- [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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Site Served by TheHostPros