The Atacama mystery is one of those topics you don’t know how to start. Even the title to this article, do I call it the Atacama Humanoid or the Atacama Alien? I went with skeleton instead. Just to be safe.
So much has been said and done that it’s hard to know where to begin. What’s real and what’s not. On one side we have scientists just trying to be empirical and on the other side we have people who just want to believe there’s something bigger going on.
Does the truth lie somewhere in the middle or is there a clear path here? Let’s take a look at the whole story so far and see whether we can judge that for ourselves.
The Atacama skeleton was found by Oscar Muñoz in 2003 in an abandoned town near the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. Affectionately referred to as Ata, the skeleton has been sold a number of times. The remains have since found their way to a private collection in Spain owned by Ramón Navia-Osorio, a Spanish business man.
It’s important to note here that every time Ata changed hands, the numbers involved have gone up. While the final sale amount was undisclosed it’s assumed to be very high given the skeleton’s notoriety.
Ata itself is a fairly intact skeleton, measuring in at 15 centimeters or 6 inches. It has 10 ribs
(humans have 12), 6 primary cranium bones (humans have 10) with a skull that has a very distinctive coned shape.
Many questions about the skeleton existed. Was this a mummified fetus? What was the cause of the strange shape of the head? Why did it looks so, alien?
Staying primarily in private collections until 2009 where Ata was brought out for a scientific symposium in Barcelona. In the fall of 2012 scientists were finally given the opportunity examine Ata in detail with a full array of tests ranging from X-Rays, CAT Scans and genetic sampling.
Results of the imaging tests showed that the chest cavity contained the remains of human lungs and a heart. The Atacama Desert, where the skeleton was found, is amongst the most arid on Earth, it only makes sense that these would be so well preserved.
Genetic testing showed that Ata was in fact largely made up of human DNA, with about 9% genetic stuff being unknown. That 9% is often what people quote as being strange but really this sort of genetic unknown in a sample this age is to be expected. While it could point to something more, chances are it’s simple genetic samples we haven’t picked up yet.
The genetic testing was even able to pinpoint Ata’s mother as being of northern Chilean origin. So, appropriate for the area Ata was found.
One of the most exciting discoveries to come from the testing was that Ata was in fact not a fetus and further to that was aged somewhere between 6 to 8 years old. This, of course, made little to no sense. How could an infant live to the age of 6 to 8 years old while suffering from the abnormalities this skeleton was showing?
Both Dwarfism and Progeria, diseases that could have accounted for the strange shape and size of the skeleton, were tested for but no genetic indicators were found to show this was the case.
Another theory is that Ata was the product of extreme mummification but then that doesn’t account for the missing ribs or Ata’s age and size.
In terms of what we know, this is where we’re at now. Genetic testing and investigation is on-going but because of the data, two distinct camps have defined themselves.
The first believe that Ata is nothing more than the product extreme burial procedures coupled with a disease we’re not quite sure about.
The second believe that there’s evidence to something else, something different about Ata. That when you take in to account the 9% unknown genetic material, the 10 ribs, the skull formation, the age and size of the skeleton, you have evidence of something completely different.
Usually the simplest explanation is the right one but I’m not so sure that’s the case with Ata. It’s a case that makes us wonder and think of what could be possible. With the evidence right at our finger tips we should be able to figure this out but the more we dive in, the more questions come back at us.
Meanwhile we’ll wait for test results to come and maybe, just maybe, we’ll one day get a better idea of Ata’s origins.