For over two decades, there was an argument over a mummifed skeleton in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The question was: Is the skeleton from an alien or from a human?
Ata, the name of the skeleton, was in remarkably great shape for a… human. After many years of discussion, it was found that Ata has human DNA and that she belonged to the local population. Researchers also identified Ata’s DNA as a group of mutations of genes related to the development of the bones.
These mutations might be the reason for the skeleton’s unique appearance, a disorder that has never been seen in humans before.
The research into Ata began in 2012 with Dr. Garry P. Nolan from Stanford University. Nolen had heard about Ata from the production of the UFO movie “Sirius.”
Nolen and his team offered to look into the skeleton’s DNA. So the owner of the skeleton agreed to send X-ray images as well as bone marrow samples taken from the ribs and right humerus.
Once Dr. Nolan and his colleagues received the samples, they were able to retrieve fragments of DNA from bone marrow samples which was relatively easy. They then found their answer. “We could tell this was human right away,” said Atul Butte from the University of California, San Francisco, and one of the co-authors of the research.
Once the researchers were able to find out that Ata was a human, they dug deeper into the skeleton’s genome. They were able to determine that Ata was a female who had died less than 500 years ago. Even though it’s impossible to pinpoint a certain year, scientists were able to find out that she has European heritage from the 1500s.
There’s more research needed to be done on Ata to find out if she was stillborn or if she lived a short life, as her bones are similar to an eight-year old’s bone structure. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens.