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‘Alien Skulls Found in Mexico’ Story Exposes Racist Media

The ‘alien skulls found in Mexico’ articles took off last week, each one more ridiculous than the last.

The worse of the bunch may’ve been this one published on TIME’s NewsFeed blog: “Ancient Conehead-like ‘Alien’ Skulls Unearthed in Mexico,” read the headline.

It’s called skull elongation, and it’s been practiced at some point in almost every part of the world. From Russia to Africa and back to Mexico, there are thousands of documented cases of this type of body modification. Calling these skulls “alien” crosses the line. It’s journalism at its worst: racist and sensational.

The piece written by Melissa Locker starts off by referencing “Coneheads,” an old Saturday Night Live sketch. It’s was all downhill from there.

“‘This was a Hispanic cemetery with 25 skulls, and 13 of them have deformed heads,’ Cristina Garcia Moreno, who worked on the project with Arizona State University, told ABC News,” writes Locker. Of course, there weren’t Hispanic cemeteries in Mexico in 945 A.D., for the Spanish didn’t arrive until almost 600 years later in 1519. Although this was likely a misquote or a bad translation on the part of ABC News, it illustrates the carelessness and complete ignorance often displayed by English-language media when covering a Mexico-related story.

In this case, TIME and Locker took it one step further. Not only did Ms. Locker appear to cut-and-paste much of her piece from ABC News - who had it wrong to begin with - she trivialized this archeological find by comparing the remains of people indigenous to Mexico to an obscure ’70s TV alien family.

TIME hasn’t taken any steps to correct the errors in the story. Even worse, major Spanish-language news outlets have begun repeating the errors first published by ABC News, TIME, and then The Huffington Post.

Photo credit: INAH

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