The recent publication of the genetic analysis of the so-called Atacama skeleton Bhattacharya et al. We have clearly stated previously that this skeleton should be repatriated and accorded proper respect as human remains and we echo recent demands for its repatriation. Further, we feel that our results call for immediate and more urgent attention to the many complex issues related to the study of human remains. A recent editorial in Nature Callaway that relates to studies of ancient humans, poignantly speaks to the respect that is called for when studying any human remains, and our recent communications with scientists, especially Chilean researchers, have deepened our insight into the need to incorporate cultural, historical, and political perspectives when studying ancient or non-ancient human DNA. There are varying accounts regarding the original discovery of the skeleton, including some that state the skeleton was originally found in on a shelf in a building near a church in La Noria.

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The skeleton, which was sold to a private collector in Spain, was so bizarre it appeared in a documentary as potential evidence for alien life. Rather than a visitor from another world, Ata was a girl who appears to have been stillborn, or to have died immediately after birth, with devastating mutations that shaped her extraordinary body.

The skeleton was remarkable in many ways. While only six inches tall, the bones had some features of a child aged six to eight. Instead of the usual 12 pairs of ribs found on humans, Ata had only 10 pairs. The head was an elongated cone shape. The curious remains caught the eye of Garry Nolan, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University in California, who offered to study the specimen. In , he concluded that Ata was human , but the reasons for the dramatic deformities were far from clear.

From DNA extracted from the bones, they found that Ata was a girl who carried mutations in at least seven genes that are known to cause major skeletal malformations or accelerate their development. Beyond her skeletal malformations, Ata may have had a condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a relatively common life-threatening birth defect in which the diaphragm does not develop properly.

Details of the work are published in Genome Research. Nolan believes that Ata was stillborn or died immediately after her birth, perhaps 40 years before her remains were discovered.

It turns out to be human, with a fascinating genetic story from which we might learn something important to help others. May she rest in peace. Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Genetics. Biology Chile Americas. Reuse this content. Most popular.


Atacama skeleton

What is this page? University of Otago-led international collaborative research calls into question the ethics of skeletal and genomic analysis…. Earlier this year, scientists from Stanford University concluded that a strange skeleton known as the Atacama Mummy belonged to…. University of Otago-led international collaborative research calls into question the ethics and skeletal and genomic analysis…. Was hat es mit dem Atacama-Humanoiden auf sich? Bild: E.


The Atacama skeleton

University of Otago-led international collaborative research calls into question the ethics and skeletal and genomic analysis surrounding research into the much publicised "Atacama mummy. University of Otago bioarchaeologist Associate Professor Sian Halcrow led an international research team focusing on the very small mummified body, whose findings are published today in the International Journal of Paleopathology. The team evaluated work carried out on the body by Stanford University researchers, which was published in Genome Research earlier this year. The mummy in question was discovered more than a decade ago in an abandoned town in the Atacama Desert of Chile and nicknamed "Ata.

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