Elongated Skull in Paracas

Initial DNA analysis of Paracas elongated skull released – with incredible results

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Paracas is a desert peninsula located within the Pisco Province in the Inca Region, on the south coast of Peru.  It is here were Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello, made an amazing discovery in 1928 – a massive and elaborate graveyard containing tombs filled with the remains of individuals with the largest elongated skulls found anywhere in the world. These have come to be known as the ‘ Paracas skulls ’. In total, Tello found more than 300 of these elongated skulls, which are believed to date back around 3,000 years. A DNA analysis has now been conducted on one of the skulls and expert Brien Foerster has released preliminary information regarding these enigmatic skulls.

It is well-known that most cases of skull elongation are the result of cranial deformation, head flattening, or head binding, in which the skull is intentionally deformed by applying force over a long period of time. It is usually achieved by binding the head between two pieces of wood, or binding in cloth. However, while cranial deformation changes the shape of the skull, it does not alter its volume, weight, or other features that are characteristic of a regular human skull.

The Paracas skulls, however, are different.  The cranial volume is up to 25 percent larger and 60 percent heavier than conventional human skulls, meaning they could not have been intentionally deformed through head binding/flattening. They also contain only one parietal plate, rather than two. The fact that the skulls’ features are not the result of cranial deformation means that the cause of the elongation is a mystery, and has been for decades. 

Artistic - Elongated Skull

An artist’s impression based on a Paracas skull. Photo credit: Marcia Moore / Ciamar Studio

Mr. Juan Navarro, owner and director of the local museum, called the Paracas History Museum, which houses a collection of 35 of the Paracas skulls, allowed the taking of samples from 5 of the skulls. The samples consisted of hair, including roots, a tooth, skull bone and skin, and this process was carefully documented via photos and video. Samples from three skulls were sent to the geneticist, although the geneticist was not given any information about what they came from until after the genetic testing, so as not to create any preconceived ideas.  

The results of a DNA analysis of one of the skulls are now back, and Brien Foerster, author of more than ten books and an authority on the ancient elongated headed people of South America, has just revealed the preliminary results of the analysis. He reports on the geneticist's findings:

It had mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.

The implications are of course huge. “I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree,” the geneticist wrote. He added that if the Paracas individuals were so biologically different, they would not have been able to interbreed with humans.

The result of this analysis is only phase one of many phases of analysis due to take place.  The next tests will involve having the initial test replicated, and conducted on other skulls, so that the results can be compared to see if there are any specific Paracas characteristics. We will update when more details emerge.

Watch the video interview with Brien Foerster revealing new details about the genetic analysis.

Featured Image: An elongated skull found in Paracas

By April Holloway

Comments

My comment is an article from Matin J Clemens:

The Brien Foerster – Paracas Skull Fiasco UPDATED

by Martin J. Clemens · February 6, 2014

[Don’t miss the updates at the bottom]

Ica, Peru is an exciting place, if you happen to be interested in ancient cultures and archaeology. Many old world curiosities have come out of this region of the world, like the Ica Stones for instance, and in fact, one of the most impressive collections of ancient textiles came from Ica. That may seem quite the opposite of exciting to you, but to those of us who study such things, the findings of Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello in the Paracas peninsula of the Pisco province of Ica, have been ground-breaking in terms of understanding at least one lost culture of Peru.

In 1925, Julio Tello, the father of indigenous Peruvian archaeology, felt he was close to exposing the lost Paracas culture, and after a few years in field, he finally cracked the case for the Paracas when in 1927 he uncovered a necropolis in the desert that contained 429 ancient mummy bundles. This find proved the case for the Paracas culture, and it opened up vast avenues for research, including a study of the various patterned textiles used in the burial bundles.

The Paracas people, for whom the entire Paracas peninsula is named, inhabited the coastal region from 800 BC to 100 AD, which makes them one of the oldest known Andean cultures. They had an aptitude for irrigation and water management, and their culture was rich in art and spiritual practices.

This is all well and good, it’s interesting but hardly headline worthy, at least not 87 years after the discovery, but there’s more to this situation than meets the eye.

The Paracas culture were one of the ancient Andean peoples who practised skeletal modification. They would bind the heads of their infants with rope, cloth and wooden boards in order to elongate their skulls. This was done for spiritual or religious reasons, and scholars believe it was an effort to make themselves look more like their deities.

The resulting skull shape does indeed seem otherworldly, and they’ve captured the attention of a great many Fortean researchers and Ancient Alien theorists. World famous Ancient Aliens proponent and author David Childress has long theorised that these elongated skulls are the product of contact between extraterrestrial beings at or before the height of the Paracas culture. He has alternately asserted that the Paracas skulls are either the result of attempts by humans to emulate these alien visitors, who may have been perceived as gods, or that they are the actual aliens.

Owner/curator of the local Paracas History Museum, Juan Navarro, has a collection of some 35 preserved examples of Paracas elongated skulls, as well as many other historical artefacts related to the Paracas culture. The skulls are said to have a cranial capacity of 24-40% larger than a regular human skull, which some claim is evidence that their brains were bigger and they were thus more intelligent than modern humans or humans of the same era. This is not necessarily true, but we’ll get to that.

In 2011, alternative history author Brien Foerster, and self-proclaimed expert on ancient elongated skulls, apparently convinced Navarro to allow several samples to be taken from the museum for analysis. Hair samples, including roots, a tooth, skull bone and skin samples were taken from five different skulls and were given to the late Lloyd Pye, of the Starchild Project fame, who then allegedly passed them on to an unnamed geneticist in Texas for DNA analysis (we can only hope it wasn’t DNA Diagnostics). [See update below]

Well, it seems Foerster would like us all to believe he has preliminary results of that analysis in hand, and through an appearance on JustEnergyRadio, he has released some rather spurious details that on first glance seem quite intriguing, but upon closer inspection, aren’t really all that impressive.

Several bloggers who specialize in the paranormal, have published posts telling of these preliminary conclusions, claiming that the DNA offered unexpected results. Headlines such as ‘Initial DNA analysis of Paracas elongated skulls released – with incredible result’ are giving people the wrong impression of the situation.

Foerster is claiming that mitochondrial DNA was found in at least one sample and that analysis of that DNA showed mutations that don’t conform to mutations known in humans or other animals.

“It had mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.”

What does that mean?

Not much really. At best it’s inconclusive. The DNA would be identified as human, but with anomalies; anomalies that could be caused by any number of contaminants or procedural flaws. It could be that this DNA really does provide unusual results, but the only thing that can be said of it at this point is that it requires further study. The sensational release of unconfirmed and unverifiable information such as this on a radio show, is not worthy of the attention this story is receiving.

The problems don’t stop there, though.

Who is doing this analysis and where/when can we expect peer-reviewed publication of these results? Foerster isn’t telling, which sends up a huge red flag. In the quote above, Foerster refers to himself as doing the “sequencing”. Is this a slip of the tongue? He’s definitely not a geneticist. Secondary to this is the way in which he has “released” these findings, which is reminiscent of Melba Ketchum’s Bigfoot debacle of 2012. This is not the way science is done, though some might argue that he is not a scientist, and not much argument would be found in response.

Some people are buying into what seems to amount to Foerster’s latest effort to sell books, without really thinking about the situation critically. The Paracas elongated skulls are strange, but the features people like Foerster and Childress hold out as evidence that they have an other-worldly origin doesn’t really hold up to close scrutiny.

There are fossilized skulls of a race of proto-humans called the Boskop Man. They were found near a small town in South Africa of the same name, and these skulls sparked a heated debate among anthropologists and archaeologists when they were presented in 1913. They were given as evidence for a species of human that had a significantly larger brain and therefore greater intelligence than contemporary species. The Boskop skulls offered a cranial capacity of 40-50% larger than any other known humanoid species, but it’s been demonstrated that this doesn’t necessarily equate to greater intelligence. More isn’t always more.

The Paracas skulls, aside from looking strange, are anatomically identical to regular skulls, and since we know how and why their culture undertook skeletal modification, it seems credulous to inject conspiracy where none exists to begin with.

Where ever you see this story posted in the next couple weeks, be sure to ask how the poster verified the information Foerster is offering.

UPDATE:

As mentioned above, at the time of writing Brien Foerster hadn’t publicly identified the Texas geneticist that was processing these DNA samples, but Sharon Hill over at Doubtful News, along with some other sleuths, have determined that it is indeed Melba Ketchum of DNA Diagnostics who is performing the analysis. This information places this story squarely into the ‘seriously sketchy’ category, if it wasn’t there already.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:

This story is turning into a circus over at Doubtful News, as Foerster has threatened legal action against Sharon Hill (who used this post as the basis for hers), and has now directly denied the involvement of Melba Ketchum…sort of. He says he is working with her on this project, but that she didn’t work on the samples in question.

On top of everything, it’s been suggested that he may have violated international import/export laws, or at the very least Peruvian export laws, which require credentialed permits to remove any kind of archaeological material from the country. It appears Foerster had no such permit, though this is as yet unconfirmed.

Martin J. Clemens

Author, Editor, Tweetaholic at Martin J. Clemens
Writer, Canadian, Fortean Addict...and lover of science and history. "As for me...I know only, that I know nothing..." I also blog at www.dailygrail.com and mysteriousuniverse.org

Aside from studying the size and shape of the elongated skulls, I am more curious about the brains that were inside of these skillls. Is there research about these brains?

Mr. Foerster has been seeking funds via his fairly fancy and well publicized fund raising campaign even prior to this year old article. I can’t believe that were there such incredible differences as claimed for them, that he wouldn’t have raised the money for carbon 14 and dna sequencing 100 times over by now.  Even were they not as unusual as claimed he could have done it a couple times over.

Dude seems a money grubber, without any credibility what so ever to me.

We have work by Louis Leakey et al in Calico changing paradigns, and others going out on limbs to publish their finds.  Unfocused capital venture clowns like this just leave a bad taste. And become icons or strawmen for “skeptics” who resort to character assasination rather than addressing facts.

There is a link to a badarcheology review elsewhere in these comments I was impressed with….though not having handled nor tested the skulls himself are also unsubstantiated opinions of the author...but seemingly as reasonable as Foerster’s unsubstantiated opinions... if not more so.

That’s not to say the unusual characteristics of the skull aren’t real.  Maybe it’s just the wrong person championing the find.  Every other skull worthy of an article seems to have had someone pop for the couple thousand dollars for a proper carbon dating at least.

     

I don’t know why you have such a bone to pick with Foerster.  He’s the only person I know of attempting to made headway with this enigma.

“I can’t believe that were there such incredible differences as claimed for them, that he wouldn’t have raised the money for carbon 14 and dna sequencing 100 times over by now.”

So you’re saying that because money isn’t being thrown at him, or anyone else publicly, for a proper investigation into these skulls, they must therefore not be interesting enough to merit further study?  Because I’d say that’s regoddamndiculous.

For whatever scholarly qualifications you might think Foerster lacks, he makes up for in pointing out the obvious in a world where the obvious seems obvious to few.

"BELIEVED to date back around 3,000 years"? umm.. if we are doing genetic testing on these skulls, why aren't we carbon-dating them to actually find out how old they are instead of guessing?? seems weird that they haven't even been properly dated yet.

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