Brighton & Hove Museums has recently acquired a specimen which could prove the existence of extraterrestrial life, through the bequest of a local scientist. In the will of the late Dr Pilar Sofol a number of unidentified specimens, collected by her on field trips abroad over sixty years ago, were donated to the Booth Museum of Natural History including the one featured below.
The arrival of Dr Sofol’s collection was greeted with excitement by curatorial staff at the museum. The vast numbers of plant specimens, which formed the basis of Dr Sofol’s life’s work researching horticultural subjects, were accurately documented and identified but the non-plant material collected by her during that time were poorly labelled or had no information at all. Fortunately, a reference to the specimen you see in the picture was found in a side note in her field journal. Sofol records that she found the decaying remains of what looked like a severely malformed, bald, monkey whilst on a plant collecting expedition along the Pecos River, New Mexico in August 1947. Dr Sofol simply placed the specimen in a formaldehyde solution and continued with her research. After returning to the UK in the late 1950s most of her collections were placed in storage and by all accounts generally ignored until after her death.
When curatorial staff discovered Dr Sofol’s note, identifying this specimen as a malformed primate, they attempted to identify a species through DNA analysis. Despite several attempts all samples came back showing the specimen as having no relation to any species currently living on earth. As all organisms currently alive have some relation to each other this outcome was somewhat baffling. In addition, the results showed that the specimen was a close match to bacteria found inside meteorites. As a result, the specimen has now been sent to the biological research division of a space agency for further study as a possible alien life form. Findings will be published later this year.
We are so used to the concept of alien life nowadays that it may seem strange to you that Dr Sofol didn’t go about trying to prove the existence of alien life when she made her discovery in 1947 but at that time there was little interest in extraterrestrial life. Man hadn’t yet left the earth, let alone landed on the moon.
In honour of her discovery it has been submitted that the creature should be named Exogiini Sofoloi.
Lee Ismail, Curator of Natural Sciences