Discovered in the Atacama desert in Chile in 2003, this tiny 6-inch-long mummy, with its pointed head and an atypical number of ribs, fanned the theory that aliens visited Earth. Scientists have had genetic tests that the remains are human since 2013, and a new genetic analysis reveals that mutations in genes related to growth could explain the atypical bones of the mummy.
The results, which have been in the headlines, are a reminder that the truth may well be there, but they are not extraterrestrial. A series of discoveries last year make it clear that, unfortunately, it never is.
Sad but true
Scientists have had trouble explaining why this mummy, known as Ata, is the size of a fetus and has bones as developed as those of a six to eight year old child, Science reported in 2013. The new analysis of Ata DNA , published last week in the journal Genome Research, reports mutations in seven key genes for human growth.
These mutations could explain why Ata's bones developed so quickly, Gary Nolan, an immunologist at Stanford University and co-author of the study, told National Geographic. He suspects that the story is much sadder and more humane than an extraterrestrial visit: someone gave birth to a dead fetus several decades ago and buried it in the desert. "The alien propaganda was a foolish pseudoscience promoted for the attention of the media," paleoanthropologist and anatomist William Jungers told National Geographic. "This document puts that nonsense and poor Ata in bed."
A strange sign of deep space
In the summer of 2017, astronomers at the Arecibo Observatory detected a strange radio signal that seemed to come from a small red dwarf star called Ross 128. But the source of the signal was a mystery: a solar flare at Ross 128 could have the same effect. produced, but the frequency of radio waves did not fit that theory. Could it have been a deep space call for ET? No such luck. Astronomers discovered a week later that the signal originated much closer to home, most likely from satellites in high geostationary orbit in the same part of the sky as Ross 128.
The Arecibo Observatory. Photo: H. Schweiker / WIYN and NOAO / AURA / NSF
The wild flashes of the star KIC 8462852, also known as the Tabby star, suggest that something occasionally passes in front and blocks up to 20 percent of its light. The flashes do not have a clear pattern, and whatever is blocking the star's light is probably not a celestial body like a planet. Some have suggested extraterrestrial megastructures or some type of extraterrestrial solar panel could pass in front of the star.
But in January 2018, a team of astronomers reported that something much more common is probably to blame for the unusual behavior of the star: a lot of dust could be surrounding the star and filtering its light. "Rare stars that have dust from somewhere are not so good at capturing the title," Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University and one of the study's authors, told Loren Grush of The Verge at the time. . But we still have some mystery: we do not know where exactly the dust comes from.
Representation of an artist from KIC 8462852, also known as a Tabby star. Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC)
The giant void of the Great Pyramid
In November 2017, scientists reported the discovery of a large empty cavity within the Great Pyramid in Giza. Using a type of gimmicked X-ray, an international team of researchers tracked subatomic particles called muons that plummet to Earth almost at the speed of light. As muons can traverse the air more easily than they can travel through dense rock, researchers were able to discover previously unknown cracks and cavities, such as the 100-foot-long cavern they called the "Great Void."
Researchers do not yet know the precise shape of the cavity or why it is there, but study co-author Mehdi Tayoubi told a news conference that they suspect that this cavity was purposely built (by humans). Because, friends: they are never extraterrestrials.
Image: ScanPyramids mission