An alien-shaped skeleton poses a medical mystery

An alien-shaped skeleton poses a medical mystery

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A little skeleton with his head crushed with some form of alien found in the Atacama desert a decade ago, has earthly origins, but his remains remain a medical mystery.

Apparently when the mummified specimen, some suggested the possibility that it was an alien that had somehow reached Earth, although the researchers never suggested this supernatural origin. Now, DNA testing has revealed that the individual was actually a 6 to 8-year-old human, although his remains were only 15 centimeters in size.

The investigator Gary Nolan, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford School of Medicine, and his colleagues analyzed the sample in the fall of 2012 with photographs, X-rays and CT scans, and their DNA sequencing. The researchers wanted to find out if the remains suffered from any disorder that could explain their abnormal skeleton (like I only had 10 ribs instead of 12), his exact age, if he was stillborn or a child with deformities, or if he was a human or a primate from South America.

The remains also showed cranial deformities and underdevelopment mild face and jaw. The skull showed signs of turricephaly (or big head syndrome), a congenital defect in which the upper part of the skull is cone-shaped. The Genome sequencing revealed that the creature was human, although 9% of their genes did not match the reference human genome. Mismatches can result from a number of factors, such as degradation, laboratory setup items, or insufficient data.

The team also analyzed mitochondrial DNA to know its origin. The studies revealed that the individual comes from Atacama, since he possesses the typical B2 haplotype off the west coast of South America. The mitochondrial DNA allele data show that the individual's mother was “an indigenous woman from the Chilean part of South America,” Nolan wrote in an email.

The jury is still out on the mutations that could cause the deformations and the researchers are unsure of the age of the bones even though they estimate that the individual died at least a few decades ago. Furthermore, they did not find any mutation commonly associated with dwarfism and, if there is a genetic basis for the deformities, still “not evident at this stage of the analysis”.

This isn't the first time science has found alien-looking remains. A research team discovered remains of alien-shaped skulls in a 1,000-year-old cemetery in Mexico, but revealed that they had been deliberately deformed illustrating the practice of deforming the skull that was common at the time in Central America.

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