Yesterday afternoon I spoke with Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli and Biblical archaeologist and pastor Mondo Gonzales about their preliminary investigation into the elongated skulls of Paracas, Peru. In the course of the conversation, Marzulli apologized for calling me a weasel, and we had a friendly and civil discussion of some of the major issues surrounding the announcement of results of DNA testing and morphological analysis on a series of skulls from Peruvian museums. I also learned from Marzulli that Brien Foerster has been dismissed from the research team for sensationalizing the results and will not be part of future investigations.
I am describing our conversation with Marzulli’s permission, and he asked that I summarize some of the key findings before discussing them. Here are some of the highlights he and Gonzales presented to me during our thirty-minute talk:
Based on the results of this preliminary investigation, Marzulli and Gonzales plan to seek permission to excavate new skulls that can be tested “fresh” from the ground, with the hope that the DNA will be less degraded than in those that have been in museum collections for decades.
In reviewing the results, some questions came to my mind, and I asked them of Marzulli and Gonzales. A series of academic papers published in 2013 and 2014 established that the founding populations of Native Americans shared significant genetic connections to central and western Eurasia, and to the Europeans descended from the founding populations of those areas. How do the team’s results compare to these findings? How do they plan to differentiate between an ancient connection to western Eurasia and a relatively recent influx of Middle Eastern or European voyagers, as Marzulli speculated might be the case? Marzulli and Gonzales were unaware of recent literature on Native American genetics but promised to look into the issue.
I also wanted to know how Alday and Woodward were able to differentiate between alleged genetic anomalies that prevented the formation of a sagittal suture and the process, documented since the nineteenth century, whereby head-binding causes the sagittal suture to close prematurely and the bone to grow together, leaving no fissure. They directed the question to Alday and Woodward and offered to get back to me with an answer.
When Marzulli and Gonzales said that the foramen magnum of each elongated skull appeared anomalous when compared to anatomically normal human skulls, I asked if they had been compared to known examples of elongated skulls produced by head binding. They had not. I also asked if the anomalies were compared to other forms of disordered skulls and not just normal ones, and again they directed the question to Alday and Woodward.
I did not have time to get into questions of collection protocol, which is too far outside my even cursory knowledge to productively interrogate. My gut feeling, however, from listening to them talk is that the haplogroup K result might well be the result of accidental contamination, but I do not have enough information to evaluate this accurately.
A deeper concern that I had revolved around the fact that neither Marzulli nor Gonzales had an expert’s command of their own findings. Gonzales, for example, specifically stated that he did “my part” and trusted the other team members to do theirs. He did not, for example, discuss in detail with the other team members the underlying arguments for why the elongated skulls are allegedly outside the range of normal human anatomy, and neither he nor Marzulli was able to answer questions about whether the supposed anomalies can be found in skulls elongated by head-binding or in indisputably human skulls exhibiting pathologies. Similarly, both men emphasized their lack of qualification to address questions about the deeper details of their genetic tests, and they were unfamiliar with recent literature on Native American DNA and its connections to central, rather than northeastern, Asia.
In the end, I came away convinced the Marzulli and Gonzales were genuinely trying to understand elongated skulls in Paracas and their cultural and biological history. But I was equally convinced that they had not actually developed a carefully considered program of study to gather the answers. They had not generated a testable hypothesis, nor considered how to differentiate among potential alternative explanations. Both were utterly convinced that there was something inexplicable about the Paracas elongated skulls, but I was genuinely surprised that neither had really considered how to determine what they felt was weird or what it means. They rushed into DNA testing (and a book and DVD set to market it) and struggled to find a post hoc justification for having done so without a theoretical or methodological foundation, eventually deciding that no conclusions were possible. As Charles Darwin once said, “How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!” I cannot help but feel that the influence of their shared ideology and the lack of an objective voice on their team has had a negative impact on their approach and analysis.
Marzulli thanked me for some of the questions I asked and said that these were important issues to address in order to produce more rigorous results. He offered to answer additional questions about the DNA results and osteological analysis, but I confess that my expertise on this subject is limited. Therefore, I would like to open the questioning to my readers. Let me know in the comments below or by email what you would like me to ask Marzulli about the tests and analysis of the Paracas skulls, and I will collect these questions and pass them on for him to answer. I look forward to hearing what you’d like to know.
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.