It was a close encounter of the third kind. Well, at least that’s what it looked like.

The skeletal remains of a tiny creature found in Chile’s Atacama Desert that looks like a shrunken version of the monster from the Ridley Scott movie ‘Alien’ is actually that of mutated human, Stanford scientists believe.

“It is human - closer to human than chimpanzees. It lived to the age of six to eight,” said Garry Nolan, director of stem cell biology at Stanford University's School of Medicine in California, according to the Daily Mail. “Obviously, it was breathing, it was eating, it was metabolizing…It calls into question how big the thing might have been when it was born.”

Found over 10 years ago in the Atacama Desert by a local man looking for objects of historical value in the Chilean ghost town of La Noria, the six-inch long “Atacama Humanoid” - nicknamed Ata - has hard teeth, dark, scaly skin, a bulging head with a lump on top and nine ribs. Its rib count and huge head – all hallmarks of what people associate with extraterrestrial beings – led many to hypothesize that Ata had more in relation to E.T. than human beings.

Other theories floating around are that the miniscule monster was a monkey, an aborted fetus or just a complete hoax.

Stanford scientists, however, after studying a DNA sample taken from Ata concluded that this creepy creature was an “interesting mutation” of a male human that had beat the odds at birth and lived for between six and eight years.

“I can say with absolute certainty that it is not a monkey,” Nolan said. “The DNA tells the story and we have the computational techniques that allows us to determine, in very short order, whether, in fact, this is human.”

While scientists may have determined that Ata may in fact be related to humans, who he was and how he survived still remains a profound ambiguity.

“After six months of research by leading scientists at Stanford University, the Atacama Humanoid remains a profound mystery,” Physician and Disclosure Project founder Dr. Steven Greer told the Daily Mail.

Whatever Ata's status is, he gives a whole new meaning to the term illegal alien.

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