The Paracas Elongated Skulls: More Boneheaded Nephilim Claims

If you’re interested in phony DNA research to prop up ancient alien hybrids and alleged nephilim skulls, you’re in luck. Two recent posts came to my attention today. They’re both long, but well worth the time.

First, there’s the essay by Frank Johnson at the Ancient Aliens Debunked blog: “Another Bone to Pick…With Peruvian Nephilim/Alien Hybrids.” It’s a good survey/refutation of the alleged evidence. It’ll get you up to speed on the claims and personalities involved.

Next we have (drum roll, please) a real archaeologist weigh in on the skulls – Keith Fitzpatrick Matthews on the Bad Archaeology blog. Keith’s essay, “The Paracas skulls: aliens, an unknown hominid species or cranial deformation?” is nothing short of devastating. In particular, pretend anthropologist Brien Foerster, a participant in the upcoming “Nephilim Skull Tour” comes out looking very bad, even dumb. (Just read it). This essay deals a bit with the DNA issue, but focuses more on the forensics of the skulls themselves.

Where’s the verse in the Bible again about nephilim having elongated skulls? (crickets chirping)

The Starchild Skull and Its DNA Testing: No Proof of an Alien Hybrid

Frank Johnson of the Ancient Aliens Debunked (AAD) blog recently posted this lengthy essay concerning alleged DNA evidence that the Starchild Skull was that of a human0alien hybrid child: “A Bone to Pick with the Starchild Skull.”

It’s well worth the read, and you should follow the links that relate to the testing itself. The post not only goes into the selective use (and discarding) of DNA evidence, but also its misinterpretation. The post features comments (which have been public for some time) by Dr. Robert Carter. Carter’s PhD is in marine biology, but he’s knowledgeable about the interpretation of DNA evidence.

I’ve been holding some email comments for years from my own go-to expert in genetics (PhD in biology whose doctoral work was DNA-related) about the Starchild skull’s DNA testing and Carter’s own comments. I was waiting for the Starchild’s keeper, Lloyd Pye, to go through with his promise of further DNA testing. In the wake of Pye’s recent passing, I doubt that will happen.

I’ve decided to post excerpts of the comments below, without identifying the geneticist. There’s no point unless we get further testing. My resource thinks the alien claims for the skull and its DNA defense are bunk. Interestingly, he has bones to pick with Carter’s analysis (my guy is a real geneticist, so he’s bound to see flaws in Carter’s analysis). He also knows Carter. I’ve taken the liberty of inserting a few editorial remarks of my own (MSH) that have a bearing on what my guy says and what the AAD essay says.

Mike,

I skimmed over the links you sent, and here are my thoughts for what they’re worth:

1.  Based on the description of the mtDNA results, the normal skull is not the mother or sibling of the abnormal one.  They have different mtDNA types, and mtDNA is (nearly) always maternally inherited.  So they cannot be maternally related.  Could be father/son though.

[MSH: This strikes me as important since, as the AAD post points out, initial Starchild DNA tests had the child as a male. These results were set aside by Pye because of “contamination” – more likely, because they didn’t support his ideas; see the AAD post for that discussion.]

2.  The description of the “shotgun” sequencing [in the Starchild report – MSH] is very crude, obviously written by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Assuming that they’re describing real sequences from the abnormal skull, the conclusions they reach do not follow.  In particular, this statement is totally false: “To have recovered a string of base pairs 342 nucleotides long with NO reference in the NIH database is astounding because it means there is NO known earthly corollary for what has been analyzed!”

All it means is that we haven’t encountered that particular nucleotide sequence yet.  It happens all the time.  Usually, with every genome of a new genus or species that we sequence, some measurable fraction (10-30%) is DNA sequence we’ve never seen before (i.e., has no match in the public database).  In the case of the skull, the novel DNA is probably just contamination from bacteria or fungi or some other critter that
participated in the decomposition of the body.

[MSH: Note the contamination issue again – and make sure to zero in on that in the AAD post.  Pye’s claims of contamination were self-serving. He used that as an excuse when something didn’t suit his alien hybrid view, but ignore that possibility in other contexts.]

3. … Yes, the description of the shotgun sequencing is incompetent (for the reasons [Carter] cites), but I see no reason to suspect that the description is intentionally deceptive.  Not only that, but from my perusal it looks like Carter entirely missed the issue of contamination, which is the probable source of the novel DNA sequence.

[MSH: In other words, my source chalks this up to incompetence, not deliberate deception. Who knows?]

Dueling Turin Shroud Studies

Yesterday on Dec 19, an Italian scientific team published the results of a study that they believe demonstrates the authenticity of the Turin Shroud.The UK Telegraph reports that the team “conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud – purportedly left by the imprint of Christ’s body – could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period.” Here’s a link to the article.

And wouldn’t you know it, today the UK Telegraph published this article (“The Turin Shroud is Fake, Get Over It“) disputing the one that appeared the day before.

One cannot help but notice the timing of both these pieces. The first for sure is not aimed at undermining faith in  birth of Christ, celebrated of course at Christmas. But neither is the second. After chiding those who believe the shroud is an authentic burial relic of Christ, the author notes (correctly): “It’s a fascinating and mysterious object, but it says nothing about the questions of whether Christ was a historical figure, whether He was the Son of God, or whether He rose from the dead.”

Personally, I’m skeptical of the shroud, but would need one thing done to really kill it for good in my mind. I’d like to see a new series of dating tests. Specifically, I’d like to see tests performed that would lay to rest (or affirm) the suspicions concerning the C-14 testing voiced by physical chemist Raymond Rogers, and that would do the same in regard to the DNA research of Dr. Leoncio Garza-Valdes. Dr. Garza-Valdes is an expert in forensic DNA analysis who developed a method for detecting the presence of an organic bacterial coating that sometimes forms over time on ancient textiles, which could in turn have distorted the dating of the shroud. He detailed his discovery and his wish to have the shroud retested in his 2001 book, The DNA of God?

I’m not holding my breath on any new testing, nor can I say I care that much, as I don’t see the authenticity of the shroud as integral to whether a person ought to embrace or reject Christianity. It would just be nice to know with greater certainty, one way or the other.

New Evidence for a 14th Century Shroud of Turin Date

Before you say, “well that’s obvious,” you should be aware that there is serious science behind the idea that the C-14 dating for the shroud is suspect due to contamination (see The DNA of God?: Newly Discovered Secrets of the Shroud of Turin; the author is a scientist who pioneered new techniques for detecting an organic bacterial coating that forms over time on ancient textiles — which would contaminate C-14 tests).

Here’s the new evidence. An art historian (Luciano Buso) claims to have found tell-tale signature clues that point to the Italian master Giotto as the creator of the image on the shroud. Giotto’s lifetime occurs well within the period in which the current C-14 dating places the shroud.

Challenge to the Akhenaten Identification of the KV55 Mummy

This link comes courtesy of the KV64 blog maintained by Kate Phizackerley (recommended to readers on several occasions).  Kate points us to a brief article on the Archaeology New Network blog from this past June which sketches reasons for rejecting the KV55 mummy as that of Akhenaten.

This link is relevant to the DNA testing of King Tut and his extended family which we have blogged about several times (see here, here, and here for a few). KV64 (Kate P.) had previously posted about the doubtful nature of the KV55 identification with Akhenaten. The bottom line is that, if the KV55 mummy is not Akhenaten, then his remains have yet to be found and the DNA research done on Tut cannot be linked to him as of yet.

While some Egyptologists would argue that Akhenaten’s remains were destroyed along with the attempt to eradicate his memory from Egypt, I think the obvious answer has been missed: the aliens who spawned him took the body back to their home planet.  It’s eminently logical, isn’t it? Since that big head of his is scientific proof that he was an alien, if his body is missing logic dictates that they took the body!  There can’t be any other more coherent explanation. I find it compelling. Now back to my journal article on Jesus’ appearances in potato chips.

Egypt in Ireland: The Scota Myth and King Tut’s DNA

Another interesting and relevant post from Kate Phizackerley over at the Valley of the Kings blog.

Kate added a follow-up comment about the video at the above link:

If you are finding the video hard, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scota) is a bit dry but gives the bare bones. If you’d like to know more than that then the Kingdom of the Ark by Lorraine Evans is an accessible book. I don’t agree with all of her conclusions but she looks at things like the Ferriby Boats when discussing the feasibility of sea travel from Egypt to Ireland which is interesting reading of itself. I picked up my copy on Amazon for a penny plus P&P.

Does King Tut’s DNA Prove He Was Western European?

This weekend I received a link via email to a news story about how the King Tut DNA proved he was Western European. The sender is an erstwhile ancient astronaut (and especially Zecharia Sitchin) supporter. Somehow, he thought that this idea (if it were true) proved Sitchin was right. I know. You’re trying to connect those dots as you read. Good luck. Even if it were the case, such DNA distribution is easily explainable by things like human migration (i.e., people were migrating long before there was an ancient Egypt as we know it; no aliens needed).

But I was naturally suspicious of the report. I’m not versed in genetics, but I know people who are. And in this case, someone who has followed the King Tut material closely: Kate Phizackerley, who writes an excellent Egyptology blog. I’ve linked to her material before here at PaleoBabble, and I’ve also brought it to some of my students at WWU in my ancient Egypt class.

I sent Kate the story (beware that the some site filters grade it as dangerous; here’s an alternate version of the story) and asked her to look into it. She was quick on the draw. She posted her take on this topic today (Kate, we’ve never met, but if we do, I owe you lunch). Here is Kate’s response. It’s fair, it’s thorough and it’s technical in places. It’s also the best discussion of this you’ll find on the web. It shows once again that the three most potent antidotes in the world to ancient astronaut nonsense (and paleobabble of all kinds) are primary sources, peer-reviewed science, and logic.

Some pulled highlight quotations from her response:

  • Observing the haplogroup of an individual tells us about the individual’s haplogroup but it doesn’t directly reveal the haplogroup of their ancestors.  If somebody speaks perfect English, that doesn’t mean their parents also spoke perfect English: they might have spoken Spanish or Hindi.  It’s dangerous to extrapolate from one individual.
  • Even if Tutankhamun’s haplogroup is R1b that doesn’t mean his paternal ancestors were R1b as well.  They might have been a different haplogroup but have diverged from it by genetic mutation.  At the least, the analysis would need to show that Tutankhamun and his couldn’t be any other haplogroup, or at least that it would be statistically unlikely.  Showing that R1b is possible is not the same as showing that other haplogroups are not possible.
  • This though is the crux.  Even if you believe that Tutankhamun and his ancestors had a haplogroup of R1b would that make him European.  In short, not necessarily and, I believe once other factors are taken into account, almost certainly not.
  • Rather than look to Europe for an explanation, I think it is significantly more likely to look to the Sahara.  At the end of the Ice Age we know it was a fertile savannah.  If you talk with Andie Byrnes or read her blog on the Western Desserts, you’ll learn that ancient petroglyphs are present all across the Libyan dessert as well as the Egyptian. We believe that the Sahara was well populated.  As dessertification took place, the population would migrate in search of water.  Inevitably many must have followed the great rivers like the Niger into Southwestern Subharan Africa.  Other might have migrated eastwards into Egypt and settled around Egypt’s western oases – notably Siwa – and perhaps into the Nile Valley itself.  Such an explanation could, I believe, easily account for a haplogroup of R1b in the New Kingdom royal male line and seems entirely more plausible, in the context of social anthropology, than reaching to Europe for an explanation.

Isn’t logic refreshing? Please read Kate’s entire post.

Zecharia Sitchin and Sumerian DNA: Genetic Code for PaleoBabble

Some readers may have seen this article today. The page is the home of Cosmic Log, the science blog of Alan Boyle, science writer for MSNBC. Boyle interviewed Zecharia Sitchin (who’s hawking yet another book about how aliens are the explanation for human life and civilization). Sitchin is demanding that the proper authorities and specialists run genetic tests on Puabi, a Sumerian queen whose remains are at the Natural History Museum in London. Sitchin wants the museum to authorize the genetic testing to prove or disprove his thesis that aliens spliced their genetic material into an earth hominid to create human beings.  Naturally, the demand is being made in the wake of the recent genetic testing of King Tut’s remains and the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome.  Sitchin somehow thinks that his reputation and theories would be at stake if the tests were conducted.

Boyle also interviewed yours truly for this article–and I thank him here for including some of my comments in it.

It should come as no surprise that I think this is an utterly useless exercise.  Sitchin’s theories wouldn’t be at stake if these tests were run. His theories collapse on their own since none of what he claims is in the Sumerian texts about extraterrestrials is there. I have an entire site devoted to Sitchin. If readers go there, I hope they watch me do exciting (but absolutely telling) things like record myself searching the online Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature for the Anunnaki. The term (and synonyms, like Anunna) occurs over 100 times in Sumerian literature — you can get the results in a file from my site — and in no instance do we read things like the Anunnaki being on or in or associated in any way with Nibiru (which Sitchin says was their extra-solar planet home).  I also show his ideas about the Hebrew word “elohim” are incorrect. I won’t rehearse the site here, but there’s a lot on it that shows Sitchin’s ideas are without substance in every regard.

But even if Sitchin’s arguments weren’t vacuous, what about the testing? Think about it. Sitchin wants scientists to go find alien DNA or alien genes. Tell me, Mr. Sitchin, what would that DNA look like?  Since we don’t have an example or control sample of alien DNA or an alien DNA sequence portion, we have no idea what it would look like or how to observe a match from Puabi. Sitchin’s demand is akin to demanding a zoologist to go find an animal that has never been seen — how would our zoologist know if he was looking at one.  The demand is utterly pointless.

Ten years after first accepting the public challenge to debate Zecharia Sitchin on this stuff (a challenge Sitchin never accepted), I’m still amazed by how people can cling so tenaciously to ideas that are demonstrably wrong. It’s positively mystifying.

For those interested in taking some online courses with me on Sitchin’s ancient astronaut theories (and those of Barry Downing), click here.