Mysterious Primate Skull Unearthed in Texas

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 12th, 2009

Above is the mysterious primate skull found at a North Dallas, Texas, construction site.

Compared to…

Bone Clones® Chimpanzee Skull
Pan troglodytes

Bone Clones® Borneo Orangutan Skull (Male)
Pongo pygmaeus

Bone Clones® Mandrill Baboon Skull (Male)
Mandrillus sphinx

Hamadryas Baboon Skull Cast (Male)
Papio hamadryas neumanii

Gelada Baboon Skull Cast (Sub-Adult)
Theropithecus gelada

Chacma Baboon Skull (Male)
Papio ursinus

What could it be?

Experts will determine the age of this primate skull found at a construction site.

“We all know it’s a primate,” said David Evans, 25, of Alvarado. “We just don’t know which kind.”

The skull was buried about five feet underground, he said, in muck. It’s six inches from front to back and two inches wide.

Most of the teeth, including one-inch canines, are intact.

Evans said the skull was discovered (a couple weeks ago) at the St. Alcuin Montessori School near Churchill Way and Preston Road.

A noted anthropologist for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office, Dr. Dana Austin, viewed photographs of the skull and said it was definitely an “old-world primate,” possibly a monkey or chimp.

She said it was impossible to determine from the photos the age of the skull.

Evans, who talked to other experts, said he believes it may be a baboon.

“From everybody at UTA and everybody I’ve been talking to, (it’s) possibly a baboon,” he said. “But how it got to 635, right there at Churchill and Preston, I have no idea.”

Evans and other workers also found a small bone nearby, apparently from the same animal.

“It appears to be part of a femur or hip,” he said.

Evans plans to sell the skull if someone offers him a good price, but also may keep it as a conversation piece.

“If somebody comes over, that’s an hour right there,” he said laughing.

Source: “It’s a Skull, But What Kind? Workers unearth unusual skull in North Dallas,” by Scott Gordon.

In Texas, in the 1980s, a band of baboons was supposedly sighted along the Trinity River.
Mysterious America (1983, 2001, 2006) by Loren Coleman.

A free-roaming group of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) was brought to Dilley, Texas, in 1972 to save it from destruction in Kyoto, Japan, where the animals are regarded as a nuisance; in 1980 the monkeys became the property of the South Texas Primate Observatory and were confined for behavioral research at a ranch there. But in the late 1980s, their enclosure fell into disrepair and several escaped. The monkeys have roamed the south Texas brush ever since, their population swelling to more than 600 by 1995.
Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology (2002) by George M. Eberhart.

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Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

33 Responses to “Mysterious Primate Skull Unearthed in Texas”

  1. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    I don’t think it’s a chimp and I don’t think it’s a baboon!!!!

  2. PrancingPapio responds:

    The canines are large enough to say that it does not belong to a chimp.

    It seems to be that of a baboon. Also, its sagittal crest runs down to the base of the skull starting from its brow ridge, it’d say it’s a male hamadryas, Papio hamadryas hamadryas.

  3. nazareth dodo responds:

    it looks like the creature in the “blood monkey” movie.

  4. swnoel responds:

    It’s not very remarkable that this has been discovered, these kinds of animals have been in this country for decades.

    Used as pets, for research and circuses, undoubtably many are buried after death.

    It wouldn’t surprise me, that if someone does a little research answers will be found.

  5. Ferret responds:

    It looks like a baboon skull to me, but in the back of my mind, you’ve just gotta wonder- is this a nape? In all probability the answer is no. As swnoel said “[they are] used as pets, for research and circuses, and undoubtably many are buried after death.” Chances are someone who owned a baboon or other primate (perhaps illegally) needed a to get rid of the remains and rather than go to vet or zoo to have it deposed of properly, they simply grabbed a shovel. Still, exciting find, and I’m eager to hear any further news regarding it!

  6. maeko responds:

    Baboon. That crest is pretty big.

  7. Insanity responds:

    Having spent a few years in animal research, carcasses are incinerated on the premises, not buried in the ground. This is true for rodents, canines, and non-human primates.

    I would agree is closely resembles a baboon skull.

  8. shumway10973 responds:

    These days that area is pretty populated. Just to the north no more than 5 miles maximum is HWY 635 which, for those not familiar with Dallas, was the freeway the traffic jam in the beginning of the movie Office Space was filmed. Oh, and the traffic on 635 is almost exactly what was depicted in that movie. They only had to choreograph his ability to jump lanes. These type of finds should be the norm around there.

    5 feet down…sounds like the job of an owner. Someone who actually thought of this one as a dear pet or even a friend. Definitely looks baboon. Remember, folks, it wasn’t too long ago that the rich people in America could buy exotic animals, and in some places anyone still can. It’s not that much of a stretch to say that this baboon was someone’s pet.

  9. cryptidsrus responds:

    I pretty much agree it looks like a Baboon.

    I’m open to it being something else, though.

    Hate to be cynical and “conspiratorial” here but I doubt very much that if this is “something else” you’ll get people in the Establishment to admit that it is. They’ll probably put their blinders on and say “Oh, it’s probably this, it’s probably that” and let it go at that. Anything that goes outside of the collective paradigm is a big no-no. Particularly if it is something that threatens the “status quo.”
    LIke I said, it’s probably a Baboon but if it is a “nape” or something like that you’ll never get most mainstream scientists to admit to that. Sad, but unfortunately true.

  10. kittenz responds:


  11. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Keeping a baboon as a pet sounds stupidly dangerous to me. They’re smaller than a chimp and probably not as strong, but they’ve got to have a mean bite.

  12. tropicalwolf responds:

    I lean towards Orang-Utan…

    Probably discarded/buried pet or “attraction”…

  13. Munnin responds:

    Among the examples shown here for comparison, I think the recently excavated mystery skull most closely resembles Theropithecus gelada. I could not find many photo examples of the skull of Macaca fuscata (the Japanese Macaques relocated to Texas in 1972) in my brief internet search, but the couple that I did find appear to have different proportions in terms of the orbital ridge and the eye sockets, compared to other features of the skull. However, I think there is some resemblance in photo examples I have found of Macaca mulatta, aka the Rhesus Macaque, or Rhesus monkey, which is a fairly common import to the U.S.A., I think. Those are my best, uneducated guesses based on the information which is immediately available: Theropithecus gelada, or Macaca mulatta.

  14. norman-uk responds:

    Unless this is the skull of something new, my best guess is its of an Orang-outang. Or something like a bili ape ! Whatever, Its a crypto opportunity”

    However, it would be nice and cryptozoologicaly speaking the right thing if a group on the spot, like the Texas bigfoot research society did a ”crime scene” analysis and found out all the circumstances, like what kind of ”muck” the skull was found in and what creature formerly graced the skull and was it possibly something new and indigenous to America. Finaly what situation best fitted the facts including a hoax !

    The establishment analysis would surely be unlikely to consider it might be something new unless the evidence was remarkably strong as to be irrefutable. Carl Sagen’s extraordinary evidence !

  15. Kimble responds:

    Is there a thirty-odd-six slug in it? Perhaps this is Bugs’.

  16. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    Bigfoot anyone?

    my guess it’s not a baboon baboon. it can be a variety of unknown baboon kind or mandrill kind.. it looks odd cause of the mouth. i looked at the other baboon skulls and the upper mouth on this one isn’t slanted downwards like the other skulls.

    canine teeth is too huge. this is could be a new animal

    It’s common sense to realize that people are people, we keep secrets. So that means if this was a pet, it could of been kept secret from the science community!!!! it could be a new species of monkey or a unknown variety of baboons, mandrills..etc. very well could be a ape. i mean if it doesn’t resemble the baboon 100% it may not be one.

    if i’m not mistaken, it can been a Hamadryas Baboon and Gelada hybrid

    someone could of killed it out of defense too. you know how
    many people see cryptids.. well this could be one of those animals that ran out of it’s habitat, into the road and tried to kill a person/kid. you get the point. For all we know. It could of been a woolly baboon, woolly ape, woolly chimp, woolly mandrill..etc., yellow, red, orange, blue..etc. any color.

    Hmmmm….. what i can think of is that since scientists could add skin, to their fossils to see what the animal may possibly be… they can try to do one on this. all they need to is make a replica. or use the picture and photoshop it.. At least their doing something to see what it may be!!!

  17. flame821 responds:

    Considering how well preserved the teeth seem to be, I am hoping / assuming that recovering DNA from a tooth root would be fairly easy. At least that way we can be assured an accurate identification.

  18. WOLVES-TALON responds:

    It has to be the Illusive “Mini-Squatch” of Texas.

    I guess the old tale isn’t true, Everything is not always bigger in Texas…..

    But I do hope we find an explanation for this anthropological mystery.

    Thanks Loren, as usual !!

  19. jayman responds:

    In the top “mystery skull” photo, the canines almost look as if they had been artificially blunted or truncated to me – not like natural wear.

  20. kittenz responds:

    It’s a baboon. I used to have a baboon skull (not a replica but a cleaned and articulated museum skull), and it looked very similar to this one. Allowing for differences among individual animals (just as there are differences in facial structure among individual people), this found skull looks like it belonged to a male baboon.

    The nasal aperture of the found skull appears to be further from the orbits than the nasal apertures of the ape skull. The nasal opening is about halfway down the muzzle (consistent with baboons’). The canines are curved, not straight, also consistent with a baboon. It’s hard to tell for sure, from the two photos given, what kind of baboon it is.

    It may not even have been “buried” in the sense that some person buried it; it may be a captive animals that was lost in a flood & buried by silt and debris and so never found. Texas is known for epic flooding at times.

    Never underestimate the bravado and ignorance of people when it comes to owning exotic pets. There are quite a few “pet” or rather I should say “captive” baboons in the USA. I have never owned and would never acquire a primate, but I know several people who have had pet monkeys, and one local family had a “pet” baboon. That baboon was one of the most dangerous animals I have ever encountered. The family’s son had brought it back from who-know-where when he was in service. He thought it was an orangutan like the one in the Clint Eastwood movie (I guess because its name was Clyde). But it was a baboon. They ended up giving it away because it was so aggressive and unmanageable.

  21. sschaper responds:

    If they’d found it in Wisconsin, I’d say that they’d found their ‘werewolf’. Sure does resemble a baboon, but not completely. Brain pan looks too large compared to the illustrations in this article. But if I had to bet, I’d say baboon.

  22. jayman responds:

    Besides the relatively large cranium with its sagittal crest, the very large continuous brow ridge is unlike the baboon specimens shown here, except for the Gelada, which it doesn’t really resemble either. Some indication of the skull’s size would be helpful.

  23. Paul78 responds:

    I don’t know it’s size but it looks more like a Gorilla skull to me, Google up Gorilla Skulls and you’ll see what i mean.

  24. mystery_man responds:

    I can definitely see baboon here, but I am not entirely convinced. The baboon dentition and nasal cavity placement seems to match with the mystery skull, but the orangutan dentition seems to match fairly well too. The one thing that I notice is the prominence of the orbital ridges and brow, and the way they flare out a lot more than those of baboon skulls. The found skull resembles the other ape skulls more in this respect. I’m wondering if this is due to individual difference in this particular baboon, or if the location of the nasal cavity is not so different from the ape skulls that it could be considered an individual difference of an ape.

    There are only two fairly small and not particularly great quality photos to work with here, with no real size comparison, so it’s hard to be sure. I’d like some better photos to be honest.

  25. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    loren, i looked up Gorilla Skull and it doesn’t look like this one.. none of these skulls look like this one.. this is the only skull with the upper mouth not slanted downward.

    it can be baboon, but a unknown variety of baboon. the teeth doesn’t match with any of these skulls here also.

    they should check the fossil record of extinct primates to see if the skull matches those.

  26. Paul78 responds:

    Granted this skull has a lot of external decay to it which makes it hard to judge, but the overall shape is still there and it’s the slope between the nose that says Gorilla to me as it is to sloped for a Chimp and not long enough for a Baboon. In these pictures of a female Gorilla without lower jaw, a male skull and the last not sure what sex, but i can see the similarities to the skull, As you said this could even be an extincted ape. But i don’t think this is Bigfoot as to me it would have to look similar to a Gigantopithecus skull.

  27. Imaginary Friend responds:

    Whatever it is, it sure would be nice if they could hold onto it. Things like this tend to “disappear” into the vaults of time or be described away as “an escapee from a circus.” I wish they had searched for the complete skeleton, but that’s clearly too much to expect of rational people who come across a giant skull in the ground, which should be surprising to people but never to those who dig these things up. At least they didn’t chuck it by the side of the road and good for them. However, don’t hold your breath while they extract the DNA. Even if some primate expert does, the results will probably say something like “a close match” to some other large primate such as a gorilla, or be “inconclusive.” Sorry to sound negative, but we can just turn over the hourglass and wait for the predictable responses.

  28. kittenz responds:

    Although it’s difficult to be sure from these two photos, there appears to be a lengthwise groove in the upper canines on the found skull. That’s characteristic of baboons but not of apes.

  29. kittenz responds:

    “Some indication of the skull’s size would be helpful.” …

    The article states:

    It’s six inches from front to back and two inches wide.

    Most of the teeth, including one-inch canines, are intact.

  30. Paul78 responds:

    But the muzzle is to stout for a Baboon, which is more elongated, plus according to this the canines are 1 inch in length, Baboons on average are 2 1/2 inches in length and Gorillas are 2 inches, i can’t find Chimp sizes at the moment, but looking at the size of the skull and canines this is either juvenile ape or a smalled one we ahve not thought of. I still think it is not Baboon.

    Occasionally in UK Archaeology we come across Primate remains in Britain indicating that they have been exported for a very long time and looking at this skull without knowing the soil type it was it was in it appears quite old.

  31. mystery_man responds:

    Kittenz- I see what you mean about the groove in the teeth. Compelling, and very observant of you. I had to squint my eyes and stare at the photos to see what you mean, but a groove is definitely present on at least one of the teeth on the found skull. I am not so sure, however, that this groove is an innate feature of the tooth or if it is the result of decay, fracture, or some other outside influence. This skull is not exactly in pristine condition, making it harder to determine what the cause of the perceived groove might be.

    I also still think the orbital ridges and brow seem very prominent in comparison to baboon skulls.

    Additional photos could help work this out a little more efficiently. I’m getting a headache trying to glean details out of the ones provided here.

  32. Paul78 responds:

    I’ve just come across this site that sells casts of primate skulls and gives measurements. I still don’t think it’s baboon and the macaque skull is roughly the right size but has those ridges along the nose. I still think it is either a juvenile chimp or other ape.

  33. kittenz responds:

    Yes m_m,

    More photos would be good. Because of the smallish size of the skull, I suppose it could be a macaque rather than a baboon, but the canines are much more like those of a baboon so I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. The grooved canines are a feature of old world monkeys, including baboons and macaques, but the groove is particularly pronounced in baboon species.

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