Unveiling a Vast Archive of Preserved Human Brains

  • 23 Mar 2024

University of Oxford researchers uncovered a massive archive of preserved human brains, challenging previous notions of nervous tissue preservation.

Key Points

  • Rare Preservation Phenomena: Survival of nervous tissues in fossils and historical records, previously considered rare, shown to be more common due to conditions halting decay, such as embalming and freezing.
  • Diverse Origins: Preserved brains found in individuals spanning various backgrounds, from Egyptian and Korean royalty to British monks and Arctic explorers, dating back up to 12,000 years.
  • Global Archaeological Finds: Researchers identify ancient human brains in archaeological sites worldwide, including Stone Age Sweden, Iranian salt mines, and Andean volcanoes during the Incan empire.
  • Environmental Patterns: Matching brain findings with historic climate data reveals trends in preservation methods, including dehydration, freezing, saponification, and tanning, shedding light on environmental influences.
  • Insights into Preservation Mechanisms: Study provides insights into the mechanisms behind nervous tissue preservation, highlighting the role of environmental conditions in maintaining soft tissue integrity over centuries.