The Tragic Reality Behind The "Atacama Alien"

The Tragic Reality Behind The “Atacama Alien”

In March 2021, a group of California-based medical and genetic research scientists published a paper that carried the answers for a number of burning questions surrounding the mysterious “Atacama Alien”.

The peculiar remains were seemingly unearthed from the church graveyard of Atacama desert, which is an abandoned town in Chile. The ‘Atacama Alien’ which was discovered in 2003 is partially mummified and measures 6 inches in length. The puzzling remains look like a fusion of a human skeleton and a classic “little green man” Hollywood alien.

Atacama Alien

Garry Nolan, a professor from the Stanford University, was fascinated by the oddity of the remains. Hoping to discover their origins, he deeply examined the bones before joining Atul Butte from USCF for whole-genome analysis. After five years of study, the two concluded that the owner of the remains was a preterm fetus that died around 40 years ago. Initially, the anomalous morphology and the contrasting bone plate condition depicted that the remains, nicknamed ‘Ata’, was 6-8 years old when it died. This suggestion was explained by the various genetic mutations identified by Nolan and Butte.

Many Experts Are Questioning These Findings

In the present, however, anatomy, anthropology, archaeology, and obstetrics experts from all over the world are questioning these findings. Sian Halcrow, along with her colleagues, opposed Nolan and Butte’s claim saying that Ata is riddled with malformations, in an article published in the International Journal of Paleopathology. They declared that the variations in the DNA sequence found in Ata’s genome causing skeletal and joint problems were highly unlikely. Also, they stated that it’s impossible to interfere with the consequences of the novel mutations at this time.

The truth about the strange remains turns out to be much simpler. Halcrow and his team claim that what Nolan and Butte observed as anomalies are actually normal fetal developmental stages. They explained that the unusual shape of the skull is a result of the pressure of vaginal birth and potential post-mortem effects.

This study does reveal a number of genetic mutations that have been strongly linked to skeletal dysplasias and other disorders. However, Halcrow’s team believes that Nolan and Butte’s comparison to a random healthy control of Chilean descent invalidates their own theory. This is because it demonstrates that “it is possible to find a similar number of variants as identified in the Atacama fetus in any given human and that these may be associated with a variety of disorders that will never be expressed in the phenotype.”

The current team even raised legal and ethical concerns against the earlier team. These were regarding the removal of the remains from its burial site, transportation, and sampling.

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