Foerster, Pye and Ketchum collaborate: Paracas elongated skull exposed! (UPDATE)

NEW (09-Feb-2014): Brien Foerster has contacted me saying that Melba Ketchum is not the geneticist behind the released results.

See more details in the update below.

On the south coast of Peru in 1928, Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello, discovered a collection of remains of individuals with unusually elongated skulls. Cranial deformation is a widely known practice where the skull is intentionally deformed by binding the head with wood or cloth to achieve an elongate or flat shape. And then this story gets weird…


Initial DNA analysis of Paracas elongated skull released – with incredible results | Ancient Origins.

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.

Samples of these skulls (hair, including roots, tooth, bone and skin) housed at the Paracas History Museum were taken. Here’s the kicker… they were sent, not to a reputable scientist or geneticist, but to Lloyd Pye (now deceased), founder of the Starchild Project who believed in alien hybrids. Guess who he gave them to for testing? (This is rich.) Our favorite Nobel-wishing genetic tester, friend of the forest people, Dr. Melba Ketchum. Ketchum has made our feature posts as the orchestrator of the Bigfoot DNA testing boondoggle. In February of 2013, she self-published a paper (after it was rejected by mainstream journals) that her collection of supposed Bigfoot genetic samples showed the North American Sasquatch was a hybrid of an unknown ape and a human mother. The findings were roundly rejected. See the chronicles of Ketchum here.

She had hinted in the past she was working on elongate skulls. A few of our readers were able to flesh out this story.

Here is what was posted by Brien Foerster, the lead researcher, from the person who did the genetic testing:

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 “geneticist”, unnamed in this piece, gushes about how the findings are at odds with the evolutionary tree as we know it. Hmm. Where is the paper? This kind of “groundbreaking” stuff gives soundly skeptical folks serious pause. It sounds like woo and it’s been making the rounds on such mystery-mongering outlets. It didn’t appear in any scientific context AT ALL. [Giant red flags go up.]

Fortean writer Martin Clemens could see something was odd about this (not in a good way) and wrote this piece today:

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.

Clemens clearly picked up on the fact that this is unprofessional behavior and we should CERTAINLY withhold judgement regardless of the hype. This story is getting too much attention and too little verification.

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.

In two places, Clemens notes he HOPES the “geneticist” was not Ketchum but the way this is being presented to the public is strangely reminiscent of Melba’s way of making an end run around the scientific community. Ah, Martin, your senses serve you well – because it is indeed Melba’s handiwork. We find this via a few routes that connect Foerster to Melba. It’s admitted here:

The head of our genetics study, who wished to remain anonymous until now, is Dr. Melba Ketchum.

Foerster is involved alternative history interpretation. [Removed]

UPDATE: (11-Feb-2014) Genesis Quest has denied all involvement with Brien Foerster and Melba Ketchum via personal communication to DN. They once had some relationship with Foerster but I’ve found mention that in December 2012, he is no longer associated with them. I have removed reference to them as requested. DN apologizes for the error. 

This scenario fits with Melba’s unscientific agenda. Her interpretation of Bigfoot DNA has been tinged with religious (remember that ancient Bigfoot were the Nephilim?) and anti-evolution undertones. I have to admit I missed making this connection that was actually revealed on this very site back in December on the post about Lloyd Pye’s death from blogger SeesDifferent (see comments). On Sees’ OTL,S blog, (well-known for getting the inside scoop on Bigfootery) we find that Foerster posted this on his Facebook page on February 3 (Foerster quotes in blue):

IMPORTANT DNA UPDATE (not of this skull, but another Paracas): NOT HUMAN?
it had mtDNA 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.. 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.

Of course, it’s a marketing tool; we learn in the comments where we can buy Foerster’s elongated skull book and sign up for his nephilim tour.

And any of you should come on this tour if you want to learn the latest info.

or perhaps attend the ancient aliens lecture circuit:

The first video of the skull in the photo will be on Watchers 8, by LA Marzulli, in June, along with carbon 14, hair analysis, and DNA results…

When queried by a commenter about peer review, he mumbles

Peer review will of course be considered, but this information belongs to THE WORLD; not a few academics…

Of course it belongs to the world…. that’s why he’s selling it…instead of having the world get it for free….oh, wait….

Here is Foerster’s Hidden Inca Tours site – a research travel group. Foerster has no (?) scientific academic credentials though he calls himself an “expert”. His bio notes he has an “Honours Bachelor Of Science degree” (whatever that is) [Ed. note – see comments] but took up carving and sculpture full time.

He writes for the Graham Hancock website as well. And he is the author of several books. Most notably, this one:



Now don’t you all wonder if this will be the next paper published in Melba’s sham journal DeNovo?! Shall we take bets?

Alternative history, ancient aliens, self-proclaimed experts, nephilim (which apparently is too far of a reach according to Foerster), Bigfoot, the Bible, a money grab… all rolled into one. This is ANOTHER circus.

Thanks Martin, Jeb Card, SeesDifferent – you guys are ON THE BALL!

Ed. note – I think there is more to this. It deserves a more thorough treatment than I can give, please add additional links and info or corrections in the comments.

8-Feb-2014 Minor edits made for grammar mistakes. No sentences or meaning was changed.

UPDATE (09-Feb-2014): Mr. Foerster has indicated to me, on his Facebook page, and in a followup interview that the geneticist quoted is not Ketchum. However, there is still admission that she is involved, with different samples. The quote is “These results are not from Melba Ketchum; she has other samples.”

That doesn’t help the situation much since anonymity of the geneticist is a no-no in presenting your results. So, while Ketchum may not be officially presenting results, the fact that she is involved is damning for credibility. Unfortunately, the whole thing still lacks all credibility. This clarification in no way changes the impropriety of announcing results this way – extremely unscientific and highly questionable. It’s not worth serious consideration until a paper is submitted and peer review is conducted.

He notes that he released these preliminary findings for those who have been following the project. The official results are forthcoming but may take months. (Drafts and journal submissions sometimes take a YEAR.)

Of course there are those that will attack “initial findings” and demand a more thorough examination and peer review; and this will come. However, my release of the initial results was made for those that have been following this story for 2 years, and have given support, either financially or in spirit.

Improper. Science by press release and leakage is bad form and is almost ALWAYS a bust because it’s the conclusion from the researcher(s) who are biased in this role. That’s why peer review exists, to point out the problems that were missed by investigators who are too close to the subject to be objective. Happens all the time. Peer review is CRITICAL for eliminating garbage. But instead, Foerster has chosen to whip up attention in the public sphere. Smart if you are looking for support of all kinds but death to scientific credibility.

As a reminder, I linked to a piece above that connects this story to the Nephilim. As I noted, Foerster does not agree. But I would like to make clear that he has not explicitly connected this to religion, though you see others have. One problem we have with these types of news stories are those who speculate to fantastic conclusions – aliens, angels, paranormal, etc. This is why we try to note where these stories are going in the mainstream and head it off with a note of extreme caution. (Not that it helps… I don’t think those folks off on the fringe path are reading this site.)

Addition: A good explanation of the Starchild and elongated skulls by Ben Radford here.

Addition (16-Feb-2014) The Bad Archaeology blog The Paracas skulls: aliens, an unknown hominid species or cranial deformation? confirms the focus of our story – “There are so many problems with the statement posted by Brien Foerster, that it is difficult to see why anyone would take it seriously.”:

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…

Editors Note: Dear Pye defenders, please do not comment, your claims that Pye was correct on the Starchild skull will not be posted because that has NEVER been shown to be true. 

  70 comments for “Foerster, Pye and Ketchum collaborate: Paracas elongated skull exposed! (UPDATE)

  1. February 6, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    As you mentioned, I WAS really hoping this didn’t involve Ketchum, but I’m not entirely surprised it does.

  2. spookyparadigm
    February 6, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    This is precisely where I see the “paranormal” side of occulture going these days, a synergy of: anti-elite conspiracy theory of the sort mainstreamed into right-wing American politics though with some aspects of cross-over (especially on the libertarian side on topics including hallucinogens, unless you can come up with a better explanation for why Graham Hancock and Nephilim-chasing Ketchum would be on the same team); radical right-leaning religion-informed if not directly related to specific religious ideologies, with an emphasis on some versions of Creationism and/or attention to End Times; and a focus on more esoteric and exotic “entities” and “phenomena” that can be more easily tied into the supernatural (djinn, shadow people, nephilim/giants and anunaki).

    The fascinating aspect of this is that it is all grassroots manifestation of the larger political and cultural situation. When we look at larger elements of this stew such as social conservatives, antigovernment libertarians, antiscience populists, etc., it is easy for many politicos to suggest it is all orchestrated by corporations or large political organizations and forces. And some of that may be true. But the bleeding edge, where these larger forces swirl into the occulture underground, the big players would never want anything to do with them, they’re a wholely organic result of the larger political scene.

    That reality undermines both the mainstream claims that “culture wars” are just distractions or shadow plays, and the more esoteric claims that these movements are control mechanisms to move the culture. I’m thinking for example of Vallee’s Messengers of Deception, a classic work of New Wave ufology that is echoed by some of the more thoughtful ufologists/conspiracy theorists of GenX, which suggests intelligence community or other spooky human actors being involved in the rise and fall of occulture groups, esoteric organizations, flying saucer cults, and the like. Vallee explores the idea of these movements growing into fascist movements, and I suspect this may make more sense in the European context he was exploring.

    But the synergy we see here, that’s C2C territory. In fact, it’s _exactly_ C2C territory. And think about the audience, the advertisers, the context, and other aspects of C2C in relation to the first paragraph of my comment.

  3. Graham
    February 6, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    I understand exactly what you are saying, and it disturbs me, it would be even more disturbing if they bought out footage of the fourth Indiana Jones film to support this nonsense, but, what is C2C?

  4. February 6, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    Wow. I cannot believe how much pseudoscience one group of people can be involved with. This is like a modern X-Files episode. Ketchum et. al are headed to a season finale that I cannot wait to see.

  5. idoubtit
    February 6, 2014 at 9:36 PM

    Really? Cause I can sure do without more of this rubbish…

  6. spookyparadigm
    February 6, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Coast to Coast AM

  7. February 7, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    Lloyd Pye and Melba Ketchem? Please tell me Billy Meier is also somehow invilved!

  8. S.
    February 7, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I find it very interesting that mainstream science is so opposed to alternate possiblities in our history and timeline. There are so many unknowns, fragments of ancient cultures that we have no information on. To many coincidences in reference to ancient building techniques globally. Pyramids on every continent and mainstream history tells us there was no contact between these cultures. Someone needs to answer these intriguing mysteries. Not endorsing Ketchem & Pye…….but someone needs to really question our current theorems extensively.

  9. spookyparadigm
    February 7, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    S., if you wanted to build a large monument, what shape would be simpler than a “pyramid” (a term that is loosely defined)? It is a hill of solid material, sometimes dirt, sometimes cut stone, sometimes a rubble core with cut stone finishing. It is notable that as architectural skills improve and more energy is captured in areas of complex states, people stop building big stone or earthen mounds, and take up more complex structures (massive temple complexes, cathedrals, etc.). For all the amazing aspects of Inka architecture, and it is amazing, they couldn’t build true second story buildings (there are some examples, but like the multi-story pyramid at Sayil or Edzna, they are single-story structures built in a terrace up the side of a hill or artificial rubble core pyramid).

    Not only that, they look mountains, which typically have substantial ideological importance. We know that Maya pyramids were considered witz mountains, as they tell us so in their texts and iconography.

    Like so many “mysteries” of the past, they stop being mysteries if one wants to take the time to examine them a bit. And in the era of the internet, this isn’t hard. This link

    provides vast amounts of information that Maya archaeologists fifty years ago would have killed for, above all else all the information on Maya writing, the dictionaries, the iconography, etc.. It’s freely available, you could use it to become an avocational scholar of Classic Mesoamerican civilization.

    And yet ancient aliens. Or Atlantis. Or a “super civilization.” Or lost tribes. Or whatever.

  10. drunkenmonkey
    February 7, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    “Like so many “mysteries” of the past, they stop being mysteries if one wants to take the time to examine them a bit.”

    So we have all the answers? Including answers for, “Sacsayhuaman (also known as Saksaq Waman) the walled complex near the old city of Cusco, Baalbek, etc.

    Many of these mysteries, after examining them, are even more mysterious.

  11. February 7, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    What? N one has said it yet? Okay, let me be the first:


  12. idoubtit
    February 7, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    I don’t agree things become more “mysterious”. We come up with answers that lead to better questions. There is knowledge gained in the process. But it does not necessarily become easier.

    But many of these pseudoarcheology things are done by those who don’t have substantial qualifications and who entertain unrealistic, unsupported ideas. That’s not good science. Sometimes it’s not science at all.

  13. February 7, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Physics is universal.

    It dictates the similarities in buildings around the world. We do have evidence of how the ancient civilizations built theses structures. They left behind archeological evidence, as well as descriptions of how they were built.

    Ultimately, its not a mind bending concept. I’m sure our ancient ancestors were smart enough to understand the basic principles of stacking rocks on top of each other. That’s not to poo-poo the grandeur of their achievements, but at the end of the day it doesn’t take an advanced intelligence to understand the underlying principle.

    If anything we should be marveling at the logistics that these structures required.

  14. spookyparadigm
    February 7, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    There is not any significant mystery to Inka stoneworking. Quarries with partially worked stones have been found, and experimental archaeology has shown how the stoneworking both could be done technically, and how it would work with the organization of mita’ labor. I won’t speak to Baalbek as I know much less about that.

    There are indeed mysteries regarding the past. But they usually aren’t the ones that mystery mongers and their customers are interested in. Actually, it isn’t even that sensical much of the time. The mystery mongers are usually lazy, and simply rip-off old Victorian “mysteries” and then update them a little bit (which is why so many of the mysteries involve monumental architecture and complex societies that are now well-understood but weren’t a century ago; these were the topics of interest at the dawn of archaeology). Their customers aren’t particularly sold on any specific mystery, they instead react to the “tone” that the mystery mongers are good at achieving.

    Yeah, that’s super-pessimistic, and probably a bit rude for me to say, but at some point I get tired of people just not listening. But I’ve increasingly realized that there just isn’t much to be said for reaching across to those already steeped in pseudoarchaeology. Understand the motivations that make pseudoarchaeology popular, and perhaps use that to try and get real information out there. But regarding those already in the camp, you’re battling an emotional battle that often has little specifically to do with archaeology (or UFOs or cryptids or ghosts or whatever). I know that puts me at odds with some here who value the outreach to the para community, but it just doesn’t seem very worth it as the goalposts always seem to move to fit the deeper needs that are rooted more in issues of identity, authority, and experience than in issues of science, logic, or learning.

  15. spookyparadigm
    February 7, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    I misspelled mit’a, btw. Quechua is not my thing.

  16. Chris Howard
    February 7, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    With regard to the universal building of pyramids.

    It seems to me that the underlying principle of stacking stones on top of one another would be universal, because the laws of physics are universal.

    Also, as I understand it we do have a good understanding of how these structures were built. Both archeology and by the documentation, in all its various forms, that was left behind.

  17. Chris Howard
    February 7, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    I wonder if I can restate my point, yet again. Sorry. :-/

  18. Kate Mahoney
    February 7, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    As a complete layperson who stumbled onto this through Facebook, I was already deeply suspicious of this ‘Paracas Elongated Skull Exposed’ issue before I read the above article. I can’t believe that any rational human wouldn’t notice a) the complete lack of any proper scientific references b) the lack of citation of any qualifications of any of the people in the videos published by GQ and their special friend Brien (who spells Brian like that, anyway?) and c) the obvious scam-related inflated claims and request for money up front. Classic scam – classic.

  19. skeptical57
    February 7, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    I am surprised the broader scientific community is not clamoring to examine these skulls (or have they?). I get it that the person conducting the DNA analysis has questionable creditability. So rather then throwing stones at what is being done and how it is being promoted to make money, would it not be more constructive and informative for a regional university to get involved? For a similar kind of story, I have a lot of respect for Garry Nolan studying the little humanoid creature. While Garry has made press releases that this is a human (or at least has a human mother), it was never clear to me what percentage of the DNA was successfully sequenced. The mtDNA results showed that the mother was human. What about the father? What genetic mutations caused such an unusual phenotype? This story appeared to just vanish, with the data not being made available to the broader scientific community (as far as I know). Perhaps, Garry is just doing an extensive analysis before he publishes. All of the anomalies of nature should be studied in great detail. Who knows, we might learn something new.

  20. stanton5
    February 8, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    a) Please be aware that “mainstream science” is not a free-for-all, it is a meritocracy. If you want your alternative possibility to be taken seriously among the scientific community, do your science, do your research, show your science, show your research, and hope that your findings survive peer review. If you are not willing to do or show your science or research or are not willing to participate in peer-review, or not even willing to be honest, you will never be recognized in “mainstream science” in the exact same way you will never ever win a majong tournament by throwing a soapbox car at the other majong players.

    b) Scientists question current theories all the expletive time. Questioning and challenging current theories is how you do scientific investigation: How do you think scientific progress is made in the first bloody place to begin with? Science God sends the Science Faeries to grant grants to scientists in exchange for blind obedience and virgin sacrifices?

    c) The reason why we have so many pyramids is because pyramids are very easy structures to build, what with them being literal glorified mounds. And yes, these pyramids ARE coincidences what with each pyramid-building cultures’ pyramid having distinctly different purposes.

  21. stanton5
    February 8, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    If anything, to imply that the ancient peoples had to rely on aliens and magic to both build their monuments AND give them a reason build anything in the first place is not only infinitely more pessimistic, but also immensely insulting, as it not only directly accuses ancient people of being too incompetent to do anything without assistance from unexplainably magical beings, but also directly accuses the ancients of being too unimaginative to do anything without prompting.

  22. Brien Foerster
    February 8, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    This “article” is filled with so many errors I do not know where to begin; perhaps get a lawyer for both defamation of character as well as liable. This is not a scientific report by the author, nor is it journalism…

  23. February 8, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    An Honours Bachelors of Science degree, if he matriculated in Canada, for example (and maybe other nations, I have no idea) indicates he got a four year degree instead of a three year degree which is also an option there.

  24. idoubtit
    February 8, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    I give my sources. Feel free to comment on what ever you feel is wrong. As I note at the end, I felt sure there was more to it as I am just getting information as cited. That obviously could be incorrect.

  25. idoubtit
    February 8, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    Why would samples have been given to these researchers, as I understand it, and not reputable ones that would publish in a journal and verify? This is EXTREMELY bad form.

  26. idoubtit
    February 8, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    OK. I’d not heard of that reference before.

  27. February 8, 2014 at 10:36 PM


  28. idoubtit
    February 8, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    We raise logical questions here and call out faulty information. This story was highly questionable. I would greatly appreciate sources but threats are NOT a good way to approach inquiry of completely extraordinary claims.

  29. idoubtit
    February 8, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Mr. Foerster: There is ZERO evidence for either defamation of character or libel. I am entitled to opine on the information I cited. However, threats are a way of coming off as having something to hide. Please present any links or sources – see our page under “About” titled “Were we wrong about something?”.

  30. February 8, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    Of course Ketchum is involved. It’s extremely likely that Brien Foerster exported the samples illegally (to be in compliance with Peruvian law you need an export permit from INC, the the ministry of culture. Permits are issued rarely, and only to credentialed archaeologists), and he may have obtained the skulls equally unlawfully, or at least unethically. Many of the elongated skulls in his possession were purchased from looters – at one point he posted a youtube video showing one such transaction taking place – no reputable lab is going anywhere near any of this.

    Not that that’s an issue. This isn’t about science, or digging for the truth, it’s about the personal enrichment of Brien through the sale of his books and tours.

  31. February 8, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Hey Brien, what’s your membership number of COARPE? You can’t legally export archaeological samples from Peru without being a member, yet I can’t seem to find you listed on their website:

  32. February 8, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    To me, this echoes what some at CSICOP stated years ago: that this is a blatantly racist attempt to undermine the genius and cultural contributions of the indigenous peoples. These benighted primitives could not have possibly created such architecture or things like potatoes, corn, etc. They had to be taught to do it by aliens, so the story goes. Either that or they had to interbreed with them to create a race of genuises. Sadly, some of the natives cooperate with this because of a misguided sense that this will restore their cultural pride and heritage.

    Also, I am reminded of John Keel’s brilliant observation on how pop culture memes influence the “look” and expectations of supposed alien beings. Those who study this in depth will know of what I speak, especially how radically the once myriad variety of alleged encountered aliens suddenly became the monotonous “Greys” and “Greens” after the early 1960s due to shows like “The Outer Limits.” In this case, I find it interesting the following stills taken from the 1968 British science-fiction movie “5 Million Years To Earth”(UK: Quatermass and The Pit) where an ancient alien spacecraft from Mars is unearthed and it is subsequently revealed and its long dead passengers were part of an effort to alter earth and early primates. In the scene of discovery, unusual primates skeletons are found with the ship and reconstructed:

  33. idoubtit
    February 8, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    Speaking of Foerster and Ketchum: “until such time as she does [peer review], and has her and Foerster’s “research” published in a reputable scientific journal, I think we’re well within our rights to ask them both to shut the hell up.”

  34. February 8, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    If he wants to set the record straight, he’s got every opportunity to do so. Or, better yet, he could actually publish his “results” properly, and all our criticisms would go away.

    Well, OK…maybe not ALL of them, but you get my point.

  35. Ken
    February 8, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    How does a bird learn to build a nest or a fish learn to swim. We are all human with innate possibilities. Pyramids are just one
    part of these possibilities.

  36. spookyparadigm
    February 9, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    Both cranial deformation and ancient Andean genetics have been studied by actual scientific investigators. Here’s the first page of results from Google Scholar for cranial deformation, one can also go look for studies of genetics (there is one, not on cranially deformed individuals, but on changes in genetic diversity in the early colonial era in northern Peru, in a volume I edited and was published last year). And for many of those invested in the original story, that honest, competent, researches have actually studied such skulls won’t matter, because this isn’t about the skulls, or Peru. Woo claims such as pseudoarchaeology are generally about some kind of identity perfomance. When confronted with actual research, many of those who are “interested” in the issue will lose interest, and move on to the next “mystery” as someone has framed it for them.

    Diseases of the Skull in Pre-Columbian South American Mummies

    Intentional Cranial Deformation: A Disappearing Form of Self‐mutilation

    Effects of different kinds of cranial deformation on the incidence of wormian bones;jsessionid=48B1AFB06CE805CDA5C244F5354C2961.f03t03?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

    Exploring artificial cranial deformation using elliptic Fourier analysis of procrustes aligned outlines

    Cranial Vault Modification and Ethnicity in Middle Horizon San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

    New World Cranial Deformation Practices: Historical Implications for Pathophysiology of Cognitive Impairment in Deformational Plagiocephaly

    Tiwanaku ‘colonization’: Bioarchaeological implications for migration in the Moquegua Valley, Peru

  37. Chris Howard
    February 9, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    New bumper sticker: “Sasquatch’s Star Children built my pyramid.”

  38. John O
    February 9, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    South Africa also has an Honours degree. It is like a Bachelors’ except it’s not just coursework and exams, it’s also got a research project requirement. So it’s much tougher than 3rd year. In fact, my honours year was definitely tougher than my Masters’, which is technically a higher degree, but in practice took much less work.

  39. Alex
    February 9, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Where I am in Canada, an Honours Bachelors of Science or BSc Honors is a 4 year degree, same as a BSc. However the Honors path provides more training in one specific (selected) subject, and the student is expected to hold a higher academic standard. This is usually the sort of thing that those who are going into research or on to a higher degree might pursue.

  40. February 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Even if we take it at face value that someone found mitochondrial DNA mutations that perhaps caused skull elongation, then that’s all we have here. A mutation that shows up for however many generations until there are no more descendants of the original mother with the mutation. This casts doubt on the validity of the speculation that these people may be “very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans”. No, it suggests that they are merely homo sapiens with an mtDNA mutation.

  41. Brian
    February 9, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    It smacks more of modern man being really incompetent, to be honest..

  42. spookyparadigm
    February 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    “Many of the elongated skulls in his possession were purchased from looters – at one point he posted a youtube video showing one such transaction taking place”

    Seriously? I did not want to speculate on the source of the remains without information, but if that is the case, just wow.

    I did see he’s tied to a museum in the region, but while I knew of its existence, I don’t know much about it.

  43. February 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Now that…is extremely interesting. Violating international import/export laws, possibly antiquities smuggling, I wonder what Foerster has to say on this issue.

  44. spookyparadigm
    February 9, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I would note that in broader terms, Peru has increasingly paid attention to the issue of credentials when it comes to archaeological permits, after some controversies regarding work in the Supe Valley. I do not work in the Andes, but I have friends who do, and it is also an important case in terms of archaeological practice in Latin America.

  45. idoubtit
    February 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    This video by Foerster contains a connection to Nephilim researchers who produce The Watchers series. See about 4:47 in.

  46. Adachi
    February 9, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    “…you will never be recognized in “mainstream science” in the exact same way you will never ever win a majong tournament by throwing a soapbox car at the other majong players.”

    I think that is the most lighthearted and enjoyably-picturesque analogy I have ever run across! 8-D

  47. Seumas MacAoigh
    February 9, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    How would one go about getting peer review without an initial release of findings?
    Doesn’t this open peer review to anyone who is interested in debunking the findings, as well as those seeking to confirm them?

  48. February 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Yes really. Another video shows Brien inexpertly unwrapping a textile from around another recently acquired skull. As for the museum, it’s not a museum in the sense you’re probably thinking of, it’s more like a private collection, one which has been added to greatly in the last few years, and not from properly conducted archaeological excavations.

    A highlight of Brien’s tours involves a photo op with the elongated skulls. His FB page regularly shows photos of his guests holding skulls and grinning for the camera. That’s not generally considered an ethical practice, but it sure does help bring in the rubes.

  49. SB
    February 9, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    I’m not sure if this has already been mentioned, but just wanted to point out that sagittal craniosynostosis is fairly common and could explain everything about the skulls. This is fusion of the sagittal suture, resulting in elongated skulls and the appearance of a single parietal bone (the sagittal suture separates the left and right parietals). Much more plausible than “aliens!”.

  50. conehead
    February 9, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    Darn that Foerster and his pesky band of oddballs! What’ll they think of next?

  51. February 10, 2014 at 2:05 AM

    And the single parietal bone and increased cranial capacity?

  52. idoubtit
    February 10, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    That’s the point, no “initial release”. You get your ducks in a row and publish. Instead this looks like a teaser in order to get more funding for something that is not being presented in a credible manner.

  53. DNADEB
    February 11, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    You hit the NAIL on the HEAD!

  54. Jon Stuart
    February 24, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    If I remember correctly, sampling of ancient mummies from Egypt showed traces of the coca plant (only available from south america) showing there were connections, pyramids were probably no more than our modern skyscrapers, just ways of showing off.

  55. April 26, 2014 at 5:36 AM

    Keeping a skeptic mind is ok, but not when you talk and give opinions about reputation or about how much one’s findings may be trustworthy depending on his/her scientific or academic curriculum.
    Not all scientists are interested in academic publishing, or in publishing at all…
    i wondwer what would you think of engineers at Westinghouse, leaders in the world of plasma technologies, who have never published an academic paper.
    That is to say, the fact that such statements come from someone that is not involved in the academic wordl or hasn’t pubished anything doesn’t make them lies.
    And on the other side, try ask yourself: if someone makes an analysis, let’s say correct, and tries publishing it but no one accepts it (no matter the reason), what should he do? Where should he publish it if not in mediatic websites or specialistic non official chanels?

  56. Les Anwyl
    May 1, 2014 at 3:02 AM

    I can’t believe any rational human wouldn’t notice the apparent anomalies between some of the paraccas skulls, normal human skulls and normal skulls which have been manipulated by head binding. There is also some pretty weird mummies; maybe its all just disease, but there must have been a lot of weird diseases at that time.
    The specimens are on public display; I have just seen them. They are worthy of deeper investigation.

  57. Les Anwyl
    May 1, 2014 at 3:05 AM

    Have reputable researchers been interested in this?

  58. Terence
    May 6, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    “I can’t believe any rational human wouldn’t notice the apparent anomalies between some of the paraccas skulls, normal human skulls and normal skulls which have been manipulated by head binding.”

    No one is denying the unusual shape of the skulls. But that means squat to actual scientific findings. It’s also really bizarre that there are colored ‘sprites’ of electrical energy emitted from the tops of storm clouds. But that fact that it’s odd doesn’t mean I can conclude that aliens are making them with cloud machines.

    “They are worthy of deeper investigation.”

    And therein lies the problem. No reputable scientist has done such an investigation. I don’t know enough about the topic to say if it’s a lack of interest or being shut out by the ‘museum’ from actually performing such a study, but you can conclude precisely nothing about them without proper study aside from ‘they look weird.’

  59. Terence
    May 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Aside from the ethics, taking an archaeological or paleontological find away from its context without documenting said context throws away a big chunk, perhaps even a majority, of what could be discovered about a specimen. Irresponsible seems a wholly inadequate word for it.

  60. Terence
    May 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    The Wikipedia article on it offers an even more fascinating detail.

    “In 6 to 11% of the children born with coronal synostosis, more often involving the bilateral cases than unilateral, other members of the family have been reported that were also born with the same condition.[18] This finding is highly suggestive of a genetic cause, which has possibly been found in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) and TWIST genes.[18]”

    In other words if you have a series of families with this trait that are interbreeding or even one particularly genetically prolific family it’s entirely plausible that a large number of children within that population would express the condition. Throw in the fact that unusual physical traits often become the focal point of either veneration or taboo, and you can see how you may find the remains of many such individuals in a similar area.

    It’s speculation, to be sure, but a plausible hypothesis

  61. Terence
    May 6, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Here’s an interesting article on the deformations found in Paracas and how they differ from cranial deformations in surrounding areas. It seems the people of Paracas took unusual measures to achieve various forms of deformation that have been studied including a note that at least one of the forms of Paracas deformation involves larger dimensions of the skull suggesting a process through which this was achieved. It also notes signs of healed fractures indicating more elaborate (and it sounds like painful) approaches to the process that might achieve the end result of Foerster’s specimens. Granted the document doesn’t specifically reference Foerster’s specimens. But given the details in this document (with references), the fact that cranial deformation was not only known, but commonplace in and around Paracas, and the lack of any direct study, the simplest answer would be a novel form of cranial deformation. Obviously that, as well as any other proposed theory, would require further investigation of Foerster’s specimens.

  62. Terence
    May 6, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    A. Westinghouse has actually published quite a few papers on their designs and findings.
    B. They’ve also issued patents for them, which document their findings.
    C. They are engineers primarily interested in building things. This is supposedly an archaeological project and would be expected to be conducted in a way similar to other archaeological projects (that is, through careful documentation, study, and publishing of papers in legitimate journals of archaeology).
    D. “the fact that such statements come from someone that is not involved in the academic wordl (sic) or hasn’t pubished (sic) anything doesn’t make them lies.” – Perhaps not lies, but also not science. Granted there is a chance, far fetched as it may be, that careful archaeological techniques were employed. But even then the expectation would be that those findings would be submitted for review in a form that could be reproduced in further study or submitted to further scrutiny. Foerster is distinctly withholding any information that would allow such scrutiny.
    E. ” if someone makes an analysis, let’s say correct, and tries publishing it but no one accepts it…” – Your hypothetical is invalid in this case. There’s no evidence Foerster has ever pursued peer review. In fact, his statements suggest he may have no intent of ever doing so.

  63. Les Anwyl
    May 6, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    At no stage did I make assertions that these were aliens or alien human hybrids.

    I have yet to see one of Foersters’ videos where he makes these or similar claims; what he does is to draw attention to unexplained phenomenon, ask questions and raise interesting though sometimes far fetched possibilities.

    My point is that there are some very interesting and unusual anomalies here that do not fit in with the accepted paradigm, and mainstream archaeology seems reluctant to investigate them. If you believe that anomalies mean squat to scientific investigation, then we have different interpretations of scientific method.
    Rather than cast aspersions on people with open and imaginative minds, how about we see some real research with reputable DNA testing. Any takers?

    Great discoveries and new ideas are not always made by people with the are qualifications to do so.

  64. Terence
    May 7, 2014 at 1:53 AM

    “At no stage did I make assertions that these were aliens or alien human hybrids.”

    I never said YOU did. But a lot of people are. And even if you don’t go all the way to aliens, there are a lot of people who hang their paranormal hats on the lack of good evidence in cases like this. None of this was a personal attack against you.

    “mainstream archaeology seems reluctant to investigate them. ”

    First off, mainstream archaeology hasn’t been asked by anyone to do so. Foerster has made no effort to pursue legitimate routes of scientific inquiry. Second, most are well aware of what happens when you get involved with studying these sorts of cases, and it’s usually not pretty. It’s a good way to make enemies in the paranormal world and lose professional credibility among your peers. And most reputable archaeologists deem this sort of investigation to be a waste of valuable time and research dollars as invariably they end up being found out as either hoaxes or rather unremarkable anomalies that just happen to look interesting at first blush. Further, paranormal speculation is inevitably a game of whack-a-mole. So they investigate this one and perhaps they find something, perhaps not. But in its place come a dozen new ‘findings’ from various sources that proponents demand we investigate further. Because the research dollars are in short supply, but the imaginations of the speculators are cheap and boundless.

    That said, I, personally, would like to see some of these things get investigated as it would be nice to put to bed all of the wild speculation. But I understand the reluctance to do so.

    “how about we see some real research with reputable DNA testing. Any takers?”

    Pretty much my point. See above.

    “Great discoveries and new ideas are not always made by people with the are qualifications to do so.”

    But great discoveries can’t be validated if those unqualified individuals never seek to do so or actively avoid it. And that’s the problem. I have no issue with Foerster’s imagination. But if he never seeks to investigate it with any rigor I have no particular reason to believe he’s found anything of interest. Foerster may not be a villain. But to the extent he refuses to put his findings up to scrutiny he isn’t a responsible researcher and certainly no common folk hero as you seem keen to make him. And that statement stands regardless of his qualifications or lack thereof.

  65. s c
    May 7, 2014 at 3:22 AM

    @stanton5: I’m sorry, but your idealistic, fairy-tail version of peer-reviewed science is just not correct. It is not as simple as just doing your science well and being peer-reviewed, and everybody will just instantly accept you if you are right.

    Science is FULL of biases. A theory that goes strongly against the mainstream, even if correct and backed up, will receive a ton of “flak” and not be accepted until many more studies are done to redundantly confirm the same thing over years, or until the idea floats around long enough for people to accept it.

    Gregor Mendel, George Zweig, Albert Einstein … what do they all have in common? They were all, at some point in their career, ridiculed, shamed, or rejected by “mainstream science” for theories or conclusions that were later confirmed as correct and accepted by the mainstream.

    It just isn’t that simple.

  66. Les Anwyl
    May 7, 2014 at 4:36 AM

    We are in agreement in our desire to see these (and other) things properly investigated. I would love it to turn out to be something ‘paranormal’ (and keep in mind that what one culture finds paranormal, a more advanced one might call science), but if it were to turn out to be a previously undescribed hominid or perhaps cranially modified neanderthals (could account for the larger brain size) wouldn’t that be an amazing discovery?

    As a layman, I find it hard to understand why serious research does not seem warranted (reputable DNA analysis to say the least) on this population of what appears to be a statistically significant number of individuals with distinct anatomical differences (number of parietal lobes, cranial capacity, unusual dentition, large eye sockets and red hair), not to mention extreme cranial modification which in itself is a pretty interesting phenomenon.

    Seems you have hit the nail on the head when you say:

    ‘most are well aware of what happens when you get involved with studying these sorts of cases, and it’s usually not pretty. It’s a good way to make enemies in the paranormal world and lose professional credibility among your peers.’

    Academics by and large seem unwilling to challenge orthodoxy or investigate anomalies. Phenomenon like the ‘sprites’ around storms may hold the key to new insights and technologies. Charles Darwin was ridiculed and vilified when he first proposed his theory.
    I am in no way comparing Foerster with Darwin, (and I’m wondering what part of my earlier response suggested to you that I made him out to be a folk hero) but I believe the healthy skepticism that is part of rigorous scientific enquiry should also be applied to orthodox and widely held beliefs. I find many of Foersters speculations to be drawing a long bow to say the least, however his videos are mostly observations and they highlight apparent anomalies which suggests to a layman like myself that mainstream archaeologists do not have as complete or accurate a picture as they would like to believe, especially in regard to Incan and pre Incan cultures.

  67. Terence
    May 7, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Sprites actually do get some research time and money devoted to them. But they are extraordinarily hard to predict and therefore to study. So that one’s not so much a matter of lack of interest.

    As to my suggestion that you are putting Foerster on a hero’s pedestal it comes mostly from your defense of his imagination and apologism for his lack of professional credibility. While I don’t imagine you put him on any higher level than any other researcher, your tone in prior comments suggested a sort of common man’s hero view of what he has done. That if only researchers would pay attention to his work, he may be proven to have discovered something groundbreaking. All I’m suggesting is that he hasn’t at any point made an honest attempt at legitimate research or at full disclosure of what research he has done. So his actions don’t really allow for the interpretation of the neglected layman. I guess I don’t mean it in as strong a sense as hero often entails.

    Anyway, it seems that we’re largely on the same page in terms of what we would hope to happen here. I think we primarily disagree as to what the likely outcome of it would be (in that I expect it will be determined there’s something rather unremarkable behind it), but that’s just speculation on both of our parts.

  68. Terence
    May 7, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    While that may be true, rejection by mainstream science doesn’t mean by default that the hypothesis must be correct and just before its time. Either way, as I’ve noted elsewhere, no attempt has been made to pursue legitimate channels for such an acceptance or rejection so this talk of rejection by mainstream science is entirely beside the point. What has been rejected is the approach of DNA tests by anonymous technicians, refusal to submit full findings for any kind of review, submitting what scant info is offered directly to the public under the banner of a “mystery”, and concluding all sorts of things about not fitting into the current evolutionary tree and being only distantly related to humans.

    All of this is extremely suspect behavior given Foerster and company admit their samples are fragmentary and their findings preliminary. Responsible science wouldn’t even venture to make a conclusion at this point, and certainly not to the degree of shaking up the evolutionary tree. That’s a very bold claim to make based on scant evidence. Even if, as you suggest, he is right and we’re dealing with a major fork in the human evolutionary line or something else entirely, it’s irresponsible to draw such a dramatic conclusion based on the little evidence he claims to have (which I’ll stress again, he won’t submit to scientists or the public). Certainly this is not the behavior of Mendel or Einstein. Nor was it the approach taken by Wegener and his plate tectonic model.

  69. May 7, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    I hate to be the wrench in your monkey works, but what you just described is actually peer-review doing EXACTLY what it’s supposed to do. That’s the whole reason the peer-review procedure exists, to challenge new ideas, to make extraordinary claims sing for their dinner.

    You referred to Einstein being rejected and ridiculed by his peers for presenting a radically new and transformative theory in physics. Do you really not see how imperative it was to the scientific process for his peers to be particularly critical of this revolutionary thinking? If all new ideas are accepted without criticism, and without critical review, them the scientific method would be completely useless. The time you seem to lament, that passed between when those controversial theories were presented and when they were accepted is an integral part of the process. It does no good for the author of a paper to be an expert on his own findings while everyone else is ignorant…the rest of the community must have time to update their understanding and to come to terms with new findings.

    Also, replication of results is not in any way redundant. That’s a ridiculous assertion.

  70. Les Anwyl
    May 9, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    Ok, Terence et al, fair call, Foerster is a shonk with no scientific credibility. He maintains no semblance of scientific process or peer review.

    What I am interested in is these artefacts.

    Can anyone with the right qualifications and credibility take a look at these specimens (which are on public display), and tell me that they are stock standard Homo sapiens with hydrocephaly or some other congenital condition, that have been manipulated by head binding?

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