During a laboratory photo shoot in Glauchau, Saxony, the volcanic rock skull named Quauthemoc was somehow dropped, chipping a portion of its chin. No one is sure if someone dropped it or if it fell on its own, The Local reported.
"It was probably put down somewhere a bit wobbly," a witness told Bild newspaper. "Suddenly it crashed to the floor. A big piece broke off the chin. It's really tragic."
However, the skull's owner, amateur historian Thomas Ritter, does not seem to believe the scientists will be responsible for the end of days.
"It was a bit of a shock at first, but then I found the damage was fairly marginal, so I was quite relieved," Ritter told The Local. "I don't think it's a bad omen."
Mayan legend says Quauthemoc is among the 13 magical skulls with the power to help humanity survive the apocalypse believed to be imminent -- December 21, 2012, to be exact -- on the last day of the Mayan calendar.
Ritter will be in Mexico that day, meeting with the owners of the other 12 skulls at an ancient Mayan site.
"The prophecy says the skulls will reveal a secret knowledge to humanity on that day," he said. "But I can't say more than that. The skulls might start speaking or something, but I have no idea."
Ritter says Nazis stole the skull from a monastery somewhere in southern India or Tibet between 1937 and 1939. After the war was over, it was found in the belongings of Nazi Interior Minister and Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler, who was known for collecting ancient pagan and black magic artifacts.
A man who saw Himmler arrested took the skull, and the man's grandson presented it to Ritter in 2009 in Wiltshire, England. He told Ritter Quauthemoc had "chosen to continue its journey" with him.