Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing

March 23, 2018 by  
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Genetic testing has revealed the true identity of an exceptional mummy found in Chile’s Atacama Desert , a skeleton so strange that some have claimed it as evidence of alien life . In truth, the remains are that of a human individual known as Ata, a girl with unique mutations, who is believed to have been stillborn or died shortly after birth. Despite skeletal features similar to those of a child between six and eight years old, Ata was only six inches tall. She also had two fewer ribs than an average human while her skull is long and conical, evoking pop culture images of a grey alien . In 2013, Stanford University professor of microbiology and immunology Garry Nolan conducted a genetic test that confirmed Ata’s humanity. However, the reasons behind Ata’s appearance remained a mystery. In a study published in  Genome Research , Nolan and researchers at the University of California in San Francisco have presented their full genetic analysis of Ata, which offers more information on who she was and how she came to possess such extraordinary features. While the exact time of Ata’s life and death is unclear, her mixed indigenous and European ancestry indicates that she must have been born sometime after the Spanish colonization of Chile in the 1500s. Related: Scientists build an alien ocean to test NASA submarine Ata’s DNA test indicates that she had mutations on at least seven different genes known for affecting skeletal development. Ata may also have suffered from congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a potentially life-threatening disorder defined by an undeveloped diaphragm. Despite Ata’s unique physiology, research done on her remains may prove applicable in modern medicine . “Understanding the process might allow us to develop therapies or drugs that drive bone development for people in, say, catastrophic car crashes,” Nolan told the Guardian . As for the alien angle, Nolan strongly rejects it. “While this started as a story about aliens, and went international, it’s really a story of a human tragedy,” said Nolan. “A woman had a malformed baby, it was preserved in a manner and then ‘hocked’ or sold as a strange artifact. It turns out to be human, with a fascinating genetic story from which we might learn something important to help others. May she rest in peace.” Via The Guardian Images via Dr. Emery Smith

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Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing

Chevron admits "there’s no debate about climate science" in court hearing

March 23, 2018 by  
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“From Chevron’s perspective there’s no debate about climate science ,” attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. said in a courtroom this week. In a case pitting Big Oil companies against the cities of San Francisco and Oakland , which allege the fossil fuel corporations should pay for actions like sea walls to deal with the impacts of climate change , Chevron’s attorney acknowledged that manmade climate change is real. Don’t get too excited, though. According to Boutrous, it may be real, but it isn’t Chevron’s fault – it’s yours. United States District Judge William Alsup called for a two-part climate change tutorial  earlier this month to help educate all the parties involved in the lawsuit on climate change. During this tutorial,  Science Magazine and The Verge reported that Chevron agreed with the existing scientific consensus. The tutorial wasn’t an echo of the famous Scopes trial, according to Alsup. Science Magazine said he told the audience, “This will not be withering cross-examinations and so forth. This will be numbers and diagrams, and if you get bored you can just leave.” Prominent scientists spoke for San Francisco and Oakland, but Boutrous was the sole speaker for the oil industry — and he said, “Chevron accepts what the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] has reached consensus on concerning science and climate change.” Related: Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change Boutrous did emphasize parts of the IPCC’s fifth climate science assessment report regarding uncertainties, according to Science Magazine, such as challenges over predictions of sea level rise in particular parts of the planet or modeling Antarctic ice’s response to increasing temperatures. Even if Chevron does agree on the science, they don’t seem to agree a lawsuit is the correct way to tackle climate change — Boutrous described it as a global issue necessitating global action. Chevron spokesperson Sean Comey told The Verge the company “welcomes meaningful efforts to address the issue of climate change, but litigation is not an appropriate tool for accomplishing that objective.” He also claims that Chevron is no more to blame for climate change than anyone else. “Anyone in the world could be brought in in the case, including the plaintiffs themselves,” he said. Which gets to the crux of the argument: Chevron claims that burning fossil fuels is to blame, so it rests on the shoulders of those driving cars or heating their homes with coal to stop climate change. But the plaintiffs argue that, like the cigarette companies in the past, companies like Chevron knew about the impact of their product on the environment and chose to continue pushing it. Science Magazine said Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, the other oil companies involved, stayed away from the tutorial as they have questioned Alsup’s jurisdiction to hear the case. Alsup afforded them two weeks to disagree with what Boutrous had to say, or he’ll assume they’re in agreement. Via The Verge and Science Magazine Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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Chevron admits "there’s no debate about climate science" in court hearing

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