In Photos: 'Alien' Skulls Reveal Odd, Ancient Tradition

North Mexico

skull binding, deforming skulls

(Image credit: Cristina García / INAH.)

The first evidence of deforming skulls was found in the northern Mexican state of Sonora when residents were digging an irrigation canal in 1999. [Read full story about the "alien-like" skulls]

The death of a child

skull binding, deforming skulls

(Image credit: Cristina García / INAH.)

Many of the burials at the site were healthy children, suggesting the process of cranial deformation may have been inept and dangerous.

Beautiful things

skull binding, deforming skulls

(Image credit: Cristina García / INAH.)

Some of the skeletons were found with various pieces of jewelry.

Unique customs

skull binding, deforming skulls

(Image credit: Cristina García / INAH.)

One of the burials included a turtle shell on the individual's chest.

Rare traditions

skull binding, deforming skulls

(Image credit: Cristina García / INAH.)

An up-close image of the turtle shell in the burial.

Alien-like look

skull binding, deforming skulls

(Image credit: Cristina García / INAH.)

It is common for people to wonder if skeletons such as these are alien rather than human. [Read full story about the "alien-like" skulls]

Ancient cemetery

skull binding, deforming skulls

(Image credit: Cristina García / INAH.)

The pre-Hispanic cemetery is located 300 metres from the village of Onavas, Sonora.

Chinook Children

painting showing head-flattening practice

(Image credit: Public Domain)

Artificial skull deformation is known to have been practiced by the Chinookan tribes of the U.S. Northwest and the Choctaw of the U.S. Southeast. Shown here, a painting by Paul Kane, showing a Chinookan child in the process of having its head flattened, and an adult after the process.

Nazca Skull

deformed peruvian skull

(Image credit: Didier Descouens, Creative Commons)

A deformed skull dating to between 200 B.C. and 100 B.C. and belonging to an individual of the Nazca culture, which flourished along the Peruvian coast.