DNA Analysis Deepens the Mystery Surrounding the Paracas Elongated Skulls
In 1928, Julio Tello discovered something amazing on the Southern coast of Peru: a tomb filled with the 3000-year-old bodies of what appeared to be humans with extremely elongated skulls.
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Initially, the skulls were thought to be an example of a cranial deformation – whether genetic or intentional. The problem has always been that when deforming a skull intentionally through binding in cloth or with pieces of wood – the actual cranial volume doesn’t change and neither does the bone density. The Paracas skulls are 60% heavier than a human skull and have 25% more cranial volume. The Paracas skulls also only have one parietal plate, where human skulls have 2. Those facts alone indicate that these are potentially not human skulls.
So, What Are They?
That is exactly what author and expert on the elongated skulls, Brien Foerster, is trying to find out. Recently, the owner of some of the skulls allowed samples to be taken for DNA analysis; including skin, hair with a root, and a tooth. The preliminary results are shocking, to say the least.
According to Forester, the geneticist who did the analysis and who had no idea where they came from said, “Whatever the sample labeled 3A has come from – it had mtDNA with mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal known so far. The data are very sketchy though and an LOT of sequencing still needs to be done to recover the complete mtDNA sequence. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample 3A indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree. The question is if they were so different, they could not interbreed with humans. Breeding within their small population. they may have degenerated due to inbreeding. That would explain buried children – they were either low or not viable.”
This initial DNA test is just one of many planned to corroborate the findings, including testing other skulls to get the same result. As quick as some scientists are to write off the skulls as a genetic malformation or an intentional act, the mysteries of the Paracas skulls remain just that: mysteries.