Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:31, 3:31 and 5:49 a.m.

Could a six-inch skeleton found in the desert belong to an alien?

Would you believe—finally—physical evidence of alien life?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet Ata, featured as evidence of alien life in a recent UFO documentary. 

Ata is a human-looking skeleton just six inches long.  It was found in Chile's Atacama Desert. 

Gary Nolan, an immunologist at Stanford University, was curious to learn more.

So Nolan put Ata to a DNA test.  And . . . ?  Despite its tiny size, misshapen skull, and lack of two ribs, it turns out Ata is quite definitely human.  Its maternal DNA is of a type found in South Americans. 

So how can this weirdly tiny human be explained?

Scientists say there are two possible ways.  At death, Ata could have been a child who suffered from a severe form of dwarfism.  Alternately, Ata was a fetus with a rapid-aging disease resulting in death before birth.

While the precise cause of its tiny stature remains to be solved, no matter how alien its features appear, the creature is indeed one of us!

And so, Ata, no need to phone home!  You’re already here.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Follow us on Twitter!