Sunday, February 9, 2014

Skeptical about skulls

Make of this what you will. The Paracas skulls are a group of more than 300 elongated skulls discovered by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello in 1928 in the Pisco Province on the southern coast of the country. Their strange shape gave rise to the idea that the members of this culture, which died out some 3,000 years ago, had interbred with space aliens. Subsequent theories assumed that the shaping of the skull was the deliberate result of cranial deformation, through head flattening, or head binding. However, this doesn't account for the fact that the cranial volume is up to 25% larger and their weight up to 60% heavier than conventional human skulls and that they contain only one parietal plate, rather than two. Independent researcher Brien Foerster (PICTURED ABOVE WITH ONE OF THE SKULLS), who has studied, written about, and offered tours to see the skulls for years, has taken the next step in their analysis. Museum director Juan Navarro of the Paracas History Museum, which houses a collection of 35 of the Paracas skulls, allowed Foerster to take samples of skin, hair with roots, a tooth, and bone for DNA testing by an as-yet-unnamed geneticist. After the initial sequencing of mitochondrial DNA, the scientist revealed that it had mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal yet on record. If the Paracas people were so biologically different, they would not have been able to breed with other ancient humans such as Neanderthals or Denisovans. In his report to Foerster, the anonymous geneticist wrote, I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree."

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