In the late 1990s, a strange-looking relic known as the “Star Child” skull first began to appear on the UFO lecture circuit. With its odd, bulbous shape, the skull appeared to bear obvious cranial deformation, causing it to have marked similarity to the alleged alien “Grays” represented in UFO abductee literature since the 1960s.
This similarity had been what prompted researcher Lloyd Pye, whose interest early on had involved reports of anomalous primates and mysteries of human origin, to take up the cause, championing the skull as bonafide evidence of alien visitation to Earth. Thus, throughout the rest of his life Pye proceeded with raising funds for scientific tests, in an effort to credibly present what became known as the “Star Child” to the world. Pye himself had said, upon first being shown the specimen, that it became his hope to “shove it down science’s throat.”
By Micah Hanks
The UFO Chronicles
For all his enthusiasm, the “alien” origin of the skull that became the focus of Pye’s efforts throughout the remainder of his life has yet to be proven. Though he had remained ever hopeful that the skull would turn out to be a likely candidate for ET, much of the data available today suggests otherwise, though certain ambiguities about its exact nature do persist.
The true aim of science, rather than to “prove” the unexplained, seeks to rule out the improbable, through tests for falsification which might yield new data that helps form future hypotheses and, eventually, new understandings of the nature of things around us.
In lieu of this, it would indeed be difficult to “prove” the existence of alien life with such a specimen, even in the event that it were found to bear anomalous, non-human traits, the likes of which Pye might have hoped for. After all, against what other information might the specimen and its traits be compared, in order to help indicate it hadn’t been of earthly origin?
For all of the specimen’s unusual traits, it is a human cranium that it most closely resembles. Nonetheless, this has done little to dissuade advocates of human-alien hybrid programs, nor the opposing critics who eagerly assert that it belonged to some other mammalian creature; these range from dogs or some variety of monkey, to perhaps the most absurd suggestion of all: that of a common mole (and this, despite the fact that the very largest species within the mole family, the Russian desman, clocks in at just 18 ounces, at its very heaviest).
Despite the controversy over its identity and origin, also amidst the persistent questions about the specimen are those dealing with where it was discovered, by whom, and most troubling of all, why it was dubbed the “Star Child” in the first place.
To understand these questions, one must trace the specimen back to its actual owners, from whom Lloyd Pye had initially borrowed the skull in February, 1999. It was through this meeting that Pye himself learned the story of its discovery in rural Mexico in the 1930s, alongside what had been a rather normal-looking companion.
Melanie and Ray Young are residents of El Paso, Texas. Some time in the mid 1990s, Melanie learned about the skull from a longtime friend, who inherited it from its original owner that passed away several years earlier.
“He had it in his garage for a number of years,” Young recalls of its years prior to entering her possession. Young had been operating a day spa at the time, and the wife of the skull’s owner had been one of her employees. After producing a number of photographs of the skull, Young asked if she could actually see the specimen. “He gave it to me, and said he didn’t know what it was. I started to examine it, and it had all the same bones you or I have, but they were misshapen.”
“It was the weirdest deformity I had seen,” Young said. “I also worked at the teaching hospital at the time, and it matched nothing that I had seen in our reference manuals.”
Young had worked in the medical profession for a number of years already. She attended the Methodist School of Nursing in Lubbock, Texas, and worked in the area of neonatal care for nearly two decades, prior to which she had been part of a pediatric oncology unit based in Lubbock. “It’s the highest stress area to work in a hospital,” Young says. “My care for kids is one reason why I felt this (skull) belonged to a child. Why did I think it was a child? Well that’s my love, and its size was small.”
Young’s friend explained that the specimen had been discovered in a cave or abandoned mine, which was said to have been located southwest of Chihuahua, Mexico. At the time of its discovery, the original owner had been in her teens, and traveled to Mexico on vacation with family members. Despite being instructed not to visit the mine shafts nearby due to safety concerns, the individual in question had done so anyway, leading to the discovery of a small skeleton bearing the unusual skull, buried beside a normal human skeleton which remained above ground.
With hopes for finding someone who could help garner attention from the scientific community, Young and her husband decided to attend a local meeting of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), where members in attendance were able to introduce her to a pair of specialists in the fields of neurology and orthopedics. Upon examination, the pair of doctors expressed little interest in the small, misshapen skull, focusing instead on its companion, the “normal” human skull (also still in Young’s possession), which seemed to bear evidence of damage sustained from possible injury.
Shortly thereafter, Young’s associates with MUFON advised that researcher Lloyd Pye would be passing through the area to give a presentation before the group’s local chapter. Arrangements were made for a meeting between the parties, which resulted in Pye obtaining the skulls, expressing hopes at procuring scientific testing to help determine the nature of the unusual specimen.
As for why it had been dubbed the “Star Child”, Young notes that at roughly the same time Lloyd Pye was given the skull, many in the UFO community had been urging for disclosure of its existence to the public. However, if it were to be presented publicly, a name for the new specimen would also be required.
“At the time, we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl,” Young says. “Since we were at a MUFON event, we adopted the word ‘star’, and ended up calling it the Star Child.”
A number of studies were carried out throughout the period in which Pye had kept the skull. However, as Young notes, Pye had at times been dismissive of certain test results, having seemingly grown attached to the notion that the skull might represent some evidence of extraterrestrials or, more specifically, a “hybrid” resulting from human and extraterrestrial interbreeding. This presumption seemed to lead Pye’s inquiries over the years, which nonetheless resulted in a number of scientific studies that revealed various traits attributed to the skull.
Presiding amidst the theories of the skull’s origin, it is believed that the “Star Child” had indeed belonged to a young male, whose unusual appearance resulted from a congenital defect (some have suggested a form of hydrocephalus, which Young disputes). The determination of the child’s gender is based on DNA testing that was conducted at the Bureau of Legal Dentistry in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1999. Standard X- and Y-chromosomes were present, indicating not only the male gender, but also the likelihood that each of the parents were human. A subsequent 2003 study conducted by Trace Genetics suggested that DNA contained within samples taken from the skull were of Native American origin.
While much has been made of dismissing the skull’s supposed “alien” origins in skeptical literature over the years, moving forward with the presumption of an extraterrestrial hypothesis is not the aim of Young’s current work. Presently, Young hopes that new scientific studies of the skull can help determine what it is not, rather than try to bolster claims of its exotic nature.
“All I thought about was the fact that it lived long enough for the bones to connect, and stay connected; for the teeth to have grown, and the teeth be used so much that wear on them could be seen,” Young says.
“There’s DNA present that we could use to help better (the lives of) our children if any of those deformities can be better understood. What was going on with this child 900 years ago that allowed it to survive? It has to be a genetic thing; what can we learn from the genetics that can help us?”
Young suggests that much of the controversy over the skull and its presumed “alien” origins stems from the name that was selected for it nearly two decades ago.
“That’s probably the thing that, basically, has been the issue. Because if you say ‘Star Child’, people Google it, and the first thing that comes up is Wikipedia, which says that it is hydrocephalic, and a result of head-boarding.”
Young disputes assertions that the skull is hydrocephalic. “If it were hydrocephalic, there would be a membrane between the bones,” Young says, adding that a dip running down the middle of the skull seems inconsistent with a hydrocephalic infant that managed to survive well into childhood. The child’s age beyond infancy is further supported by the teeth remaining within the skull, which show evidence of wear from chewing. Young also states that the skull’s shape is inconsistent with the results of cradle boarding observed in similar cranial samples from the period in question.
On December 9, 2013, Lloyd Pye died after several months battling lymphoma cancer. Having retired from active involvement in studying the Star Child skull prior to his death, the skulls were returned to Young’s possession, with a brief hiatus from further research.
“(Lloyd) never wrote another book, because he gave it all up to run with the Star Child, for me,” Young says. “I feel like I owe it to him, and his legacy, to finish this.”
With the intent of proceeding with new studies of the skull, Young enlisted the help of researcher and author Chase Kloetzke, who has participated in studies of human skulls from Paracas, Peru, which did display cranial deformation. Touted by some as being anomalous, Kloetzke has been among those who have demonstrated the human origins of these skulls, as well as the processes used to produce their elongated appearance.
Kloetzke’s studies have led her across three continents, where she has presented her research in public lectures, the likes of which brought her to Young’s attention at the 2016 International UFO Congress held in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Chase was doing her lecture, and I normally don’t stay for the question and answer portions,” Young recalls. “Somebody in the audience asked her the question, ‘what would be the evidence that would be the be-all, end-all for you?’ Chase told them ‘DNA’. My husband thought I was going to trip over people to get down to the microphone. I knew then that she was my person.”
Of the elongated Paracas skulls Kloezke has studied in the past, Young shares Kloetzke’s views that their unusual appearance can be explained.
“There are some I would really like to get hold of and examine more closely, but the majority look like they were banded,” Melanie says, again referencing the process of cranial deformation practiced by many early indigenous cultures. The unusual appearance of these elongated skulls has prompted some fringe theorists to present them as evidence of ancient contact between humans and extraterrestrials, despite the banding that led to their formation being widely recognized today.
With all its history of controversy, Young hopes that future studies of the skull will help shed light on its origins, and the nature of its possible deformities.
“We’re taking the project in a different direction. We’re not married to the outcome, we just want to get there.”
“I don’t want to challenge the findings,” Young adds. “I want to discuss them.”