'Alien' Atacama Desert Mummy Skeleton Is a Hoax—It's Actually a Mutated Human Baby, Say Scientists
Believe it or not, there's usually a rational explanation for pretty much everything tied to alien sightings.
Sometimes, though, the rational explanation is even stranger than the conspiracy theories.
Back in 2003, a mummy of sorts was found in the Atacama Desert that looks for all the world like a tiny alien. It had slanted, bulbous eyes, a huge forehead, and fewer ribs than a human being.
Studying it closely, scientists couldn't figure out what they were looking at. The mummy's skeleton had the bone density of a 6-year-old human, but it was only six inches long, and nowhere near developed enough to be the remains of a human child. It wasn't even possible to determine a gender for the mummy. Nothing here made sense, and the alien truthers had a field day with the mysterious extraterrestrial that Earth science couldn't explain.
Finally, after 15 years of study, scientists think they've found the solution. The Atacama Mummy isn't an alien at all, but rather, a mutant.
In fact, not only did Ata (as she's come to be known) suffer from a rare genetic mutation, but she suffered from several—hence the challenge of identifying her condition. Scientists were looking for one catch-all reason for her odd deformities, but it seems that in reality the girl (her gender has now been confirmed) had several stacking diseases that caused her unusual appearance.
According to Atul Butte, director of the Institute for Computational Health Sciences at the University of California-San Francisco:
Based on this new research, Ata was a human female who probably died around 40 years ago, while still gestating in the womb, but who, among other genetic diseases, suffered from a condition that was prematurely aging her bones.
She likely suffered from around seven genetic deformities, including skeletal dysplasia that caused her small size.
This research is incredibly useful, especially as scientists continue to crack the code of many genetic diseases in an effort to learn how to prevent them entirely.
According to Butte:
With luck, while Ata's life was sadly cut short by her various conditions, scientists may be able to learn something from her that will allow us to get a better understanding of how we can treat genetic conditions in the future.
While many alien enthusiasts may be disappointed that Ata isn't the weird otherworldy visitor they were hoping for, there's still plenty that scientists can learn from her, which could end up making a genuine difference in the lives of those who suffer from some of her genetic mutations.