A Bone to Pick with the Starchild Skull

“Never be afraid to mislabel a product.”

Rule of Acquisition #239

“A false balance is abomination to the Lord:  but a just weight is his delight.”

Proverbs 11:1


Back in the late 90’s, the Starchild skull came into the public eye when Lloyd Pye presented it as evidence of ancient contact with aliens. What it was doing prior to that is anyone’s guess, but it most likely was collecting dust in a closet somewhere.

At first glance, the enlarged skull does look similar to what one would expect an alien, or at least some sort of alien hybrid (or maybe nephilim) skull to look like. It would be a an excellent piece of evidence should it prove to be authentic. Especially for those who think aliens have visited, or that there is a modern alien breeding plan to create hybrids/nephilim.

In November of 1999, New Age “Fate” magazine presented an article detailing how the skull came into Pye’s possession. Like a game of “hot potato,” (or i guess, “plutonium skull”(TM)) the skull was found by someone who gave it to someone who gave it to Pye. The article also states that prior to finding the skull, Pye was a struggling writer until latching on to Zechariah Sitchin’s work and later writing his own version of it called “Everything You Know is Wrong.”

The rest of the “Fate” article outlines how skeptics dismiss the skull as a “cradleboarded hydrocephalic”, and also touches on Native American legends of contact with star people, analysis by “skeptics” (and of course where said skeptics err). They also mention the possibility that even a human DNA match for Starchild wouldn’t rule out aliens in the Starchild’s DNA. Probably a wise move to cover their butts when it was finally revealed that the DNA did not pan out.

Little is actually said about the skull, other than it’s also claimed that there were no sinuses and that the eye sockets are irregular.

Sounds alien enough.

At that time, waaay back in 1999, little was known about the skull, but in the years since this article was written, the Starchild skull has made a few appearances in various forms of media. It has also been subjected to a number of genetic tests resulting in no shortage of claims about its extraterrestrial origin.

In 1999, a forensics lab determined that Starchild was a human male, unfortunately this result was determined to be from sample/lab contamination, details of which seem to be unavailable.

Then in 2003, Trace Genetics supposedly of Kennewick man fame (though I can’t find that…) ran an analysis and concluded that the skull possessed Native American DNA but little else came forth.

” The sample taken from the Starchild Skull (SCS-1) has mtDNA consistent with Native American haplogroup C, as revealed through two independent extractions performed on fragments of parietal bone.”

And that’s where we pick up.

The main website for the Starchild skull makes the claim that further genetic tests have concluded that the skull is not human, and breaks this down in layman’s terms and in the full report, neither of which are very readable.

“In 2011 the geneticist working on the Starchild Skull discovered that its mtDNA (the part of DNA passed only through the maternal line) was radically different from human DNA.

The maximum number of mtDNA differences between all humans is 120. The Starchild Skull has between 800-1,000. This is a partial result, but it is enough to be definitive: the Skull’s mtDNA is not human.”

Good luck understanding what that means. The layman’s analysis also concludes with (parentheses added):

“several (unnamed) experts have agreed the Skull belonged to an adult.”

The full report claims that starchild has 167 mtDNA nucleotides, whereas a “normal human” has but 157. They go on to allegedly compare human DNA to the Starchild skull and conclude that the Starchild skull possesses DNA markers not found at all in human DNA, so therefore it is alien. The analysis ends with the notion that more investigation needs to occur and the Starchild Project needs $7 million to proceed with sequencing the entire genome.

It seems pretty settled then, that Starchild is an alien or other hybrid, and I can stop writing this blog.

Except that of course, there are some contrary views (gasp!) worth examining that the Starchild project has completely ignored.

The biggest problem the Starchild’s alien ancestry faces is that there are some solid facts that call the DNA studies into question.

First and foremost, we lack any alien genetic material, if it exists, to compare it to. That alone should call the alien theory into question. This is also a problem because, Starchild is an alleged hybrid. Even if alien DNA existed and was similar enough to human genetic material to contain DNA, scientists would have to determine if it’s even compatible enough with human genetics to create a hybrid. Until those things happen, any claim that Starchild is alien in whole or part is a gross misrepresentation.

An excellent point can be made in this regard. One of the earliest genetic tests (no longer referenced at the Starchild project) determined that Starchild was male, which if it was true would be:

“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…Further, if the Starchild’s mother was an Amerindian female, as the mtDNA shows (and therefore possessed two X chromosomes), and the father of an alleged hybrid would therefore have to be alien, then were did the human Y (male) chromosome come from?”


“What Pye does not dwell on is the identification of both X and Y chromosomes, which show that the child was a boy; Y chromosomes can only be inherited from the father (men have an XY chromosome pair, women an XX chromosome pair), so the child’s father must have been as human as his mother.”

Which is an excellent point.  The DNA test that was performed would logically have been calibrated to detect human genetic matter and further, the geneticist would likely not recognize alien DNA, if it existed, enough to determine a gender. It is unknown if aliens (if they existed) even possess Y chromosomes. The fact that a Y chromosome was detected using a genetic test likely calibrated for humans should be enough to prove Starchild human. However, this is not the only issue with the genetic tests and other analyses that Starchild has been subjected to.

For starters, much hoopla has been made about the deformities of the skull being proof of alien ancestry. The lack of sinuses being a notable example. However, this is not unheard of in human biology. In fact the deformities found on the Starchild skull are all within human parameters, making any genetic test unnecessary.

“It [Starchild skull] contains the usual bones of the skull, together with all the features such as muscle attachments found in humans. However, it exhibits considerable deformities in all of them. For instance, the orbits are unusually shallow and the canal for the optic nerve is closer to the base of the orbit, suggesting a rotational deformity, while the occipital bone at the back of the skull is flattened. There are said to be no frontal sinuses, a condition that affects about ten percent of the population.”

Back to the genetics tests, the initial DNA tests proving Starchild to be male are now no longer supported by the Starchild project and are no longer viewable. The reason cited by Pye for rejecting these results (besides the fact that they didnt support his story) was contamination. However:

“The first DNA test…has now been set aside by Pye, as it is said to have been the result of contamination, although we are not told how the contamination occurred:  if the skull as a whole is contaminated, it means that any DNA results from it will be compromised, whether mtDNA or nuDNA.”

So if the first result has been discarded for “contamination”, any result after this could be contaminated as well. Until the issue of contamination has been addressed, detailed and resolved, no data pertaining to the Starchild skull should be accepted as fact.

From there though,  the genetic tests are further challenged. Although there has not yet been a thorough analysis of the 2011 genetic test results (that I could find), several of the more recent findings have been challenged by someone who actually has a PhD pertaining to genetics, Dr. Robert Carter.

The Starchild project’s various genetic testing reports make frequent mentions of using the (NIH) National Institute of Health’s BLAST program, as though this lends some authoritative credence to the tests that were performed. It suggests that the NIH or an expert with the NIH performed the tests for the Starchild project. However,  Dr. Carter stated:

“The BLAST program does not do the analyzing by itself and the NIH does not run BLAST queries for people. Someone from this UFO organization, or their mysterious geneticist, had to go to the website, enter the DNA, select a bunch of parameters, run the query and then interpret the results.”

Regarding the results that the BLAST allegedly produced, that there was no match (implying an alien result), Dr. Carter indicates that this is actually not hard to do and it doesn’t require alien DNA.

“It is easy to get a BLAST result like they did. All you have to do is enter jibberish. Or, you can set the parameters to something absurd (like demanding a 100% match for a chicken gene while searching the human genome). Or, sometimes the servers are busy and they kick back with the generic statement.”

Dr. Carter also demonstrated that DNA is not even needed to obtain the same results that the Starchild Project did.

From there, it doesn’t get any better. The analyses and explorations thereof performed by the Starchild Project demonstrates that they don’t even possess the most basic level of understanding on the topic of genetics.

“Their discussion of “shotgun” vs. “primers” is riddled with inaccuracies. In fact, this clearly demonstrates their utter lack of expertise in the field. If they cannot understand the basics of what they are dealing with, we cannot trust them that they are getting the story straight, and we cannot trust their conclusions about ‘Starchild’ genetics.”

star DNAThe Starchild Project has also used data and visual aids in a deceptive manner. Dr. Carter discovered in the data of one of the genetic tests, a picture  of the DNA test results. This same picture (left) appears in the 2011 report that “proves Starchild isn’t fully human”. The problem with this picture is that it not only doesn’t prove anything of consequence, but it probably is a good indicator that Starchild is not alien. The picture shows, if It really is of the Starchild DNA, that they using parameters for DNA and genetic material that is readily available on Earth, likely human DNA. Dr. Carter was not impressed.

“The gel photo provided on the website…could be of anything. It is a standard, generic picture. I have generated many similar ones in my work. All it is showing is that there is DNA present. One could estimate the size of the pieces from the DNA “ladder” standard in the far right lane, but only if one knew beforehand which ladder standard was used, although it would probably be easy to figure it out. Note also that DNA was not recovered directly from the ‘Starchild’ skull. An extract of genomic DNA would have made a smear, not discrete bands, and would have included very long pieces,  not just the vague, dilute small stuff at the top of each column. These bands appear to have been generated by taking some DNA (from an unknown source) and running it through a PCR reaction that made millions of copies of tbe DNA. The fact that they got tight, definable bands tells me that they were using specific primers in this procedure. Thus, the DNA is of a known sequence! At least, the ends of the bands must be identical to the primers used.”

He then goes over how he once sequenced two different coral genes using identical, or near identical primers, and in the process discovered that the two corals were in the same genetic family (like the Starchild analysis is similar to). What this suggests is that the Starchild is completely human. Dr. Carter then relates:

“If they got results like this for the ‘Starchild’ DNA, they are dealing with a know commodity or at least something within a known family of DNA sequences. A BLAST search should have identified this easily.”

Concluding his analysis Dr. Carter indicates that the Starchild Project is incredibly vague about certain points in how the tests have been carried out and the results disseminated, which in the end only detracts from their already iffy credibility.

But of course even with all of this, Dr. Carter understandably finds further issue with the genetic tests undertaken by the Starchild Project.

“Regarding these results, how do we know they sent a bone fragment from the ‘Starchild’s’ skull to the lab? And, for that matter, how does the lab know the bone they analyzed came from said skull? And, how do we know the skull is not a Piltdown-like fraud? And, how do we know these tests were actually done by the company? And, how did anyone rule out DNA contamination from the people who have handled the skull since its discovery? That last point alone invalidates any and all claims about DNA coming from the supposed skull …”Trust us” is not good enough for science… “

The Starchild Project’s intention to sequence Starchild’s full genome upon receipt of $7 million is also pointless.

“They are planning on sequencing the entire genome of the ‘Starchild’…It does not take an entire genome to prove ancestry!”

The earliest Starchild genetics tests produced results that proved it to be a human male, apparently not satisfied, Pye and the Starchild project then went on to have more genetic tests done, only to  misrepresent the findings. The “Fate” article mentioned earlier portrayed Pye as a struggling novelist (like all of us writers). When the Starchild skull fell into his lap, Pye probably saw a good opportunity to make money and treated it like a sideshow attraction. If it was an authentic alien artifact, such a path defies logic.

“Lloyd Pye is not a scientist who is about to bring astounding revelations about alien contact with humans to public attention: he is a writer who already believed this before being given the skull and his promotion of it is nothing short of disgusting.”

When a struggling fiction writer plagiarizes (or at least heavily borrows) someone else’s theory to sell a book, and then that writer happens upon an artifact of this significance and treats it like P.T. Barnum instead of undergoing real scientific inquiry,  one has to wonder how authentic it truly is.