Good news and not-so-good news. When the geneticists analyzing the Starchild's DNA pulverized its bone like a fossil made of
stone, they were able to cleanly recover mitochondrial DNA and compare
it with the less-clear recovery in the second test, which resulted from
treating the bone like normal bone. In both cases the mtDNA proved to be
from Haplogroup C, meaning the second test result was indeed accurate
and we can say with certainty that the Starchild's mother
was a human Meso-American from that distinctive group, and was
not the human female found with it (she was from Haplogroup A). That
much is settled.
In the all-important search for nuclear DNA, during the third run the
geneticists made four complete attempts at recovery without success.
This does not, it turns out, mean nuclear DNA is not present. The
clarity of the mtDNA recovery means nuclear DNA stands an
excellent chance of being there, too. In a normal recovery from a fossil
(say, a Neanderthal from 30,000+ years ago), very little mtDNA is
recovered and no nuclear DNA has ever been recovered. The degradation of
such ancient samples is comprehensive. However, with the Starchild
and the human found with it, such is not the case.
The human's mtDNA and its nuclear DNA were recovered easily on the first
test. Why? Because she didn't suffer any climate-driven ravages after
death. She laid exposed on the surface of a mining shaft, never baked by
the sun or soaked by rain. After 900 years she was in more or less
pristine condition. (Compare this to the famous 9,000 year old Kennewick
Man skeleton, which our geneticists also worked on. Because it was
exposed to the open air, it was soaked by water and scorched by the sun,
which leached out all traces of both mtDNA and nuclear DNA.) The
Starchild suffers from having been buried in somewhat acidic
soil, which accounts for the staining all over the skull and the
staining at the back of the human female's head. But the clarity of the
Starchild's mtDNA recovery in the third test means the degradation in
the acidic soil was not comprehensive. Bits and pieces of its nuclear
DNA are almost certainly there to be recovered, amplified, and tested.
Okay, so if it's there, what went wrong? Why no recovery in four tries?
Because it degraded enough so that the primers used by the geneticists
of today are not sensitive enough to capture and extract it. Understand
that the field of ancient DNA recovery is very new, only
beginning in 1995. For most of it there has been no concerted attempt to
recover the highly fragile nuclear DNA, with most primers being
developed to extract the more durable mtDNA. Now that is changing and
there are primers for attempting to extract nuclear DNA, but they are
not sophisticated nor, at this point, very effective. With
easy-to-recover DNA of the kind presented by the human found with
the Starchild (and, indeed, with any non-degraded bone less than
50 years old), they work fine. If not, the pathologists on "CSI" and
other TV shows of that ilk would have little to grapple with.
Our hope all along has been that the Starchild's burial soil
would not have been acidic enough to do terminal damage to either its
mtDNA or the nuclear DNA. There was no way to test that soil in advance,
since we have no samples of it and have no way to obtain any. So we
hoped for the best and moved forward. Now we know the soil was acidic
enough to lower the recovery threshold below what the current primers
can access. It is as simple--and as deeply frustrating--as that. But
before we all go letting our dobbers droop, let's look on the bright
side because in this case there really is one....a nice shiny one.
When telling me the disappointing news of no nuclear DNA recovery
in four attempts with the third extraction, the geneticists
explained the problems with the lack of sensitivity of current primers,
then they gave me three options.
(1) Start again
with a different lab to see if they could obtain a result. I
consider our guys two of the best in the game. If they can't do it,
nobody else can, either. Besides, we only need a second verifying
test if they obtain a positive result. There is no interest in, or
need for, comparing and contrasting inconclusive results.
(2) If we could
raise something approaching six figures, they could attempt to
construct primers specifically design to recover the
(3) We could
allow them to put the extraction they recovered into a nitrogen deep
freeze storage for a couple of years (think sperm storage or the
head of Ted Williams) and wait for the natural course of events in
the field to develop those primers under the auspices of
universities and labs with access to millions of dollars in
While they did not pressure
me in any way, I took into account their excellent work thus far, their
obvious passion for and commitment to their science and the task at
hand, and my own inability to raise dust on a dirt farm, so I chose option # 3. The extracted sample is now on ice, and we all
intend to hunker down to wait until we have better prospects for
recovering the Starchild's elusive--but almost certainly viable--nuclear
DNA. Meanwhile, several other things can happen to directly benefit this
project. The first is that the geneticists have strongly advised me to
have every test available applied to the Starchild's bone
because it is so clearly unlike normal human bone. This is not nearly as
expensive or as extensive as the DNA testing proved to be.
Fundamentally, it is basic chemistry at work.
These tests are as follows:
Mineral composition; and perhaps most interesting of all
These five tests should
provide us with all we can learn at this time about the
Starchild's boneand how it relates to normal human bone,
and we know going into it that we will be getting sharp deviations from
the norm. I have known that much for three years. The problem is that it
will not be enough to sway mainstream scientific opinion toward
accepting the Starchild as anything other than some weird
kind of physiological anomaly. Only DNA analysis and comparison can
Let me give a background story here. Over three years ago we
commissioned a bone scan comparison between the Starchild
and the human. Under a microscope the two slides could not have been
more different. I was delighted by what I saw. However, the pathologist
I was working with doused a bucket of cold reality on my enthusiasm.
"Yes, Lloyd," he said, "they're like apples and oranges. So what? That
doesn't mean your Starchild is of alien origin. All it
means is that it's a VERY weird human."
"Wait!" I protested. "If it's far enough from human, why CAN'T that mean
"There is no distance far enough from human that will permit a scientist
like myself to conclude it might be alien bone. We are trained to always
look for the simplest, most economical explanation for anomalies, and
the simplest, most economical explanation for what I see here is that it
is a VERY weird human. Period."
So let's understand what to expect from the upcoming bone tests. We can
come in with numbers that will boggle our own minds...distances from
normal bone densities, strengths, and mineral content that will scream
at us that it can't be human or even a terrestrial creature (say, if
beryllium is grossly abundant in it). Even if we get results like that,
science can hold us at arms length and explain it away with
"histological deformity" and "unique morphology" and all kinds of
technical mumbo jumbo that we will not be able to overcome.
In the end, all that counts in this game is DNA, so we
have to accept that and play within the rules laid out by our
competition, which we will continue to do as long as I'm involved with
it. We can't win playing dirty. On the other hand, we can serve notice
that the pendulum has swung in our direction, which is the great value
that the bone testing will provide. If we come in with five major
results deviating from the human norm, we can rest assured that
scientists will no longer be able to dismiss us as a bunch of howling
cranks. They will have to take the Starchild seriously
because of the extreme likelihood that the DNA results
will be a clear reflection of the bone analysis. Bone analysis alone
they can dodge and weave and work around, but DNA is a skewer through
their hearts because it is the bedrock of their own testing protocols.
In every case it says what it says, independent of their own dogma or
anyone else's (i.e., organized religion, government....even my own).
Two other things I would like to do, and I think would be quite useful,
dating test other than Carbon 14, which is not as precise as some of
the newer techniques.
(2) I'd like to
go ahead with the long-awaited forensic sculpture so we can all have
a glimpse of how the Starchild might have looked in life.
To do all of this--the bone
testing, the new dating, and the forensic sculpture--in total should
cost somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on the quality of
the labs we use and the forensic sculptor we select. We do not have this
amount in the Starchild Fund at present, but I am hoping
many of you can see the value in what we are doing and will choose to
dig down one more time to get us past this final obligation before we
settle into however long we must wait until the geneticists feel fully
prepared to go after the nuclear DNA again.
Another thing I need to mention is that a comprehensive technical report
is being written by the geneticists, which will be more for the benefit
of curious and/or doubting peers than for non-specialists (wait till you
read even a little of it!). They hope to have it ready for posting on
the Starchild website by the
end of this month (August 2003) at the latest. When I post their report
I will also be posting a long wrap-up report of my own that will cover
all of the developments in the four-and-a-half years I have been working
on this project. That long report will cover all I've learned about it
up to this point, which I expect to serve as a helpful introduction to
individuals who will hear about it in the intervening couple of years
and come to the site to learn more.
If you are a fan of the Starchild Project and feel
disheartened by these results, please try to focus on the incredible
things we have accomplished while obtaining them. Unlike nearly every
other alleged relic or artifact in the field of alternative knowledge,
we have taken the Starchild skull and shoved it like a
huge pile of chips right out into the middle of science's great crap
table and said, "Throw the damn DNA dice!" We all stood there--you, me,
all of us who have supported this effort--shoulder to shoulder, and
watched those dice roll. As it happens, one (the nuclear DNA result)
ended up standing on edge. No winner, no loser. So now we have to wait a
couple of years before rolling it again.
Please don't miss the point we've made loud and clear to anyone who
would listen during this long, often tortuous process. It harkens back
to one of the stanzas in Rudyard Kipling's classic poem about
"If you can make a heap of
all your winnings,
and risk it all on one turn of pitch and toss,
and lose, and start again at your beginnings,
and never say a word about your loss...."
Well, that's what we've
done. We risked it all on one turn of pitch and toss. We didn't flinch.
We were ready to take the hit if that's what came our way. It didn't.
Now it looks very much like the hit is going to go the other way. To me
it looks very much like all we have to do is be patient, keep playing
within ourselves, and we're going to walk away from this table as
winners in the greatest gamble any of us will probably ever take.
September 10, 2003
The promised "Official
Report" from the geneticists regarding the DNA testing is now posted on
the website for your perusal (http://www.starchildproject.com/SCSreport.PDF).
I encourage you to at least browse through it to see for yourselves the
seriousness with which these gentlemen approach their work. Also recall
that they stand ready to follow up with further testing when the
primers--their principle tool of recovery--become sensitive enough to
reach the Starchild's nuclear DNA and retrieve whatever is
there. Then the fun will truly begin....
Meanwhile, I'm having a difficult time getting the bone itself analyzed
in every way it possibly can be. This is critical to building our case
because, for example, there might be some outrageous percentage of boron
in it, or beryllium, or anything else. Given how much harder it is than
normal human bone, a number of possible explanations spring to mind. The
trick is finding out for certain what might cause the wide difference
between human bone and the Starchild's bone. Here is where
I've hit another of the endless speed bumps that keep delaying this
process. Here, too, is where some of you reading this might be able to
help me out.
The problem is that I've been unable to find a laboratory in the U.S.
willing to do the work we require. The only lab in the world I have
found that can do it, and is willing to do it, is Kureha in Japan. If
you care to see what services they offer, go to
If you don't want to go to that much trouble, here it is in a nutshell:
preparation of bone and tissue samples;
measurement of bone mineral composition;
measurement of bone density;
measurement of bone strength [very important to us!];
What's happening is exactly
what happened when I tried to get scientists to analyze the skull in the
first place, and then again when we tried to find a lab to analyze
its DNA. They don't want to get involved because of what it
might do to their reputations if they become entangled with such a
"disreputable" subject. Now, it's pointless to argue about the pros and
cons of their position, but it IS their position and we have to work
with that. What is even more difficult about the bone analysis situation
is that senior scientists who have found out what we want from their
field seem to be working behind the scenes to make sure nobody here in
the U.S. will help us. So we are being forced offshore by nothing more
than a few determined people playing serious hardball.
I'm confident we can find a way to go to Japan if we have to. We don't
have the money, or anywhere near it, at the moment, but we will simply
have to pull together and find a way. However, I don't intend to take
that step unless I absolutely have to, so this is where one or more of
you might be able to help. Maybe you know a friend or relative who works
in a lab that does the kind of detailed bone analysis we're seeking. If
you do, or think you do, please forward our requirements (listed above)
and ask if they would consider doing these tests for us. (Not for free,
of course; we are prepared to pay the going rate.) Tell them we're also
looking for another dating test that's not Carbon-14 (we've already done
that). If anyone is interested, please have them contact me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org. They work equally well.
Lastly, and frankly, the air is out of the Starchild's balloon.
Contributions have dwindled to almost nothing. We do have enough
to pay for bone testing in the U.S., but not enough if a trip to Japan
is required. For those wondering why such a trip might become necessary,
understand that getting someone to agree to do the testing is half the
battle. The other half is getting someone we can trust to give honest,
truthful answers. That's why we were so lucky to get the geneticists we
found. They both have the proper scientific attitude of "Yes, this is an
interesting situation...let's work to get to the bottom of it." So
SOMEBODY has to go make certain that those doing the actual work are
motivated to produce a valid result. I don't think that can be done over
the phone or by email. I think it requires taking someone's measure
eye-to-eye to be confident we'll get what we pay for. So please be
advised that if it comes down to having to go to Japan, it won't be me.
Instead, I'll send a close associate who happens to be fluent in
Japanese. If I went, entirely too much could be lost in translation.
Needless to say, there is now a new Starchild Fund account
number that I won't be making public. Anyone wishing to support our
ongoing efforts (the air is definitely NOT out of OUR balloon!) should
send a check, money order, or bank draft made out to "The Starchild
Fund" (not to me).