The Paracas skulls: aliens, an unknown hominid species or cranial deformation?


Three Paracas Necropolis Culture skulls, showing different shapes produced by head binding

Three Paracas Necropolis Culture skulls, showing different shapes produced by head binding (Source)

Sources of dubious (and not-so-dubious) news on the internet have been getting very excited for the past week or so about some skulls from Paracas in south-western Perú. According to these sites, the skulls have been shown to have DNA that proves them not to be modern Homo sapiens but something else. Depending on the slant of the site, they are the remains of either an unknown but earthly species or aliens. Some sites make comparisons with the Starchild Skull, which has been touted as a human/alien hybrid. So just how reliable is the news?

Background

The skulls were discovered by the respected Perúvian archaeologist Julio César Tello (1880-1947) during excavations in 1927-8 on the northern side of the Cerro Colorado area of the Paracas Peninsula. In all, some 429 mummy bundles were recovered from two clusters at a site known as Wari Kayan, a large subterranean structure. The mummies were wrapped in cotton cloths, some of which were embroidered with wool to create elaborate patterns, which are among the best South American textiles ever found. The mummies were then placed in baskets in a sitting position, facing north; as with all South American mummies, their preservation is due to natural desiccation. Almost four hundred embroidered cloths were recovered. All the burials were of males and the quality of their grave gifts suggests that they were of high status; some have suggested that many of the men buried there had been brought for some distance to a special location, although this is not accepted by all.

Tello had previously excavated at Chavín de Huantar and recognised that there were cultural affinities between its products and those found at Wari Karan and suggested that the Paracas Necropolis Culture, as he called it, was related to the largely contemporary Chavín Culture. Comparisons have also been made between the later Paracas textiles and those of the Nasca Culture, suggesting another relationship. The pottery was largely plain and thin walled; it is very similar to ceramics found in the Cañete and Chincha Valleys, to the north of Paracas and is generally known today as Topará style. Similar pottery is also found in the earliest Nasca culture. It is generally accepted that the Nasca culture derives from the Paracas Necropolis Culture.

An example of Paracas Necropolis Culture embroidery

An example of Paracas Necropolis Culture embroidery (Source)

A Paracas Necropolis settlement has been found at Arena Blanca, in the coastal plain below the Cerro Coloarado. It covers an area of some 5- hectares, divided into twenty separate ditstricts, with buildings made from cobbles in dried mud. It inhabitants had cultivated plants, while cotton nets may be evidence for fishing. It appears to be contemporary with the earliest phase of burial at Wari Kayan and after its abandonment, was used as a cemetery by people of the Topará Culture. Further settlements are known in the Ica Valley to the south, where they span the entire period of the Paracas Necropolis Culture (conventionally reckoned to span 1-200 CE, although some prefer to place it earlier).

So far, so good. We have burials from a culture whose cultural affinities are well established and whose chronology is reasonably clear. Now for the part that has led to the recent controversial claims. Many of the high status burials of the Paracas Necropolis Culture have deformed skulls, which are usually believed to be deliberately induced using boards and weights. These result, in extreme cases, in skulls that are elongated into tall conical shapes. No two are alike and all are believed to have denoted high status in Paracas Necropolis Culture society.

The beginning of the controversy

A foetal mummy, illustrated by Rivero and Tschudi

A foetal mummy, illustrated by Rivero and Tschudi

For many years after their discovery, the Paracas Necropolis Culture burials were regarded as ordinary Andean mummies, whose high status males exhibit the cultural deformation of the skull practised by a number of pre-Columbian New World societies. Enter David Hatcher Childress, a well known promoter of some very Bad Archaeology indeed. In a 2012 book, The Enigma of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls of the Ancients, co-written with Brien Foerster (described as a “Canadian-Peruvian anthropologist” by Amazon, although it would be more accurate to describe him as a tour operator), Childress suggests that the phenomenon is not one of cranial deformation. Quoting a nineteenth-century doctor, John James von Tschudi who claimed to have seen a seven-month term foetus with a head as elongated as its mother, Childress claims that this is evidence for a separate race or species.

What is not made clear is that they are quoting from the book Antigüedades Peruanas (1851) by Mariano Eduardo de Rivero y Ustáriz (1798-1857) and Johann Jakob von Tschudi (1818-1889) or, rather, its 1855 English translation by Francis Lister Hawks (1798-1866), who also managed to “translate” the authors’ names (as, indeed, does the original Spanish edition, where Dr von Tschudi is given the forenames Juan Diego!). Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Until one reads Antigüedades Peruanas and discovers that this is in a chapter dealing with racial typology and phrenology and that Tschudi is reinforcing a typology of three Amerindian races he first proposed in Archiv für Pysiologie in 1845. The type to which they attribute the elongated crania are described as Aymaran, and the presence of a large wormian bone at the parietal/occipital interface is said to demonstrate the primitive nature of this people: se halle en una seccion del género humano, un fenómeno anómalo constante que falta en las demas, pero que es característico en los animales rumiantes y carnívoros (“there is thus found in one section of the human race a perpetual anomalous phenomenon, which is wanting in all others, but which is characteristic of the ruminant and carnivorous animals” in Hawks’s translation). Because of the high incidence of such bones among the indigenous peoples of the Andes, they are sometimes known as Inca bones.

The engraving that shows the foetal mummy (curiously found in the English translation but not in the Spanish original) does not depict the extreme of cranial deformation that Childress claims is genetic in origin: while the skull appears dolichocephalic, it appears to be entirely in the range of normal human foetuses. Moreover, although Rivero and Tschudi claim that it was found within the womb of a pregnant mother, the engraving does not show a foetus in a natural position, but in the position of a typical Andean mummy. It also appears to be wearing a kilt. In other words, there is a degree of deception in their account. It appears that Childress and Foerster cannot adduce any recent discoveries of neonatal of foetal mummies displaying supposedly congenital or hereditary skull deformation of this type.

Enter Lloyd Pye

Brien Foerster managed to persuade Juan Navarro Hierro, director (and owner) of the Paracas History Museum (sic: the name is given first in English, then, smaller, in Spanish) to part with some tissue samples. He claims that he did this because “[t]he only way to establish the actual age, and possible genetic origins of the Paracas people is through DNA analysis of the skulls themselves”. Dating human tissue by means of DNA analysis is such a new technique that I can find no other use of this remarkable development in any other archaeological investigation. Of course, there is no such dating technique: this is Brien Foerster displaying his ignorance of archaeological dating techniques!

Where did he choose to send the samples? To some prestigious university department, well known for its work on ancient DNA? No. Instead, he chose to send them to Lloyd Pye (1946-2013), a crank who believed in ancient astronauts, the extraterrestrial origins of humanity and, worst of all, the “Starchild Skull” as an alien/human hybrid. Why? This suggests that, far from being a dispassionate researcher, Brien Foerster has a preconceived agenda and it’s one that involves aliens. Although his Academia.edu lists his affiliation as “University of Victoria, Biological Sciences, Department Member”, his association with the university is as a graduate, not a member of faculty.

A Paracas skull: note the dimple toward the top of the head, which is a product of head-binding, depressing the suture between the parietal plates that Brien Foerster claims does not exist

A Paracas skull: note the dimple toward the top of the head, which is a product of head-binding, depressing the suture between the parietal plates that Brien Foerster claims does not exist (Source)

On his website, Brien Foerster makes a number of claims about the skulls from Paracas, citing Lloyd Pye as an authority. He refers to “5 physical factors, pointed out by Lloyd Pye and myself, which are not at all common to Homo sapiens”, of which he lists two: “the presence of 2 small holes in the back of the skull” and “only one parietal plate, where there should be 2”. This is backed up by a photograph, although it appears to depict a skull with no cranial deformation.

The “small holes” are the parietal foramina, perfectly normal features of the human skull (he does say that Lloyd Pye believed that they might be “natural”, so why are they flagged up as a factor “not at all common to Homo sapiens”?). There are few photographs that show the top of the Paracas skulls, but it is obvious that the frontal bone (the bone behind our foreheads) is stretched enormously; it is also evident that the sagittal suture (between the two parietal bones) begins very high up on the skull on those few photographs that show this element. Either Brien Foerster is entirely ignorant of the normal features of the human skull, or he is deliberately deceiving a readership he expects of be ignorant of these features.

It gets worse

Just when you thought that this story couldn’t possibly take off, Brien Foerster managed to put out a release on his Facebook page on 12 February 2014 hinting about initial results from his DNA tests. This is what has set the internet of dubious news stories talking excitedly. This is what Brien Foerster quotes:

Whatever the sample labeled 3A has came from – it had mtDNA with mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal known so far. The data are very sketchy though and a LOT of sequencing still needs to be done to recover the complete mtDNA sequence. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample 3A indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.. I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree. The question is if they were so different, they could not interbreed with humans. Breeding within their small population, they may have degenerated due to inbreeding. That would explain buried children – they were either low or not viable.

I am surprised that a geneticist would make this statement, but it is presented as verbatim, so we must assume that she/he genuinely wrote it. Let’s analyse what they are saying. Firstly, that Sample 3A “had mtDNA with mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal known so far”. That’s a very far reaching statement. It means that the source of the sample is unrelated to any animal on the planet. Any animal. Think about that for a few moments. The clear implication is that this is a non-terrestrial life form. The only one not to be related to all other animals, be they Bryozoa, Porifera, Acanthocephala, Acoelomorpha, Brachiopoda, Chaetognatha, Ctenophora, Cycliophora, Entoprocta, Gastrotricha, Gnathostomulida, Hemichordata, Kinorhyncha, Loricifera, Micrognathozoa, Nematomorpha, Nemertea, Onychophora, Orthonectida, Phoronida, Placozoa, Priapulida, Rhombozoa, Rotifera, Sipuncula, Tardigrada, Xenoturbellida, Echinodermata, Cnidaria, Annelida, Nematoda, Platyhelminthes, Chordata, Mollusca or Arthropoda. Incidentally, we belong to the phylum Chordata.

A Paracas Necropolis Culture skull with hair

A Paracas Necropolis Culture skull with hair (Source)

Now, this statement troubles me. For a start, there is the skeletal morphology. This morphology shows that the owners of the Paracas skulls were Chordates; more than that, they belonged to the sub-phylum Vertebrata (or Craniata), as they possess a bony vertebral column; more than that, they were members of the superclass Tetrapoda, as they possess four independent limbs; more than that, they belong to the class Mammalia, as they possess hair (which can be seen on some of the skulls); more than that, the skeletal morphology demonstrates that they belong to the Primates, as do all apes, including humans, monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises. In other words, far from possessing “mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal”, they appear to be human. So what does the mtDNA sequenced from Sample 3A mean?

Well, our anonymous geneticist goes on to classify Sample 3A as “a new human-like creature”. So it’s not actually unrelated to the rest of the animal kingdom. That’s a relief. However, it’s “very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and Denisovans (exact species not yet determined, although members of the genus Homo) are extinct hominins whose distribution was restricted to Europe and western Asia: one would not expect to find them in South America. If the mtDNA of Sample 3A really is “very distant from Homo sapiens”, the only hominin so far known from the New World, does this mean that the geneticist considers it to be another species within the genus Homo or a member of an entirely separate genus. This is something I would expect them to give an opinion on and I find it curious that they apparently have not.

The hominin evolutionary tree, as understood in 2014

The hominin evolutionary tree, as understood in 2014 (Source)

What is even more curious is the statement that “I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree”. This is worryingly ambiguous and can be taken in two ways. It might mean that Sample 3A derives from a species whose position in the hominin lineage cannot yet be determined, but which might one day. I suspect that this is not the intended meaning though. Given the thrust of the rest of the statement, I suspect that it is meant to imply that the mtDNA belongs to a species entirely outside the hominin lineage. In other words, it’s leaving open the possibility that we should regard the sample as deriving from an alien. There does not appear to be any consideration given to the likelihood that the odd features of the mtDNA recovered are not “mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal” but a result of contamination (after all, the skulls were excavated in the 1920s and we do not know the conditions under which they have been stored, how much they have been handled, whether any procedures have been used to stabilise them and so on) or errors in the laboratory.

The statement ends with a very worrying pair of sentences: “Breeding within their small population, they may have degenerated due to inbreeding. That would explain buried children – they were either low or not viable.” “[D]egenerated” is a very loaded term: it smacks of racialist theories and I am surprised that a scientist would use it. Be that as it may, it is true that inbreeding within small isolated populations will increase the likelihood of genetic disorders that will led to the eventual extinction of that population. However, it is quite ludicrous to claim that it “would explain buried children”. Has this geneticist no knowledge of pre-twentieth century population mortality patterns? Before the development of modern medicine, infant mortality rates were high; in some societies, fewer than half of all live births would survive more than five years. The burial of children in the Paracas Necropolis Culture is a perfectly normal phenomenon in many human societies. To claim otherwise is deliberately misleading.

I find the entire statement released by Brien Foerster to be quite unprofessional. It makes unsubstantiated claims; it deals with preliminary results; it contains at least one outright untruth. This is not standard scientific procedure. Let us assume that the mtDNA sequencing has been done properly. The geneticist states that “[t]he data are very sketchy”: so why release them, particularly when “a LOT of sequencing still needs to be done”? It is very unusual for a scientist to “leak” preliminary results in this way, unless they are very certain of their reliability. Doing it with “sketchy” data is inexcusable. Unless there is a hidden agenda…

Assessing the claim

There are so many problems with the statement posted by Brien Foerster, that it is difficult to see why anyone would take it seriously. For a start, it sits in glorious isolation from any archaeological data. The Paracas Necropolis Culture is not the product of some mysteriously isolated group of non-human creatures: its position within the broader cultural development of prehistoric Perú is well understood. The cranial deformation seen in mummies from the Wari Kayan cemetery fit into a known pattern, termed the Aymara deformity, which is produced by wrapping the skulls of infants tightly in circular bands. This exerts pressure along a transverse axis, through the mastoid region and the region just above the insertion of the nuchal ligament on the occiput. This can cause the skull to appear tri-lobed (as seen in the “Starchild Skull”), although the Paracas skulls exhibit a more conical deformity. The compression may disrupt the normal growth pattern of the skull, particularly along the sutures, and can produce a depression in the sagittal region, exactly as seen in a number of the Paracas skulls. Altering the shape of the skull also alters its volume, despite Foerster’s claim that it does not [edited 19.2.2014 by KJF-M]. Although small variations away from normal volume can be produced, they are not significant; however, while Foerster claims that the capacity of the skulls is too great for Homo sapiens, this is not the case: the Paracas skulls have an average capacity of 1600 cm3 and the human range is up to 1800 cm3 and they therefore fall well within the normal distribution range.

Secondly, the interpretation of the genetic information so far released is said by the scientist carrying out the sequencing to rest on “sketchy” data. Does this mean that further work may modify the interpretation? Is the geneticist allowing themselves a way of retracting the interpretation of further work shows the mtDNA to belong to a perfectly ordinary Amerindian type?

I was initially reminded of another DNA related story, the announced discovery of Bigfoot DNA in 2013 by Melba Ketchum. Although some early analyses of Brien Foerster’s statements regarding the Paracas DNA implicated Melba Ketchum, this is not the case, although Foerster has said that he is working with her, while she has hinted that she has been working with elongated skulls. It thus appears that the anonymous geneticist who wrote the bizarre statement posted on Foerster’s Facebook page. As happens so often with this sort of work, Brien Foerster is asking for donations to carry on the work (the site shows as of today (15 February 2014) that one donor has given $1000, twenty have given $100, twelve have given $50, while there are 38 donations of smaller sums).

In summary, this is a non-story. There is nothing at all unusual about the population of the Paracas Necropolis Culture, apart from the extreme nature of the head-binding they practised. DNA or no DNA, they are fully human: every aspect of their skulls can be explained in terms of genetics (such as the large wormian bone) and culture (such as the cranial deformation). Any statements to the contrary contain a mixture of deliberate deception, ignorance of anthropology, lack of archaeological knowledge and jumping to wild conclusions using “sketchy” data. They are not evidence for aliens or an otherwise unknown hominin species.

Update 20 February 2014

There is a condition known as craniosynostosis, in which one or more sutures fuses early. The most common form is sagittal sysnostosis, which is found in about half all cases and suppresses growth in the lateral plane of the skull, compensated by a disproportionate growth in length, resulting in a long, narrow skull. In The Enigma of Cranial Deformation, Childress and Foerster publish a colour photograph of a skull from Camacho (Perú) showing exactly this form of sagittal synostosis, which they wrongly claim shows that the individual had a single parietal plate. As with all their other discussions of palaeopathology, all they show is their ignorance of the subject: they are completely unqualified to write an entire book on the subject if they can make such basic mistakes. It’s a shame that the readers of their book are unaware of the depth of their ignorance.

  1. Excellent Fisking.

    • Ancient Archaeology
    • February 16th, 2014

    I can concur that Mr Foerster know nothing about genetics and confirmed that when working with Pye thy had not received any viable test results from said tissue samples but ‘will keep trying until they do’….!!! I have this in writing………….the guy is a charlatan of the highest order……………………!!!

  2. Great article Keith, we are currently discussing this @ the UM site. I would like some clarification on your statement, “Altering the shape of the skull also alters its volume, despite Foerster’s claim that it does not.”

    Altering could mean increasing or decreasing, and I’m assuming that your meaning here is increasing cranial volume.

    Also, does the cranial binding cause the skull plates to grow excessively to close the wider gaps in the sutures? Or are the plates simply stretched due to the binding pressures?
    From article,…”the Paracas skulls, but it is obvious that the frontal bone (the bone behind our foreheads) is stretched enormously; it is also evident that the sagittal suture (between the two parietal bones) begins very high up on the skull..”

    Thanks in advance…BF has claimed for yrs that these skulls are of Alien origin, and has just recently admitted they are human. His choice of geneticists, etc (and his choice of words) doesn’t help to improve his credibility problems.

    • Hi John

      Thanks for the praise! As I understand it, the cranial bones are stretched (and this is clearly visible on the frontal bones of the Paracas skulls, for which most photographs show views from the front; photographs showing the sides indicate that the parietals are also stretched): the sutures appear to form quite normally. Presumably, decreasing the volume of the cranial capacity would put pressures on the brain that would cause problems for the individual.

      I’ve been trying to find out more about Brien Foerster, but it’s proved very difficult. As I note in the post, Amazon describe him as an anthropologist, but I haven’t found any evidence for this. He has revealed that the subject of his undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria was in Biology. Some of the websites that parrot Foerster’s claims have described him as Assistant Director of the Paracas History Museum; this appears to derive from a post that Foerster made on Graham Hancock’s website. The Museum’s website is rather basic (the English version appears to have some errors of translation from Spanish) and journalist Rachel Chase has has revealed that it is a privately-owned institution.

      From his own statements, it is abundantly clear that Brien Foerster’s knowledge and understanding of archaeology are limited; so are his understanding and knowledge of anthropology. As for genetics, well that’s not for me to say…

      • Thanks Keith, I wasn’t sure if the bones could be stretched….esp to that degree.

        I think describing BF as a tour guide is mostly accurate. His collaboration w. DH Childress, and their actions together are comical to say the least….apparently they are also ‘experts’ at stone cutting, etc! (I watch Ancient Aliens TV just for the laughs, and there are many Youtube vids of this pair as well.) Also, I’ve just read your “Starchild” article, another interesting topic. The fringe will believe what they will, regardless of the facts.

        Keep up the good work!

      • orangeelvis
      • February 19th, 2014

      Banding does NOT significantly change volume or mass of skull: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23553676

      • Okay, that’s a recent study that suggests the textbook I was using (which is admittedly thirty years or so old) may be out of date. I’m more than happy to accept that. However, the range of cranial capacity in modern Homo sapiens is 950 cm3 to 1800 cm3 (the average is around 1400-1450 cm3), so the Paracas skulls fall well within the range of human cranial capacities. It is not evidence that they are not human.

        As a side issue, why does no-one look at the rest of the body? Was the post-cranial skeleton even retained after excavation? It was common practice in archaeology during the 1920s only to retain the skulls of human burials. If any post-cranial remains have survived, I’m willing to bet that they are indistinguishable from Homo sapiens skeletons.

        • OE, thanks for the link.!

          I’m not sure what to believe now. My original line of thinking was to compare the deformed skull to a deforming a balloon, the shape changes, but volume doesn’t. Also, I’ve accepted the fact that the plates are stretched, (and grow) during the deformation process.

          IMO, the skull vault volume may increase slightly, but brain size does not.

          Good point on the skeleton Keith, so much more could be learned.

          Regardless of what BF has said, there was never a doubt in my mind that the Paracas skulls are humanoid, I’m no expert, but I’d like to examine one up close for myself.

          • Mike0887
          • March 25th, 2014

          Could I see a source for the cranial sizes of the skulls?

          • ‘Lucky’ Lester
          • June 15th, 2014

          It would be very interesting to see the rest of the body. Here’s one for a start:

          I suggest you turn down the audio and ignore the title lest it detract from your observation of the remains.

          It would be foolish to discount the possibility of deformity in this this case, though if this was the case, the individual must have lived long enough to have its skull modified (three to five years?). It also seems unlikely that if this was typical for cone head remains that the original archaeologists wouldn’t have noticed it. Or maybe they chose not to investigate?

            • ‘Lucky’ Lester
            • June 15th, 2014

            Sorry, I seem to be unable to embed that video.

            You might try a youtube search for ‘Anatomy expert believes enigmatic skeleton of Peru is not human’

          • The “anatomy expert” may be an expert in something, but it’s definitely not anatomy!

              • ‘Lucky’ Lester
              • June 20th, 2014

              You expressed an interest in seeing a body associated with these skulls. I provided one example.
              Rather than comment on the body, you denigrate the ability of a person expressing an opinion on it. Do you have a foregone conclusion in this case?

  3. I am enrolled on the Human Evolution: Past and Future mooc
    by John Hawks and you would (or maybe would not) be surprised at the rubbish people take for granted as truth.Someone is on there spouting sections of a paper as defending the non-sapiens possibly erectus Paracas skulls even after having pointed out to him that the very next paragraph in said paper says it does not mean H.erectus.
    Sigh…..why can I not avert my eyes instead of engaging.

  4. The Paracas Museum is a small private museum – something not uncommon in Peru – located in a town that doesn’t get a huge amount of tourism. Given that, I suspect Brien Foerster managed to persuade the owner that giving him a title in the museum would bring in more visitors thanks to his Ancient Aliens fame.

    The museum does contain skulls from Tello’s excavations, but the collection has increased greatly in recent years thanks to the work of looters. Here’s a video from 2011 showing Brien purchasing a skull: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNJq_KSkHiM

  5. One wonders how the skull samples made their way from Peru to the US for testing. As you may imagine it’s tremendously difficult to get official permission to remove archaeological materials or samples from the country. Permits from INC – the Peruvian Ministry of Culture – are needed, and are only granted to archaeologists for good reason. It seems highly unlikely that they’d issue one to a tour guide.

  6. Good point Judith, I’m sue BF had some help in getting the necessary permit(s)…assuming he did get one. Also, did BF purcase the skull from a reputable source???

    I agree 100% w/ what Keith said about their qualifications overall, and esp. so on Childress and BF’s book which is available on Amazon.

    One person gave a negative review there, and the AA fans attacked imm.

    • It was Judith B. who gave that review! (It’s a small world after all. I thought you name seemed familiar.) And you did a great job JB; your review is in sharp contrast to most of the rest there on Amazon…it’s amazing what the fringe will believe, and accept as fact without question.

      • P. S. The link orangeelvis gave requires a fee to acess full text of article. (The abstract is good.)

        Alos, you are all invited to join the Unexplained Mysteries website to join in our discussion(s). The skeptics are outnumbered by the fringe there…but we are more intelligent, (haha).

  7. Have any of the sculls been definitively dated?
    Has anybody commented on the layout of the teeth in the skulls?
    If there is a significant difference in the number and configuration of the teeth it would be decisive either way as an alien would be very unlikely to have exactly the same configuration as homo sapiens.
    Is it not true that the volume of the skulls lies right at the top end of the Homo Sapiens range?
    Does it not appear to be strange to some archaeologists that these elongated skulls are found in Malta, France, South America and North America –
    Does anybody know of any other locations?
    My point is that it would be very unusual for the culture of head binding to be a universal world wide practice unless there was a persuasive reason for so doing AND that there was at the time a connected world wide homogenous civilisation to impose it. In our hugely connected planet today we can’t even dream of this kind of connected culture with universally practised behaviours.
    Notwithstanding what has been said, I am not convinced that totally debunking the idea that these creatures were alien is necessarily the right thing to do without further scrutiny.

      • ‘Lucky’ Lester
      • June 15th, 2014

      ‘Does it not appear to be strange to some archaeologists that these elongated skulls are found in Malta, France, South America and North America –
      Does anybody know of any other locations?’
      How about Australia, Egypt, Russia and Africa just for starters.

      • Why do people keep bringing up the idea that elongated skulls have been found in Egypt? This seems to be a wrong inference from the head shapes in Armana style art, in which the hereditary dolicocephaly of the royal family is over-exaggerated. Remember that we possess the mummified bodies of some of the people so portrayed, and their skulls do not exhibit deformities of the type depicted in the art of the period.

        Equally, I don’t know of any Maltese skulls showing this type of deformation. Yes, there are dolichocephalic skulls, but this is a perfectly normal type of skull shape (the three classes are dolichocephaly, where the head is long in proportion to its width, brachycephaly, where the skull is broad in proportion to its width, and mesocephaly, where the proportions are “just right”).

          • ‘Lucky’ Lester
          • June 20th, 2014

          I can’t comment on maltese skulls, I was quoting the original post in my response. I had read somewhere that elongated skulls were found in egypt, but can’t find anything on it just now (better check my facts ).

          I do think its interesting though, to compare this egyptian sculpture with a skull found in south america:

          http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-d0yEMaMPpiU/TWvdWttNssI/AAAAAAAAAWc/8NKeu-1iPnI/s1600/1500435-peru_giant_skull_super.jpg

          I guess you’ll call that coincidence.

            • ‘Lucky’ Lester
            • June 20th, 2014

            Just found something referring to cranial deformation in Egypt:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21121715

            The sociopolitical history and physiological underpinnings of skull deformation.

            Ayer A et al. 2010

            quote:
            ‘In this report, the evidence, mechanisms, and rationale for the practice of artificial cranial deformation (ACD) in ancient Peru and during Akhenaten’s reign in the 18th dynasty in Egypt (1375-1358 BCE) are reviewed’….. ‘While evidence from ancient Peru is widespread and complex, there are comparatively fewer examples of deformed crania from the period of Akhenaten’s rule. Nevertheless, Akhenaten’s own deformity, the skull of the so-called “Younger Lady” mummy, and Tutankhamen’s skull all evince some degree of plagiocephaly,’

  8. Great review. I have been hoping that you would cover this. Perhaps dealing with Melba Ketchum would be good too. There seems to be a lot of controversy about here Bigfoot results.

    • BK
    • March 1st, 2014

    Nope. It’s all true, I seen it on the Tee Vee. On Dat Anceint Allian program. Whooo golly dats like sayin the Annooonnaki ain’t on tryin to steel my gold! Hot MUSTERD!

  9. If you want to know about the ORIGINAL story, why not ask ME?

    • Alright Brien, what is the original story???

    • mennie
    • March 16th, 2014

    I also bought the book “The Enigma of Cranial Deformation” and I was shocked to find that a lot of text is actually misquoted and copied from Wikipedia.
    There was a video where Brien was using a rotary tool (and broke off the blade) to cut some pieces of skull. When I asked him on Facebook if this was a video of the sample 3A being taken he removed the video.

    It’s fine that someone is a tourguide and is interested and passionate about something but I think it’s wrong to pretend or bend the information.

    • I tried to play, but It said, ‘Video doesn’t exist.’

  10. Reblogged this on Mysterious Times.

    • Max
    • March 31st, 2014

    Thank you for the disinformation and thanks for the representing the 75% of the world who will not change and continue to be apart of the zombie or walking dead. THE ONLY WAY WE NO THE TRUTH IS IF MORE AND MORE ASK QUESTIONS.

    • ‘Lucky’ Lester
    • June 15th, 2014

    Whenever this subject is raised I see more ad hominem attacks than addressing of the issues. Lets leave Forrester out of it. I don’t care who he is or what his qualifications are. I saw these skulls long before I had heard of him or any of the controversy and would like to see someone who is qualified address these issues:

    1) Brain capacity.It has been asserted :’the Paracas skulls fall well within the range of human cranial capacities’. Really? Try and ignore the other nonsense on these webpages, but have a look at this diagram:
    https://differentpast.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/conehead1.jpg
    and tell me that it is within normal range for Homo sapiens. How about we reputably establish the typical range of the skulls from Paraccus? There’s some seriously big heads there.

    2)Anomalous parietal plates. I have seen many with two (instead of three) and others with five or more.

    3)Anomalous dentition (many are missing molars, and sockets where they would be are also absent).

    4)Possibly natural red hair, not normally present in South American populations.

    There is tremendous interest in these skulls and I find it disappointing that mainstream experts dismiss them as typical cases of cranial deformation.
    Is there really nothing of interest here?
    How about some DNA testing by reputable experts to put the matter to rest?

    • ‘Lucky’, I’ve looked at the image to which you link, that shows a typical deformed skull in photograph accompanied by an outline drawing of (presumably) the same skull superimposed on a normal human skull, looking much larger. But there is no scale. Also, notice how the deformed skull’s mandible is around 10% larger on the outline drawing than that of the normal skull. Is this legitimate? Secondly, the outline drawings just show the profile of the skulls, not the capacity: the file to which you link is called conehead1.jpg, which gives a good clue about the three-dimensional shape, implying that it becomes narrower as it progresses away from the face. You are right that we need some reliable estimates of cranial capacity for the entire assemblage of skulls from Paracas, something that, as far as I know, has not been provided.

      I’m unsure what to make of your comments regarding the number of parietal plates. Two is the number of parietal bones in all human skulls. You could have looked this up on Wikipedia. I have no idea where you’ve got the idea that three is the usual number; where does the third bone fit? If you’ve seen skulls with five parietals, are you sure that you’ve not been looking at all the bones of the skull or that you’ve not seen Wormian bones (the so-called Inca Bones that I mention in the article)?

      Missing molars are not uncommon. Are aware of what happens to the bone of the mandible and maxilla after the loss of a tooth? The socket fills with new bone growth. This is perfectly ordinary human biology.

      A lot of mummies have red hair. Have you perhaps been reading this? If you read this instead, you’ll learn that hair colour depends on the interplay of two substances, eumelanin and pheomelanin. Oxidisation of the hair, as would occur during decay, results in a greater loss of the type of eumelanin that produces a black colouring; the result is that the hair appears light brown to reddish after the loss of the darker colouring. Again, perfectly normal human biology.

      Yes, the skulls from Paracas are interesting, but not for the reasons you suggest.

    • Like it of not, BF is involved…unfortunately. Also, the diagram in the link you posted doesn’t specify the size of either skull, so how are we to make a good decision re size?
      It’s still being debated as to whether the intentionally deformed skulls are bigger than a ‘normal sized’ skull. Some do look bigger, and I agree, accurate measurements would be helpful.

      I’ve read many articles quoting ‘normal skull size’ and the #’s have ranged from 1,200 ccm to 1,900 ccm. Everyone’s different, and this also applies to the size of their heads.

        • ‘Lucky’ Lester
        • June 21st, 2014

        BF is involved. So what? How is that relevant to the existence of these skulls and the questions they pose?

        True, the diagram doesn’t specify size. Nonetheless I find it indicative that the proportions appear correct. Given that the lower half of the skulls that I have observed appear ‘normally’ sized, if you superimpose a ‘normally’ sized skull over these ones you can see that there is a considerably larger brain case.
        To me this is a fundamental area for enquiry; do these extreme examples of cranial deformation display larger brain capacities?

        • BF’s involvement IS relevant because he is claiming these skulls belong to human/alien hybrids, OR a humanoid branch that doesn’t fit anywhere in the current ‘evolutionary tree’. He is basing these claims on the tiny genetic sequences available to him, (supposedly) and worst of all, (IMO) he is employing Dr. M. Ketchum who is infamous for presenting opossum DNA as Bigfoot DNA.

          The skull’s and the brain’s size is genetically determined in each individual. The intention deformation of the skull MAY increase the cranial vault size, but DOES NOT increase the brain size. (A. Einstein’s brain was of ‘normal’ size….about 1250 ccm; increased brain size doesn’t necessarily mean increased intelligence.)

          Also, intentional skull deformation can and does affect sinus cavities, and upper/lower mandible size/shape.

            • ‘Lucky’ Lester
            • June 22nd, 2014

            My issue is not that wild speculation about the origin of these skulls, alien or otherwise, is being discounted, rather that the assumption has been made that these skulls are typical and not worthy of special investigation.
            These assumptions seem to have been made on principle, rather than on an examination of the evidence.

            Without any accurate or reliable measurements (that I am aware of, perhaps you can rectify this), the statement has been made that these skulls fall well within the normal range for modern humans.

            I have observed skulls in Peru which are apparently normal skulls which have been deformed. No problem. They are what you would expect.
            The interest is piqued when you compare these with others which are radically different. In this context, it is not relevant who makes what claims about their origins, or what their credibility or motivation is.

            Clearly there is a lot of uncertainty about whether or not cranial deformation can alter either the size of the cranial vault or the size of the brain. Could you be so kind as to indicate your evidence or your expertise which has prompted you to assert (in bold letters) that cranial deformation does not increase brain size and does affect upper/lower mandible size/shape?

            • No one said they’re not worthy of special investigation. The problem is about WHO is now investigating them. As I’ve said, we (ALL) need accurate measurements.

              I can only suggest you read the many links on this subject available on the Unexplained Mysteries website, in the Ancient mysteries Section, and go to the ‘Paracas Skulls’ Thread there. (Some articles are fee-based, and you must pay to access them.) And/or search the web.

                • ‘Lucky’ Lester
                • June 23rd, 2014

                I accept the fact that BF is involved is relevant, but only in regards to this blog as it is mostly about his claims. I am not here to defend his claims of alien origin, or to add credence to his DNA results.
                I am surprised that no one seems to have mentioned that unidentified DNA does not an alien make. As I understand, most genomes will have significant portions of unidentifiable junk DNA which mean (as far as we know) nothing.

                You say ‘no one claims they are not worthy of special investigation’, but rebuttals of BF’s theories emphasise that these skulls are typical examples of head binding.
                For example: “There is nothing at all unusual about the population of the Paracas Necropolis Culture, apart from the extreme nature of the head-binding they practised.’ Also: ‘ the Paracas skulls fall well within the range of human cranial capacities’.
                Don’t these type of statements suggest that they are not worthy of special investigation?

                If our science is free of bias, as it should be, wouldn’t the fact that BF is involved be no impediment to serious examination?
                I have no doubt that if BF claimed that a three and a half feet tall human lived as recently as ten thousand years ago in Indonesia, and presented a complete skeleton (while running tours to Flores to see the location it was found) that this would have been consigned to the annals of junk science, ridiculed as a hoax or another bigfoot story and not investigated any further.

                Perhaps the most valid criticisms of BF are unsubstantiated claims.
                One of the features I find interesting in these specimens is the noticeably different lower mandible shape and size. Could you please substantiate your claim that head binding can and does affect the shape and size of the lower mandible?

                • My point was that the skulls are still worthy of study because it would help us gain knowledge in cultural, historical, and medical areas. (Maybe it suggests this to you, but not to me, much can still be learned.)

                  Like I said:I can only suggest you read the many links on this subject available on the Unexplained Mysteries website, in the Ancient mysteries Section, and go to the ‘Paracas Skulls’ Thread there, and/or search the web.

                  This site is good, though some are fee-based articles, but you can read the Abstract…http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

                • PS, What I’ve been trying to say in a nice way IS: Do your OWN research. The info is available, I don’t have the time to back every point made here.

                  • ‘Lucky’ Lester
                  • June 24th, 2014

                  Thanks John, I am doing my own research. Part of that research is engaging in discussion with experts like yourself. I hadn’t come across reference to head binding affecting lower mandibles before, so rather than accept your comment at face value I asked for your source. I understand if you don’t have time to reply.
                  Thanks for the link to the medical site. I was unable to find anything that referred specifically to the paracus skulls, but I did find something which referred to mandible deformation: (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7386611)
                  it referred to ‘rocker jaw’ but I am not sure that it relates directly to the variations we see in these skulls.
                  I made quite a few searches on Unexplained Mysteries website
                  (http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com) using a variety of terms but found nothing relating to the paracus skulls. I would really appreciate a link if you would be so kind.
                  One thing I did find on that site which I quite liked was a quote in one of the comments sections:
                  ‘science is about investigating the unexplained
                  not explaining the uninvestigated’

                • LESTER, Plz see bottom of pg.

    • ‘Lucky’ Lester
    • June 20th, 2014

    A recurrent characteristic of these skulls is larger and slightly differently shaped mandibles, so I would not be surprised if it is legit.
    Having seen these skulls, my (totally unqualified) observation is that many are not substantially narrower as they progress away from the face.
    Looking at them without preconception, it appears that the cranial vault is larger than a ‘normal’ human.
    Clearly some accurate measurements need to be taken before we can say one way or another that they fell ‘well within the range of human cranial capacities’. Blind freddy could see that they are big.

    I must have got the idea about the number of parietal plates from an unreliable source. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to the arrangement and number of sutures in these skulls, which appear to be non standard. Perhaps this is a result of the head binding process, however, ‘typical’ skulls which have been bound display normal arrangements of the sutures. Some of these examples (the larger, more extreme ones with differently shaped eye sockets, jaws and dentition) show considerable variation from the norm.

      • ‘Lucky’ Lester
      • June 20th, 2014

      The red hair on these examples looks nothing like the ones in the pictures on the link you provided, it is way darker and redder. I don’t know that its a big deal; it may have simply been dyed, but again it might be interesting to investigate further, with reputable DNA analysis.

        • ‘Lucky’ Lester
        • June 21st, 2014

        Also regarding the anomalous mandible, if you question the legitimacy of the diagram in this aspect, I suggest you take a look at the picture of the skull accompanying it; you can clearly see that the mandible is massive (around 10%) larger.

        • I do question its legitimacy, no guarantee and no indication is given that the smaller unmodified skull is normal size….plz see my re, above.

  11. Lester, here’s the link to the UM thread, (I hope, the search there @ UM doesn’t always work.) http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=262007&st=0

    IF link does not work, plz go to UM website, enter ‘Ancient Mysteries and Alternate History’ Sect, and then go to pg 3.of this Sect. The Thread’s exact name is: ‘Paracas elongated skull dna’. There are some good links/info posted there….good luck.

    ( I don’t blame U for not just taking my word….also, I’m not an expert, but I’m fairly well-read on this subject thanks to the UM site, and the above article. The ncbi has 2 free articles on this subject, but all others are fee-based. Shouldn’t we be sharing info freely for the benefit of all?)

      • ‘Lucky’ Lester
      • June 25th, 2014

      Thanks John, much obliged.

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