48 Astonishing Facts About Dead Bodies You Won’t Expect

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1Titanic Deaths

Titanic Deaths

Ships sent to retrieve dead bodies of the victims of the Titanic disaster found so many bodies that they ran out of embalming supplies. They decided to only retrieve bodies of first class passengers due to “the need to visually identify wealthy men to resolve any disputes over large estates.”

2. People in Tibet and Mongolia practice sky burial. Corpses are left on mountainsides to be eaten by carrion birds or otherwise decompose. Many who practice it view it as more practical than digging graves and as a way to give back to nature.

3. The Mongols catapulted dead bodies of soldiers infected by the bubonic plague over city walls during sieges. This was one of the earliest known accounts of biological warfare.

4. So many corpses are found in the Yellow River in China that locals find it lucrative to recover them and sell the bodies back to the families of the deceased for $500.

5. The corpses of Mussolini and his mistress were beaten, urinated upon and finally left to hang upside down, for public display, from a rusty beam outside a petrol station.

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6Mummy Brown

Mummy Brown

“Mummy Brown” was a once-popular paint pigment made from ground-up Egyptian mummies. It was produced well into the 20th century and only disappeared when the manufacturers ran out of mummies.

7. Anybody, dead or alive, traveling into France requires a passport. In 1974, the Egyptian government had to issue a passport to Pharaoh, Ramesses II to transport his body to France for restoration. Eerily, his body also received full military honors when it arrived at the Paris airport.

8. The Cali Cartel murdered so many people and dumped their bodies in the Cauca River that the local municipality was eventually bankrupt by the cost of recovering corpses and conducting autopsies.

9. There is a bog in Florida that was an ancient burial pond and it contains human remains that were buried almost 2000 years before the first pyramids. The skeletal remains were preserved so well that researchers have managed to collect soft brain tissue from the skulls.

10. To discourage intercourse with a corpse, ancient Egyptians left deceased beautiful women to decay for “three or four days” before giving them to the embalmers.

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11Human Decomposition

Human Decomposition

Human decomposition begins 4 minutes after death. It’s called autolysis or self-digestion. Blood circulation and respiration stop. Excess carbon dioxide causes an acidic environment, causing membranes in cells to rupture. Enzymes begin eating the cells from the inside out. 24-72 hours after death, internal organs decompose.

12. In 2010, the mummified corpse of Sogen Kato, thought to be Tokyo's oldest man alive, was found in his bedroom by government officials. He had actually died in 1978.

13. There are no legal ways to be buried in Longyearbyen (Norway). In 1950 they discovered bodies of residents from the 1918 flu pandemic which had not begun to decompose in the cold. Scientists fear the corpses, preserved in permafrost, could still contain live strains of the virus.

14. France lost so many workers during its failed attempt to dig the Panama Canal, that for a time their project's main source of income was selling the corpses (pickled in brine water) to medical schools all over the world as cadavers.

15. After the monarchy was restored in Britain, King Charles II had Oliver Cromwell’s corpse exhumed and beheaded. The head which was put on a stick outside Westminster Hall fell down during a storm and was retrieved by a nearby guard who stole the head and hid it up a chimney.

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16Holy Rhone River

Holy Rhone River

During the first outbreak of ‘The Black Death’ in France in 1348, cities ran out of consecrated ground to bury the dead so quickly, that the current Pope, Clement VI, had to bless the entire Rhone river to allow corpses to be legally dumped in it.

17. Carl Linnaeus’ corpse is the model specimen for the human race. In 1959, taxonomist William T. Stearn officially made Linne, the founder of his discipline, the ICZN lectotype for Homo Sapiens, and his skeletal remains are now the benchmark for what a modern human is and looks like.

18. For decades universities and automobile manufacturers have used human cadavers to get realistic crash test results.

19. According to one researcher, ancients such as Alexander the Great were sometimes buried in honey. After about a hundred years, candied corpses were supposedly dug up and eaten as medicine.

20. Before the introduction of the catacombs, there was once a cemetery so overflowing with bodies in central Paris that they made soap with the fat of the corpses and had houses with bones protruding from the rooftops of adjacent houses.

21Lindow Woman

Lindow Woman

In 1983, Peter Reyn-Bardt, confessed to the murder and dismemberment of his wife after a corpse was discovered in the town peat bog. The body was then dated to 1740 A.D. and Reyn-Bardt tried to retract his confession but was still convicted.

22. Lenin’s dead body is bathed and dressed in new clothes every year. His tomb is in the center of Moscow open to the public, despite his death wish to be buried next to his wife.

23. The Russians have done such a good job of embalming Lenin that the Vietnamese fly Ho Chi Minh’s corpse to Russia once a year to “refresh” him.

24. When researchers from Texas State University left a human corpse on a 26-acre woodland site to study how human bodies decompose in the wild, they ended up capturing the first image of a deer eating human remains.

25. Doctors still have no concrete idea how to define death. Science has observed “beating heart corpses” that can urinate; their bodies rumble, their wounds heal; they can blush and sweat, and can even have babies. Yet, clinically, they are dead. One method to determine death has won a Nobel Prize.


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