Atacama alien skeleton mystery solved: A stillborn girl with an seven different mutations in genes responsible for bone development

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A bizarre, mummified, six-inch-long skeleton once suspected of possibly being an alien, was discovered back in 2003 in Chile’s Atacama desert and was heralded by some as a potential breakthrough in the search for ET confirmation. This fantastic conclusion was, unfortunately, squashed five years ago when DNA tests on the ‘alien’ revealed that it was, in fact, a human being. However, researchers were still stumped by what may have caused Ata’s unique appearance, but a newly-published paper appears to have solved the mystery.

Whole-genome sequencing of Atacama skeleton shows novel mutations linked with dysplasia. Photo by Dr Emery Smith

Dubbed the ‘Atacama alien’ or ‘Ata’ for short, the skeleton’s conical head and abnormally large eye sockets bore an uncanny resemblance to the iconic depiction of a grey ET.

By way of DNA extracted from Ata’s bones, geneticists were able to determine that this skeleton was that of a girl who was either stillborn or died shortly after birth. The remarkable nature of the skeleton, they say, is the result of an astounding seven different mutations in genes responsible for bone development.

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Genetic tests reveal tragic reality of Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton.
Mummified remains from Chilean ghost town revealed to be baby girl with malformations so bizarre they led to speculation over alien life. Photo by Dr Emery Smith

This confluence of genetic abnormalities resulted in the skeleton being more akin in composition to a six-year-old child as well as the variety of bone deformities which originally gave rise to speculation that Ata had been an alien.

Although the ultimate conclusion of the study may be a bit disappointing to UFO enthusiasts, the researchers behind the project say that their findings could go a long way towards diagnosing and treating those with skeletal deformities.

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Genome Research, Coast To Coast, The Guardian

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