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Bwauder

Bizarre skeleton leaves UFO hunters and scientists baffled

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Alien? Subhuman primate? Deformed child? Mummified foetus? The internet is buzzing over the nature of "Ata", a bizarre 12-centimetre-long skeleton featured in a new documentary on UFOs. A Stanford University scientist who boldly entered the fray has now put to rest doubts about what species Ata belongs to. But the mystery is not over.

The story began 10 years ago, when the diminutive remains were reportedly found in a pouch in a ghost town in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Ata ended up in a private collection in Barcelona; producers of the film Sirius latched onto the bizarre mummy as evidence of alien life.

Wow, this is like nothing I've ever seen before

Last year, immunologist Garry Nolan, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Proteomics Centre for Systems Immunology at Stanford in California, heard about Ata from a friend and contacted the filmmakers, offering to give them a scientific readout on the specimen. They asked him to give it a shot.

art-ataa-620x349.jpg

Ata has the bone characteristics of a six- or seven-year-old child.

Among the apparent abnormalities, Ata sports 10 ribs instead of the usual 12 and a severely misshapen skull. "I asked our neonatal care unit how you would go about analysing it. Had they seen this kind of syndrome before?" Nolan says. He was directed to paediatric radiologist Ralph Lachman, co-director of the International Skeletal Dysplasia Registry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. "He literally wrote the book on paediatric bone disorders," Nolan says. Lachman was blown away, Nolan recalls: "He said, 'Wow, this is like nothing I've ever seen before.' "

 

To study the specimen, Nolan sought clues in Ata's genome. He initially presumed the specimen was tens or hundreds of thousands of years old - the Atacama Desert may be the driest spot on the planet, so Ata could have been preserved for aeons. He consulted experts who had extracted DNA from bones of the Denisovans, an Asian relative of European Stone Age Neandertals. It turned out that their protocols weren't necessary. "The DNA was modern, abundant, and high quality," he says, indicating that the specimen is probably a few decades old.

To the chagrin of UFO hunters, Ata is decidedly of this world. After mapping more than 500 million reads to a reference human genome, equating to 17.7-fold coverage of the genome, Nolan concluded that Ata "is human, there's no doubt about it". Moreover, the specimen's B2 haplotype-a category of mitochondrial DNA - reveals that its mother was from the west coast of South America: Chile, that is.

art-ata2-300x0.jpg

The miniature skeleton has 10 ribs instead of the usual 12.

Meanwhile, after examining X-rays, Lachman concluded that Aka's skeletal development, based on the density of the epiphyseal plates of the knees (growth plates at the end of long bones found only in children), surprisingly appears to be equivalent to that of a six- to eight-year-old child. If that holds up, there are two possibilities, Nolan says. One, a long shot, is that Ata had a severe form of dwarfism, was actually born as a tiny human, and lived until that calendar age. To test that hypothesis, he will try to extract haemoglobin from the specimen's bone marrow and compare the relative amounts of foetal versus adult haemoglobin proteins. The second possibility is that Ata, the size of a 22-week-old foetus, suffered from a severe form of a rare rapid ageing disease, progeria, and died in the womb or after premature birth.

Nolan hasn't yet turned up hits for genes known to be associated with progeria or dwarfism. He's stepping up the search for mutations through additional sequencing and casting a wider net. Another possibility is a teratogen: a birth defect-inducing toxicant along the lines of thalidomide. Nolan plans to analyse tissue using mass spectrometry to look for toxicants or metabolites. But reports of a handful of other Tom Thumb-sized skeletons from Russia and elsewhere have Nolan leaning toward a genetic explanation.

At least one expert has a more prosaic take-but agrees that the specimen is human. "This looks to me like a badly desiccated and mummified human foetus or premature stillbirth," says William Jungers, a palaeoanthropologist and anatomist at Stony Brook University Medical Centre in New York. He notes that "barely ossified and immature elements" of the hands and feet, and the wide open metopic suture, where the two frontal bones of the skull come together down the middle of the forehead. "Genetic anomalies are not evident, probably because there aren't any," he says. Nolan responds that the rib number and epiphyseal plate densities remain a riddle; while he is open to the foetus hypothesis, he thinks that the jury is still out.

Nolan's analysis went viral this week; besieged as he has been by the media circus, he doesn't regret having gotten involved in debunking a claim of alien life. "I'm thrilled with the outcome," he says. Once the analyses are complete, he says, he'll submit his findings for peer review. The other claim Nolan debunks is that Ata is an elaborate hoax. The X-rays clearly show these are real bones, complete with arterial shadows, he says. "You just couldn't fake it," he says, adding, with a laugh, "unless you were an alien."

This is adapted from ScienceNOW, the online daily news service of the journal Science

 

http://www.smh.com.a...0508-2j7a6.html

 

vid on news item as well

Edited by Bwauder

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the names dropped in the article are real at least

wonder if they actually have anything to do with this...

because this scores 11 on a scale of 1-10 on the potential fiddlesticks detector

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the names dropped in the article are real at least

wonder if they actually have anything to do with this...

because this scores 11 on a scale of 1-10 on the potential fiddlesticks detector

Just more fuel for conspiracy theorists. Still, it makes for some hilarious TV :P

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Even if there is a logical explanation for this UFO tv shows will go crazy over this for years.

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Well the Huns used to elongate the heads of their children in a similar way, probably just an old cultural thing. BY WHICH I MEAN image.png

Edited by Goggie
this man was severely lacking in this thread

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yeah people are still going to believe this is an alien and make stupid of themselves

Which is great because it's going to be hilarious. I don't know if you've ever watched any pseudoscience shows on Discovery or Nat Geo (I think only the latter does it), like the one where they go to hunt for the yeti. It's hilarious because they take themselves so seriously :xd:

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yeah people are still going to believe this is an alien and make stupid of themselves

Which is great because it's going to be hilarious. I don't know if you've ever watched any pseudoscience shows on Discovery or Nat Geo (I think only the latter does it), like the one where they go to hunt for the yeti. It's hilarious because they take themselves so seriously :xd:

I remember this one time on Monster Garage they were making some shizzlety crop-circle-making car, and they got some alien expert dude come in who claimed to be abducted and had a photo with an alien which looked like a plastic toy.

They were giving this poor (yet crazy) old man all this shizzle and he thought they were like, being nice and understanding what he went through, when really they were just mocking him and making him look like a fool.

 

I just cringed the whole time

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yeah people are still going to believe this is an alien and make stupid of themselves

Which is great because it's going to be hilarious. I don't know if you've ever watched any pseudoscience shows on Discovery or Nat Geo (I think only the latter does it), like the one where they go to hunt for the yeti. It's hilarious because they take themselves so seriously :xd:

I remember this one time on Monster Garage they were making some shizzlety crop-circle-making car, and they got some alien expert dude come in who claimed to be abducted and had a photo with an alien which looked like a plastic toy.

They were giving this poor (yet crazy) old man all this shizzle and he thought they were like, being nice and understanding what he went through, when really they were just mocking him and making him look like a fool.

 

I just cringed the whole time

Well no, yeah, that's painful. It's when the entire show takes itself seriously when it's funny. Seeing people get ragged on like that isn't fun :/

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yeah people are still going to believe this is an alien and make stupid of themselves

Which is great because it's going to be hilarious. I don't know if you've ever watched any pseudoscience shows on Discovery or Nat Geo (I think only the latter does it), like the one where they go to hunt for the yeti. It's hilarious because they take themselves so seriously :xd:

Oh lol I know what shows you are referring to. They're bloody ridiculous but very entertaining.

If they're looking for a certain mythical creatures and have to camp in a forest or something it's 100% guaranteed there will be a scene with the camera on night vision and one of the guys really close to it saying something along the lines of "we heard some strange noises and our food bait disappeared... I think we've found El Chupacabra!!" followed by a "wait nvm just a guaxinim". Then the show ends up with them finding absolutely no evidence at all other than some broken branches or marks in the trees' bark that could have been made by wolves, bears or some other animal but that of course they claim to be sure they were made by whatever creature they're looking for. :lol:

 

Wouldn't the bones be detached from each other?

It's (supposed to be at least, I think) a well preserved mummified body.

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yeah people are still going to believe this is an alien and make stupid of themselves

Which is great because it's going to be hilarious. I don't know if you've ever watched any pseudoscience shows on Discovery or Nat Geo (I think only the latter does it), like the one where they go to hunt for the yeti. It's hilarious because they take themselves so seriously :xd:

Oh lol I know what shows you are referring to. They're bloody ridiculous but very entertaining.

If they're looking for a certain mythical creatures and have to camp in a forest or something it's 100% guaranteed there will be a scene with the camera on night vision and one of the guys really close to it saying something along the lines of "we heard some strange noises and our food bait disappeared... I think we've found El Chupacabra!!" followed by a "wait nvm just a guaxinim". Then the show ends up with them finding absolutely no evidence at all other than some broken branches or marks in the trees' bark that could have been made by wolves, bears or some other animal but that of course they claim to be sure they were made by whatever creature they're looking for. :lol:

 

Wouldn't the bones be detached from each other?

It's (supposed to be at least, I think) a well preserved mummified body.

That's the one. For laughs, here is an episode. The best parts are when they try to call a yeti :xd:

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