Tiny 'Alien' Skeleton: Tests Reveal 'Atacama Humanoid' From 'Sirius' Documentary Has Human DNA

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By Tom Barrabi | May 2, 2013 12:14 AM EST

The tiny “alien” humanoid that some have hailed as “proof of alien life” has been confirmed as human after extensive testing by Stanford University scientists.

The six-inch long skeleton, nicknamed “Ata,” was discovered in Chile’s Atacama Desert in 2003, and has been a source of intense speculation ever since. While some have claimed that the odd skeleton was that of a primate or aborted fetus, conspiracy theorists point to its elongated skull as proof that is it actually an alien that crash-landed on Earth.

However, researchers at Stanford University have conducted DNA testing that indicates the skeleton has earthly origins. The testers now believe that the tiny humanoid was six to eight years old before it died, Discovery News reports.

"While the jury is out regarding the mutations that cause the deformity, and there is a real discrepancy in how we account for the apparent age of the bones … every nucleotide I've been able to look at is human,” Garry Nolan, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford School of Medicine, told LiveScience.

"I've only scratched the surface in the analysis. But there is nothing that jumps out so far as to scream 'nonhuman.'"

In the fall of 2012, Nolan and his colleagues at Stanford analyzed the specimen with a combination of DNA sequencing, high-resolution photography, X-rays, and computed tomography scans, Discovery News reports.

Besides the questions about its origin, researchers attempted to determine the causes of various deformities, such as the skeleton’s elongated skull or the fact that it has just 10 ribs, as opposed to the 12 possessed by a healthy human.

Ultimately, Nolan’s team discovered that 91 percent of Ata’s genes matched up with the reference human genome, Discovery News reports. The nine percent in DNA mismatches could stem from several factors, including the specimen’s degradation and insufficient data.

In addition, the tiny humanoid’s mitochondrial DNA alleles suggest that its "mother [was] an indigenous woman from the Chilean area of South America,” Nolan told Discovery News. However, the team was unable to determine what caused Ata’s deformities.

"It's an interesting medical mystery of an unfortunate human with a series of birth defects that currently the genetics of which are not obvious," Nolan said.

The research into the true nature of the humanoid was chronicled in “Sirius,” a crowd-funded documentary that debuted on April 22. The film, produced by Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence found Steven Greer, also documents the attempts to get the U.S. government to reveal what it knows about alien lifeforms.

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