Its height was measured at 12 centimeters (4.7 inches). It made no protest about being captured, but refused to eat. After four days in captivity, the creature died.

Drawing of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

Drawing of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

The campers decided to save the creature’s remains in a coffee jar filled with formaldehyde, and it was later sold to Angel Gordon, a Spanish parapsychologist. Gordon paraded the remains around the media, appearing on the Spanish TV shows Otra Dimensión (“Another Dimension”) and En los Límites de la Realidad (“In the Twilight Zone”). Some speculated that the creature was an alien, but Gordon himself said that it was an elf, the same sort from German folklore which inspired The Smurfs.

Gordon’s bizarre story attracted growing skepticism after he gave conflicting accounts of how the Gnome was found. He couldn’t specify where in the forest the campers saw the Gnome, and nobody could locate the campers either. (He could assumedly neither explain why anybody would go camping with a birdcage.) In 1991, pictures taken of the Gnome were examined by Dr. John Altschuler, an American pathologist interested in UFOs and cattle mutilations. Altschuler was not convinced that the remains were of an extraterrestrial origin, dismissing it as an animal fetus, possibly a cow or pig.

Angel Gordon displaying pictures of the Gnome of Gerona remains. (Image credit/source here.)

Angel Gordon displaying pictures of the Gnome of Gerona remains. (Image credit/source here.)

In a move to defend the Gnome, Gordon appeared on a Spanish TV show along with Dr. Luis Linares de Mula, a medical doctor and fellow parapsychologist. Mula claimed that the Gnome of Girona was an abnormal animal unknown to science. The campers who caught the Gnome, the Añaños and Pujals, also appeared on the show and gave a first-person account of the story.

Biologists from the Barcelona Zoo later investigated the Gnome and came to the conclusion that there was nothing extraordinary about it. Its legs, they noted, were underdeveloped and couldn’t possibly have been able to walk. The “Gnome”, in fact, was very likely a deformed three-month-old calf fetus.

Pictures of the Gnome of Gerona. (Image credit/source here.)

Pictures of the Gnome of Gerona. The remains have become yellowish over time. (Image credit/source here.)

Any hope that the Gnome of Girona really was a blue little elf was extinguished when a man named Manuel Tello came forward and told a different story about how the Gnome was found. According to Tello, one of his neighbors had found the Gnome dead while walking in the countryside. He thought it was a rabbit fetus, or possibly some rare animal. After Tello took some pictures of the thing, Angel showed up and bought it. Tello began to see Angel touring the media circuit with the camper story a few weeks later.

As another skeptic would later uncover, the Añaños and Pujals turned out to be actors hired to promote Gordon’s camper story. There are, of course, some believers who still insist that the Gnome of Girona is either an extraterrestrial/real-life Smurf/elf corpse or the fetus of an unidentified animal, but this story has been thoroughly debunked as a hoax.

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