Brien Foerster reveals results from alleged ancient DNA tests. Here’s what they say.

I’m assured that the data in the two images are from Brien Foerster’s Facebook page. The person that provided them is trustworthy, so I have every reason to believe they are.

Apparently Foerster photographed a couple of tables that could have been done in Microsoft Word in about 5 minutes, then posted them on his profile with the text:

These are DNA results from the testing of the Paracas elongated skulls. As you can see only 3 of 17 were haplogroup B, thus Native American. Therefore, the other results indicate that their ancestry came from elsewhere…

Photo probably by Brien Foerster, used in accordance with fair use.
Photo probably by Brien Foerster, used in accordance with fair use.

So, I looked at the data in the two tables and came away less than impressed. If we assume the data are genuine results from legitimate labs (and there’s no reason to assume they’re not), then the results are still useless.

He includes a single dated specimen. This specimen may or may not actually be contextually relevant to the ones he sent to the lab, but we’ll assume it is.

Regardless, there’s no mention of controls at all. In fact, given his novice-at-best approach to research methods and given the lack of experience he and his cohorts have in obtaining ancient DNA samples, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that even the haplogroup B samples were compromised and contaminated.

The U2e1, the H, and the R samples belong to Foerster himself or one or more of the dozens if not hundreds of people that have manhandled these human remains. They’ve been desecrated for decades by these guys, without any modicum of respect shown for their descendant populations.

U2e1 is a haplogroup common throughout world today and originates in Europe and Britain. The H haplogroup evolved about 25,000 to 20,000 years ago in southwest Asia but is, today, found primarily in Europe. The R haplogroup is common throughout the world and has many subclades, one of which, R11’B4, is found among indigenous peoples of the Americas.

What do the lab results show?

So, Foerster’s results (in the photos above), if they are accurate to the individual reports of the individual labs, show:

  • the “Baby Skull” sample of approximately 81 CE was probably contaminated with the DNA of Foerster or another person handling the remains.
  • The bones and tooth of one or more other specimens of unknown date or context reflect DNA that is consistent with someone indigenous to Peru (this person may be who the sample is from or even an unknown living contaminant). 
  • The bone of another sample of unknown date or context shows DNA consistent with both European and someone indigenous to Peru. One or both may be the who the sample is from or one or more contaminants.
  • The samples of two specimens of unknown date or context were too degraded (or damaged during collection) to test.
  • One sample of unknown date or context was not tested.

It’s also possible that some or all of the DNA samples were from recent populations (post-contact). All three of these haplogroups are common in modern populations. But I think it’s far more likely that Foerster and his cohorts botched their sample collection. This is easy to do if you’re an experienced professional. So much so, that it’s standard practice to take control samples of anyone that came in contact with the specimens and those are also submitted. I don’t see any listing of the control samples accepted and tested by the labs. 

Note the extent to which this person handling DNA samples is going to in order to prevent contamination. Whether in the lab or the field, this is the standard. Photo by Tina Brand

DNA sampling is not a trivial practice. To prevent contamination, the person taking the samples is in a full, sterile body suit that was opened for the first time just before donning it. Nearly every single bit of exposed skin and hair is covered. Even the method of putting on the suit is designed to minimize contamination (garments and gloves are handled from the inside, etc.). 

The specimen being sampled is often completely sterilized on the exterior with a bleach solution. Even the act of rinsing with distilled water isn’t taken for granted! The water is certified DNA-free

These are just a tiny few of the hundreds of nuances a professional, experienced collector of ancient DNA pays careful attention to each step of the way. And, even after all that, the collector expects

Take note of this screen-grab by Jennifer Raff (her annotations) of Aaron Judkins and Joe Taylor pretending to do science in one of Brien Foerster’s videos where they attempt to collect ancient DNA from a the remains of a desecrated child. In the video, Judkins (allegedly a trained archaeologist) is wearing a cowboy hat during the procedure. And Taylor has his beard protruding several inches from the surgical masks he wore.

If Brien Foerster wants to impress me, and perhaps other professional archaeologists, he could do three things. And these aren’t even unreasonable expectations. They should be three things he’s just willing to do.

  1. Show the control samples test results from each lab where he and his cohorts sent samples. These would be DNA sampled from him and anyone that touched the specimens.
  2. Have an experienced field collector redo the DNA sampling. This time to include nuclear as well as mitochondrial DNA.
  3. Obtain permission from both the Peruvian government and potential descendant populations in the area where the samples were looted from their graves. And this would need to be done before anyone could be considered a professional could ethically assist in resampling. 

These things will never occur. Brien Foerster and his cohorts seem less concerned with data and information as they are continuing to sell the “mystery” they concoct and perpetuate to anyone gullible enough to pay.

About Carl Feagans 397 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much. The fraud just never ends with these guys. It is indeed a despair that so many folks are under/uneducated in the physical and natural sciences, but the extreme gullibility is almost heartbreaking. The fact that there are so many YouTube “scientists” willing to take advantage of an ignorant population is not all that surprising, but without quality pushback like yours, it would be even worse.

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