Friday, April 15, 2011

Mystery Skull

Sixty to seventy years ago an American girl of Mexican heritage in her late teens (15 to 18) was taken by her parents to visit relatives living in a small rural village 100 miles southwest of Chihuahua, Mexico. The girl was forbidden to enter any of the area's numerous caves and mine tunnels, but like most teenagers, she went exploring. At the back of a mine tunnel she found a complete human skeleton lying on the ground's surface. Beside it, sticking up out of the ground, was a malformed skeletal hand entwined in one of the human skeleton's upper arms. The girl proceeded to scrape the dirt off a shallow grave to reveal a buried skeleton smaller than the human one and also malformed. She did not specify the type or degree of any of the "malformations."
The girl recovered both skulls and kept them for the remainder of her life. Upon her death they were passed to an American man, who maintained possession for five years before passing them to the American couple who now control them.
The Mystery Skull

Skull suturing and baby teeth in a detached piece of maxilla (upper jaw and palate) indicate death around 5 years of age. The face is missing from the upper bridge of the nose to the foramen magnum (the hole where the spine enters the skull), but the cranium and most of both eye orbits (the external parts of the sockets) are intact.
This skull's degree of humanity is at issue because several aspects of its morphology defy categorizing as genetic defect (inherited), congenital deformation (birth defect), or inflicted deformity (cranial binding).
Brain Volume

Though markedly different in shape, the skulls are roughly the same size. However, they exhibit a stunning difference in brain volume. The average volume for a human brain is 1400 cubic centimeters (cc). The volume of the human skull is 1200 cc, typical for a small human. In contrast, the volume of the child's skull is 1600 cc, which is 200 cc beyond the average for adult humans. And had it lived to become an adult, its brain capacity would have grown to 1800 cc or more, well beyond the human average.

The Starchild's brain volume, contained inside a cranium the size of a smallish human's,
is 1600 cc. A normal human skull has a brain volume around 1400 cubic centimeters.

In paleoanthropology (the study of ancient animals) a 200 cc increase in brain capacity of a human type creature warrants the naming of an entirely new species. Homo Erectus averages 200 cc more than Homo Habilis; Homo Archaic is 200 cc more than Erectus; Neanderthal is 200 cc more than Archaic. Thus, this child might well represent an unknown species of human-like beings.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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