DNA Study Confirms Truth Behind Six-Inch 'Alien' Mummy
After a strange six-inch skeleton was found in Chile 15 years ago, scientists have been absolutely baffled by its origins - with some left speculating that it was an alien.
Following a new DNA study, however, it turns out that the truth comes from a little closer to home - though that doesn't mean it's any less fascinating.
Genetic tests conducted at the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University have proven that the bones actually belonged to a human female who had dwarfism and died 40 years ago, the Daily Mail reports.
UCSF researcher Sanchita Bhattacharya said she found 64 gene variants in Ata's DNA, and these seemed likely to be damaging.
Of the multiple variants, she found ones linked to skeletal problems, issues with producing collagen, genes linked to spine curvature and more.
The discovery was made in Atacama, Chile, way back in 2003, when the skeleton was found in a leather pouch in an abandoned church and was nicknamed Ata.
With a long, cone-like skull and only ten ribs, Ata's origins seemed to be a bit of a mystery, and even became the subject of a 2013 documentary called Sirius, which suggested that the skeleton was proof of alien life.
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Now, however, we know that the skeleton is actually that of a human girl who had dwarfism.
Garry Nolan, who is a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, began the scientific exploration of Ata in 2012.
Speaking to the Guardian, he said: "She was so badly malformed as to be unable to feed.
"In her condition, she would have ended up in the neonatal ICU, but given where the specimen was found, such things were simply not available."
Nolan also explained that the headway that's been made with Ata may even one day benefit patients.
"Maybe there's a way to accelerate bone growth in people who need it, people who have bad breaks," he said.
"Nothing like this had been seen before. Certainly, nobody had looked into the genetics of it."
He added: "We now know that it's a child, and probably either a pre- or post-term birth and death.
"I think it should be returned to the country of origin and buried according to the customs of the local people."
Nolan continued: "While this started as a story about aliens, and went international, it's really a story of a human tragedy.
"A woman had a malformed baby, it was preserved in a manner and then "hocked" or sold as a strange artefact. May she rest in peace."
Featured Image Credit: Sirius