Lloyd Pye handles the Starchild skull in a photo posted to Facebook in 2010. (Courtesy Photo)
Fringe scientific researcher and author Lloyd Pye passed away at the age of 67 earlier this week.
Pye died in the presence of family Monday in Destin, Fla., according to Roswell resident Donald Burleson, an acquaintance of Pye. The cause of death was cancer, he said.
Pye is best known for leading research on a mysterious artifact dubbed the Starchild skull. The researcher and his team, including Burleson, have said that based on DNA evidence, the specimen cannot be human.
“Nobody has come out and said outright it’s extraterrestrial, but it’s kind of hard to explain if it’s terrestrial,” said Burleson, a semi-retired mathematics professor at Eastern New Mexico University–Roswell.
Burleson also writes a column about UFOs and the search for extraterrestrial life for Record publication Vision Magazine.
Burleson provided Pye with statistical analysis of DNA and bone samples from the skull.
Claims that the skull is not human have been contested by mainstream scientists.
Pye studied psychology at Tulane University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1968, according to a concise autobiography on his personal website. He went on to pursue a career in fiction writing.
He eventually developed an interest in “hominoids” such as Big Foot, according to the autobiography. His interest led him to publish a book in 1997 postulating an alternative theory of human evolution, titled, “Everything You Know is Wrong.”
In 1998, Pye acquired the Starchild skull from a couple in El Paso, Texas, according to the website of Pye’s independent research endeavor Starchild Project. The skull was originally found in Mexico in the 1930s, according to the site.
He led an independent team of researchers in analysis of the specimen’s DNA and physical attributes.
“If the thing was human, the gene we’re looking at would have been so mutated that the thing would have died, but it didn’t. It lived to be an adult,” said Burleson.
Steven Novella, a neurologist at the Yale University of Medicine, criticized Starchild Project research and conclusions in a 2006 post for the website of the New England Skeptic Society, a nonprofit devoted to promoting skepticism of “paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.”
“Conservative scientists are convinced that the skull represents a severe congenital abnormality, but require more thorough examination before they can be more specific,” Novella, who is president of NESS, wrote.
With Pye deceased, the future of Starchild Project is unclear. Burleson said the project is selling products promoting research of Starchild to fund further DNA research.
He said he expects the DNA researcher, whose name Pye never released to Burleson, will play a key role in continuing the research.
Burleson spent several years communicating with Pye over the internet, but never met the researcher in person.
“He was funny. He had a very wry sense of humor,” the local mathematician said. “He was a scientist. Like all good scientists, he was a skeptic himself.”
The Starchild Project and family and friends of Pye did not respond to requests for comment.
A Dec. 9 post on a Facebook fan page by someone identifying himself as Pye’s nephew states, “Lloyd was surrounded by family and died in his mother’s arms. The family is asking for privacy at this time as we deal with the loss.”