The mystery behind Ata, a tiny skeleton previously believed to be of alien origin, has been revealed. Image: Emery Smith - National Geographic

Scientists have finally explained the mystery of Ata, the six-inch, naturally mummified girl from the Atacama Desert in Chile. As it turns out, according to a radiologist who analyzed the skeleton, Ata’s bones were as mature as the ones of a six to eight-year-old, while other scientists claim that the fetus-long mummy even presented hardened teeth.

In 2012, Spanish businessman Ramon Navia Osorio purchased the curiosity and had Dr. Stephen Greer to take computed topographies and X-rays of the remains to analyze them and take DNA samples, which proved the bones were human instead of extraterrestrial or any unknown live forms.

Ata the six-inch mummy was not an alien

Ata is as long as a human fetus and it is now known that it used to be a girl. Yet, according to scientists, it is estimated that she could have been around 6 years old by the time she passed away. According to immunologists Garry Nolan and geneticist Fowzan Alkuraya, Ata was just the first human child to have had 7 different mutations involved in her genes.

Most humans have different mutations, but in the case of Ata, the genetic mutations presented in her DNA wouldn’t allow her growth. Other mutations caused her disfigured skull, according to Nolan, who said that “that poor child unfortunately rolled the dice seven times snake eyes.” Some state Ata is a proof of how genomics could help to solve archaeological dilemmas.

Studies are yet to determine what period Ata lived in, but DNA proves she is of European descent, which means that her time was probably after the 1500s since Chile was colonized around that time. This would make her bones less than 500 years old.

What the discovery of Ata’s true nature might mean

Two decades ago, the rumors of a mummified alien being discovered in the Atacama Desert of Chile began. It was discovered by a collector who found in a white leather pouch a six-inch skeleton, which ever since has been considered to be a mummified alien. The mummy has giant eye sockets, 10 ribs instead of 12, and a disproportioned, conical shaped long skull.

Once Dr. Nolan was able to retrieve bone fragments, he and his colleagues were able to determine Ata’s DNA, which led to the identification of a group of mutations related to her genes, and some of them related to bone development. The most shocking discovery about Ata’s DNA is the fact that based on it, she was part of a local population.

Source: The New York Times