The Atacama Humanoid is

the skeletal remains of a 6-inch (150 mm) humanoid found in the Atacama Desert of Chile in 2003

There have been many different claims as to its origin, including:

  • a dessicated aborted foetus

  • a hoax

  • an extra-terrestrial

  • a non-human primate

  • a 6-8 year old boy with "an apparently severe form of dwarfism and other anomalies."

Sources: Huffington Post and Wikipedia

I find the last theory, that has been recently mooted in a documentary and a yet-to-be-published paper, really hard to believe. Are there any comparable cases of dysfunctional human growth known to the public?

Which theory is correct?

  • @user197, no, there is no need to add pictures. The question can stay how it is. May 11, 2013 at 12:36
  • 1
    Garry Nolan say it's human and not a hoax. He's an established scientist and that's what he's taking seriously, not any claims about it being extra terrestrial. My guess would be a parasitic twin but the experts haven't guessed that and I'm sure they know better than I. There's a paper on it's way but no expected publish date yet. Any further questions about this should probably wait until after the paper is published.
    – Ladadadada
    May 11, 2013 at 22:34
  • @Ladadadada - A parasitic twin seems to be a bit of a stretch as well since there would have been some evidence of where it was connected to the host twin. It actually does appear to be a fairly interesting medical mystery.
    – rjzii
    May 15, 2013 at 14:40
  • @Ladadadada "learned men" said the Piltdown man was a human and not a hoax too for a long time, the same who said the platypus was a hoax and not a real animal :)
    – jwenting
    May 16, 2013 at 5:41
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    @jwenting These learned men didn’t have the benefits of high-quality microscopes and DNA testing though. The Piltdown Man hoax would be unthinkable today. May 20, 2013 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


From Alien-Looking Skeleton Poses Medical Mystery:

DNA and other tests suggest the individual was a human and was 6 to 8 years of age when he or she died. Even so, the remains were just 6 inches (15 centimeters) long.


... every nucleotide I've been able to look at is human


The data from the mitochondrial DNA alleles point toward "the mother being an indigenous woman from the Chilean area of South America,"


The jury is still out on the mutations that caused the deformities, and the researchers aren't certain how old the bones are, though they estimate the individual died at least a few decades ago.


"There is no known form of dwarfism that accounts for all of the anomalies seen in this specimen,"

Here is Dr. Nolan's preliminary report on his analysis of the body: Chile Specimen.

As represented by a specialist in pediatric human bone and growth disorders (see attached report), the 6 inch specimen is a human that was likely 6-8 years of age at the time of death (age based on epiphyseal plate X-Ray density standards).


The DNA was of high quality, showing little to no serious degradation.


Reconstruction of the mitochondrial DNA sequence and analysis shows an allele frequency consistent with a B2 haplotype group found on the west coast of South America, supporting the claimed origination of the specimen from the Atacama Desert region of Chile. Sequence analysis definitively rules out the specimen as an example of a New World primate.


[I]f there is a genetic basis for the symptoms observed in the specimen the casual mutation(s) are not apparent at this level of resolution and at this stage of the analysis. As the current list of human disorders is far from complete and many human disorders are polygenic, there might remain to be found a combination of mutations working in concert that lead to the observed defect(s).

  • Given the most prosaic answer (requiring nothing unknown to modern science) is a dessicated foetus, this could do with more evidence that the sample lived for several years than a claim from authority.
    – Oddthinking
    May 15, 2013 at 23:20
  • @Oddthinking - My understanding is that dessicated foetus was kind of ruled out by most of the experts that examined the remains since the development was too far along for the size. Right now the most prosaic answer seems to be that it is likely a rare or unknown developmental defect.
    – rjzii
    May 15, 2013 at 23:49
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    @Sancho: Discovery is not peer-reviewed, and has a strong conflict-of-interest - getting viewers. We shouldn't trust them, we should follow up their references. Quoting an experienced scientist without presenting the methods and data they used to make the decision for cross-checking is appeal-to-authority, and no we don't require that! I can quote from other experienced scientists saying the opposite. Stalemate. So, we need to dig deeper.
    – Oddthinking
    May 16, 2013 at 0:51
  • @Rob Z: Here's an expert who first examined it: "“Taken as a whole, the proportions of the anatomical structures (skeleton and softer parts), the level of development of each one of its bones and its macroscopic configuration, allow us to interpret it without any shadow of doubt as a completely normal mummified fetus…Both based on the total length of the body as well as the length of the bones, it can be estimated that it’s a fetus in an approximate gestation period close to 15 weeks."
    – Oddthinking
    May 16, 2013 at 0:54
  • 1
    How about this report that states that the specimen appears to be of 6-8 years of age? siriusdisclosure.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/…
    – user13814
    May 16, 2013 at 10:05

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