With the advent of DNA analysis, it seems like no crime should defy solution, no ancestor should remain unidentified, no cryptid should remain unproven, no prehistoric animal should remain extinct and no alien skeleton should continue to be called ‘alleged.’ That’s why it’s puzzling that one of the most famous ‘alleged’ alien skeleton – the tiny six-inch-long being with an elongated, pointed skull and slanted eye sockets has remained famous yet unidentified for decades. (Images here.) That changed this week when researchers using the latest in DNA testing positively identified the mini remains that has two less ribs than a normal human and whose earlier DNA tests showed it had 8% ‘non-human’ DNA. What is “Ata”?
For those who aren’t familiar with it, let’s start with “Who is Ata?” In 2003, treasure hunter Oscar Muño found the strange little skeleton wrapped in a white cloth in an abandoned church in the deserted Chilean mining town of La Noria in the Atacama Desert. A media report at the time described it as “a creature with hard teeth, a bulging head with an additional odd bulge on top. Its body was scaly and of dark color. Unlike humans, it had nine ribs." While the photos circulated via the Internet and tabloid media, the skeleton itself changed hands a few times before ending up in Spain in the possession of businessman Ramón Navia-Osorio, who also runs the Institute for Exobiological Investigation and Study (IIEE) – a UFO Organization. Navia-Osorio had “Ata” – named for the Atacama Desert -- analyzed and released his findings in 2017. While many people, including Stephen Greer, thought it was an alien or non-human, Navia-Osorio stated that three doctors concluded it was not a hoax and a fourth said this:
"It's a mummified body with all typical characteristics of a fetus. The body displays all the structures and anatomical links normal for the head, trunk and extremities. Taken together, the proportionality of the anatomical structures ... [allows us] to interpret beyond doubt, that this is a mummified human fetus completely normal."
Case closed? The usual suspects who believed Ata to be an alien said no. According to Huffpost, more DNA analysis done in 2018 on what was then assumed to be a premature human fetus identified unusual but disputed mutations associated with dwarfism and scoliosis, and date its birth to the 1970s. that brings us to today. The Sun reports that Garry Nolan, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine who has been researching Atas since 2012, has determined that Ata died shortly after birth or was only slightly premature. The original DNA images came “from remains that were not known to be human when the research began,” which distorted the results. The new research shows a number of mutations in seven genes that contributed to Ata’s various bone deformities, facial malformations and skeletal dysplasia. In other words, this female baby was born in the 1970s with severe dwarfism and died a short time later.
"We do not know how a little girl came to be buried next to the church in the abandoned town. We do not know if she was born alive, but we do know she was treated with care and love in her last moments, being carefully covered in a white cloth and a violet ribbon. From the presumed timeline of her death, it is likely that her mother probably is still alive. Given the amount of interest about the case in the media, it is also possible that the family has been forced to relive events from 40 years ago.”
The Chilean government has done much to protect its native antiquities and the many mummies found there – even those unusual ones with three fingers and elongated heads. Cristina Dorador writes in Etilmercurio that it should do the same for Ata – return her to Chile, locate her family, and let them bury her one more time and let her rest in peace.
That seems like a very human thing to do for a girl who has been thought to e an alien for so long. It should also cause us to consider if this is how we will treat real extraterrestrials.