Mystery of Tiny 'Alien' Skeleton from Chile Solved

It's a tiny mummified skeleton about 6 inches long that was wrapped in fabric tied with purple ribbon found buried in a shallow grave near an abandoned Catholic church in 2003 by scavengers digging for valuables in a Chilean desert ghost town called La Noria. (Deserts are where everything strange ends up.) It passed through many hands and ultimately ended up with a Spanish group called the Institute for Exobiological Investigation and Study in Barcelona. It's so strange that many UFO believers insisted that it had to be an alien or an alien-human hybrid. Besides its strange cone-shaped skull, it only has 10 pairs of ribs instead of the normal 12.

Gary Nolan, a Stanford University biologist, studied the photographs and became fascinated. "You can't look at this specimen and not think it's interesting; it's quite dramatic. So I told my friend, 'Look, whatever it is, if it's got DNA, I can do the analysis.' " They managed to get a surprisingly undegraded DNA sample from inside one of the bones and spent five years analyzing it, assembling a whole team in the process. "We started with curiosity, then took it as far as we could."

They assembled bioinformaticists from both Stanford and UCSF and ended up sequencing the specimen's entire genome. (Some of that work was done by Roche, only a short walking distance from my house.) Then they made use of the Human Phenotype Ontology, a database that links abnormalities in human development with genomic data and brought in experts on pediatric bone diseases.

What they discovered in this specimen were mutations not just in one, but in seven genes that govern bone development. They would have been responsible for multiple deformities and malformations. Some of these mutations were new and had never been observed before.

But significantly, the specimen's genome was entirely human, South American, most closely related to the Chilote Indians indigenous to that region.

So what this apparently is, is a late-term female human fetus that was still-born, or a baby girl that died soon after birth. The bones appear to be from an older child, but that may be the result of one of the mutations associated with premature bone aging. It isn't very ancient either, buried in the 20th century. (Apparently with love by somebody, judging by the ribbon and the burial by the church.)

Nolan says: "We now know that it's a child. I think it should be returned to the country of origin and buried according to the customs of the local people."

The paper was published in the March 22, issue of Genome Research

Full text of the paper is here:

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I wasn't sure if it as an oddity (in regards to bone age) wasn't related to teratomas (
The social-justice warriors seem to be up in arms about this recent paper.

They insist that the skeleton was obtained by grave robbing (probably true) and removed from Chile in violation of Chilean law (perhaps true).

Gizmodo says, "Other scientists quoted by the NYT said that, if the specimen were obtained illegally or unethically, then the resulting science is also unethical. Some Chilean scientists are even urging Genome Research to retract the new paper."

Never mind the scientific value of the research or the social value of clarifying the humanity of what some were presenting to the public as the corpse of an extraterrestrial. (This is what contemporary culture has come to, a new Puritan Age of incessant self-righteous moral condemnation of everyone for everything.)

Nolan and his team have issued a statement reading in part, "We affirm the need to respect the traditions of other cultures in genomic analyses. We have previously stated that we believe the skeletal remains should be returned to the country of origin and, by finding them to be human, this research supports the argument that these remains should be repatriated. This research clarifies what has been a very public and sensationalized story for a long time...

The skeleton has never been in the possession of either Stanford or UCSF, and we had nothing to do with removing the skeleton from its place of origin. The DNA and images come from remains that were not known to be human when the research began. It does not provide identifiable information about a living individual, as defined by federal regulations, and does not qualify as human subjects research, per the Federal Office of Human Research Protections. It has long been known that this skeleton was privately held in Spain, without any allegations of criminal conduct as to how it was acquired."
Here's the trailer for a film 'documentary' called 'Sirius', made by some UFO-nuts, that features the sad little stillborn (I'd speculate naturally aborted given its genetic defects) skeletal fetus playing a starring role of a dead extraterrestrial.

This gives an idea how small it is.

And here's something similar found in Russia in 1996. This tiny 'alien' corpse has conveniently disappeared and all that exist today are photographs of it. (You can find them on Google images.)

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