In 2003, a strange skeleton was discovered in Chile. Named ‘Ata’ after the Atacama region where she was found, the diminutive mummy is only six inches long, leading some people to wonder if the skeleton was really from an extraterrestrial. It isn’t, of course: Tests show that .
But there is something strange about Ata. Even though she is only the size of a human fetus, a radiologist who analyzed the skeleton found that she has the bone structure of a six-year-old child. It was difficult for scientists to explain how something like this could happen.
But recent genetic analysis . A team of geneticists led by Garry Nolan of Stanford University and Atul Butte of the University of California, San Francisco studied Ata’s DNA and found a series of seven mutations that could explain her diminutive size. These genes are all involved in human growth.
The scientists believe that these mutations caused the extensive skeletal anomalies, including the abnormally fast aging of her bones. This means that Ata really is a fetus, likely stillborn or dead shortly after birth, and these mutations gave her the appearance of a six-year-old’s skeleton.
Now that we know exactly what Ata is and how she got that way, there’s only one question remaining: What will happen to her remains. Current, Ata is owned by Spanish businessman Ramón Navia-Osorio, but there’s a strong argument that her remains should be returned to Chile and laid to rest. Now that we know for sure Ata isn’t some kind of weird alien, let’s hope that finally happens.