DNA Tests Reveal Surprising Details About Tiny ‘Atacama Alien’

The most comprehensive study to date performed on the so-called Atacama Alien has revealed, according to the first study, that 8 percent of the DNA was unmatched to human DNA. The second set of DNA tests matched 98 percent of the DNA.

Remeber the alien-like creature discovered in the Atacama desert of chile a while ago? Well, new DNA results have revealed a number of peculiar characteristics about the mysterious creature.

A complete genomic study of a skeleton discovered more than a decade ago in the Atacama desert (Chile), and ‘falsely’ taken as an alien, has revealed unpublished bone molecular rarities.

The findings of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine eliminate any remaining dilemmas on the planetary origin of the specimen, assuring that it is human, and not an alien. The analysis also answers questions about the mysterious skeletal remains that have long been a genetic enigma.

Now, after five years of genomic analysis, Garry Nolan, professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford, and Atul Butte, director of the Institute of Computational Health Sciences at the University of California-San Francisco, in the United States, have identified the mutations responsible for the anomalous sample.

The researchers found mutations in not one, but several genes known to control bone development. In addition, some of these molecular oddities have never been described before.

The mysterious-looking skeleton, nicknamed Ata, was discovered more than a decade ago in an abandoned town in the Atacama desert in Chile.

After changing owners and finally finding a permanent home in Spain, the mummified specimen began to attract public attention.

Just six inches tall (about 15 centimeters), about the length of a dollar bill, with an elongated, angular skull and sunken, tilted eye sockets, the possibility of Ata coming from another world began to circulate on the Internet as people started speaking about aliens with extremely tiny bodies.

“I had heard about this specimen through a friend of mine, and I managed to get an image of it,” says Nolan. You can not look at this specimen and not think it’s interesting; It is quite dramatic. Then I said to my friend: “Look, whatever it is, if it has DNA, I can do the analysis.”

With the help of Ralph Lachman, a professor of Radiology at Stanford and an expert in a type of pediatric bone disease, Nolan made things clear.

His analysis pointed to a decisive conclusion: this was the skeleton of a human woman, probably a fetus, who had suffered serious genetic mutations.

In addition, Nolan saw that Ata, although most likely a fetus, had the bone composition of a 6-year-old girl, an indication that she had a rare bone aging disorder.

To understand the genetic basis of Ata, Nolan turned to Butte for help with genomic evaluation.

He accepted the challenge and performed such a thorough evaluation that he almost reached the level of patient care.

Butte noted that some people might wonder about the point of these in-depth analyzes.

“We thought it would be an interesting exercise to apply the tools we have today to really see what we could find,” he says. The phenotype, the symptoms and the size of this girl were extremely unusual, and the analysis of this kind of truly disconcerting and ancient samples better teaches us how to analyze the DNA of children nowadays under current conditions.“

To understand the genetic factors involved, Butte and Nolan extracted a small sample of DNA from Ata’s ribs and sequenced the entire genome.

The skeleton is approximately 40 years old, so its DNA is modern and relatively intact. In addition, the data collected from the complete genome sequencing showed that Ata’s molecular composition was aligned with that of a human genome.

Human but…

Nolan detected that 8 percent of the DNA was unmatched by human DNA, but that was due to a degraded sample, not to extraterrestrial biology. Later, a more sophisticated analysis could match up to 98 percent of the DNA.

The genomic results confirmed Ata’s Chilean lineage and presented a series of mutations in seven genes that, separately or in combinations, contribute to various bone deformities, facial malformations or skeletal dysplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism.

Some of these mutations, although found in genes that are known to cause disease, have never before been associated with bone growth or developmental disorders.

“Knowing these new mutational variants could be useful,” says Nolan, “because they add to the reservoir of known mutations that must be sought in humans with this type of bone or physical disorders.”

Source: Stanford Medicine

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