It looks like an alien, but its story is much stranger. And now it’s causing an international incident.
This case provides a useful opportunity to reflect upon the respectful and ethical handling of human remains, which calls to mind the historical failures of national museums – such as the long-overdue repatriation of Australian indigenous material
Alien enthusiasts are pretty obsessed with Ata, a 6-inch-long skeleton that was discovered in 2003. Oscar Munoz found the tiny mummy in a leather pouch in a Chilean ghost town near the Atacama Desert (hence its name), and soon after, rumors began swirling as to Ata’s origin.
Ata had a conical head shape and large eye sockets that looked straight out of a sci-fi film. The mummy was barely the length of a 19-week-old human fetus, but had bones as mature as those of a six-year-old. It also had hard teeth and only 10 pairs of ribs while humans have 12.