A mysterious mummy that was found in the Atacama Desert in Chile looks like an alien skeleton, but scientists have now determined its true nature.

There have been numerous reports of alleged evidence of extraterrestrial life, with recent ones including spotted fossilized alien tracks on Mars and what appears to be a crashed UFO in Antarctica. The Atacama skeleton, however, was one of the most important clues to the existence of aliens — until now.

Alien Skeleton Found In 2003

In 2003, a 6-inch skeleton was found inside a leather pouch behind an abandoned church in the deserted mining town named La Noria. The skeleton, named Ata after the region where it was discovered, had an elongated skull, slanted eye sockets, an underdeveloped face and jaw, only 10 pairs of ribs instead of 12, and bone composition of a 6-year-old despite its size.

The skeleton found its way into the black market, ending up in the possession of a private collector based in Spain.

Looking at the skeleton, it was impossible to think that it belonged to a human. There were theories that it was the remains of an unidentified primate, but the popular explanation was that Ata was an alien who passed away on Earth.

The True Identity Of The Atacama Mummy

Garry Nolan, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, first received the chance to examine the supposed alien skeleton in 2012. The results from his initial investigation showed that the skeleton belonged to a human girl, debunking the theories that it was a mummified alien.

Five years of genomic analysis now confirms the earlier findings, while providing even more answers to the true identity of Ata.

The results of the study, which was again led by Nolan, were published on the Genome Research journal. The investigation confirmed that Ata was a Chilean female, through a whole-genome sequence analysis on DNA extracted from the bone marrow of one of the skeleton's ribs. The skeleton likely belonged to a fetus.

After identifying that Ata was human, the researchers moved on to finding out what caused the extraordinary features of the skeleton. Further analysis revealed that there were mutations within seven of Ata's genes, combining to create bone and musculoskeletal deformities such as scoliosis, and skeletal dysplasia, which is more popularly known as dwarfism.

The combination of all these mutations explained the appearance of Ata, but it was the high number of the mutations that surprised the researchers. According to director of the Institute for Computational Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco Atul Butte, it was very rare to find all these symptoms in one person.

Butte further speculated that the reason for the high number of mutations found in Ata were due to the environment where the child was developed. Ata's family lived in a town with abandoned mines, and the exposure to nitrates may have caused the mutations.

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