Author of the Month

The Starchild is out of this World (cont.)
By Lloyd Pye

London. I spent all of 2004 in London getting as many tests done as we could manage with our time and resources. One of the first things we did was arrange an analysis by the scanning electron microscope at the Royal Holloway Scientific Institute outside London. It revealed something utterly astonishing: embedded in the matrix of the Starchild's bone were fibers of some kind, fibers which seemed to be incredibly durable because they had been shredded rather than sheared by the cutting blade that removed the bone samples from the skulls. Such fibers had never been found in any other bone in any other animal species on earth, so this was yet another blinking red neon sign that the Starchild skull represented something extraordinary.


Later, forensic geologist Dr. Ken Pye (no relation to me) discovered at his laboratory outside London that a red residue of some kind was scattered in the Starchild's cancellous holes. Normally upon death, corpses activate a wide array of internal bacteria that scour every vestige of marrow from the cancellous holes in every bone, leaving them, in effect, sparkling clean. So the residue discovered in the Starchild's cancellous holes was something else not found in any other bone in any known species on earth. Certainly not in human bone, so it was more evidence of the Starchild's uniqueness.


2006. In the summer of 2006, three years exactly since discovering that the Starchild's nuclear DNA could not be recovered by the current technology, and precisely when Jason and Ripan predicted a breakthrough might occur, the breakthrough did occur. But it was not in the sensitivity of the primers used to recover DNA, as was expected. It was much, much better than that. It was a new technique that did away with primers entirely!

454 Life Sciences of Branford, Connecticut, announced that it had found a way of sequencing DNA in a base-pair by base-pair arrangement, bringing all 3.0 billion base pairs in an average human genome within eventual reach of their sequencing machines. This was astounding news, but even more astounding was that it was already being applied to sequencing the elusive nuclear DNA of Neanderthals. Experts around the world were already hard at work on it, having sequenced the first few million base pairs, and they expected to complete the entire Neanderthal genome by the end of 2008.

While this was extremely welcome news in its own right, what flew under the radar was that this same technology could be applied to recover the entire genome of the Starchild! It meant we can now sequence every gene in every chromosome contributed by its human mother and its father, whatever he was. We will be able to recover its genome and—just as others will do with the Neanderthal genome in 2008—we will be able to compare the Starchild's father's DNA, gene by gene, with those of normal humans to determine precisely how far or near he was relative to the human norms.

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