When I spoke with Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli last week about the elongated skulls of Paracas, he assured me that his team anthropologist, Rick Woodward, who holds a master’s in anthropology and geography and who is currently studying for a Ph.D. in Biblical archaeology, was an expert in skulls and would be able to answer some basic questions about the supposedly anomalous osteology of the Paracas elongated skulls. I am always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and yesterday Marzulli posted to YouTube an interview he did with Woodward on Wednesday about the supposed skeletal anomalies. I was left a bit confused about Woodward’s approach and findings, which seemed to imply a lack of familiarity with the scholarly literature on the subject.
The interview can be seen in the YouTube video below at the 30-minute mark, after the half hour of rightwing propaganda and commercials for pet urine stain remover.
Woodard claimed that measurements of the Paracas skulls found that the foramen magnum, the hole in the base of the skull where the spinal column attaches, was located 1 cm further back than in an average human skull. “You cannot do that with head-binding. You cannot do that with head-wrapping,” he said. “That absolutely, positively has to be genetically done.” It was not, however, clear to me that he had accounted for the plastic nature of infant skulls, since his description appeared to refer to adult skulls, in which the bones are essentially fixed, rather than children’s skulls, where the bones are not fully grown and might be more susceptible to pressures created by outside forces. Indeed, as we shall see, other scholars came to similar conclusions years ago.
Woodward also said that the palate was shaped like a C rather than a U, meaning that the palate was wider and shallower. He also claims that the openings allowing for nerve and blood vessel attachments for the muscles that control the jaw, the foramen ovales, were missing “and there was no place for them.” Fortunately, I was able to find one of Marzulli’s team’s presentation slides in which the supposed anomaly appears:
It’s a little difficult to see, but the “normal” human skull appears at left and two elongated skulls at right. The foramen magnum is the big hole in the middle of each skull. The two elongated skulls’ openings are in the same position as the “normal” skull but appear to be farther back because the skull’s rearmost sections have been compressed out of position. Woodward states that this is impossible, and binding cannot compress the back of the head or move the foramen magnum without producing death. We will see that this is not the consensus of science.
They are, however, smaller in size. Whether this is due to cranial deformation pressures, genetic differences, or the skulls belonging to not yet fully developed individuals, I cannot say. A similar skull photographed by Brien Foerster does not appear to have a significantly smaller foramen magnum. Woodward dismisses this, without sufficient evidence, as merely skulls that have been hybridized with normal human DNA. Unless he has reliable dating to prove that anomalous skulls are decisively older, I don’t see how you can assume some skulls hybridized and then use the assumption to prove the point.
(The quotation from Brien Foerster is part of the image below as found online.)
As you can see, in the first photo the pointer is aiming at two small holes before the foramen magnum. These are the foramen ovales. They do not appear in the elongated skulls photographed by Woodward, but they are present in the one photographed by Foerster. The skulls Woodward photographed also seem to be in rough shape; I wonder if they were partially fossilized and if there is calcification that might have covered over the holes. Their presence in other elongated skulls argues against this being a genetic trait of Nephilim. In a quick review of the archaeological literature, I found references in some articles to the foramen ovales being filled in or sealed up in partially fossilized skulls. Admittedly, it is a topic so obscure that virtually nothing has been written about it.
Woodward added that the cheek bones were enlarged beyond what a normal skull would exhibit, and he claims that the foramen magnum’s anatomy is “reversed” from “normal” human anatomy, with the bony “slot” into which the spine slides appearing in the front rather than the rear of the hole. It seems difficult to believe that no anatomist in two centuries had caught on to the entire anatomy being backward. It is perhaps telling that while claiming genetic origins for traits like these, he also suspects that some of the features around the foramen magnum, the foramen condyles, became robust because of the unbalanced weight of the elongated skull sitting atop them, implying that this was an acquired characteristic due to stress and not a genetic trait.
Woodward offers a testable hypothesis: In announcing his belief that the Paracas people are a “new subspecies,” he says that they “undoubtedly had a longer neck” to compensate for their misplaced foramen magnum. This should be easy enough to establish. The skulls didn’t come from nowhere, and sure at least some have bodies whose locations are known. Do no Peruvian museums have complete skeletons with elongated skulls?
Based on his skull analysis, Woodward declares that the skulls came from “far Eastern Europe” or “the Middle East,” apropos of nothing. He claims that they were a genetic isolate and were “pushed out” when “wars” (presumably he means those of the invading Jews after the Exodus) pushed them out of God’s country. I need not point out that this makes no sense and has no relationship to the bones.
As the interview drew to a close, Woodward explained his research process. Woodward said that his mentor, Hiram Gregory, cautioned him to examine the Paracas people’s epigenetics, or how gene expression can vary according to environmental or other non-genetic factors, but Woodward said that his belief that these people represented an isolated remnant of pre-Flood Europeans meant that “epigenetics would not have been a concern.” This isn’t right. He further confused the issue by wrongly defining epigenetics as “the flow of genetics into a population,” and he seems to have confused epigenetics with gene flow (gene migration). He mentions a number of scholars that he claims provided him with the information he used in his analysis:
From this, Woodward derived a faulty conclusion: He determined that if head binding does not affect the base of the skull, then any changes to the base of the skull must be genetic. He failed to eliminate other potential explanations before leaping the conclusion that we are looking at a confounding mixture of (a) European, (b) Fallen Angel, and (c) new subspecies of human DNA.
The problem is that Woodward started out doing the right thing, asking more qualified scholars for help. But he asked them before he started examining the skulls and without showing them the skulls or asking for their opinion on his findings once he made them. Thus, he is applying hypothetical and general statements made by these experts as support for specific claims they never evaluated. A better approach might have been to ask the experts for their opinion on these specific skulls and whether there were alternative explanations for the features identified.
The claims Woodward makes for the impossibility and strangeness of these skulls, as it turns out, don’t entirely harmonize with the scholarly literature, where distinct differences in the cranial base, face, and palate similar to those found by Woodward were discovered and analyzed in 1992. An article in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology reported that:
Fronto-occipitally reshaped Ancon [prehistoric Peruvian] crania are significantly different from normal in the vault, cranial base, and face. The vault is compressed along an anterior-superior to posterior-inferior axis and expanded along a mediolateral axis in modified individuals. The cranial base is wider and shallower in the modified crania and the face is foreshortened and wider with the anterior orbital rim moving inferior and posterior towards the cranial base.
A second article that year by some of the same authors determined—surprise, surprise!—that head-binding also causes the mandible to take on a slightly wider and shallower form, meaning that it creates, as Woodward terms it, a more C-shaped rather than U-shaped jaw.
(Other studies had different findings, which some scholars attribute to differences in head-binding techniques, which are still not entirely understood.)
Moreover, a 2003 study of Peruvian skulls by two French scholars found that head binding produces noticeable changes in the basiooccipital area near to the foramen magnum, resulting in a foreshortened rear of the skull, a foramen magnum further back, and the other basic changes Woodward attributes to “subspecies” genes. The article provides this useful graphic comparing a morphologically “normal” skull (solid line) with an elongated one (dashed line) when the skulls have been controlled for size and the location of key features to produce a scientifically accurate comparison of the complete skull rather than selecting only one measurement to compare between them.
As you can see, when compared scientifically and centered in a fixed point in the anatomy, rather than compared in one single measurement as Woodward did, all of the morphological differences he observed fall within the expected variation. He got fooled by the projection of the face and the foreshortening of the rear of the skull, making it look like the foramen magnum is farther back in the skull, when really the features at the front and back of the skull have been remodeled.
Woodward finished with the claim that the sagittal suture is missing in these skulls, but here again this feature has been recognized in bound and elongated skulls for more than a century and attributed to the pressure of binding forcing premature closure, as Christine White reported in a 1996 study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and which can be found in literature going back to the Victorians.
So, while I don’t have any definitive explanation for the foramen ovales in the Paracas skulls, nearly all of the other identified features have already been researched and discussed in academic literature, which somehow Woodward has either chosen to reject in favor of a Biblical fantasy or does not know. Basically, it seems to come down to a case of an inexpert researcher imagining he has discovered the unknown when the answers have already been published.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.