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So it turns out this tiny alien-like skeleton is actually human!

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This six-inch-long skeleton was discovered 10 years ago in Chile’s Atacama Desert, but it has only recently been examined by scientists — and it’s totally legit. Sure, it looks like something from a dark corner of the Gamma Quadrant, but the remains actually belonged to a severely deformed human child.

As Jeanna Bryner reports in LiveScience, the mummified remains recently underwent an examination by Garry Nolan, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford School of Medicine. The bizarre skeleton was recently featured in film "Sirius," a crowd-funded documentary we recently warned, er, told you about. Predictably, UFOlogists think it’s some kind of human-alien hybrid.


But genetic analysis of the bones indicate that they belonged to a human girl or boy who died between the age of six and eight — a very odd result given that it looks more like a fetus or a very young deformed child. DNA tests indicated that it was indeed human, and not some kind of South American nonhuman primate. That said, 9% of the genes didn’t match with the reference human genome — which Nolan attributes to factors like degradation, insufficient data, or lab contamination.


Cue the ongoing UFOlogist speculations...

At any rate, and in addition to having a severely elongated head, the child had an undeveloped mid-face and jaw, and just 10 ribs as opposed to the usual 12. It’s likely that it suffered from turricephaly (a.k.a. oxycephaly), a birth defect which causes a cone-shaped skull. It’s very unlikely that the child underwent head binding, a feature recently discovered in skulls dug up in Mexico.

Bryner writes:

The team also looked at mitochondrial DNA, or the DNA inside the cells' energy-making structures that gets passed down from mothers to offspring. The allele frequency of the mitochondrial DNA suggested that the individual came from the Atacama, specifically from the B2 haplotype group. A haplotype is a long segment of ancestral DNA that stays the same over several generations and can pinpoint individuals who share a common ancestor way back in time. In this case, the B2 haplotype is found on the west coast of South America.

The data from the mitochondrial DNA alleles point toward "the mother being an indigenous woman from the Chilean area of South America," Nolan wrote in an email.


In addition, Nolan suspects that the child died at least a few decades ago, and that the mutations are not consistent with primordial dwarfism or other forms of dwarfism.

Read all of Bryner's report here.