Nora Bradford

“Early in her research, forensic anthropologist Alexandra Morton-Hayward came across a paper describing a 2,500-year-old brain preserved in a severed skull. The paper referenced another preserved brain. She found another. And another. By the time she’d reached 12, she noticed all of the papers described the brains as a unique phenomenon. She kept digging.

Naturally preserved brains, it turns out, aren’t so rare after all, Morton-Hayward, of the University of Oxford, and colleagues report March 20 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The researchers have built an archive of 4,400 human brains preserved in the archaeological record, some dating back nearly 12,000 years. The archive includes brains from North Pole explorers, Inca sacrificial victims and Spanish Civil War soldiers.”

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