Genome sequencing of mysterious mummy from Atacama Desert revealed a series of mutations explaining its unusual appearance.
Unusual mummy is being stored in one of the Spanish private collections. When it was found in one of the abandoned villages in Atacama Desert, Chile, in 2003 one could not even certainly say that this was a human mummy. This creature, called Ata, is some 15 centimeters in height. Ordinary human has 12 pairs of ribs, but the mummy from Atacama Desert has a total of 10 pairs. Moreover, it has irregularly shaped skull, which is rather unusual for a person.
There were some suggestions stating that the mummy could belong to some type of ape or even to a space alien. This last suggestion was much appreciated by ufologists, and “Atacama Humanoid” even became the character in the documentary film “Sirius”. Some even said that the mummy was hundreds or thousands of years.
The results of the first scientific studies have brought down believers in extraterrestrial origin of Ata – DNA analysis proved that it was indeed a human with an estimated bone age of 6 to 8 years at the time of death.
Suggestions as to the old age of the mummy have also come to nothing. Researchers said that this specimen is not ancient, since Ata’s DNA is well-preserved, which means that it has died no more than several dozen years ago.
But why did it look so weird? Garry P. Nolan, genetic scientist from Stanford University, and his colleagues have performed whole-genome sequencing to find answer to this question. Results of their study were published in Genome Research Journal.
Mr. Nolan reached to conclusion that Ata was a woman and most likely of Chilean origin. Moreover, DNA extracted from the bones contain a set of mutations that are believed to be associated with her short stature, abnormal ribs, and skull development defects. A total of 60 skeletal abnormalities were found, two of which are not described in the scientific literature so far.
Ata, even if it was born alive, had a very short life.