Archaeologists have uncovered the first pre-Hispanic cemetery in South Sonora, Mexico, where they found a number of skeletons with intentionally deformed skulls - that give the appearance of an "alien".
There were 25 sets of human remains found at the site, close to the village of Onavas, 13 of which had deformed craniums, and five of which showed evidence of dental mutilation.
According to Past Horizons, this new evidence is exciting in that it is the first time cranial deformation has been recorded before in the Sonora cultural groups.
Some of the skeletons were wearing ornaments, like bangles, nose rings, earrings, and pendants made from shells found in the Gulf of California. One burial even contained a turtle shell placed over the abdomen.
Archaeologist Cristina Garcia Moreno is the director of the research project conducted on behalf of Arizona State University with approval of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
She said the significance of the discovery is the suggestion of influence of Mesoamerican societies in southern Sonora, much further north than previously thought: "This unique find shows a mix of traditions from different groups of northern Mexico. The use of ornaments made from sea shells from the Gulf of California had never been found before in Sonoran territory and this discovery extends the limit of influence of Mesoamerican peoples farther north than has been previously recorded."
According to the Huffington Post, the process of elongating a skull usually began in childhood using a process called "cradle-boarding".
Ryan Matthews of Science Channel series Oddities told HuffPost Weird: "They would put two boards around the head and wrap it very securely.
"Because the head of a child is very soft, it can be manipulated forward, but the process would take several months."
Of the 25 remains found, 17 were between 5 months and 16 years, which, the team says, could show the high risks involved in the cranial deformation, which can cause death from the excessive force while squeezing the skull.
Studies on the remains did not show other apparent diseases that could have caused death.
The find has been dated to the year 943 CE from samples taken from one of the individuals.
What is it? 20ft 'sea monster' washes up on Mexico beach
Almost-complete mammoth skeleton found near Paris