The discovery of a mummified skeleton measuring just six inches long in Chile’s Atacama Desert sparked debate for years. Bhattacharya S et al. 2018.
The mummified skeleton known as “Ata” was discovered in an abandoned mining town in Chile’s Atacama Desert in 2003, smaller than a Barbie doll and with an enlarged head and other abnormalities. Since then, there have been numerous hypotheses about the person, many of which indicate an extraterrestrial origin. A new research released today addresses many of the lingering concerns about the relics.
You may remember the Atacama “creature” from the 2013 film Sirius, which explored several UFO and alien-centric conspiracy theories. Following that, Stanford University researcher Garry Nolan and colleagues examined the bones and performed DNA tests on it, confirming that it was human, but they were unable to explain its size and other physical abnormalities at the time.
Nolan and colleagues reveal many new information about the person determined by whole genome sequencing, owing to high-quality DNA taken from bone marrow.
Ata’s size (yes, she was female) was a mystery, particularly because previous bone age research indicated the person was 6-8 years old at the time of death. Another interesting feature was the skeleton’s turricephaly, or elongated, cone-shaped head. Ata possessed 10 pairs of ribs instead of the normal 12. This was one of the less apparent oddities.
I would love to say that this skeleton is of Alien origin, because it really looks like an Alien, but it is of human origin.
Ata’s DNA was sequenced, and it showed new mutations in many of her genes, including COL1A1, COL2A1, KMT2D, FLNB, ATR, TRIP11, and PCNT. Despite the fact that her set of variations is unique, prior research has connected the genes to “small stature disorders, rib abnormalities, cranial malformations, early joint fusion, and osteochondrodysplasia (also known as skeletal dysplasia),” according to the study’s authors.
The scientists now think Ata was a “pre-term birth” rather than a kid, based on genetic evidence of apparent premature bone aging.
Based on particular signals in Ata’s DNA, the researchers was able to establish that she was most likely of Chilean ancestry as part of the whole genome sequencing. The researchers discovered her closest genetic kin: three people from Andean Chile, using a variety of data sets, including the 1000 Genomes Project.
The timeline for Ata is still up in the air. Researchers tried to find an explanation by calculating how much of her genetic material had degraded. Microbes and other pollutants begin to appear as soon as a creature dies, degrading the DNA over time. The researchers calculated that the remains were fewer than 500 years old based on known degradation rates.
According to the experts, Ata was discovered in La Noria, a now-defunct 19th century nitrate mining village. It suggests the likelihood that nitrate exposure during pregnancy caused the new abnormalities in her DNA.
This research is published in the journal Genome Research.