Researchers finally solve mystery of 'alien' skeleton

The mummified specimen from Atacama region of Chile.

Story highlights

  • An unusual skeleton found in Chile has perplexed people for more than a decade
  • Whole genome sequencing revealed what caused its abnormalities

(CNN)A mummified skeleton discovered in Chile's Atacama Desert 15 years ago doesn't look like anyone you've ever met. In fact, some would say it looks, well, alien.

It's a skeletal conundrum made up of perplexing features. It's only 6 inches tall -- but initial estimates of the age of the bones were consistent with a child aged 6 to 8 years.
The long, angular skull, slanted eye sockets and fewer than normal ribs -- 10 pairs rather than the normal 12 -- only deepened the mystery.