These neat life-like mummies were made by Italian Giovanni Battista Rini in the early 1800s. Until now, nobody knew how he did it and they were mostly forgotten. Scientists ran them through a CT scan and chemically analyzed the tissues, and found that Rini “petrified” the body parts by bathing them in a cocktail of mercury and other heavy metals. The study on the heads is set to be released next week in the journal Clinical Anatomy. It’s like a 19th century Body World exhibit!
The Dry Valleys of Antarctica are the coldest and driest on Earth, which makes surviving there extraordinarily challenging. To analyze how quickly changes come to an ecosystem, researchers analyzed microbes living under a centuries-old carcass of a seal naturally mummified by the Antarctic cold and aridity. This really cool experiment involved moving the dead seal around and seeing how microbial life changed in the soil underneath the carcass.
Scientists found that change to the microbial biodiversity happens faster than anyone had ever predicted.
Egyptians used hair gel. The researchers studied hair from 18 mummies (15 mummified in a desert cemetery called the Dakhleh Oasis and three from museums). Using chemical analysis, they found a fat-based hair gel coating the hairs of 9 of the mummies. They are all from about 300 BC.
15 new mummies were found to have had particulates in their lungs! While ancient Egypt was a preindustrial society, its people did engage in cooking, metal working and mining, all activities that can generate air pollution. In addition, the Egyptian climate, with its deserts and sandstorms, would have whipped up any grounded particulates into the air where they could easily be inhaled.
The Dog Catacombs date to 747-730 B.C., they are dedicated to Anubis, the Egyptians’ jackal-headed god of the dead, and contain the mummified remains of millions of puppies. They were first documented in the 19th century but were never fully excavated until now.
They estimate the catacombs contain the remains of 8 million animals, mostly dogs and jackals. Given the sheer numbers of animals, it is likely they were bred by the thousands in puppy farms around the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, according to the researchers.
Even Egypt’s elite got atherosclerosis. Scientists CAT scanned 52 mummies and found hardening of the arteries in 44 of them. I guess all of that lounging about and decadent honey-filled diet wasn’t so great after all.