Starchild Skull

The Story
In the 1930s, a girl exploring the Copper Canyon region of Mexico stumbled upon an adult-sized skeleton in an abandoned mine. Next to the skeleton was a mound of dirt under which was buried a child-size skeleton.
Once unearthed, the skull of the smaller skeleton proved to be unusual in that “the volume of the interior of the starchild skull is 1,600 cubic centimeters, which is 200 cm³ larger than the average adult’s brain, and 400 cm³ larger than an adult of the same approximate size.”
The eye sockets are shallower than normal, there are no discernable sinuses, and “the back of the skull is flattened, but not by artificial means,” according to Wikipedia.

The skull is now in the possession of Lloyd Pye, who founded The Starchild Project in order to study and analyze the skull. According to Pye, the skull features the following anomalous characteristics:
– The skull’s bone is about half as thick as normal human bone.
– The bone weighs about half as much as normal human bone.
– The bone is substantially stronger than any known bone on planet Earth, with a mineral profile more like dental enamel than bone.
– The skull is morphologically unique, and does not match the physical profile of any known human deformity.
– The bone of the skull contains an as yet unidentified reddish residue that had never been seen before in bone (this is not desiccated bone marrow).
– The bone of the skull contains microscopic fibers that have never been seen before in the bone of
The skull was carbon dated at around 900 years old and early DNA tests found mitochondrial DNA from a human mother but “no nuclear DNA could be recovered using human-only primers, which strongly indicates that the skull’s father was something other than a typical human,” according to Pye.
Scientific explanations have pointed to various ailments and syndromes, as well as to certain artificial, ritualistic skull deformation techniques. “Explanations for the skull’s unusual features include the use of cradle boarding on a hydrocephalic child, brachycephaly, Crouzon syndrome, congenital hydrocephalus, and progeria,” according to Wikipedia.
A popular paranormal explanation is that the Starchild skull is the result of human-alien breeding, specifically the combination of human female DNA with that of a “grey” alien. Grey aliens may perhaps be most well known in popular culture to have large cranial structures and shallow eye sockets.

DNA Testing
Forensic DNA testing done in 1999 at a lab in Vancouver, BC “found standard X and Y chromosomes in two samples taken from the skull, ‘conclusive evidence that the child was not only human (and male), but both of his parents must have been human as well, for each must have contributed one of the human sex chromosomes’,” according to Wikipedia.
However, DNA testing done in 2003 at a lab that “specializes in extracting DNA from ancient samples” was able to recover mitochondrial DNA (DNA from the mother) but “was not able to recover useful lengths of nuclear DNA,” which comes from the father.
In talking about the 2003 tests Pye is quoted as saying:
“In 2003 we had a DNA analysis that used human-only primers to recover the Starchild’s mitochondrial DNA, the DNA outside the nucleus, which comes from the mother and her genetic line. That meant its mother was human. But we could not recover its nuclear DNA, which comes from both mother and father, which meant its father was not a human. Unfortunately, with the recovery technology of 2003 we couldn’t prove what he was, which left us in scientific limbo. The ‘no result’ from the search for the nuclear DNA clearly meant Dad wasn’t human, but we could not prove that fact beyond all possible doubt.”
While whether or not that “clearly” means that the father wasn’t human can likely be debated, subsequent DNA testing done in 2010 has, according to Pye, shown “a clear recovery of its nuclear DNA, which could not be done in 2003.” And what does the nuclear DNA show?
When compared to the National Institute of Health’s database containing “all genetic information generated by geneticists all over the world,” a sample of 265 base pairs of the Starchild skull’s DNA from the X chromosome matched up against known human DNA, while 342 base pairs from the Y chromosome returned “no significant similarity” to any known DNA.
This leads Pye to conclude, “To recover a stretch of base pairs as long as that with NO reference in the NIH database is astounding because it means there is no known earthly corollary for what has been analyzed!” All of the information is presented in a recent posting from Pye to his newsletter subscribers, the full text of which can be found here.
Skeptics argue that the Starchild skull and its related studies amount to little more than pseudoscience, while believers cite the most recent DNA tests and anomalies inherent within the actual bone structure as evidence of something out of this world or, at the very least, not yet known to this world. As with most mysterious events, we’ll probably never know the whole story. That’s kind of half the fun, though.

Further Reading

Starchild Skull (Wikipedia)
The Starchild Project (
Introduction to the Starchild Skull by Lloyd Pye (YouTube)
The Starchild Project (New England Skeptical Society)
Llyod Pye Update: We finally have a recovery of nuclear DNA from the Starchild skull (
The Mystery of the Starchild Skull (

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