This idea has been percolating in popular culture since the mid-1990s, when a 17-minute black-and-white film surfaced which purported to show a team of humans in white bio-hazard protection suits cutting open and removing organs from what appeared to be a tiny alien corpse [source: Corliss]. The footage aired on TV in multiple countries and copies became a popular mail-order item, even though skeptics noted that the team performing the dissection seemed to be incredibly clumsy with their surgical tools. Years later, the film's producers released a documentary sequel, in which they admitted to faking the autopsy — though they claimed to have done it only to replace genuine footage that had been damaged [source: Nickell].
But believers can draw comfort, perhaps, from other purported Area 51 autopsy videos that have since surfaced, such as the 2012 DVD "Alien from Area 51: The Alien Autopsy Footage Revealed" which entices the curious with a "Warning: Graphic Material" label [source: IMDB]. Another bit of suspect footage surfaced in 2014, purportedly showing a partially dissected 4-foot-tall (122 cm) alien with a severed, insect-like head [source: Shammas].