Nov 21, 2015 I Paul Seaburn

Elongated Skulls Could Have Been a Survival Aid

They look strange, they look painful and most of all, they look alien. They’re elongated skulls and a new discovery in Patagonia may shed light on why parents subjected their children to this gruesome practice. Not only that, researchers may have hinted at who taught them the technique. Aliens?

According to a recent paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, anthropologists from Kansas State University found 60 skulls belonging to hunter-gatherers who lived in Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego some 2,000 years ago. Eighteen of the skulls shows evidence of elongation, the first ever to be found in Patagonia.

While most cultures used skull modification as a way to differentiate themselves from others, hunter-gatherers move around and are forced to meet and even fit in with other people. Why would they make themselves look scary or alien?

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Why would they want to look like an alien?

Believe it or not, the researchers believe the Patagonian hunter-gatherers used the big skulls to make themselves look smarter. According to anthropologist Marta Alfonso-Durruty, the elongated skulls made others believe that these people were smart enough to know how to make their heads physically bigger and were connected to other smart people who taught them the technique.

 … an oddly-shaped skull proved they had acquired information on how to do so from another trusted group. It was a social strategy that allowed individuals to access resources, that were at times unpredictable, across a large territory.

Who gave them this knowledge to elongate their skulls to look brainy and honest? Experts have evidence showing that cranial deformation (the binding kind, not cracking heads with clubs) dates back 45,000 years to the Neanderthals. Along with South America, it was also practiced in many other places, including Russia, Scandinavia and France, where it persisted until the early 1900s. When these elongated skulls are discovered, many often say they’re from large-headed aliens or are the result of humans mating with big-skulled aliens.

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Elongated skull found in Russia

Alfonso-Durruty says the Patagonians learned the technique from other smart people. Is it possible those other smart "people" could have been large-skulled aliens? Perhaps these humans modified the skulls of their children so they looked more like aliens they encountered. Perhaps it was a sign of gratitude for the knowledge the aliens gave them. Perhaps they wanted other groups of people to think they were as smart as these aliens. Could this be why other cultures practiced it?

Far-fetched? Do people still wear horn-rimmed glasses to make others think they’re smart? Do people wear pointed ears to make others think they’re logical?

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Nice skull but you need the glasses too

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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