Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Chilean alien hoax

I love a good hoax, don't you?

I've been enjoying this one, which has been doing the rounds on the internet lately.  Supposedly, this is a 6 inch high mummified extraterrestrial found in Chile's Atacama desert.  It is known as the La Noria ET.

Picture from

This video includes some good images, including x-rays.  The narrator talks excitedly about how the specimen's DNA doesn't resemble any known earth species.  Yeah, right.  Citation please.

Creating a gaff that will pass muster in the modern age of high definition TV and CT scans is a very tall order, and whoever is responsible for this one has done a pretty good job.  This article from has an interesting discussion of the specimen, and suggests it may be a human fetus.  Another possibility mentioned in the article is that it may have been made from bird bones.  The writer of the article rejects this second hypothesis, but I disagree.  The head is certainly somewhat suggestive of a fetus; notice that it has no teeth.  However, in the close up of the head below you can see the skull's nasal structure looks a lot like what you see on some types of bird skull.  Underneath this structure the sculptor has added a more human-shaped nose, but it doesn't line up particularly well with the existing nose bones.  I think this is a shame, and a missed opportunity.

Picture from  I've highlighted the bird-like nasal structure.  

If you look closely at the first picture I showed in this post, you can see that some of the limb bones appear to have been cut off at the ends.  They don't have rounded, shaped ends like bones normally have.  From what I can see in the pictures, I would say the Atacama alien is made from pieces of bone (and possibly some dried tissue) stuck together with what looks like bitumen.  Someone may really have recovered DNA from a sample, depending where the sample was taken from, but I'd be surprised if it was unlike any known animal.

Overall I'd give this one a score of 7 out of 10.  It's a good, solid effort and it looks compelling, although it doesn't stand up well under close scrutiny.  The sculptor was definitely talented.  I would have liked to see more attention to detail in regards to the limbs, especially around the knee area, and in my personal opinion the sculptor would have been better off to work with the existing nose bones, rather than trying to modify the nose area to make it look more human.  But that's just a personal preference.  All things considered, I'm impressed, and I'm not the only one - the La Noria ET hoax is a resounding success.  Plenty of UFO enthusiasts are convinced this little guy is the real deal.

Why is it 6 inches high?  Well, aside from the obvious fact that small things are easier to transport to the "discovery" location without attracting attention, I suspect the inspiration here may have come from Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad novels.

For the record, I do think it's more than likely there is extraterrestrial life out there.  But I seriously doubt it visits the earth, or that it looks like the characters from a popular science fiction series.