I saw the rather fascinating Bone Tomahawk recently. In it, a group of troglodytes kidnap a few people, leading to a suspenseful chase across the arid country in search of them and their victims.

During the film, when the troglodytes are close, we often hear this eery screeching noise. When we actually see them on screen, towards the end of the film, we learn that this is their method of communication.

They appear to have some sort of object embedded in their wind pipes, which warps their sounds making them much more screech like (like having a whistle in your throat). One of the protagonists cuts this object out of a dead troglodytes' throat and uses it to "summon" other troglodytes to him, so he can kill them.

It's all very fascinating, and very brutal, but I was curious to know if this object in their throats is remotely realistic.

Has there been any cases of ancient tribes of Indians (or other races) found with similar contraptions? Is it even possible to have a device like this actually embedded in your throat?

  • Since you found this movie fascinating, you should also see the writer and director's latest movie - Brawl in cell block 99 Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 12:42

3 Answers 3


The writer/director answered questions after the premiere. When they asked him if the throat whistles were based on any historical research, he said he just wanted a musical sound that created a mood, so he invented it. This is recorded and available on the DVD.


While I'm not entirely sure this is on-topic here, there are cases of windpipe transplants and partial larynx transplants that don't put too far out the possibility of altering the sound somebody can make when breathing through them.

I'm pretty sure any ancient culture has not embedded anything in the windpipe as it would be more likely to choke the person without the ability to properly anchor it, as well as allow food to pass through. I'm guessing without surgery this would be akin to shoving a duck call down somebodies throat, and would most likely result in death in short order.

The more common examples of bodily modification are head elongation (performed by binding the infants head for many years), neck elongation (usually by inserting rings to lengthen the neck), and foot binding which is now illegal in China.


The Aztec death whistle has a similar sound to the movie which was a real whistle that sounds like a person screaming in terror. But they would have made them out of clay and not implanted into the body. We don't really know what they were used for although there are a lot of theories. Some say it was used during warfare and others say it was for sacrificial ceremonies. In any case they sound truly terrifying and I would not want to be surrounded by them at night.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .