By Sean Coughlan
BBC News Magazine
The "baby alien" was found in a house near US airforce bases
Hoax, military decoy or film prop? A householder from Norfolk doesn't know what to make of an "alien" that has crash landed into his attic.
Builders working in the attic of Barney Broom's cottage in the village of Gunthorpe found an old jar containing what appeared to be a model of an alien, about 12 inches tall, made of clay and preserved in a liquid which smelled of vinegar.
The jar was wrapped in a 1947 copy of the Daily Mirror. The alien appeared to have a serial number on its foot.
Intrigued by the discovery, Mr Broom's initial suspicion was that the model was somehow connected to nearby United States' airbases. Not quite knowing what to do with it, he approached the Sci-Fi Channel, which is now carrying out investigations into whether the serial number is a form of military identification.
As far as the Pentagon is concerned, it's nothing more than "another hoax". There is no military connection, a spokesman told the BBC News Magazine.
But what would be the point of producing this dummy? Why would someone be making aliens like this in the 1940s?
The clay model was in a jar wrapped in a Daily Mirror from 1947
There's nothing to date the model except the newspaper wrapped around it, which could have been attached at a later date. But for UFO-enthusiasts, 1947 is a key date, as this was the year of the supposed alien sightings at Roswell, New Mexico, in the United States.
"If it is a hoax, it is very well done and was clearly done some time ago," says Sci-Fi Channel spokesperson, Lawrence Hall. "There are signs of degradation on its upper and lower left arm, it is cracking."
Mr Broom, a film-maker who is agnostic about the existence of aliens, says it could have been produced as a stage prop, or else made by one of the many US servicemen and women who have been based in the area.
"There were two factors that made me decide to find out more about this. First, it was so odd looking, with an androidal, we-are-not-alone image. And second, because we're close to Mildenhall, I thought that it might have been left behind by someone from there," said Mr Broom.
The model of the alien has a serial number on its foot
As well as finding out about this "baby alien", Mr Hall says he wants to find out if any more were manufactured.
Conspiracy theorists will already have their own ideas, such as whether such "aliens" were used as convenient decoys to cover up research projects and military crashes during the Cold War.
But Professor Adam Roberts, a specialist in science fiction literature, says the type of alien depicted is more like the images portrayed in the 1960s, rather than the 1940s - which could cast doubt on whether it really was produced 60 years ago.
Before the 1960s, aliens were more likely to be seen as "little green men," says Professor Roberts, from Royal Holloway College, London.
Any connection with the US military has been dismissed by an airforce spokeswoman, based at the Pentagon in Washington, who says it looks like a "model made to display".
Rejecting the model as a hoax, the US airforce says the numbers on the foot "could have represented the makers' idea of a museum or laboratory acquisition number" or else it could have been meant to "make it look like government property".
Add your comments on this story, using the form below.
You believe the American military after the cover ups they do? I have personally been in contact with 12 different species, of which the above alien is a bipedal infant of a sub-species of the vernculas quadrapeds. Many have visited and I think this is the leftover from some kind of breeding programme constructed after the Roswell landings. Don't be afraid of the truth!
Jimmy Henderson, Lancashire
Why Norfolk though? Are sat navs just as awful on other worlds?
I'd say this is a hoax simply because the alien looks like a modern visualisation of one, rather than a 1940s one. The modern "grey" first appeared in a TV movie called The UFO Incident in 1975, which was based on the alien abduction story on Barney & Betty Hill in New England in 1961. The film version of the aliens is different to the Hill's description (they had noses like Jimmy Durante). Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Communion and the X-Files all worked to cement the image of the "grey".
Andrew Clarke, Reykjavik
If it were real, we wouldn't be hearing about it!
Nathan Marsh, Dudley
This idea of the "Alien Foetus in Jar" originated with one Matthew W. Mungle very early on in his special effects career. He later went on to create special effects for CSI: Miami, Edward Scissorhands, The X-Files, The Perfect Storm, Collateral and Bram Stoker's Dracula, for which he received an Oscar.
Will Hearne, London
It looks remarkeably like my ex-husband.Those big beady eyes and clod feet are unmistakable. He just popped out for a loaf of bread on June 4th 1947 and I haven't seen him since.
This is simply the Erlenmeyer Flask. A simulation of the finding of an 'alien' embryo in a state of cryogenic existence. It's not real. Alien life form exists everywhere, where we don't recognise or understand it and extra-terrestrial life only finds Earth by accident. There is no publicly available evidence of "little green men" or "greys", so we should get over it. Governments can't cover everything up.
If I remember correctly, there was a vogue for selling these about 8 to 10 years ago, through sci-fi magazines. Made by a special effects contractor in the United States who had spare capacity, they were indeed shipped in "formaldehyde" solution. Perhaps someone tried to make something similar in the UK, and added the newspaper as corroborative detail.
Simon Cursitor, London
Surely discoveries like this deserve more research and government funding. We dismiss this kind of thing at our peril.
It's such a fake! I've seen more realistic Barbies!
And then people wonder why we need a passport to go to Norfolk.
Robin Drain, Suffolk
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