A Buddhist statue found by the Nazis in Tibet called Iron Man was found to be a meteorite, says a new study.
Credit: Elmar Buchner/Stuttgart University

A Buddhist statue discovered by the Nazis on an expedition in Tibet was found to be carved from a rare meteorite.

The 22-pound statue, which has been called "Iron Man," was found by zoologist Ernst Schafer during an expedition in 1938 whose goal may have been to find the origins of the Aryan race.

Researchers at Stuttgart University said that the statue is made from iron meteorite called ataxite, which contains a high nickel and iron content (hence its name "Iron Man"), reported UPI.

It would have had to survive through thousands, if not millions, of years in the solar system before plunging into Earth's atmosphere.

"The statue was chiseled from an iron meteorite, from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15.000 years ago," study author Elmar Buchner said in a statement.

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"The Iron Man statue is the only known illustration of a human figure to be carved into a meteorite, which means we have nothing to compare it to when assessing value."

It is still unclear when the statue was carved but some believe that it was during a pre-Buddhist 11th century culture known as "Bon," said Scientific American.

Researchers think that the Buddhist statue could be worth a lot of money.

"Its origins alone may value it at $20,000; however, if our estimation of its age is correct and it is nearly a thousand years old, it could be invaluable," said Buchner, reported AFP.

The discovery was published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

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