So this one is getting around the social media recently: DNA testing done on these weird looking Peruvian skulls has revealed that they are not human. In fact, they’re not even closely related to humans! What does it mean? Are they members of some hitherto unknown extinct humanoid? Are they aliens? They’re aliens, aren’t they.
Claims like these require pretty extraordinary evidence, because if it’s true, it will absolutely change everything we know about the science of human origins. Scientists would want to be absolutely sure that what they’re saying is accurate before they go ahead and release such an explosive claim to the world. Which is why it’s funny that the story is being broken by sites like Above Top Secret, Ghost Theory, Ancient Origins.net, and The Rundown LIVE (Milwaukee’s Alternative Talk Radio). In my job as an editor and fact-check-ologist, the first thing I do when I see a story like this is try to follow the links back to the source – the first place to break the story, and ideally, the peer reviewed paper written by the scientists in question. If trying to trace the source of a story like this gives me the runaround, ducking through conspiracy sites and Bigfoot forums, then we have a problem.
In this case it turns out that the man behind this DNA study is Brien Foerster, a close friend of David Hatcher Childress (who believes the Pyramids were power plants, Atlantis was destroyed by a nuclear bomb, and Nikola Tesla had access to a time machine) and Graham Hancock (a well known member of the “ancient aliens” crowd). Pseudoarchaeologists like Foerster are often credited as “experts” within their field (as Foerster is often referred to as one of the world’s foremost experts on the Peruvian skulls) but in reality, they start with an esoteric and extreme belief (usually that ancient civilizations had futuristic technology or were in contact with aliens) and manipulate or cherry-pick evidence in order to fit that belief.
So I already don’t trust Brien Foerster to conduct this kind of scientific study, especially not when his resulting claim is so outrageous, and not even after Graham Hancock assures us, no, this is all totally legit you guys. But this story gets even sillier. Who do you think Foerster recruited in order to conduct the DNA analysis? The top minds at University of California Berkeley? Nope! Try Melba Ketchum, a vet in Texas who claims to have sequenced the genome of Bigfoot. It’s safe to say that Ketchum isn’t particularly good at this DNA analysis thing, because the sample that she claimed to have been from a species of nonhuman primate, i.e. Sasquatch, was independently verified by other scientists to have come from an opossum. But that’s a mistake anyone could make, right?
Keep that dream alive.
So why would you send a research project like this to “the Bigfoot lady” instead of reputable scientists? Simple – she’s part of the echo chamber. It’s all about the result that you want in the first place. If you want to confirm the real truth, which is probably that these are the skulls of regular humans whose heads were bound as infants to grow into a particular shape as per the local custom, then you’ll get mainstream scientists to do the study. If you want to find out that these are the skulls of aliens or some advanced non-human race or time travellers or elves or something, then you send it to a Bigfoot expert. Because really, what was she going to say? That they’re not aliens? These are people whose entire lives are dedicated to finding any possible opportunity to say that something is aliens, or Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster. Pseudoarchaeologists, cryptozoologists, ufologists and other esoteric ‘ologists stick together and feed off each other, often because they believe that “mainstream” science has some kind of ulterior motive to keep this stuff hidden, although they don’t question whether their own discipline has an ulterior motive of its own.
So no, as cool as it would be, the Peruvian skulls are probably just the result of a weird cultural practice rather than some obscure localized species of beings of the possibly interdimensional variety. If it would turn out that Indiana Jones was real, I’d prefer it to be one of the better movies.