Scientific Analysis Concludes "Atacama Humanoid" Is Stillborn Child Suffering from Unique Genetic Conditions
The journal Genome Research published an article yesterday which concluded that the so-called Atacama skeleton, a six-inch fetal skeleton from Chile’s Atacama region resembling a “Grey” space alien, is in fact fully human but suffered from disease. The skeleton’s cone-shaped skull gave rise to claims that it was a representative of the extraterrestrial species responsible for South America’s elongated skulls, and it featured prominently on the internet and on cable television as “evidence” for an extraterrestrial presence on Earth ever since the remains were unearthed in 2003. Its most famous appearance was in the 2013 documentary Sirius, a mystery-mongering UFO film by Steven Greer.
The findings were released by Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory Press, the publisher of Genome Research as a press release yesterday afternoon. The University of California – San Francisco put out its own press release about the matter simultaneously.
“This was an unusual specimen with some fairly extraordinary claims put forward. ... it would be an example of how to use modern science to answer the question ‘what is it?’” senior author Garry Nolan of Stanford University said in the press release.
Eagle-eyed readers will recognize that this is no surprise. Nolan has been involved in the “Atacama Humanoid” story since 2013, when Greer and the producers of Sirius asked him to offer a scientific evaluation of the skeleton. At the time, Nolan determined it was human and likely suffering from dwarfism, but he said at the time that more research was needed to locate the genes responsible and to rule out the possibility that the skeleton was actually that of a six-year-old, as morphology seemed to suggest. Nolan promised to make his finding available for peer review when they were complete. The subsequent research took five years to make it to print, long after Sirius generated profits and the “Atacama Humanoid” ensconced itself in the pantheon of “alien” and “Nephilim” evidence.
But even regular readers might be surprised to learn that Nolan is deep in the world of UFOs. He signed on last year to become the “genetics technologies consultant” for Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy. I will be honest with you: It is more than a little disturbing that the same few characters keep cycling through the UFO and alien promotion industry. There is no suggestion that Dr. Nolan has ever been anything less than professional, but why is To the Stars and its team so deeply embedded in... well, not actual UFO research but generating media coverage of UFO topics? For a company that claims to have relatively little money for a project of its scope and size and few resources, it generates a lot of lucrative publicity.
Nolan and his team, made up of scientists from Stanford, UC San Francisco and several other laboratories, sequenced the DNA of the small skeleton and determined that it was entirely human, with both South American and European contributions, consistent with the age and location of the bones. The researchers also discovered the at the child was female, and the little girl died less than forty years ago, likely shortly before or after birth.
The most interesting part of the investigation was the discovery that the small skeleton bore genes related to dwarfism, some of which had never been recorded before, shedding new light on the genetics of bone disease. Among the mutations was one leading to ten pairs of ribs instead of the standard eleven.
According to Nolan, the skeleton’s “dramatic phenotype could in fact be explained with a relatively short list of mutations in genes known previously to be associated with bone development.”
Nolan added that after proving that the skeleton was of recent origin, fully human, and indigenous to its region, it should be returned to the local native people and given a proper burial.
More interesting, however, is the fact that within hours of the press release going out, media outlets around the world picked up the story, including the New York Times, all predicated on the idea that readers wanted to hear about an “alien” mummy. It’s testament to the power of the “alien” theme, even when it there isn’t really anything to the story that would make it worthy of national media attention.
As of this writing, Greer has made no comment about the findings.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.