The Starchild Skull

Genetic Enigma or...Human-Alien Hybrid?

Lloyd Pye has been writing professionally for thirty years. He has published novels, worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter, and has numerous magazine and newspaper articles in his resume. He has spent the last decade focused entirely on his nonfiction writing, which covers various aspects of what is collectively known as "alternative knowledge." His book Everything You Know Is Wrong outlines his support of Intervention Theory as the best explanation for how life has come to be on Earth, and for how humans find themselves at the top of the planet's food chain.

In February of 1999, Lloyd was contacted by a Texas couple with an unusual human-like skull they wanted scientifically evaluated. Thus began an eight-year odyssey for him that has culminated in his latest book, The Starchild Skull, in which he takes readers with him as he trudges through the halls of science trying to establish the skull's genetic heritage. He has been filmed for documentary programs by The Learning Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Extra, and, in England, been interviewed on The Richard and Judy Show (their equivalent of Oprah). He has lectured throughout the U.S., and in Canada, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and Brazil.

Lloyd is a graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans. He is married and lives with his wife, Amy, in Pensacola, Florida.

Side by Side

Eight years of scientific testing strongly suggest that an ancient skull found in Mexico nearly eight decades ago is something other than entirely human. In fact, the skull known as the "Starchild" might well prove to be the first biological relic confirmed by DNA testing to be a human-alien hybrid.


This remarkable skull is now on the verge of making history as large as history can be made. How it came to be in that improbable position is revealed in a new book, The Starchild Skull — Genetic Enigma or Human-Alien Hybrid?, which recounts my eight years of dragging the skull from expert to expert, seeking those with enough intellectual curiosity to take it seriously and to apply rigorous scientific testing to it, and then have the courage to put their names to their results. It hasn't been easy.

What follows is an abbreviated outline of the events detailed in the book.

1930. In the baking high desert of northern Mexico, in a nondescript village in the general area of the Copper Canyon, a teenaged American girl arrived with her family to visit the home from which her parents had emigrated twenty years earlier. She was told to avoid the caves and abandoned mine tunnels in the area because they were dangerous. As soon as she could, she went after the forbidden fruit, and eventually ended up in a mine tunnel.

In that tunnel she found a human skeleton lying supine on the floor. Closer inspection revealed that a bony, "misshapen" hand emerged from a mound of dirt beside the skeleton, and was wrapped around one of its upper arm bones. Assuming a whole skeleton might be buried under the dirt, the girl dug with her hands to reveal a "smaller, totally misshapen" skeleton.

The girl tried to recover every bone of both skeletons, assuming she could find a way to carry them back into the U.S. without her parents or siblings finding out about it. She hid them under a tree, but unfortunately a torrential downpour washed all the bones away—except the two skulls (minus their mandibles) and a broken piece of maxilla from the misshapen one.

As the girl grew up and entered her adult years, she varnished the skulls and put them in a cardboard box, keeping them as ghoulish souvenirs from her first sojourn in Mexico. And so they stayed until her impending death in the early 1990's, when she passed them to friends in her hometown of El Paso, Texas. Those friends eventually passed them to another couple, Ray and Melanie Young, who had a unique skill-set for evaluating what until then was assumed by its owners to be a "genetic deformity."

1998. For several years Melanie Young was a neonatal nurse dealing with all forms of human deformity. From the moment she first held the weird skull in her hands, she felt it wasn't a "normal" human deformity. It was too light by far, weighing half of what a normal human skull that size should weigh, and it was entirely too symmetrical. Normal human deformity is anything but symmetrical. This skull was more symmetrical than a typical human, so she strongly suspected it might be something else. But what?

As it happened, Melanie and Ray were members of the El Paso chapter of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network. In consultation with a friend there, they had to admit it looked much like the shape and size of a skull that would fit perfectly inside the head of a stereotype "Grey" alien. After agreeing on that, they decided to have the skull scientifically tested to establish its genetic heritage conclusively. They contacted me and asked if I would undertake the task of bringing it to appropriate experts to determine what it might be, and, if that seemed to warrant more detailed analysis, then such analysis would be arranged and carried out. It seemed simple enough. It was anything but.

Communion Comparison

1999. The first scientific test of the skull was a radiographic X-ray analysis carried out in Las Vegas, Nevada. The weird skull's bone was shown to be uniformly thin throughout, rather than exhibiting the usual thinness in areas of deformity while being otherwise normal. Also, no sign of frontal sinuses were visible, not even vestigial buds. This was considered highly unusual. The most striking result, however, was that the associated piece of upper right maxilla had impacted teeth in it, indicating that the skull had belonged to a child in the range of five or six at death. Based on that seemingly solid piece of evidence about it, we named it "the Starchild."

Front X Rays

Next came analysis by a pair of anthropologists at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. (They are among the few experts not identified in the book, by either their own request to go unnamed, or my decision not to reveal names if that only served to make them look bad. I believe they all were doing their jobs—rightly or wrongly—as they felt they needed to do them. I can see no reason to be hurtful to them when it would serve no purpose other than to be hurtful.)

Sagittal Dent

These two specialists felt the skull was the result of hydrocephaly to explain the extraordinary bulge of the upper rear parietals, combined with the effect of cradleboarding in infancy to explain the extreme flattening at the rear of the head. However, at that point I knew hydrocephaly would not leave the noticeable crease along the saggital suture separating the two expanded parietals, and I knew cradleboarding flattened only a small area from inion to crown on a normal human, and the flattening was as flat as the board an infant's head would be strapped to as its mother did her work.

The skull found with the Starchild exhibited this common flattening, but the Starchild did not. Its flattened area was three or four times as great, and its natural convolutions were clearly visible. It had grown into its shape because its genes directed it to do so, and if that were true, then those genes could not be entirely human. My initial perception of the strange skull was that it was, in all likelihood, a bizarre deformity of some kind. For it to be otherwise—for it to be alien or an alien-human hybrid falling into my hands—would be equivalent to the Dead Sea Scrolls falling into the hands of the goat herder. But I was beginning to suspect that maybe such lightning had struck again.

Denver. The turning point for me came in Denver, Colorado, when a brain specialist made a number of startling discoveries about the Starchild's brain. (This doctor made a specific request that I not name him.) First, its capacity was astounding. Normal human adult craniums contain an average of 1400 cubic centimeters of brain matter. A small-stature adult or a child of about twelve—which was the Starchild's size—would have a brain in the range of 1200 cc. The Starchild had a brain volume of 1600 cc, which baffled the specialist. Even considering the extreme shallowness of the eye orbits, the missing frontal sinuses, and the expansion of the parietals, he could not account for an increase of fully 1/3 the normal human volume.

He also found that the steep rear angle of the brain pressing down on the foramen magnum—the opening where the spine entered the cranium—made it unlikely that the cerebellum could have maintained its proper position at the base of the cerebrum. In addition to its steeply canted angle (visible in several of many photos at, the inner support structure of bone flanges (the saggital sulcus and transverse sulcus) was so reduced as to be ineffective as a support mechanism for the cerebellum. The expert could only conclude that the Starchild's brain was made of something denser than normal human brain matter, or it didn't have a cerebellum in the way human cerebellums are understood. Either conclusion was enough to bolster my growing suspicion that the Starchild was not entirely human.

Cerebral Postion

Lincoln. In Lincoln, Nebraska, an ophthalmologist surgeon named Fred Mausolf studied the Starchild's extraordinarily shallow eye sockets. He found them to be unlike normal human eye sockets in virtually every way. The foramen openings for both the optic nerves and the associated nerves and blood vessels needed to make a human eyeball function properly were skewed down and inside to the middle part of the nose, which would have put the Starchild's eyeballs—assuming it had eyeballs—well below where human eyes normally were positioned. Also, their inner surface areas, while astonishingly shallow, were symmetrical to an equally astonishing degree. This expert could not imagine how those eye sockets—as bizarre as they were—could be the result of deformity. Again, the Starchild's genes seemed to have told them to grow that way, and if that were true, I could only conclude that they weren't normal human genes.

Orbit Comparison

New Orleans. In my home city of New Orleans, Louisiana, Dr. Joseph Smith, a chief radiologist at a children's hospital, arranged a CAT scan that established none of the Starchild's cranial sutures were fused in any way. He ruled out deformity as a result of cranial suture fusion—especially the crease in the saggital suture between the expanded parietals. Also, inexplicably, the Starchild's inner ears were shown to be on the order of twice normal size and, once again, perfectly symmetrical. Then Carbon 14 analysis showed that death for both skulls had occurred 900 years ago, ± 40 years.

CAT Scan

2003. The Holy Grail of biological testing, DNA analysis, was carried out by Trace Genetics in the summer of 2003 using equipment at the University of California at Davis. Researchers Jason Eshleman and Ripan Malhi found that burial in a mine tunnel for 900 years was like preserving both skulls in a climate-controlled storage locker. The human skull produced an easy recovery of its mitochondrial DNA, showing it was from a common haplogroup for Mesoamericans, haplogroup A. Its nuclear DNA was also recovered easily, showing it was a female. One down, one to go.

The Starchild's mitochondrial DNA—inherited from and passed along only the female line—was recovered as easily as its companion's, and proved to be of a separate Mesoamerican haplogroup, haplogroup C. This meant that even though their relationship was such that the female appeared to bury the Starchild and then laid down beside it to die (most likely by suicide), they were not, as we had assumed, a mother and child. That left us with only the definitive test to complete: What about the Starchild's nuclear DNA, which would reveal the genetic heritage of both of its parents?

Right out of the box there was a problem. Relative to a normal human, the Starchild's bone had proved extremely difficult to cut, even though it was half as thick and half as heavy as normal human bone. Then, when Jason and Ripan put it into normal solvents for dissolving human bone, it resisted those routine attempts to break it down. Ultimately, a very powerful solvent had to be administered to get the bone into a condition to be tested, after which six attempts brought no recovery at all—not even a trace of nuclear DNA.


How could that be? In the first place, if the Starchild's bone was from a normal human, normal solvents should have easily dissolved it. Secondly, after 900 years in optimum preservation conditions, the small degree of degradation in the bone should have made it easy to recover its nuclear DNA, as was the case with the female's. And why was it that only the Starchild's nuclear DNA resisted recovery, not its mitochondrial DNA?

There was only one plausible answer: something was "wrong" with its father's DNA. Somehow Dad's contribution to the Starchild's genetic package had produced a genome that would not respond to the chemical primers used to recover segments of human nuclear DNA.

What could be done about this frustrating technical stalemate? According to Jason and Ripan, nothing, at least not in the short term. They told me that in 3 to 5 years they expected the headlong rush of their field's technical improvements to create an atmosphere in which problems like ours with the Starchild would be resolved. So what, I asked them, could I do now? "Get the bone's biochemistry tested," they told me. They wanted an explanation for why it had been so difficult to cut when they removed their samples.

London. I spent all of 2004 in London getting as many tests done as we could manage with our time and resources. One of the first things we did was arrange an analysis by the scanning electron microscope at the Royal Holloway Scientific Institute outside London. It revealed something utterly astonishing: embedded in the matrix of the Starchild's bone were fibers of some kind, fibers which seemed to be incredibly durable because they had been shredded rather than sheared by the cutting blade that removed the bone samples from the skulls. Such fibers had never been found in any other bone in any other animal species on earth, so this was yet another blinking red neon sign that the Starchild skull represented something extraordinary.


Later, forensic geologist Dr. Ken Pye (no relation to me) discovered at his laboratory outside London that a red residue of some kind was scattered in the Starchild's cancellous holes. Normally upon death, corpses activate a wide array of internal bacteria that scour every vestige of marrow from the cancellous holes in every bone, leaving them, in effect, sparkling clean. So the residue discovered in the Starchild's cancellous holes was something else not found in any other bone in any known species on earth. Certainly not in human bone, so it was more evidence of the Starchild's uniqueness.


2006. In the summer of 2006, three years exactly since discovering that the Starchild's nuclear DNA could not be recovered by the current technology, and precisely when Jason and Ripan predicted a breakthrough might occur, the breakthrough did occur. But it was not in the sensitivity of the primers used to recover DNA, as was expected. It was much, much better than that. It was a new technique that did away with primers entirely!

454 Life Sciences of Branford, Connecticut, announced that it had found a way of sequencing DNA in a base-pair by base-pair arrangement, bringing all 3.0 billion base pairs in an average human genome within eventual reach of their sequencing machines. This was astounding news, but even more astounding was that it was already being applied to sequencing the elusive nuclear DNA of Neanderthals. Experts around the world were already hard at work on it, having sequenced the first few million base pairs, and they expected to complete the entire Neanderthal genome by the end of 2008.

While this was extremely welcome news in its own right, what flew under the radar was that this same technology could be applied to recover the entire genome of the Starchild! It meant we can now sequence every gene in every chromosome contributed by its human mother and its father, whatever he was. We will be able to recover its genome and—just as others will do with the Neanderthal genome in 2008—we will be able to compare the Starchild's father's DNA, gene by gene, with those of normal humans to determine precisely how far or near he was relative to the human norms.

That glorious day is now expected to be sometime in 2010. It could be as early as 2009, but the best guess now is 2010, give or take a few months. Inasmuch as we have already endured eight years of this interminable wait, two years more does not seem so daunting. In fact, as I have started to say when asked, I think that after what I've been through in the preceding eight years, I can do two more standing on my head in a deep mud puddle.

Today. Upside down or upright, we can settle into the two-year wait secure in knowing every indication of numerous conclusive scientific tests strongly suggests that we will ultimately prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Starchild skull belonged to a being who was a product of mating—whether natural or in vitro—between a human mother and a father who was surely something other than entirely human. But will that make him an "alien" in the extraterrestrial sense of the word?

As with Neanderthals, it will depend on where his genome falls in relation to normal humans. Will it be fractionally different, or as much as 1%? Or how about 2%? Or 3%? Certainly that would make him as alien as E.T., and the Starchild's incredibly different physiology and morphology certainly points in that direction. All we have to do is be patient, lay our bets, and wait.

Anyone interested in pursuing the whole story is welcome to contact Bell Lap Books at or your usual book source outlets.

The Starchild Skull

Genetic Enigma or...Human-Alien Hybrid?