Weird skulls that were recently found in China were so strange, they were believed to be of extraterrestrial origin – but a new archaeological report has explained the true origin of these 12,000-year-old skulls.
A new research paper titled “Intentional cranial modification from the Houtaomuga Site in Jilin, China” was authored by researchers from China, the US, and Singapore.
11 Bizarre skulls unearthed
Archaeologists dug up 25 individual skulls between 2011 and 2015 from tombs at the Neolithic Houtaomuga archaeological site in Jilin, China. Humans were living in this area up to 12,000 years ago, an area that is now northeastern China.
Archaeologists referred to the unusually shaped heads as “Xenomorph” skulls, because of their bizarre elongation. It was first believed that the skulls might be of extraterrestrial origin.
Explanation of the strange skulls
A team of researchers investigating the phenomena came to the conclusion that the skulls were not those of aliens, but rather humans.
So how did the strange shapes occur?
The archaeologists determined that the strange, elongated skulls were not the results of birth defects. Rather, they are the oldest evidence of skull modification in human history. Examining the skulls under CT scans revealed an intentional modification.
An ancient practice
Skull modification goes far back into human history, somewhere between 5,000-12,000 years ago.
Why these humans modified their skulls in such a way is unknown. Archaeologists can only guess, with some postulating that it was a symbol of social status, while others believe it to be accidental.
How did ancient humans modify their skulls?
Scientists believe that in order to achieve such cranial modification, it was necessary to begin reforming the skull in infancy. When babies are born their skulls are still soft, making them malleable to subtle pressure, and can continue to be shaped as it grows. Scientists believe that a baby’s head was most likely wrapped with a cloth and/or shaped with boards.
Scientists also believe that such a manipulation on the bones of the skull does not have any effect on cognitive function.