No, Ancient Peruvians Didn’t Have Alien DNA

The alternative archaeology blogosphere has been abuzz this month with news that an anonymous geneticist—and I’m going to let that phrase sink in a little bit: an anonymous geneticist—claims through a third party to have performed tests on tissue found within some unusual elongated skulls found in Peru and determined based on mitochondrial DNA that, well…

“Whatever the sample labeled 3A has came from – it had mtDNA with mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal known so far. The data are very sketchy though and a 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.”

Bad Archaeology’s Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews unpacks this brilliantly. The skulls themselves provide the most damning evidence against the alien DNA hypothesis: if you look at their facial structure, it’s clear that you’re dealing with anatomically modern humans. And if you’re familiar with the history of body modification, you know that the unique Paracas skull shape usually suggests evidence of head binding. So why would alien mitochondrial DNA be found in bones that happen to be identical to those of of ancient humans who practiced head binding? That would be like genetically reengineering humans from scratch so you could remove their wisdom teeth.

The results of head binding, shown here, resemble those found in the Paracas skulls. Photo: © 2013 Didier Descouens. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

The results of head binding, shown here, resemble those found in the Paracas skulls. Photo: © 2013 Didier Descouens. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

And if the mitochondrial DNA testing is valid, why would a legitimate geneticist refuse to go public with it? Maybe because we discover mtDNA that doesn’t fit on the evolutionary tree all the time in degraded samples; that’s usually how we know they’ve degraded.

It’s good to keep an open mind—but there’s absolutely nothing here that suggests anything more than body modification and degraded tissue samples. We’re going to need to find our aliens somewhere else.

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Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.
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