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Mummified Head of Newborn Baby with Extremely Elongated Skull Found in Peru

Mummified Head of Newborn Baby with Extremely Elongated Skull Found in Peru

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The mummified elongated head of a newborn baby belonging to the ancient Paracas culture has been found in Peru. The finding is suggestive of a genetically elongated skull, since the process of artificial cranial deformation takes at least 6 months to produce the desired effect. Since more than 300 elongated skulls have been found over the years in Paracas, it is possible there was a race of people living there that were born with this curious feature.

The finding was announced by Brien Foerster of Hidden Inca Tours, who reports that the baby died approximately 2,000 to 2,800 years ago, and was between 0 and 3 months old.  The hair of the baby has been preserved and, like many of the Paracas skulls that have been recovered, is auburn in color, which is inconsistent with the typical black color of the indigenous people. The vertebral column of the baby is further to the back of the skull than normal, which Foerster says “could well indicate an evolutionary adaptation to compensate for the elongated skull”.

The Paracas Skulls

Paracas is a desert peninsula located within Pisco Province on the south coast of Peru.  It is here where 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, some of which date back around 3,000 years.

Elongated skulls on display at Museo Regional de Ica in the city of Ica in Peru

Elongated skulls on display at Museo Regional de Ica in the city of Ica in Peru ( public domain )

The elongated skulls of Paracas in Peru caused a stir in 2014 when a geneticist that carried out preliminary DNA testing reported that they have mitochondrial DNA “with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far”. A second round of DNA testing reported by L.A. Marzulli and completed in 2016, was just as controversial – the skulls tested were shown to have European and Middle Eastern Origin. These surprising results change the known history about how the Americas were populated.

Strange Features of the Paracas 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 other features that are characteristic of a regular human skull. Yet the Paracas elongated skulls do contain features that differ from a typical human skull, including the different positioning of the foramen magnum, a very pronounced zygomatic arch (cheek bone), different eye sockets and no sagittal suture, which is a connective tissue joint between the two parietal bones of the skull. This suggests that that the elongation of the Paracas skulls may have been natural and not artificially produced.

An artist’s impression based on a Paracas skull.

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

In an interview with Ancient Origins in 2014, Brien Foerster explained:

“Cranial deformation is known to have occurred in many different parts of the world, most prominently about 2,000 years ago, from the Middle East, even Melanesia, and Central America, but because I have been intimately engaged with the elongated skulls at Paracas, and the Paracas culture in general that died out 2,000 years ago, I have had the opportunity to look in person at numerous of the skulls, as well as hundreds which are in collections all around the world. And some of them I would say, possibly between 5 – 10% of them, do not show obvious signs of cradle boarding or other forms of cranial deformation, which generally tends to create flat surfaces, either in the forehead or the back of the head. Some of these literally look like they are natural in appearance.”

An elongated skull from Paracas, with its characteristic auburn hair.

An elongated skull from Paracas, with its characteristic auburn hair. Credit: Brien Foerster

Elongated Skull in Newborns Rules Out Artificial Cranial Deformation

Artificial cranial deformation is usually carried out on an infant, when the skull is at its most pliable. In a typical case, head-binding begins approximately a month after birth and continues for at least six months, but usually longer. Therefore, the discovery of a newborn baby with an elongated skull suggests that artificial cranial deformation did not take place, since a greater length of time is needed to create the shape changes to the skull.

The mummified elongated head of a newborn from Peru. Arrows point to the eye sockets and the mouth.

The mummified elongated head of a newborn from Peru. Arrows point to the eye sockets and the mouth. Credit: Brien Foerster / Hidden Inca Tours.

Researcher Igor Gontcharov reports on the discovery of other babies, and even fetuses, that have been found with elongated skulls.   In 1851, Rivero and Tschudi wrote in Peruvian Antiquities: “We ourselves have observed the same fact [of the absence of signs of artificial pressure – IG] in many mummies of children of tender age, who, although they had cloths about them, were yet without any vestige or appearance of pressure of the cranium. More still: the same formation of the head presents itself in children yet unborn; and of this truth we have had convincing proof in the sight of a foetus, enclosed in the womb of a mummy of a pregnant woman, which we found in a cave of Huichay, two leagues from Tarma, and which is, at this moment, in our collection.”

Rivero and Tschudi also refer to two elongated infant skulls that were discovered in Peru and taken to England in 1838, where they were presented to the Museum of the Devon and Cornwall Natural History Society.

Gontcharov concludes that: “The evidence of elongated skulls present in fetuses and children had lead Rivero and Tschudi, Bellamy, Graves and others to a hypothesis that these skulls belonged to an extinct race of people, who left their legacy on the populations who succeeded them as a practice of artificial cranial deformation”.

Brien Foerster says that DNA testing of the baby’s remains is presently under consideration.

Top image: The mummified elongated head of a newborn from Peru. Credit: Brien Foerster / Hidden Inca Tours.

By April Holloway



I live in Niigata Japan and there is currently (May 2018) an exhibit of Peruvian mummies and a trio of elongated skulls in Niigata City. I travelled there last week to view the skulls and was totally shocked at how insubstantial-looking they were compared to a normal modern human skull. They just seem so delicately formed, smallish and eggshell thin and all had slightly over large eye-sockets in comparison with the rest of the facial features. One was an adult and there were two children, but they still struck me as being surprisingly "lightweight" looking. Also, in college we were taught to measure the internal volume of a skull by filling it with rice which can then be poured into a pyrex beaker and compared with human averages in volume value. Having personally done this numerous times in class it was plain to see at a glance that, if a similar procedure were done with the elongated skulls, the brain mass volume inside each elongated skull would have been far in excess of a normal human.
Beside the display was a GIGANTIC sign explaining in Japanese that the skulls were shaped this way due to boarding, which seems utterly untrue to me. These skulls seemed to have been very delicately shaped "from within" so to speak.
I attempted to photograph the skulls but was immediately accosted by a guard posted beside them. I was then told, "Visitors are allowed to photograph anything else on display, but not these."
The fact that they were human remains was clearly not the reason, as evidenced by the fact that there were many other "normal" remains and mummies displayed around the exhibit which one could take pictures of all one liked. I came away harboring a distinct suspicion that the exhibit was some kind of disinformation whitewash operation being staged to explain away skulls whose existence is increasingly inconvenient to mainstream historical and anthropological models.

BS. Period.

'Nuff said.

BTW, the photos in the above article CLEARLY demonstrate that the Paracas skulls do indeed posses sagital sutures.

According to me there is deformation or any artificial deformation. How can one add mass to the bone if a head is elongated the sides will become narrow. People head elongated heads long back, and as I looked at old carvings in India only the womens head looked elongated liked puffed and the men looked just normal.

Roberto Peron's picture

A different race/species of human is my bet considering this elongated skull is of a newborn.  Maybe some sort of genetic mutation?  This all needs to be investigated further using every means at our disposal to determine just who or what these people were.  Great article!


Factors could be many' I like ancient alien theories of mix dna.

aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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