About twenty years ago, an amateur collector stumbled upon a white cloth in a leather pouch while exploring a ghost town in the Atacama Desert in Chile. When he unwrapped it, what he found inside shocked him: a six-inch complete skeleton, with hardened teeth. But even if it looked humanoid, it had some anomalies, like the ten ribs instead of 12 and the elongated skull with to huge eye sockets. The unusual remains became known as Ata and ended up in a private collection.
However, the rumors kept on spreading and Ata became the subject of a 2013 UFO documentary. Since then, many people thought that what the collector had found was a real alien. But on Thursday, a team of scientists offered a more real but still intriguing explanation for Ata. According to them, her DNA shows that she was indeed human, and not alien. Moreover, she belonged to the local population but had some mutations in her genes that altered her bone development. She simply suffered from a hereditary disorder that has never been documented in humans, until now.
The fascinating story of Ata, the tiny skeleton
.@GenomeResearch just published the #genome of a 6-inch mummified skeleton from the #Atacama region of Chile. The authors revealed that Ata’s small stature & multiple bone abnormalities were caused by several mutations for dwarfism, scoliosis & other musculoskeletal abnormalities pic.twitter.com/OcsaOHMc6U
— Ianis G. Matsoukas (@thisisianis) March 22, 2018
Experts are incredibly proud of this discovery. According to them, it shows how looking at the past through DNA autopsies can tell us a lot more about the present. Garry P. Nolan, an immunologist at Stanford University, is the one who started this research back in 2012. Before the UFO documentary Sirius came out, he offered to search for DNA in the tiny mummy.
The owner agreed and soon, Nolan and his team managed to retrieve DNA fragments from it. After realizing that she was human, they managed to sequence a large part of her genome. She was a girl with a big amount of European ancestry but also closely related to the indigenous Chileans. According to her heritage, she must have lived around the 1500s. Experts now think that Ata and what happened to her might shed light on the skeletal deformities that people nowadays suffer from.
Image source: pixabay