Alien like bones and skulls have been found in an unexpected place where scientists had not previously seen cranial deformation and dental mutilation in either Sonora or the American Southwest.
Archeologists report that of the 25 burials, 17 were children between 5 months and 16 years of age.
The first evidence of deforming skulls was found in the northern Mexican state of Sonora when residents were digging an irrigation canal in 1999.
Human skulls deliberately warped into strange, alien-like shapes have been unearthed in a 1,000-year-old cemetery in Mexico, researchers say.
The practice of deforming skulls of children as they grew was common in Central America, and these findings suggest the tradition spread farther north than had been thought, scientists added.
The site, referred to as El Cementerio, contained the remains of 25 human burials. Thirteen of them had deformed skulls, which were elongate and pointy at the back, and five had mutilated teeth.
Dental mutilation involves filing or grinding teeth into odd shapes, while cranial deformation involves distorting the normal growth of a child’s skull by applying force — for example, by using cloths to bind wooden boards against their heads.
“Cranial deformation has been used by different societies in the world as a ritual practice, or for distinction of status within a group or to distinguish between social groups,” said Cristina Garcia Moreno, an archaeologist at Arizona State University. “The reason why these individuals at El Cementerio deformed their skulls is still unknown.”
“The most common comment I’ve read from people that see the pictures of cranial deformation has been that they think that those people were ‘aliens,'” Garcia added. “I could say that some say that as a joke, but the interesting thing is that some do think so. Obviously we are talking about human beings, not of aliens.”
A number of skeletons also were found with earrings, nose rings, bracelets, pendants and necklaces made from seashells and snails from the Gulf of California. One person was buried with a turtle shell on the chest. It remains uncertain why some of these people were buried with ornaments while others were not, or — another mystery — why only one of the 25 skeletons was female.
During the next field season, the researchers aim to determine the cemetery’s total size and hope to find more burials to get a clearer idea of the society’s burial customs. “With new information, we also hope to determine whether there was any interaction between these and Mesoamerican societies — how it was and when it happened,” they said.
Researchers completed their analysis of the skeletal remains in November. They plan to submit their research to either the journal American Antiquity or the journal Latin American Antiquity.