Remember the Atacama “alien” that was the centerpiece of a Steven Greer film? Well, the important peer-reviewed journal Genome Research published the following article on the specimen today.

Bhattacharya S, Li J, Sockell A, Kan M, Bava F, Chen, S, Ávila-Arcos M, Ji X, Smith E, Asadi N, Lachman R, Lam H, Bustamante C, Butte A, Nolan G. “Whole genome sequencing of Atacama skeleton shows novel mutations linked with dysplasia” Genome Research 2018

The article is available for free via a Creative Commons license.

The public release summary reads in part:

Early analyses revealed that the Ata skeleton contained high-quality DNA that was suitable for modern sequencing technology. “This was an unusual specimen with some fairly extraordinary claims put forward. … it would be an example of how to use modern science to answer the question “what is it?” says senior author Garry Nolan from Stanford University. Using DNA extracted from the bone marrow, Nolan and his colleagues conducted a whole-genome sequence analysis of Ata. . . .

The researchers next probed for genetic clues that could explain Ata’s small stature, multiple bone and skull abnormalities, abnormal rib count, and premature bone age. They found multiple mutations in genes associated with diseases such as dwarfism, scoliosis, and musculoskeletal abnormalities. Surprisingly, Nolan claims Ata’s “dramatic phenotype could in fact be explained with a relatively short list of mutations in genes known previously to be associated with bone development.”

“This is a great example of how studying ancient samples can teach us how to analyze modern day medical samples” says co-author Atul Butte, UCSF. Future studies employing deeper sequencing and analyses of the novel sequence variations found in Ata may improve our understanding of the functional basis of genetic skeletal disorders.

Note to the elongated skull pushers: This is how scientific research is done — by a team of experts under peer review, not folks with degrees in biblical archaeology, or who took a few biology classes, or are chiropractors. Why is this important? Because research teams who submit their work for peer review is not the same as sounding scientific enough to snooker an audience (no matter how large) of people who aren’t experts. The old adage of two heads being better than one applies — team approaches and blind peer review helps avoid errors, oversights, and chicanery.

Now a suggestion . . .

Gary Nolan (one of the authors of this article) was the scientist open to the inquiry at Greer’s behest in the first place. Perhaps he would be willing to get involved in a study of the elongated skulls (a team of geneticists and forensic bio-archaeologists, for example).