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Mysteries

Top 10 Skull Hoaxes

Kate Mulcahy . . . Comments

Skulls are an interesting part of the skeleton, because they give us an idea of what the face of its owner was like. To those who study them, skulls can also give a wealth of information about diet, lifestyle, health, age, and even brain size. Throughout history, many strange skulls have been discovered which seem to go against all previous knowledge. Sometimes such skulls lead to better understanding in various fields, but unfortunately there have always been those who enjoy fabricating unusual skulls for attention and profit. These skulls fall down in the face of proper testing, yet they persist until the fraud is discovered and can be of great interest. This is a list of hoax skulls, mistaken skulls, and unusual or misleading practices pertaining to skulls.

10

Starchild Skull

Starchild Skull-Alien-Surfer-Jerry

This skull was apparently found in Mexico around 1930 but only showed to the public by Lord Pye in 1999. It was claimed to either be the skull of an alien infant or an alien-human hybrid. Although the damaged lower skull was child-like, the upper cranium was huge, being 1600mL, over 400mL larger than would be expected based on the lower skull. Pye claimed that radiocarbon dating had proved it was 900 years old and that anonymous scientists had confirmed it to be the skull of an alien. However, independent DNA testing revealed the skull to be Native American, belonging to a child who probably had hydrocephalus, or ‘water-in-the-brain’, a congenital disorder where there is too much fluid in the skull. Sufferers of this condition can develop abnormally large craniums, although modern medicine can now relieve the fluid pressure with cerebral shunts to drain the excess liquid.

9

Calveras Skull

Screen Shot 2012-02-26 At 12.43.44

This skull was found by miners in Calaveras, USA, in 1866. It was used by Josiah Whitney as proof that humans had lived in the Americas as long ago as the Pliocene age, over two million years ago. It looked quite modern, and was referenced by many creationists as proof that humans had not changed or evolved through time. Chemical tests showed that it was much more recent, and the story of its discovery did not match with the condition of the skull itself, yet Whitney remained adamant that it was genuine. It was so widely believed to be a hoax that many people came forward and claimed that they themselves had planted it as a practical joke. In 1992, radiocarbon dating conclusively showed it to be only about 1000 years old.


8

Phrenology

Phrenology Head

Phrenology was a European pseudoscience that was in vogue during the nineteenth century. Doctors had observed that people whose brains were slightly more developed, and therefore bulged, in certain regions had corresponding mental faculties. For example, people with lesions (gaps) in the speech area of their brains are often unable to speak. This lead to the idea that by measuring the slight bumps and bulges of the skull they could determine the shape of the brain and infer data about someone’s mental abilities. Many people used it to show that they were intrinsically superior to others. It was even used as fortune-telling for children to see how they would fare as adults. Unfortunately, the shape of the brain does not even closely correspond to the shape of the skull, and moreover, the areas of the brain said to carry traits such as ‘conscientiousness’ and ‘suavity’ have since been shown to be incorrect. However, phrenology did increase interest in neuroscience and indirectly led to much more scientifically sound knowledge.

7

Piltdown Man

Piltdown Man

In 1912 in Piltdown, England, Charles Dawson discovered a strange skull that had a curious mixture of human and ape features. He claimed it was the ‘missing link’ between humans and apes. This skull had the upper face and tall cranium of a human, but the long, sloping jaw of an ape. The skull was in fact a human cranium coupled with an orangutan mandible and filed-down chimpanzee teeth, all stained to appear more ancient. As more and more human ancestor skeletons were found, Piltdown man began to look more and more out of place. In 1953, scientists conclusively showed it to be a farce. Piltdown man inspired huge paleontological debates about how humans evolved and it remains one of the most famous hoax skulls.

6

Batavus Genuinus

Image2

In 1828, a strange skull from the island of Marken in the Netherlands was found. Although it was dated as modern, it differed from other human skulls with its sloped forehead. Hypotheses to explain this abounded, most prominently that the islanders were in fact not homo sapiens but a more ancient hominid which had evolved in isolation, dubbed ‘batavus genuinus.’ Anthropologists noted that the islanders did indeed have sloped foreheads, and some claimed that they were the modern descendants of Neanderthals. In 1912, a Dutch physician finally showed that the traditional tight headwear worn by Marken children was what caused the foreheads to develop with a slope. Marken children brought up off the island do not have sloped foreheads, and the Marken people are quite able to have healthy children with other humans, showing that they are indeed homo sapiens.

5

Trepanning

Trepanning-Skull-Granger

Trepanning was a practice done since at least eight thousand years ago. It involved drilling a hole in the skull as a treatment for many head-related disorders, such as headaches, seizures, and mental disabilities. Many skulls with trepanned holes have been found. Trepanning did not always result in death, as many of these skulls show some degree of healing which would have occurred over several weeks or months after the procedure. Even so, there would have been many deaths due to infection. Today trepanning is still used as pseudoscience by various people purporting that it releases evil spirits or energy, that it improves health, cures depression, and various other unsubstantiated claims.


4

Giant skull

Screen Shot 2012-02-26 At 12.46.30

The military is said to have secured a large area and forbidden anyone entry except government personnel. The site was kept in complete secrecy until a helicopter secured photographs as it flew overhead. The photos show workers uncovering a skull of phenomenal size, and gradually revealing the rest of the giant skeleton. The skeleton became famous in email forwards that gave some variation of the above story, but in fact, the photographs were created through manipulation by combining various real but unrelated pictures. Other giant skulls have been put forward, but all have been either falsified, mysteriously misplaced, refused examination, or have actually been Neanderthal skulls, which are slightly larger than human skulls.

3

Elongated Skulls

Skull-1

A huge number of skulls with long or deformed craniums have been found around the world, with some groups advertising them as authentic alien skulls. Infant skulls are relatively soft and pliable, and there have been many peoples who would traditionally deform them by tightly binding the heads of their babies for several months, similar to the Marken people. Skulls deformed in this way predate written history, and every skull examined with DNA tests has been shown to either be that of a modern human or a Neanderthal. More recently, various Germanic, American, and native Australian people have practiced skull deformation, and is still done in a small number of places today. It is thought to be done for aesthetic reasons or to show social status, and if done correctly, does not cause brain damage.


2

Horned Skulls

Humanskullhorned

There are many claims of horned human skulls being found; however, very few have ever been physically presented for independent inspection. Although peculiar human skin tumors can appear to be horns, they are not part of the skeleton and are more similar to fingernails than true horns. The horned skull stories probably began when a large number were reported to have been found in Pennsylvania that suspiciously vanished before they could be studied by experts. Some stories even claim that they had two rows of teeth or demonic powers. Although some versions insist that experts have verified horned skulls to be genuine, the cited experts either do not exist or deny the verifications they are claimed to have made. Similar to horned skulls are crested skulls, which are quite real and belonged to paranthropus, a genus of hominids with huge jaws for chewing seeds and roots. Their powerful jaw muscles were attached to the skull crest, much like in modern male gorillas.

1

Crystal Skulls

294 00 2

According to legend, these skulls have been circulating among collectors and museums since the late nineteenth century. They were crafted over 3000 years ago by the Mayans or Aztecs with the help of aliens, and were the center of strange mysticisms. Touching one would heal you and give great power. There were 13 in total, although we still have not recovered them all. If you bring all 13 together you would have the power of a god. Unfortunately, all of the skulls examined thus far were made in Europe, have been dated to be less than two centuries old, most being far younger, and there are no Mayan or Aztec legends pertaining to them except those which were written based on what had been said after the skulls were found rather than on actual archaeological evidence. Although beautifully made, these skulls and their associated legends are nothing more than an elaborate hoax. It is still a mystery whether they were all made by one person, if one was made first and inspired others, or if they were originally intended to be passed off as real at all.



  • jess

    good list

  • As a kid, the horned skull(s) story fascinated me. To think that there might still have been creatures like that out there was the stuff of nightmares. Sigh – reality sucks.

    • dizit

      cqsteve “…Sigh – reality sucks.”
      @@@

      That reminds me of the old joke:
      “How does gravity work?”
      “The earth sucks.”

      • Lol Cat Man

        That is the best gravity joke ever.

        I take my hat off to you :)

        • dizit

          :)
          Thanks Lol Cat!

      • Boooo

        Wow, I can think one other thing that sucks…YOUR ATTEMPTED ‘JOKE’ !!

        • blaqthaafrican

          reminds me of what my teacher used to say, “if you ain’t got shit to say then shut the fuck up and sit your ass down”

          • dizit

            Sooooo true blaq! Thanks for that :)

  • owen

    repeat?

    • Skull fan

      Ooh is there another skull list? Can you tell me the title so I can read it?

  • bored

    boooring

    • Frank

      You should change your name to Dumb As F*ck cause thats what you are.

    • Pauly

      Boring? Entry #2 was…1000% METAL!!!!!

      AVE SATANAS!!! SSSSSLLLLLAAAAAYYYYYEEEEERRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • DSFF

        I agree it was boring

        • Anony

          No one cares for your opinion.

  • Ozzy

    I watched a documentary on the Crystal Skulls just yesterday and it had a pretty bias view toward them being genuine, would be pretty fascinating if they were though. Great list.

  • Indiana

    This is really interesting. I really want a crystal skull now.

  • Q

    Good list.

  • dizit

    As soon as I saw the list title, I was certain the “Star Child” skull would be on it :) . Skulls have always fascinated me. I’ve read a lot of “skull stories”, many of the ones listed and others, equally interesting. Hoaxes about skulls are amazing and amusing, and real skulls offer wonderful insights into the past.
    Interesting list, Kate, thanks.

  • Goliath

    If you search on Google, there are tons of sites which claim to have real proof of giant skulls that prove aliens, god, magic, or whatever. I’ve always thought them hokey, but this is a pretty good summary.

  • SkullDude

    It’s amazing how much they can tell about an animal from it’s skull. A lot of what we know about human ancestors is from finding their skulls, and even though we oten go down dead ends because of fraud ones, it’s good that overall we gradually correct things and learn more.

  • ben

    I never thought skulls could actually be interesting, but I am proud to have been proven wrong in this case.

  • Joe Momma

    He will never be the head of a major corporation!
    Kinda head strong…
    He will never get a head in life!

    • Missy

      Very good! Don’t forget ‘If you want to get a hat, get ahead’. Or is that the other way around??

      Good list, though. Never thought of a skull hoax list!

    • Vincent

      Kid born with no arms, legs, body, just a head. When he was nine, Dad called him over, “Oi, Head! Got a present for ya!”
      Head: “Not another [email protected]&$in’ hat, is it?”

      When he was a teenager, he joined the swim team. The race started, everybody dove in, and Head sunk to the bottom. After he was fished out, he complained “S$&t! I got a cramp!”

      Now 21, he rolls into a bar, orders a drink.
      To the bartender: “Now stick a straw in it!”
      Head inquires, “Dya have darts here?”
      Bartender nods. “Get me a dart, stick it in my mouth… feathers first!” says Head. “Now throw the [email protected]&$in’ board at me!!!”

      (props to Rodney Rude)

      • Hey

        WTF!? That’s not even remotely funny. I feel bad for you for typing all that out for nothing.

        • Vincent

          It’s ok. It’s probably not Humor Day where yer at. :)

          • Hay

            It was until you f**ked it up.

      • Missy

        Vincent, I love your style. Humor Day!! We need one of those in Perth.

  • Gramps

    I knew someone who got a tattoo of a skull completely covering his face. It’s cool, but I always wonder about when he’s old. He’ll never be able to pull off “kindly grampa” or “easy-going grampa” or anything. Only “scary hardcore grampa.” I hope that’s what he still wants to be when he’s that old.

    • Gnarly

      I always wonder that about people who get those sorts of tattoos too! Maybe by the time they’re older there’ll be invented decent tattoo-removal.

    • YeahThatToo

      I wouldn’t worry; he will either die of an overdose or be murdered long before he’s a Grandpa.

  • your opinion on trepanation being popular “as pseudoscience by various people purporting that it releases evil spirits or energy, that it improves health, cures depression, and various other unsubstantiated claims.” you failed to take into concideration in Neurosurgery to help relieve pressure against the skull leading to higher incidents of brain trauma or damage

    • Wailing one

      That’s not strictly speaking trepanation. It does allow pressure release, but it is done in a different way and for different reasons.

    • Testamony

      In neurosurgery they use a craniotomy, which is quite a different procedure, and done or completely different reasons. The bone is removed to give access to the skull, rather than to release things, and it is replaced afterwards. In trepanation the bone is usually kept and worn as jewelry for luck. In craniotomies, lots of scans are used to determine where to remove the bone from, rather than guesswork. It is also done with cutting instruments and not a drill. Apart from both involving removing bone from the head, they have few other similarities.

      • Resident

        This is almost accurate. Craniotomies are when a hole is made to access the brain and then the bone segment is reattached. In craniectomies, a portion of bone is removed and then is not replaced. Suffix -ectomy meaning to remove. Like tonsillectomy. These surgeries are done for decompression purposes. I would consider a craniectomy to be the modern equivalent to treppaning. Not a craniotomy.
        Also, drills are used all the time in neurosurgery. They are used in orthopedic surgery as well.

    • Bones

      “My God, man. Drilling holes in his head isn’t the answer.” -McCoy

  • Arsnl

    ” bulges… Many people used it to show that they were intrinsically superior to others.”
    Oh god. Im so happy I’m not the only one that parades his unusually large bulge.
    “batavus genuinus”? Seems to me like someone found Armin’s ancestors.
    “The military is said to have secured a large area and forbidden anyone entry except government personnel”
    Oh relax. That’s just the sequal for a new Justice league or The Avengers movie. They probably found Hulk or someone like that.

    • Flippant

      Im so happy I’m not the only one that parades his unusually large bulge.

      *has a perve*

      Oh!

      http://images.cheezburger.com/completestore/2011/10/24/733234d2-4815-4370-afcd-66c57aff4981.jpg

      :D

      • Arsnl

        Hey it’s not to polite to stare. I know, I know…impressive but still. There’s no need to objectify me. I am a human being too. I’ve got feelings.

        • Flippant

          I am a human being too.

          Lol nuh-uh, Arsni.. I see through your clever ruse. :D

          Arsnl ~ many just assume that that’s a shortening of an English soccer (“fütball” for the purists) club. But it’s not a lowercase letter “L” at the end, rather a capital “i”.

          AI = Artificial Intelligence. Although you’ve tried to hide it, and sorry to blow your cover, I know that you’re a robot.. a French robot!

          But dont worry, you’re safe from me. After the last “incident,” I’m not allowed to keep robots anymore. I’d stabbed a pencil into the robot’s eye and rolled over. The pleasure-bot had done it’s job, but I didn’t want it watching me sleep.

          It was removed from my possession the next day. I like to think that it was winking at me on the way out.. but it was more just that it now had a bung eye. ;)

        • Flippant

          Hmmm.. my comment is “awaiting moderation.” I really can’t pick what the problem might be. Touchy, touchy censor. :P

          • Flippant

            Lol it’s still locked up! What is this madness? =)

            Hmmm.. I said the word as//sume, that maybe would get censored. But I still don’t see what would cause the whole post to be put in quarantine. Strange.

            Well, clearly Arsni has intervened and doesn’t want me spilling the beans. :D

            A forbidden writing is thought to be a certain spark of truth, that flies up in the face of them who seek to tread it out. – Sir Francis Bacon

  • Will Trame

    I’ve always been fascinated by the Piltdown Man hoax. It’s amazing that people can at times be badly fooled for nearly four decades. Charles Dawson, who was featured in Jay Robert Nash’s book “Zanies”, went to his grave a famous (if notorious) man…which is what he wanted.

    I won’t delve too deeply into the Crystal Skull, except to question when the next movie about the thing will come out. The Indiana Jones movie about such was good for a few laughs.

    • ThePhantom

      The Phantom movie they made a while ago could also be based on the crystal skull stories. The skulls were made of gold and jewels and stuff, granted, but the whole ancient mythology and power coming from them seems very similar. Maybe it’s just coincidence though, because it’s a cool idea so it’s probably pretty easy for Phantom story writers and hoaxers to come up with independently.

  • greg

    Nice list.

  • SMB2

    No. 5, on trepanning: it was – and still is – a legitimate medical procedure. It can be used to pressure on the brain, or siphon off excess fluid. In the face of medical advancement it is now considered crude and somewhat barbaric.

    The question is whether or not ancient practitioners understood what was happening when they performed their ‘medical’ procedures. A few certainly did, but most went with the ‘demons and bad spirits’ explanation.

    • Craniotomb

      Trepanning isn’t used today, but something similar is: craniotomy. It’s not quite the same thing, although it might appear to be at first glance.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craniotomy

  • oouchan

    Interesting topic. Many of these I didn’t know so I learned a few new things today. Heard of Trepanning before, but it still makes my head hurt just thinking of the pain one went through for such procedure. ouch!

    Good list.

  • James

    Actually a really interesting list! Just a quick point though, in number 4, you say “the military” and “the government” in the first sentence. Which military? Which government? It’d be interesting to know which country that skull is meant to be in!

    • adrian

      I got one email saying Saudi Arabia, another saying Greece, and a third saying Mexico, even though they all had the same picture (although not the one above). It depends on which forward you get.

      • Sarah

        I got one saying it was the US governemnt. But you’re right, it probably depends on just which forward you get.

    • Shelley

      Snopes actually have an article on this one:

      http://www.snopes.com/photos/odd/giantman.asp

  • DanF

    Great list, instantly thought of Crystal skulls and Starchild when i read the title but I also thought about those Giant Ginger skulls that were found in the USA, can’t remember the name of the cave they were found, I suppose they could come under the Giant one as the skeletons were all between 2-2.5m tall.

  • Interesting list, though you can understand how strange shaped skulls would spark imagination and attract people/customers (if the skull was on display), especially at a time when it was harder to find information about things and by extension, harder for a layman to disprove something or find something false within a few minutes.

  • Sbtier

    Good list. I didn’t know that skull elongating was still going on. I tried to find a picture of someone with an elongated skull, but I only found a painting of a Native American woman and child.

  • BinaryStar

    Interesting list. One small thing, though: in number nine, you wrote, “This skull was found by miners in Calaveras, USA, in 1866.” please note that in the U.S., as well as in other countries that have well-known states and provinces (Australia and Canada, respectively), it’s best to indicate in which of them the town is located. In America, there are many towns with the same name spread across the fifty states (and some states even have multiple towns identical names!). In fact, when “The Simpsons” was still being developed, the producers purposefully chose not to indicate in which state Springfield was located, choosing that very name because it is one of the most common town names in the country.

    • ben

      I thought the Calveras was only mentioned to show where the skull got it’s name…

      • Russell

        Yeah – the piltdown one also didn’t mention that it was in Sussex (I think that’s where Piltdown is). But unless you live in the place mentioned, most people aren’t too interested in what state or province, just which country. Anyway, according to wiki, the Calaveras from the skull’s name isn’t even a town at all, but a county in California.

        Quite frankly I’m impressed that this list kept managed to have a location and date for all the ones that had them.

        • Metalwrath

          ahaha, “Suss-ex” was censored!

          Listverse, all these automatic censorship for unoffensive words like “ana-lyse” ..;etc.. are ridiculous!

          Especially that words like AN-AL and S-EX are not bad words! Get rid of the censorship on this site! It’s ludicrous!

          • mom424

            I agree it’s ridiculous but the advertisers insist upon it. Without the advertisers Jamie would have to get a 9 to 5 job – no Listverse would be just one of the downsides to that regrettable occurrence. :)

      • Maggot

        I thought the Calveras was only mentioned to show where the skull got it’s name

        The Calaveras skull was featured on a fairly recent list about hoaxes:

        https://listverse.com/2011/08/24/10-lesser-known-h

        I particularly remember it because I happen to live near Calaveras County, and made a post about hiking and fishing along the Calaveras River aka “River of Skulls” when someone posted that “calaveras” is the Spanish word for “skull”. Which I didn’t know at the time but had always wondered why the river had that cool nickname. It was a bit of an epiphany for me.

        Excerpt from wiki:

        “The county takes its name from the Calaveras River; it was said to have been named by Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga when he found many skulls of Native Americans along the banks of the stream. He believed they had either died of famine or been killed in tribal conflicts over hunting and fishing grounds. In fact, the human remains were of the native Miwuk people killed by Spanish soldiers after they banded together to rise against Spanish missionaries.”

        • Maggot

          PS: is it just me or – every time lately that I’ve include a link in a post, it gets truncated with three dots, and becomes an unusable broken link. It happens when the URL is a longer text string, but I’ve seen other recent posters include long URLs that even wrap to two lines, and they continue to work fine. Wtf? Does that one I posted above work for anyone else?

          • DanF

            yes it works, it copies into browser as shown here but then it suddenly fills in the rest and works.

          • Maggot

            @ Dan & Arsnl: Well that’s odd, because this one does work for me too, just as Dan described. But one I posted in yesterday’s list and another one from a few days ago when I first noticed it, do not. It’s also strange that Flip’s long link posted above about Arsnl’s shortcomings (lol) is not truncated. Argh…sorry, not meaning to sidetrack the comment section of today’s interesting list with this dumb issue.

          • psychosurfer

            It works fine for me, I use Mozilla’s browser, never noticed the problem you mention.

          • segues

            I have no problem with the links. I use Google Chrome as my browser and am on a Mac, if that makes a diff.

            btw, I also immediately knew “Calaveras” referred to Calaveras Co. in CA. Perhaps that’s because, like Maggot, I am a California native.

        • Arsnl

          “always wondered why the river had that cool nickname”
          Cuz Spaniards and afterwards Americans were feeling very very creative.

          PS: Link works just fine.

        • Flippant

          I happen to live near Calaveras County … hiking and fishing along the Calaveras River

          *surreptitiously jots down notes* :D

          PS: Maggy, your links work perfectly fine on Mobile site using iPhone/Safari.

          • Frank

            You are seriously weird. Do you have like really bad social skills so you try to implement your attempts at them on here, or do you suffer from a legitimate mental condition eg. Aspergers or Autism? I’m really interested.

          • Flippant

            LoL! You’re gonna have to explain yourself for me, Frank. What do you mean? How am I “seriously weird”? :?

          • Maggot

            @ Frank: I’ll start worrying when she asks me to play Misty for her.

          • Flippant

            LoL! :D

            *hides behind Maggy, poking head out all brave-like*

            Yeah, Frank.. so there! He’s not worried so there’s no need for you to start on me.. your man-crush on him will have to take a backseat.

            When found this site I wanted to be the churlish, abusive aggressor.. but then I saw that that position had already been filled *looks pointedly @ you*. So, I had to be content with joining the chorus-line of other sometimes/somewhat amusing twits.

            You’ve got your part (lead role, no less).. you do your thing and I’ll do mine. I’m just playing.. and no good will come of it if you try to butt heads with me. Don’t be picking on the li’l Aussie! :P
            _____________________

             I’ll start worrying when she asks me to play Misty for her.

            Ooooh!

            *checks itinerary*

            Ahhh.. it’s cool, Maggy. We’re scheduled to play Doctors&Nurses long before Misty. So, no sweat.. plenty of time to get some fun in.. Mr. Eastwood. ;)

          • Shubert

            LMAO he doesn’t even need to provide an example of your serious weirdness, you’re a walking definition……. who most definitely has too much time on their hands.

          • Frank

            How did Segues get a bunch of haters and this idiot didn’t? LOL

          • Flippant

            he doesn’t even need to provide an example of your serious weirdness, you’re a walking definition

            *gasps*

            Oh Shubert, Shubert, Shubert. :(

            *hurls an echidna towards you, hoping that it will hurt as much as the cold prickly insult you have fired through my defences*

            :D

          • Shubert

            Well, at least now we know to add animal cruelty to your list of extreme serious weirdness….

          • Flippant

            LoL! Oh Shubert.. did you really have to add “extreme” in there? Was “serious weirdness” really not enough to wound me with?
            *bottom lip quivers ever so slightly*

            :D

          • dizit

            Yeah, Flips, I soooo totally believe your ‘itty bitty feelings have been hurt ;) !

          • Flippant

            Lol Dizz. :D

            *crosses fingers behind back*

            My little chat feelers are very sensitive. THEY ARE, I tells ya!! ;)

  • skywatcher

    Mostly a good list, Kate. The only deficient entry was on trepanning, where the hoax element seemed to be lacking and about which you appear to know little. But nine out of ten is very good.

    • clevertrevor

      Trepanning isn’t a hoax, but, “This is a list of hoax skulls, mistaken skulls, and unusual or misleading practices pertaining to skulls” and it certainly is an unusual practice.

      • mom424

        Trepanning is a hoax though – it does not serve any useful purpose – there is no such thing as humors or vapors, it does not relieve headaches or migraines or anything. It is not the same as a craniotomy or the placing of shunts done today.

      • RDaneel

        I think people who try so claim trepanning as a legit medical procedure make it count as a hoax. Google has loads of sites about how it can cure epilepsy and stuff.

  • Buzzy

    I’ve seen those phrenology markings on model heads before, but never knew what they were for. Also the trepanning sounds awful.

    • Arsnl

      “Also the trepanning sounds awful”
      Neah man. It’s a bit like making a watermelon keg

  • Boooooringgg.

  • dangquesadilla

    ha ha @ piltdown man…

  • Vincent

    Yikes, another joke (an old Russian one):

    A noted phrenologist in Russia had a reputation for being able to identify a person just by feeling their head, while blindfolded. They brought him to the Kremlin, blindfolded him, and then brought out Lenin. Feeling about Lenin’s head, the phrenologist was confused. “Clearly, this is an ass,” he said, “but I can’t seem to locate the hole!”

  • alex

    Whoever created this article did not do their fact checking first. SOME of the crystal skulls found are not old at all but there are thirteen skulls that were made in the myan time. Scientists have been baffled as to why in later times, after the myans, that crystal skulls were being made.

    • mom424

      Wrong. Not even one of them dates from before the 1850’s. They show microscopic evidence of being manufactured using modern jeweler’s implements – neither the Mayans or Aztecs had high speed rotary tools. 1850’s at the very earliest – it is just possible that the 20th century polishing compounds found were deposited after manufacture – doubtful, but possible.

      • Washoe

        Exactly, mom424. Also, there is not one single reference to crystal skulls in any of the stuff found from the Aztecs or Mayans. After the story of crystal skulls spread in the late nineteenth century, there were lost of archaeologists who claimed to have found references to them, but none so far have been based on anything Mayan or Aztec…ian(?) I guess it’s number 1 coz a lot of people adamantly believe in them still, even though all the ones examined are fakes and they aren’t actually from Mayans or Aztecs.

  • Geowyn

    Have to admire the creators of Piltdown Man

  • Pfuller

    Finally. First good list in weeks.

  • mom424

    Great job Kate. Interesting and novel premise; nicely executed too. Bravo.

  • Hestie

    Excellent list!!!
    I LOVED it!

  • I took a Psychology class and the teacher brought in a beautiful porcelain phrenology skull, and was giving us readings (all in fun, of course). I told him where my bumps were, and he said, “You’re acquisitive. You like to have a big house, luxury cars, expensive jewelry…” One of the women in the back of the class yelled, “CAN I HAVE HIM??”

  • Christine Vrey

    Cool list… Thank you.

  • janique

    great list, thanks

  • segues

    Great list, Kate. Well done and interesting.

  • psychosurfer

    Very entertaining list, good call on phrenology as a hoax, in fact that pseudoscience is the origin of the fallacious and obsolete factlet that claims we only use 10% of our brain.

  • Zair

    Loved the list :) I remember seeing a documentary on crystal skulls and I even received an email about the giant skull :)

  • The_Snowdog

    If any Doctor prescribed trepanning to me I would say, “Sorry Doc – I need trepanning like I need a hole in the head.”

  • Jacobstein

    Since when has trepanning been a hoax?

  • p1t1o

    I had an interview at Cambrisge University (I didn’t get in) and during it one of the interviewers handed me an animal skull and asked me to tell me as much as I could about it.

    It was the skull of a small deer, I pointed out brow ridges which indicated a male and the teeth of a herbivore. But then I was confused because it also had a pair of two inch incisors which appeared to be glued in and I told the interviewer that I thtought they had been planted there to throw me.

    Apparently they were real and though the animal was a herbivore, the deer retains these “tusks” as mating whtchamacallits, ie: females prefer the males with bigger tusks.

    I like interview questions like that.

  • gorgicus

    Never liked skulls all that much. Still, god list.

    • gorgicus

      *good, even

  • vanowensbody

    Great list

  • Sacka Sock

    What does trepanning and phrenology have to do with skull hoaxes?

    • Sad Ben

      Read the intro more carefully.

  • Uh-oh!

    Looks like too much Indiana Jones to me…

    Though the real thing is more interesting than the movie…

  • Helgismith

    Good and Impressive List for the skull Hoaxes.
    http://rippedxl.net/

  • Carra 23

    Nice List – but a very poor title – only four of the entries were perpetrated hoaxes while the others were simply controversial or mis-analysed/reported and Trepanning and Phrenology are none of the above but outdated medical procedures – though Trepanning, albeit much more advanced, intricate and modern trpanning, is STILL practiced to relieve intra-cranial pressure in the case of enclosed haemorrhages

  • was

    Good list. Skulls are pretty cool.

  • quark

    I’d heard of crystal skulls from that Indiana Jones movie, but not any of the others. Interesting list.

  • T

    Don’t rely on the Starchild wiki. Read about the FOXP2 gene recently discovered.

  • Sjoera

    The Starchild skull is not a hoax. Wishful thinking maybe, but not a hoax.

  • joe the egg

    ‘Neanderthals’ is almost an anagram of ‘Netherlands’

  • LadyLycanthrope

    I understand the crystal skulls having healing powers bit. I mean a lot of people think crystals are able to heal the body and cleanse/tune the chakras. Probably what they were used for…that or just to look fancy in some rich guy’s home.

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  • HOLY SHIT

    HOLY SHIT

  • RubyMoon

    interesting list! is it me or does the skull that is number 2 on the list look like that thing from Donnie Darko?

  • Hi Kate…

    The Starchild Skull isn’t a hoax. It’s a real skull with a real mystery. It isn’t a child as you mention, that was an unfortunate early assumption proven wrong as more research was done, but the name has stuck. Likewise, claims about the DNA testing (done in 1999 in a student lab, by students) proving it to be human have been superseded by more highly specialized testing (done in a highly a specialized lab by experts) in the past couple of years, and they are ongoing. Hydrocephaly has also been shown false as have many other congenital disorders as well as physical modification. Whatever it this thing is, it is not ordinary.

    I highly recommend catching up on the latest developments here:
    http://youtu.be/OvJkUzgkOh8
    Best, Aaron.

  • David Hopkins

    What about chocolate skulls?