Fifteen years of conspiracy theories and speculated ufologists, the small Atacama-Humanoid Alien Mummy (Ata for short), could be a small alien or a millennial dwarf man or even a primate. The documentary "Sirius" wanted to reveal the little mummy as an alien. Now the puzzle is solved.
The Atacama mummy, also called "Atacama-Humanoid", or Ata for short, was found (excavated) in 2003 by Oscar Muñoz 56 km from the Chilean city of Iquique near La Noria in the South American Atacama Desert. The ghost town was abandoned in 1931 when the salt dates were closed. The current owner of the mummy is the Spanish businessman Ramón Navia-Osorio.
The mummy, about 13 centimeters in size and partially covered with fabric, was celebrated in the UFO scene: the "thing" is like a human being, but with its deformed skull, oversized eyes and long arms fits the common ideas about extraterrestrials.
The first studies were carried out in 2013 by Garry Nolan, a renowned professor of microbiology, immunology and genetic research at Stanford University. Nolan and colleagues from other subjects, such as children's X-rays and anthropology, examined it for DNA and tissue. The dry climate had favored conservation. Even back then it was concluded that it was clearly to be classified as a human of the genus Homo sapiens and that the age of the mummy was only estimated to be a few decades at most: "It is very clear that this is a real test (...) that is not something that someone stuck together."
Strange about the ata mummy, which had only ten full twelve pairs of ribs, the condition and density of the growth plates on the bones of the legs indicated an age of five to ten years, the size of the mummy and the open forehead seam, however, a fetus of the 22nd to 24th Pregnancy week.
Nolan concluded that the person could have been a mid-adult and had died in childhood after the five to ten years mentioned; but she could also have died in the womb from an extreme form of progeria (premature aging); there may have been poisoning that could have caused the deformation, such as thalidomide.
DNA analysis showed that the mummy is 91 percent human. The missing nine percent can be explained by degradation processes during storage.
Other studies have partially disproved Nolan's hypotheses, such as the supposedly advanced development of the bone joints or the small "fake" ribs number eleven and twelve - they are the lowest of the rib cage and do not reach the middle of the chest.
The researchers concluded that Ata was a girl. Already as a fetus she had some known, albeit very rare, genetic malformations of the skeleton and muscles, also as a result of progeria. Her mother probably suffered an abortion in the area no more than 40 years ago, i.e. a presumable premature or stillbirth, and that took place in La Noria.
This coincides with the statements of the discoverer Oscar Muñoz. He claimed to have found the skeleton near the church in La Noria - wrapped in a white cloth with a purple ribbon tied up.
Stony Brook University paleoanthropologist William L. Jungers suspects that progeria had affected the fetus, causing a miscarriage. This contradicts Garry Nolan's analysis, according to which the mummy shows epiphyseal cores in the knee joint. These are bone cores that only develop during childhood. Accordingly, humans would not have been born dead or dying, but would have been six to eight years old.
In the course of his analysis, however, he announced that he was no longer entirely convinced of his initial hypothesis. Jürgen Spranger, who examined the x-rays of the mummy on request, doubts the finding of Ata's age. The epiphyseal nuclei found in the knee joints suggest that Ata lived for several years, but various ossifications, such as in the hands and on the pubic bone, that a child should actually have, were missing. In his opinion, it was a fetus in about the 24th week of pregnancy who probably suffered from the so-called Wiedemann-Rautenstrauch syndrome. However, there is no known genetics for Wiedemann-Rautenstrauch syndrome. The skeletal malformation expert Ralph Lachman, who examined the mummy together with Nolan, announced in his report that it has mutations in the skeleton: "This specimen cannot be classified into any kind of disorders or syndromes that I know of (...) It there is no known form of short stature that could explain all the abnormalities found in this specimen (...) None of these mutations are known to cause all the abnormalities observed."
The biggest anomalies, according to Lachman, are: a) the size that does not match the apparent age of 6 to 8 years; b) the presence of midface hypoplasia; c) the underdevelopment of the jaw; d) the presence of only ten ribs (humans normally have twelve, rarely eleven).
Lachmann also notes that the proportions of the back and extremities are normal in many ways.
A scientific publication published in March 2018 in the journal Genome Research by scientists from Stanford University and her colleagues from the University of California in San Francisco concluded that the mummy was an obviously severely malformed female newborn, the either born dead in the 1960s or died shortly after birth. The genetic analysis showed numerous mutations in genes that are important for bone development. Mutations in these genes are known to result in severe skeletal and muscle abnormalities and dwarfism. This explains why the bone maturation age appears to be significantly older than it actually is.
The scientists had to revise their first finding on the age of Ata: the severe metabolic diseases probably caused the bones to ossify before birth. However, the child had clearly died before the birth, as a fetus.
The researchers could only speculate as to why the child had severe deformations: "We can only speculate, but the body was found in La Noria, one of many deserted cities in the Atacama Desert where nitrate was mined." That may have led to prenatal DNA damage, at least played a role.
Similar finds are the ",Atta Boy", which was also found in the Atacama Desert in 1933 and the Aleshenka found in Russia in 1996.
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