The Starchild Debate: Point-Counterpoint
From Lloyd Pye <>
[The following is a critical letter written by Mr. Bari Hooper of Essex, England, to the editors of Fortean Times, a magazine published in England. In November of 1999, F.T. ran a story by Max McCoy regarding my efforts to promote the Starchild Project. Why it has taken until July of 2000 for this letter to be published is beyond me, but I have taken grave exception to both its tone and its basis in fact. Below is the letter in its entirety, followed by my response to it, which I hope Fortean Times will find means to publish in less than the seven months Mr. Hooper's complaint required to see print. --- Lloyd Pye]
Dear Sirs:
Your article "Star Child" describing "skeletal remains of an alien-human hybrid" cannot be allowed to pass into UFO folklore without being answered. The photographs accompanying the article clearly show two human skulls, an adult, probably male, and a child.
Although one might not ordinarily comment on a skull without physically examining it, from the photographs the child's skull appears to exhibit a mild case of hydrocephaly. This condition is sometimes known as "water on the brain," and in about a quarter of cases is probably congenital; the remainder originate from prenatal development, perinatal trauma, or as a result of post-natal infection. The condition usually becomes manifest in the fist six months of life, with the highest mortality rate occurring during the first 18 months. Cases have been reported from archeological sites in Europe, North Africa, and South America. One adult case of the Roman period is reported as having a cranial capacity of 2,600 cubic centimeters.
Vault deformity in the form of posterior flattening of the occipital region is also evident in both skulls, that in the child being particularly pronounced. Skull deformation of this type is usally caused by regular pressure being applied during infancy, the child having its head bound to a cradle-board. Artificial cranial deformation was widespread in antiquity, being found on every continent except Australia. It is still practiced today in some parts of the world, including Central America.
As for the supposedly abnormal eye sockets and lack of sinuses, I suggest that Mr. Pye, who is described in your article as an amateur anthropologist, takes a course in human skeletal anatomy. All of the foregoing information was apparently given to the protagonists of the so-called Starchild Project by American anatomists, but not surprisingly it was rejected by them. UFO loonies, like the religious cranks they closely resemble, subsist on faith rather than facts. If Mr. Pye succeeds in getting a DNA analysis for his skull, it will undoubtedly prove its mundane origins, but no doubt this fact will also be rejected.
[My response.]
Dear Sirs:
This regards Bari Hooper's rather scathing rebuttal of the article you published about me and my efforts to establish the biological credentials of what we have hopefully named "The Starchild Skull." Mr. Hooper opens his complaint by saying the adult human skull found with the Starchild is "probably a male," when forensic DNA testing proved beyond doubt it is a female. He then covers his pronouncement with the caveat that "one might not ordinarily comment on a skull without physically examining it." In that spirit I will open by saying one might not ordinarily call another person a complete ignoramus without knowing if they are truly as arrogant and narrow-minded as they sound.
From March through December of 1999, I attempted to raise enough funding to obtain expensive diagnostic testing of the Starchild's DNA. While trying to raise those funds, I took it to over fifty medical, physiological, and anthropological specialists with a widely varying range of expertise. My hope was that by undertaking a comprehensive survey, the results would be consistent and therefore accurate enough to provide an indication of what we might be dealing with. Some interesting results came from those encounters, to be sure, although very few provided substance regarding the Starchild's heritage.
Only five of those specialists actually took the time to carefully examine the skull. Every other one glanced at it for no more than a few seconds. Some would not even touch it. I know this sounds incredible, but it is true. They were either that dismissive of it, or that intimidated by it; I was never able to determine which. Like Mr. Hooper, fully half made an initial pronouncement that it was a cradle-boarded hydrocephalic. It seems obvious. I would then point out various reasons why the hydrocephalic end of the equation was not possible, starting with the unobvious fact that if you look inside the skull to view its inner lining, you find veins indented the bone up to the arch of the cranial vault, meaning there could not have been fluid on the brain. It was clearly solid brain pressing against bone.
Next I would point to the utter symmetry of the upper cranial "deformity," complete with an unmistakable finger-width "crease" in the bone where the two parietals meet, neatly bisecting the twin "bulges" that look so distinctively hydrocephalic. Even the most ardent supporter of that theory had to accept a zero likelihood that upward pressure of fluid on the brain would cause two symmetrical bulges while leaving a distinctive dent in the bone along the much weaker fault line created where the two parietal bones meet. If anything, that weakened area of conjoining should have been higher instead of lower. Case closed.
As for the cradle-boarding argument, in the many dozens of genuinely cradle-boarded skulls I had been shown or seen in studies, which included the human skull found with the Starchild, every single one stopped at the center-rear of the skull just above the knob of bone known as the "inion." This is because thick neck muscles attach to the inion, and to extend the compression further would severely damage the neck of any infant. Also, cradleboards leave the compressed bone with a glass-smooth surface, with even small convolutions pressed flat by the pressure of constraint. The rear of the Starchild's head, though quite flat by ordinary standards, nonetheless retains its natural convolutions.
The Starchild's inion is missing, replaced by a very shallow, thumb-tip-sized concavity relative to the surrounding surface. Furthermore, its neck muscles attach fully an inch below where they belong, and only an inch (half of normal) from the foramen magnum opening where the spine enters the skull. The foramen magnum itself is shifted forward an inch from its position in a normal skull, placing it dead center under the overall mass of the cranium. This means the Starchild's neck would have been 1/3 to 1/2 the width and volume of a normal neck, and centered directly under the skull case, moving it perilously close to the exact shape and position of nearly every "Gray" alien neck ever described.
My quick demolishing of the "cradle-boarded hydrocephalic" argument won me few friends among the specialists I consulted. After some strained, trying-to-be-polite chit-chat, I would be shown the door. Of course, I don't want to present an entirely one-sided picture. Other specialists had their own pet theories as to what had caused the Starchild's obvious physical deformity. Some said Apert's Disease, others said Crouzon's Disease, still others felt it had to be Treacher-Collins Disease. However, I would then ask if those disorders should leave the skull with normal bone density, and they would assure me it would. I would then hand the skull over to them and their jaws would drop, because the Starchild's bone density is uniformly only 40% of normal (proved by a recent test). In the hand it weighs only half of normal and feels like a dried gourd more than a skull.
I would like to think that had Mr. Hooper taken the precaution of examining the Starchild skull before metaphorically opening his mouth and adroitly inserting both feet, he would have been as gracious as most experts I consulted, who merely showed me their door. But since he called me a "UFO loonie" who "subsists on faith rather than facts," I will have to say to him that he could not be more wrong if he made a lifetime project of it.
To the best of my ability I try to live by facts, as opposed to the hysterical nay-saying of those who simply can't accept the possibility of undeniable proof of a human-like being that is not 100% human. And one fact in this case is clear: this skull is like nothing ever seen before by any specialist encountered. Not one could give it a name or a description that could then be found as a case study anywhere. They were all flying blind, taking their usual stabs in the dark with the assumption I would tuck tail, say, "Oh, well, then, Dr. Expert, sorry to have bothered you," and that would be the end of it.
I would also tell Mr. Hooper that in addition to the scientific specialists I took the skull to for examination, I also took it to roughly the same number of "mystics" and "sensitives" who wanted to "psychometrize" it for me. He will be pleased to know they were no more consistent in their "readings" than the scientists were in their analyses. And in the end, of course, there is only one source any of us can turn to for definitive answers regarding this greatest single physical anomaly on planet Earth-until proven otherwise. That source is diagnostic DNA testing, and the Starchild Project is still struggling mightily to obtain the funding and/or interest from those in position to provide that answer.
For what it may be worth, I am no longer in charge of day-to-day affairs regarding the Starchild. My year with it put me into a deep financial hole I will be trying to climb out of for the foreseeable future. Luckily, one of the experts I consulted was a cranio-facial plastic surgeon in Vancouver, Canada, named Ted Robinson. Upon seeing the skull and giving it a thorough examination, cranial expert Dr. Robinson admitted he was unaware of anything like it, but that he would like to check all reference books relevant to it to be certain of his appraisal. He was the first and only specialist to take that long route to an answer (instead of the glib shortcuts favored by Mr. Hooper and so many others).
After a few weeks Dr. Robinson called to say he was convinced. He had been through every textbook available and had proved to himself that there was absolutely nothing like the Starchild on record anywhere in the literature of human deformity. I asked him if he, a certified expert, was convinced enough to take over the Starchild Project from me, an uncertified layman, and thankfully he agreed to do so. Now, assisted by an excellent Vancouver anomaly researcher named Chad Deetken, they are doing all they can to move the Starchild Project forward. Ironically, even with Dr. Robinson leading the way, they keep encountering the same stiff official resistance I dealt with during the year I had it.
Mr. Hooper concludes his screed by stating that when the DNA results are in, they are bound to prove the Starchild had "mundane origins." He apparently doesn't know that whenever I discuss the Starchild publicly, I always stress the possibility that we may be barking up the wrong tree. Well-meaning people assured me that was an exceptionally poor tactic for raising funds, but the truth is the truth and I won't pretend otherwise.
Mr. Hooper also states we will reject the results if they are not to our liking. Not on your life, Bari, my boy! No one would be happier than me to just get this intractable problem solved! When the skull's owners first contacted me and asked me to arrange its testing, I told them it would take three or four months, tops. Here we are, 18 months later, and very little closer to any definitive truths than we were early on. Nonetheless, I can assure Bari Hooper and everyone else of this: diagnostic DNA testing cannot be argued with. It will say what it will say, then we will all have to deal with that in our own ways.
Lloyd Pye

This Site Served by TheHostPros