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A Surgeon’s View: Alien Autopsy’s Overwhelming Lack of Credibility

Special Report

Joseph A. Bauer

Volume 20.1, January / February 1996

The remarkable aspect of the alleged Roswell alien saucer crash is that in nearly 50 years of tenacious efforts to legitimize the event by scores of believers and supposed witnesses and participants, not a single, solitary bit of tangible, credible evidence has been found to support such a fantastic and significant event. Despite the reports of extensive debris found in the field at this alleged crash site; despite the many who allegedly handled material fragments with amazing qualities; despite hearsay that the alien bodies and craft were spirited away with unheard-of government efficiency and conspiratorial secrecy to locations that remain mysterious and unproven; despite all these exceedingly unlikely occurrences, no one has surfaced with a hint of convincing, supportive evidence; not even a tiny piece of that mysterious material scattered so widely and handled by so many has surfaced for examination. Didn't anyone slip a fragment into his or her pocket? And now, perhaps to mark the event’s upcoming 50th anniversary, someone is apparently trying again to prove this was really an extraterrestrial event — this time with an alien autopsy film.

I recognize that it is far easier to create a hoax than to unmask one. But the question “Why?” effectively exposes the bizarre scenarios depicted in the autopsy film as blatant fabrications.

Why introduce a film now, when alleged mortal fear of repercussions from the government supposedly silenced all witnesses for decades? If the film is authentic, why didn't someone cash in on it in a big way, decades ago, selling it to the highest bidder in a worldwide auction by an agent assuring anonymity of the source? Other than placing a period clock and telephone in the scene, why didn't the filmmaker use some rudimentary special effects to give the autopsy scenario at least the appearance of being more than the clumsy gropings of veiled, amateur actors impersonating medical investigators?

Considering that an alien autopsy would have been a unique event, the maker of this film should have attempted at least to give the appearance of the event being authentic and credible. Why not use a group of actors trained in instrument handling? Why not progress through a systematic autopsy process, rather than just slash and cut out viscera? And wouldn't it have been better to show the need to take many days or weeks to unravel and comprehend the allegedly unrecognizable, misplaced internal organs? But none of these essential procedures was observed, indicating that the autopsy was not authentic, but was contrived by low budget, poorly advised nonprofessionals.

There was no systematic progression of the autopsy, starting from a careful examination and penetration of organs and orifices, particularly since alien lore predicates extraordinary eyes, lack of ears or hearing, imperforated oral cavities and questionable need for gastrointestinal tracts, and no genital or anal structures. Next, skilled unroofing of the body cavities would have been followed by surgically precise and detailed dissection, delineating interrelationships, continuity, and formations of the various unknown internal organ systems, during which time decomposition of the body would need to be prevented by some preservation or embalming process. Indeed, there might have been a rare — no, unprecedented and unparalleled — opportunity to study an alien corpse; but it was not an autopsy that was needed, but rather, a systematic, lengthy, detailed, precise, anatomic dissection and microscopic study of a well-preserved body by a team of specialists of the various, presumably strange, organ systems. No less than that was done in the initial evaluations of the newly discovered Coelocanths. (When a carcass of this primitive fish, thought to be extinct, was first dredged from the depths of the Indian Ocean off Madagascar, ichthyologists worldwide were involved in its dissection, study, and preservation.)

Instead, the dramatic and graphic autopsy — performed with far less diligence and skill than a routine autopsy — was staged by the filmmaker in two scenes. First, the anonymous, hooded figures stand around ineptly trying to occupy their hands, clearly devoid of the rudimentary skills of manual examination of a body, generally expected of any physician, clinical pathologist, or other medical professional. This is followed by tentative, insecure incising, with the operator’s face peering down close to the body from which he or she wants to be shielded by wearing the protective suit. Scene two shows the body open; the same inexperienced, unskilled hands are groping around randomly and unsystematically, and without efforts to recognize or analyze organ structures, relationships, or continuity. The bizarre body contents are blindly chopped out and tossed into pans. Ironically, since the external body structure appears so humanlike, the real question is, why should these internal organs be so unrecognizable?

An autopsy is done to determine a disease process, a deviation from the norm, or the cause of death. When the norm is unknown, as would be the case with an alien body, then a careful anatomic dissection is needed with frequent samples being taken for microscopic examination. Anatomical dissection consists of precise steps of delineation, tracing the continuity and relationship of each fold, loop, or bulge to adjacent structures, particularly if the anatomy is unknown and unrecognized as claimed here.

This poorly performed autopsy may have botched a golden opportunity to learn much about this corpse. But it is consistent with an ill-designed hoax. Observation of how ineptly the instruments are held and used is also revealing, and distinguishes a skilled medical professional from an actor. Scissors, for example, are not held with the forefinger and thumb awkwardly pointing off sideways, as was done in the film. Instead, the ring finger and thumb are placed in the scissors’ holes, the middle finger stabilizes, and the index finger is used to direct the scissor tip precisely. Dissection should be done with judicious irrigation and sponging of obscuring fluids (none was seen in the film); dissection is done with direct vision of the knife or scissor points and not by blindly cutting, as depicted. The chopping out and removal of body contents would have totally distorted the functional and structural relationships of organs and destroyed the functional anatomy.

The peculiar headgear of these hooded operators is also enigmatic. Presumably, the hoods were intended to protect against microbes, vapors, or other alien toxins. But as shown, the hoods would cause rapid asphyxia from anoxia and accumulation of exhaled carbon dioxide. Where are the pumps and hoses necessary to supply fresh air to the operators? Without a circulating air supply, the visors would also have become rapidly fogged by condensation, and vision would be obscured. The lack of a detectable air supply suggests that the hoods used for this film were sufficiently porous for air exchange to occur freely, and thus would provide no protection against toxic gases or microbial contagion. All these observations are also most consistent with an ill-designed theatrical mock-up, rather than an actual autopsy of a potentially contagious, decomposing, alien corpse.

The mode of photographic documentation also raises countless questions: Why did a professional photographer repeatedly, if not intentionally, go out of focus and usually position himself or herself behind the actors to obscure the view at the most crucial moments — such as when the cranium (head) was opened? Why was the removal of the skullcap not seen, nor the in situ appearance of the brain? Why was a movie camera chosen for documentation (since movie cameras were known to have a focus problem) when efficient 35 mm still cameras with close-up lenses and color film were available at the time and commonly used for medical/surgical/pathological documentation? Furthermore, why was the camera operator allowed to take away and keep a film, when, according to testimony presented, an otherwise high level of secrecy was exercised and enforced with mortal threats? Why did the camera operator not ship this roll back to the military, as he or she did with the other rolls of film, instead of notifying the military to pick it up; and why did the military — incredibly — allow the camera operator to keep this top secret film? Of course a movie camera poorly focused and poorly positioned would be the choice of someone intending to tantalize, mislead, and not reveal any information in the course of hoax.

Only two conclusions are possible from this film: Either this is the work of beginners attempting to create a hoax to resuscitate the corpse of Roswell crash lore; or, if the film is intended to portray an actual autopsy of an unusual humanoid body (a proposition untenable and entirely unsubstantiated), then it is a documentation of the crime of the millennium — the brutal butchery, devastation, and destruction of unique evidence and an unparalleled opportunity to gain some understanding about this deformed creature, regardless of its origin.

I hope that this critique will not guide someone to produce a more believable alien autopsy film.

Joseph A. Bauer

Joseph A. Bauer is a surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio, and a member of South Shore Skeptics.