The Atacama "Alien" is Human, and Robert Ripley Knew It First

Believe it or Not: The Atacama “Alien” is Human, and Robert Ripley Knew it First

Ever since the marketing buzz for the documentary film Sirius began filling up the inboxes of fringe news websites, debate has been raging about the origins of a tiny mummy referred to as the “Atacama Alien”, or “Ata” as it’s been nicknamed, but anyone who remembers the adventures of Robert Ripley already knows what the mummy is.


The promotional material for Sirius was clearly intended to make us believe that the tiny body was of some kind of extraterrestrial background, and preordering the film guaranteed that our eyes would be opened to the “new technology” that was hidden to us from the government, technology presumably given to us from some advanced space faring species who had managed to leave one of their own behind in a South American desert.

Well, much to the dismay of everyone who bought tickets to stream the film, the flick ended up being more about how “brilliant” ufologist and “new energy” proponent Steven Greer was, and less about any shocking new revelations involving aliens. The interviews were simply rehashes of already available information, footage of widely proven UFO hoaxes was used, and after over an hour of teasing.. the little body of “Ata” was shown to be 91% human. But of course, Greer remained adamant that “questions still remain”.


In the end, viewers and believers in the extraterrestrial origins of UFOs felt cheated.


Still, even after Standford University researchers released their findings, plenty of Dr. Greer apologists remain steadfast in their assertion that the remaining 8% uncertainty in the DNA tests could be proof of a new species, a hybrid of alien and human biology that defies all knowledge of known history… unless, of course, you’ve ever been to a Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! Museum.

Just the other day I was flipping through “Search for the Shrunken Heads”, a fun book that chronicles some of Robert Ripley’s 1930’s adventures around the world, when I noticed a photograph of Ripley holding a particularly familiar tiny humanoid. According to the intrepid adventurer’s notes, the oddity turned out to be an unfortunate soul who was chosen for a full-body “reduction” rather than just a shrinking of the head.

Interestingly enough, Robert Ripley found the shrunken body in Peru and named it “Atta-Boy”, after the nearby Atacama Desert.. the same desert where Dr. Steven Greer would eventually find the humanoid body in Sirius. Hardly a coincidence worth ignoring.


Of course, there are still some questions when it comes to making a comparison between the two. Apparently, “Ata” has a skeleton, and I can’t seem to find any reference to whether or not “Atta-Boy” does as well, considering that you can’t exactly shrink bone. That answer might not come unless someone has access to the private Ridley archives in Orlando, Florida. Secondly, there’s no guarantee that “Atta-Boy” wasn’t some kind of Fiji-Mermaid-esque mummy slapped together by the locals for fun, but even that raises it’s own set of questions about Greer’s body.

Now that we know, definitively, that Sirius‘ tiny “alien” is really just a human, be it a shrunken, deformed, or aborted one, ufologists and believers ought to be mighty pissed at Steven Greer for taking advantage of them. Sure, what he found in the desert might have been weird, but Robert Ripley found something strange just the same, and unlike Greer, didn’t need to dress his oddities up in stories of aliens and free energy, knowing that sometimes, weird for weirdness sake is all you need to sell tickets.

What do you think about the human origins of “Ata”? Did Greer simply find another one of Ripley’s oddities? Or does that other 8% account for something truly extraterrestrial? Tweet me @WeirdHQ, message me on Facebook, or leave a comment with your thoughts below.


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  1. echar

    05/11/2013 at 9:38 PM

    I prefer the aborted human fetus theory.

    • shawn

      05/12/2013 at 6:38 AM

      I also like the fetus theory. The scientists who examined Ata weren’t necessarily experts on the effects of mummification on bone, and I’ve read some arguments that natural mummification could account for the apparent strange age of the body.

  2. Pingback: Believe it or Not: The Atacama “Alien” is Human, and Ripley Knew It First (Tiny Alien) | This and That

  3. alanborky

    05/13/2013 at 3:09 PM

    I thought at first you were saying this new/old Ata was the same as the Sirius Ata Greg but as I read on I realised you were aware they were different confirming thus you do indeed have the eye of a photographer/artist.

    It’s a brilliant find though and only makes the whole situation all the more complex or muddy.

    It might even explain why some of the Ata images I’ve seen on line seem to have different features as if someone with at least two figures took test shots from different angles then simply used the most compelling images.

    Similarly your Ata with its coy girl model pose clearly implies the similar pose of Greer’s Ata isn’t accidental right down to the akimbo arms the hand elevations and the demurely pushed forward left knee.

    Your Ata though seems much broader or brachycephalic across the top of the skull while Greer’s Ata’s much longer headed or dolicocephalic implying either completely different racial types some sort of artificially induced skull distortion or Greer’s Ata’s 8 and your Ata’s an actual foetus which’s either had it’s fontanelle aperture hidden or it prematurely fused in the womb killing it.

    The key to this’s where and how the DNA was extracted because either we’re dealing with a hitherto unknown species of microhobbits and there’s folklore and anecdotal accounts to justify such a possibility as well as tiny elfbolts etc everywhere or somewhere in South America someone’s been running a factory for several decades now where late stage freshly aborted foestuses’re immediately rejigged to look like tiny men or tiny aliens according to the demands of the market.


    I’ve been daying to say this since day one but now I finally can…

    ‘At’a boy Greg!

    • william schmidt

      07/01/2016 at 6:03 PM

      Problem with the fetus theory is it has a full set of teeth. It has been ruled it is between 6 and 8 years old.

  4. Maureen Elsberry

    05/14/2013 at 1:08 PM

    We’ve been discussing Atta Boy around the office here now for a few weeks in relation to the “Atacama Humanoid” and in my opinion the similarities are too hard to ignore. In fact the first thing that popped into my head when ‘Ata’ was hyped up was the tradition of shrunken heads…but you’re right that the bone removal traditionally used in that process clearly did not occur with Ata…the fact that both were found in the same region, which is a desert and a known place for mummification to occur leads to the possibility that the reason the bones where dated at 6-8 years of age could have been from the higher bone density as a result from mummification. But look, I’m not a scientist, I’m just relying on the professionals who are producing these results… many people are focusing on the 91% human DNA factor and the fact that 9% came back unmatched…but Dr. Nolan even stated in the Journal Science, “91% of the sequenced “reads” were a match. The others were dismissed for good reason– bad reads, machine error, etc.”

    My personal opinion remains firm at this point that the Atacama Humanoid is NOT extraterrestrial in nature, I will say it’s bizarre and has oddities which require further study, but focused on more terrestrial anomalies.

    • Red Pill Junkie

      05/14/2013 at 2:49 PM

      The shrunken head tradition is not native of Peru, but Ecuador & the Jívaro indians:

      I myself have been back & forth with Greer’s Minime: First I thought it was a hoax, then that it was a human fetus, then Nolan’s conclusion that it had lived until 6-8 spiked my curiosity, then Viscardi’s opinion that the high bone density was explainable due to the natural mummification process brought my interest several notches down.

      In the end I guess I’ll give Ata a respectful burial inside my mental gray basket 😉

      • Red Pill Junkie

        05/14/2013 at 2:51 PM

        [Correction] The Jívaro also inhabit the Peruvian Amazon.

      • Greg Newkirk

        05/14/2013 at 3:32 PM

        Dude.. maybe it’s a Lemurian and we’ve all been fooled!

      • Maureen Elsberry

        05/17/2013 at 2:06 PM

        Hey RPJ – I wasn’t suggesting that shrunken heads were in that area, just that I thought of that when I first saw ‘Ata’…however, scientists did note that mummification occurs in that area. But thanks for the clarification dude!

    • Greg Newkirk

      05/14/2013 at 3:31 PM

      Hey Maureen! I actually hadn’t thought too much about the humanoid (aside from watching watching a live feed of people melting down with anger while watching the Sirius stream a few weeks back), but when I glimpsed that photo of Ripley and Atta-Boy the other day, I went straight to google to look for a better image. It’s just so close, same size and everything. Like you said, even if it *is* human, it’s still weird and worth looking into.

      Thanks for popping in and lending your thoughts, I was curious to see what the Skywatchers thought about the little dudes.

      Note: If anyone hasn’t checked out Maureen’s web series “Spacing Out” over at Open Minds, do yourself a favor and GO NOW, especially if you’re into UFOs, aerial anomalies, and extraterrestrials. She and Jason McClellan run a kickass ‘cast!

      • Maureen Elsberry

        05/17/2013 at 2:11 PM

        Yeah, I wasn’t impressed by the documentary, nothing to see here folks. Thanks for the shout-out, I’ll have to check out your new show as well!

  5. atta-boy

    05/14/2013 at 8:58 PM

    that might be a Fairy. like how we all have read fairy books.
    91% human 8% unknown. Dr. Greer might a well should compare DNA with insects.
    who knows? he might find DNA that makes butterfly wings. (if that atacama flies too)
    otherwise its either really alien or secret experiments on humans or just fake.

  6. atta-boy

    05/14/2013 at 9:03 PM

    or it could be a smallest monkey

  7. billy

    05/15/2013 at 2:09 AM

    neandertal 99’5% human DNA
    monkey 96% human DNA

    “human” little alien from atacama…. 91% human

    silly question: How much “human DNA” does a fly have?

    • billy

      05/15/2013 at 2:10 AM

      ok, the atacama humanoid could be human, explain now the ribs, and the bones of the head

      • Tomalak

        05/15/2013 at 10:58 AM

        …And that it’s a 6 inch tall 1st grader. Seems as absurd as Aliens. Monkey I say. Pygmy marmoset are something extinct.

    • dfgdfgdfsg

      06/04/2013 at 2:54 AM

      A banana has 50% Human DNA, a mouse has 92% – so the ‘”human” little alien from atacama’ is less Human than a mouse and more Human than a banana.

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  9. Serpentio

    05/15/2013 at 3:40 PM

    “…Ripley … didn’t need to dress his oddities up in stories of aliens and free energy…”

    No, “According to the intrepid adventurer’s notes, the oddity turned out to be an unfortunate soul who was chosen for a full-body “reduction” rather than just a shrinking of the head.”

    Just because Ripley’s fabrication appeals to a different audience with a different mindset doesn’t make it less a fabrication. At least Greer reported the truth about DNA tests. A charlatan would have hidden that truth. Greer didn’t lie.

    • Greg Newkirk

      05/15/2013 at 4:01 PM

      No, Greer just led everyone on long enough to sell as many tickets as he could. What a swell dude.

  10. JillV

    05/15/2013 at 6:13 PM

    My problem with the fetus theory is that they claim it lived and breath for a few years.

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  12. shawn

    05/17/2013 at 2:58 PM

    Is it at all possible that what we see Ripley holding there wasn’t a “shrunken man” but instead something incredibly similar to the Atacama human? Whether that represents a small being that lived to eight years or a mummified fetus.

    The similarities really are striking, and I have to say I’m not that tempted to take Ripley’s word as truth… he did have a bit of a “thing” for shrunken heads, and he wasn’t ALWAYS perfectly honest in his stories (He’s thought to be responsible for that infamous “Einstein failed math!” fib).

    Pure speculation, of course, but maybe he came across this figure first and the backstory of the shrunken man came afterwards? It would explain… a lot.

  13. Shawn O'Steen

    05/17/2013 at 6:20 PM

    The 8% is probably a conglomeration of whatever the mummy has been buried with/exposed to for all the years it lay undiscovered. Since the end of the documentary dispels any real notion of it being an alien or having anything to do with advanced technology, it is obvious that the documentary was nothing other than a scam. I hope it didn’t cost much to view it.

    • Tommy Mortensen sr

      03/10/2016 at 2:16 PM

      It was free viewing on netflix

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  16. OzzieThinker

    05/23/2013 at 2:14 AM

    This is a misleading piece. Whereas I too believe Greer is “in it for the money”, he does have some integrity. No conclusions have been forth coming after testing the MITOCONDRIAL DNA of this skeleton (to be precise – a sample swab provided by Greer). A theory transpired that it “might be a deformed foetus” as, if it were human, it would be age 6-7 years gauging the current science-findings. Lloyd Pye’s “starchild” skull has undergone rigorous DNA testing for over a decade and there is now earth shattering silence from the would-be “debunkers” as the skull WITHOUT A SHADDOW OF A DOUBT is not human even if it is “deformed”.

    Regards these small humanoids, if you did your homework you would learn there are several legends and “superstitions” in relations to local disappearances and sightings of “tear drop” or “diamond drop” craft. These little creatures are to be avoided like the plague and could kill you very easily. I suggest you wait for the tedious and painstaking analysis of the nucleic DNA before producing any more disinformation.


  17. Cherie

    05/23/2013 at 10:51 AM

    I enjoyed this article, and I don’t think Ripley cared in the least whether anyone disagreed with his theory about the ‘tiny person’. His self-respect (such as it was) remained intact…

    Is Greer off sulking about you (and others) shooting holes in his ego? If he knows… Or is he off on another dubious quest to enlarge that portion of his psychological anatomy?
    Mildly Curious Minds want to know. Sort of.

  18. Victor

    06/09/2013 at 6:51 PM

    Your article brings up an interesting point (that arsenic mummification may alter bone density) but also appears biased as evidenced by the insults thrown at Dr Greer. Objectively, in the film Dr Nolan first read the findings from Dr Lachman, the world’s expert on radiographic findings of skeletal dysplasias, ie that the specimen was indeed biological (not fabricated). It was also determined that the DNA from the humanoid did not have any of the known defective genes for dwarfism or progeria. Also the skull plates do not match any known human variant and the presence of only 10 ribs. Arsenic mummification DOES NOT EXPLAIN THE PRESENCE OF A MATURE TOOTH found in this humanoid. The DNA obtained (from both the skull and a rib) exhibited a 91% homology (match) to known human DNA. Please be informed that the structure of DNA is the same weather it’s from bacteria, a plant, or a human. Just because an organism has a ‘91%’ match to human DNA does not mean it’s human. ie a chimp has about a 97% match to human DNA, and clearly chimps are not human, rather They Are a Closely Related species. I feel objectively speaking that this humanoid is a mystery.

    • Charlotte Quevedo

      11/30/2013 at 12:02 PM

      I agree with you 1000 per cent.

  19. me

    06/15/2013 at 1:10 AM

    91% + 8% only = 99%. Its a difference of 9% not 8%. While 9% difference in DNA does not seem like much, it should be pointed out that chimps have 98.5% of the same DNA as us. So 91% is enough to make this a separate species. It really depends what is discovered in that 9% difference. Scientists are currently looking at this 9% to see what it contains. This will take at least a year and until it is done we really do not know what Ata is.

  20. kmmathomas

    07/08/2013 at 10:44 AM

    Scientists want to label this as human so much that they ignore the 9% leftover DNA. This DNA is significant! Also, Ata had a mature, not fetal, tooth. There are other anomalies such as its head configuration and age. The probability of all these things happening together in a human is very unlikely.

    • kmmathomas

      07/08/2013 at 10:49 AM

      It also had only 10 ribs.

  21. Bergier

    07/15/2013 at 11:22 PM


    05/15/2013 at 2:09 AM

    neandertal 99’5% human DNA
    monkey 96% human DNA

    “human” little alien from atacama…. 91% human

    silly question: How much “human DNA” does a fly have?

    Nothing left to be said.


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  23. Jasmine T

    08/03/2013 at 4:22 AM

    The uncertainty doesn’t mean it is no match, it just means that the sample was not good enough to produce a match. The 8-9% are bad reads. It is sort of like trying to read a newspaper and every 10th word is illegible.

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  25. James B

    10/16/2013 at 5:00 PM

    As far as I know, Ripley’s home office does not know the whereabouts of Ripley’s “Atta-Boy”. So it’s not likely we will ever get a DNA sample from it. However, the Atacama Humanoid is not human. Nobody would consider a chimpanzee to be human yet it’s DNA is 98.8% identical to humans. The Atacama Humanoid is only 91% identical. The only way to believe that it is human is to have sub-human intelligence.

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  28. A.F.

    03/21/2014 at 3:57 AM

    seriously… go read more about this first, it has been said it is 91% human, and the ribs and skeleton shape is not even close to a fetus… and steven greer him self said something like this in a live interview i saw: “we don’t say it’s and alien, but we don’t say it’s a human” and they are waiting for more results… just stop why don’t people just read every one’s opinion and try not to decline what every they hear that is abnormal to their own lives…
    (sry for bad english)

  29. A.F.

    03/21/2014 at 4:19 AM

    i hope this is premited:

  30. Proteus

    05/17/2014 at 6:13 AM

    So, Ripley tested the DNA of his specimen, and concluded without any margin of error that it was human?
    Look up the percentage of “human” DNA found in chimps: 96~98%!!!!
    What makes Ripley’s standards of conclusions sacrosanct?

    Is ATA a human/EBE hybrid, OR, are humans an ATA hybrid? Or is it something else? Do we know the origins of DNA? Do we know the genetic composition of ALL life forms in this galaxy, universe? (Any life off Earth?) Have we catalogued ALL species on Earth and run their DNA sequences to compare similarities among varieties just here?

    This is what the “SCIENCE” tells us when we lack sufficient comparative data: 91% human, 9% unknown (chimp: 98% human, 2% “chimp”). The fact that Ripley discovered a specimen first, does not discount that these specimens are not EBE, or some unknown species… It just means that “they” have been here longer than since 1947.

    • georgio

      10/05/2015 at 10:35 AM

      yes proteus; finally intelligent comments. No one commented on the ct scan work or dr lacher’s reports. I only read non science comments here.

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  34. Paige

    07/08/2015 at 9:07 AM

    It has to be a hoax, meticulously carved from human bone and held together with human tissue. Is that not possible? This “sirius” documentary is rediculous.

  35. Mario Gutierréz

    07/04/2016 at 12:25 AM

    …and to think that no one knew about this before the promotion of the film?

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