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An international team of researchers has questioned the findings of a study that argued that a bizarre skeleton found in the Atacama Desert was a human girl with severe genetic mutations.

In 2003, the tiny humanoid skeleton—which measures about 6 inches long and features a highly elongated head and face—was found in a deserted Chilean mining town.

The characteristics of the Atacama mummy, or Ata, as it became known, were so unusual that speculation abounded as to whether the skeleton was of extraterrestrial origin. But in 2013, a team from Stanford University announced the findings of research that suggested that Ata was, in fact, human.

However, many questions about the deformities remained, and so the scientists conducted a follow-up genetic analysis, which was published in the journal Genome Research earlier this year.

The paper concluded that Ata was a female of Chilean descent and was a developing fetus at the time of her death—which could have occurred before or immediately after pregnancy. Furthermore, the researchers provided evidence suggesting that Ata suffered from several genetic mutations that were responsible for her bizarre features.

However, in a study published on July 18 in the International Journal of Paleopathology, an international team of experts called into question the methods and conclusions of the previous research.

The authors of the new paper could not find any evidence of the “skeletal anomalies” that the Genome study suggested are responsible for the mummy’s bizarre features, stating that many of its conclusions were based on a misunderstanding of fetal development.

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Category: Weird Desk