Chile’s Atacama desert is home to the super-powered Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), the grouping of giant antennae which team up to become the word’s strongest telescope, and it will almost definitely be worth every bit of the $1.5 billion it cost to set it up. But instead of possibly looking for aliens, Atacama is also known for harboring one. Or at least what some people took to be an alien skeleton.
The strange skeleton was the promoted center of the pseudo-documentary Sirius, which was released on April 22, but it had a former emergency physician at its center. Real life has Garry Nolan, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford School of Medicine, who analyzed the six-inch-long skeleton with a team of colleagues. They used X-rays, hi-res photography, DNA sequencing, and computed tomography scans.
“Oh, and there ain’t no such thing as aliens or Men in Black.” But unlike Will Smith, I’m not lying to you. What Nolan and his team found is damned near as interesting though. The tests show the skeleton belonged to an extremely deformed human, and what’s more, the gender-unknown being was six to eight years of age at the time of death. What the fuck is that about? They aren’t sure just yet. The skeleton had only had 10 ribs, instead of the normal 12, and there were skull and facial deformities consistent with turricephaly, or the conehead syndrome.
“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,” said Nolan. The mitochondrial DNA tests showed the person as having come from Atacama, and the ancestral DNA traces back to the west coast of South Africa. There’s no mutation commonly assorted with dwarfism, especially of the Tom Thumb or Thumbelina variety.
So what could have possibly caused this particular character to have existed? It was probably an alien, right? That’s what we’re all thinking. And here’s the trailer for that documentary that you might no longer need to never pretend to have any interest in.