When it comes to UFOs and extraterrestrials, true believers are passionate and stand firm. Also, if they discover something that appears to prove them right, they will work extra hard to bring it into the world's spotlight. One Mexican skull briefly became the subject of such attention in the early 2000s: the Starchild skull.
The skull belongs to paranormal author Lloyd Pye, who is the main advocate for its alien origins. The skull was unearthed in 1930 in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. According to accounts, a young girl (or American woman) discovered two skeletons in a mine shaft near her house. One was the child that this article currently features, while the other was an adult. The woman kept both skulls, and they passed from owner to owner until eventually coming to Pye's attention in 1999.
The skull in question looked pretty abnormal. The Starchild skull was extremely odd, and was not something that would look to any layperson as particularly human. The identifiable human facial structures were all present, but they were deformed and oddly placed. Despite dental evidence showing that the skull belonged to a 5-year-old child, the cranial cavity was enormous--larger in volume than a normal adult's brain. The bones bulged out grotesquely to accommodate this extra space, squeezing the facial features together. The eye orbits were oval and very shallow, and the frontal sinus structures, normally situated right above the brow ridge, were missing completely.
The highly unusual malformations of the skull and the murky circumstances of discovery, has raised some interesting questions. Pye claimed that the skull could only belong to the offspring of an extraterrestrial and a human. The likelihood of a child surviving that has so many malformations of the skull, is slim; they would die at birth or in utero, and this child lived until the age of five. Pye's website, The Starchild Project, promoted the skull as obvious proof of alien life and interbreeding. Around about fifty experts were apparently consulted by Pye, but none of them were able to give a satisfactory explanation for the Starchild's unusual disfigurement. He challenged anyone to tell him how the skull could possibly be human.
Neurologist and skeptic Steven Novella took up the challenge. He provided a natural (and Earth-bound) reason for the deformities: hydrocephalus. Swelling in the brain occurs in this congenital condition, from an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid, which pushes the brain (and skull) outward. In adults, this swelling is fatal unless the pressure is relieved. However, when young children have skull bones have not yet fused, the skull can enlarge to withstand the buildup. Over time, untreated hydrocephalus would cause exactly the deformities seen in the Starchild skull. Further genetic testing showed that the child could only have come from two human parents, as it had completely normal X and Y chromosomes.
Novella's report, along with several other scientific studies, confirmed to the scientific community that the Starchild was a hoax. Pye and other believers still dispute the claims, but the larger scientific community moved on to other puzzles. So the skull remains a curious case of wishful thinking and fervent belief. The Mexican child's name and origin remains unsolved to this day, and is still a mystery.
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