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The human brains unearthed at archeological sites exhibit remarkable preservation

During the first stages of her investigation, Alexandra Morton-Hayward, a forensic anthropologist, saw a scholarly article that detailed the preservation of a brain dating back 2,500 years inside a dismembered skull. The study cited one additional brain that had been saved. She encountered another. Furthermore. Upon reaching the age of 12, she saw that all the studies characterized the brain as a distinctive phenomenon. She continued to excavate.

It has been shown that naturally preserved brains are not an uncommon occurrence. On March 20, Morton-Hayward et al., affiliated with the University of Oxford, published a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The researchers have constructed a repository of 4,400 human brains that have been conserved inside the archaeological documentation, with some specimens dating back around 12,000 years. The collection comprises brains obtained from individuals who participated in the North Pole expedition, Inca sacrifice victims, and Spanish Civil War troops.

Due to their extreme rarity, there have been few studies conducted on brains. “If the materials are valuable and unique, it is not advisable to examine or disturb them,” Morton-Hayward states. The investigation has been conducted on less than 1 percent of the archive.

Correlating the locations of the brains with past climatic trends suggests potential factors that might prevent the brains from deteriorating. More than one-third of the samples exhibited persistence due to dehydration, whereas the other samples were either frozen or browned. The texture of brains may vary depending on the prevailing circumstances, ranging from dry and brittle to mushy and tofulike.

Approximately 25% of the brains originated from anatomical structures devoid of any further intact soft tissue. Morton-Hayward states that there is no skin, kidneys, or muscles present, but rather a reduced and flawless brain that is moving inside a skull.

The duration of brain persistence in the presence of other soft tissue degradation remains uncertain; however, it may be attributed to the chemical composition of the organ. The brain has a distinctive protein-to-lipid ratio of 1:1. Various soft tissues have higher carbohydrate content and distinct protein-to-lipid ratios. The significance of this ratio lies in its potential to induce the fusion and durability of proteins and lipids upon the introduction of metals such as iron into the mixture.

The research team is now using novel methodologies to enhance their comprehension of the molecular mechanisms behind brain preservation.

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