Showing posts with label human-biology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human-biology. Show all posts

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From Smallpox to HIV: 6 Glass Sculptures of Colorless Deadly Viruses

Deadly viruses such as Smallpox, E.coli and HIV have claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people but they always seem to have these fantastically vivid colors, right? Well, not exactly. As opposed to what we're used to see on TV and in the movies, viruses are actually colorless as they are simply smaller than the wavelength of light. British artist Luke Jerram thought that's just isn't right, so, since around 2004 he has been making his own representations of viruses, alternative to the artificially colored imagery we are used to receive through the media.

Jerram's sculptures are made in collaboration with glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones and Norman Veitch and are designed in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol, using scientific photographs and models. The following are 6 scientifically accurate glass representations of deadly viruses created by Luke Jerram. For more about Jerram and his amazing artwork check out the above BBC video or visit

[1] Smallpox

[2] T4 Bacteriophage Virus

[3] HIV

[4] E.coli

[5] Swine Flu

[6] Untitled Future Mutation

CultHats to IFeakingLoveScience

Friday, July 3, 2009

Man Comes Back From The Dead in Israel

Man comes back to life in Israel after being pronounced dead

An ambulance crew dispatched to the apartment of an 84 year old man in the city of Ramat Gan in Israel, found him lying on his stomach amid filth in his living room. Maggots and blue death marks were all over the body that was already cold. There was also no pulse or breathing or other life signs and there could be no mistake about the strong putrid smell in the apartment. In other words, the man was dead. So, after a doctor arrived to the scene and examined the body he signed the death certificate shown in the above photo.

But as the saying goes, it ain't over till it's over. A few minutes later, when the body evacuation crew was waiting for the CSIs to complete their documentation process, a policeman came near to the "corpse" and could see it is, well... moving his hand. The paramedics were called back, and the man was taken, conscious, to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. Naturally, until the recommendations of the special investigation team that had been set up following the incident are issued, the team that declared the man dead was suspended from all medical activity.

We're relived.

Via JPost and Ynet
Photo by paramedic team member Berale Yaakobovitch, via Ynet

Friday, March 20, 2009

7 Non-Egyptian Mummies and Mummy Cemeteries You Must See Before You Die

7 Non-Egyptian Mummies and Mummy Cemeteries You Must See Before You Die

For most of us thinking of mummification means thinking of mysterious ancient Egypt and the pharaohs. Indeed, eternal life was the main focus of all ancient Egyptians who believed the body was home in the afterlife to a person's Ka and Ba, without which it would be condemned to eternal wandering. Famous movies such as The Mummy, a British horror film from 1959 to name one, have also contributed their part to our somewhat "Egyptian-biased" perception of mummification. Here is a (2:17 min) reminder:

Nonetheless, mummification existed in many non-Egyptian cultures just as well, as exemplified in the largest and most ambitious mummy exhibitions ever staged, recently opened in the northern Italian town of Bolzano. With more than 60 mummies from Asia, Europe, South America as well as Egypt, Mummies of the World: The Dream of Eternal Life will tour science centers and museums in the United States for a three year tour commencing July 2010. So, to celebrate this spectacular must see exhibition and since we know many of you want to but will not be able to attend, here are 7 famous mummies and mummy cemeteries we think you should see before singing off for your eternal wandering.

Oetzi the Iceman

Among the mummies that will be exhibited on the Dream of Eternal Life show will be the world-famous 5,300-year-old Oetzi. Natural Mummies - mummies that are formed as a result of naturally-occurring environmental conditions - have been found all over the world. Yet, none of them is even remotely amazing as this mummified Neolithic hunter also spelled Oetzi and known as Frozen Fritz or "The Iceman".

Otzi the Iceman is a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC, found as shown in the above astonishing photographs by two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simonby in 1991 in a glacier of the Otztal Alps in Italy, near its border with Austria. Otzi rivals the Egyptian "Ginger" as the oldest known human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view on the habits of Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Europeans.

Thanks to modern x-ray technology recently published studies tell a lot of new facts about how Otzi lived. And died. For example, we know he was a member of a relatively advanced farming society and may even have been an Alpine herdsman. His moccasins were not made of bearskin, as previously believed, but from the skin of ancient seasonally migrating cattle made by herdsmen in the region of the Alps. We also know he died from an arrow-inflicted lesion to an artery near his left shoulder.

Grauballemanden the Tollund Man

The Tollund man, shown above, is another fantastic example of what ancient Europeans may have looked like. This naturally mummified corpse was dressed only in a pointed cap and belt when discovered in a peat bog in Denmark in 1952. The Tollund Man is believed to be over 2000 year old from the Pre-Roman Iron Age in Scandinavia.

Tollund Man was found buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. Amazingly, the head and face were so well-preserved that at the time of discovery he was mistaken for a recently deceased murder victim. Below are a few more interesting snapshots of the Tollund Man mummy.

Mummy Juanita the Ice Maiden

Mummy Juanita is a frozen Inca mummy of a teenage girl who died more than 500 years ago and was discovered in Peru in 1995 by anthropologist Johan Reinhard and his Peruvian climbing partner Miguel Zarate. Also known as Momia Juanita (original Spanish), the Ice Maiden, the Lady of Ampato and the Frozen Lady, this mummy is unfortunately going through quite a difficult modern life and not doing so well. In 2006 daily newspaper El Comercio published that an expert from the U.S. Smithsonian Institution who was vacationing in the southern Andean city of Arequipa detected dampness inside the mummy's glass-enclosed refrigeration compartment. Shown above: Mummy Juanita when found on Mount Ampato in Peru in 1995.

The above photograph was released by Peruvian press agency ANDINA on 18 May 2007. Authorities of the National Culture Institute said that the mummy is currently suffering from a slight deterioration that could eventually end in a complete decomposition if not saved by new technology.

Chinchorro Mummies

Chinchorro mummies go back to 7000 years, practically thousands of years before the Egyptian mummies mummified, thus representing the world earliest attempt known to date to intentionally preserve the dead. They are believed to be the remains of individuals from the South American Chinchorro culture found in what is now northern Chile and southern Peru around 5000 B.C. and reaching a peak around 3000 B.C. Their old age is clearly shown in the above photo by Iain McDonald and the one below by Paul but they can still provide a general idea of what you can expect if you happen to pay them a visit.

Chauchilla Mummies

The cemetery of Chauchilla, located 30 Km away from Nazca, southern Peru, offers a particularly interesting set of pre-columbian mummies, human bones and skulls as well as some very interesting pottery work. We say "particularly interesting" because… well, they are just there, awaiting their visitors at open air. Above: A resting mummy in the Cemetery of Chauchilla.

Guanajuato Mummies

Perhaps the most terrifying mummy set ever discovered has certainly nothing to do with ancient Egypt but with the horrible cholera epidemic outbreak in Guanajuato, Mexico in 1833. The Mummies of Guanajuato are naturally mummified and - believe it or not - some of them were actuality buried alive:
"Due to the ferocity of the epidemic, more cemeteries had to be opened in San Cayetano as well as Cañada de Marfil. Many of the bodies were buried immediately to control the spread of the disease; in some cases, the dying were buried alive by accident. As a result, some of the mummies have horrific expressions attesting to their death in the tombs, though most expressions became fixed postmortem." (Wikipedia)
No one knows exactly how many bodies were extracted but unclaimed ones are from time to time extracted and put on display for your enjoyment in the Museo de las Momias in the city of Guanajuato near Mexico City. At the moment, according to L.A. Times, there are 56. Below photos from Guanajuato's Museum of Mummies via

  • Above: Ignacia Aguilar's Mummy, buried alive?

Above: Hand of Guanajuato mummy in the Museo de las Momias where unclaimed bodies often end up for public exhibition. Below are some more photos taken by visitors in the museum.

Takla Makan Mummies

In the late 1980's, perfectly preserved 3000-year-old mummies such as the amazing Marquis of Dai Mummy (via shown above began appearing in a remote Taklamakan desert.
"They had long reddish-blond hair, European features and didn't appear to be the ancestors of modern-day Chinese people. Archaeologists now think they may have been the citizens of an ancient civilization that existed at the crossroads between China and Europe. The discoveries in the 1980s of the undisturbed 4,000-year-old ”Beauty of Loulan” and the younger 3,000-year-old body of the ”Charchan Man” are legendary in world archaeological circles for the fine state of their preservation and for the wealth of knowledge they bring to modern research." (

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Monday, August 18, 2008

5 Mysterious Skulls: Dare They Be Called, Human?

A guest post by s hayes

This isn't your most recent episode of Unsolved Mysteries. In fact, these are five authentic skulls dug up and discovered from nearly every corner of the globe. If the skulls are actually of human origin has been put up for debate by some. Either way, these anomalies will either give you a great costume idea, inspiration to go on your own Indian Jones-style adventure, or just provide a reason for some really freaky dreams.

The Horned Skull

During an archaeological dig in Sayre, Bradford County, Pennsylvania in the 1880s, a number of human skulls were unearthed. These skeletons were anatomically correct, except for the anomaly of their projections, two inches above the eyebrow, and the fact that their average height in life would have been around seven feet tall. The bones were sent to the American Investigating Museum in Philadelphia, where they were stolen - never to be seen again.

Above: Instances today of genetic throwbacks to this race.

Starchild Skull

Starchild Skull

This peculiar skull was found in a mine tunnel, 100 miles Southwest of Chihuahua. Dental analysis have ascertained that the skull is that of a five year old child. However, the interior of the skull is 20cm larger than the average adult cranial cavity. The optic nerve is situated at the bottom of the eye socket, rather than the back.

The back of the skull is flattened, but not by artificial means. Carbon dating places the skull's age at approximately 1100 BCE. DNA testing has determined that the child had a human mother, but useful lengths of nuclear DNA for further testing could not be recovered. In 2004, Royal Holloway College of the University of London revealed “fibers” in the bone of the skull and a reddish residue, neither of which are known or recorded to exist prior to the discovery.

Peruvian Skulls

Peruvian Skulls

These odd elongated skulls originate from Peru. They were excavated in Nazca - close to the mysterious Nazca lines. As with the horned skull race, skeletal remains reveal that this race was extremely tall - up to nine feet in height. Similar skulls have been excavated in Mexico and are on display in museums. Some of the elongated skulls showed evidence of ancient brain surgery, suggesting an advanced knowledge and understanding of biology. Suggestions that the skulls were altered by a process of binding the skull in infancy, when the cranial bones are soft, encouraging them to grow into an un-natural shape, have been rejected.

Nevertheless, skull binding cannot increase the internal capacity of the cranial void - and evidence points to the fact that in the case of the Peruvian and Mexican skulls, the cranial void is significantly larger than in a normal skull. It is intriguing also to consider the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and his family - who were depicted in hieroglyphics as having a large misshapen skull.

Above: Depictions of Akhenaten and his Daughter

Robert Connolly Discoveries

Robert Connolly was researching the paper “In Search of Ancient Wisdom" when he came across these intriguing skulls. During his research, Robert photographed them:

This skull is in all respects similar to modern skulls, with only several factors out of proportion. The size of eye sockets are about 15% larger than normal. The cranial cavity is almost double that of a normal human - the estimated cranial capacity ranges between minimum of 2600 cm3 to 3200 cm3.

Above: The lower jaw bone of this skull is missing.

What is noticeable about the remnants of the facial portion is that the characteristics are entirely within the range of a normal human skull. The cranial cavity, on the other hand, is extremely large - with the cavity exceeding 3000cm3 Also, the two protruding "lobes" are highly anomalous.

Bulgarian Skull

This skull cannot visibly classified as human - but is interesting. It was discovered in 2001, the Rodopi Mountains, Bulgaria. Very little else is known at this point in time.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The 1000 Genomes Project: The Most Detailed Map of Human Genetic Variation

The 1000 Genomes Project: The Most Detailed Map of Human Genetic Variation

Mankind took a major step today as an ambitious effort codenamed The 1000 Genomes Project involving sequencing the genomes of at least a thousand people from around the world was announced in England. The 1000 Genomes Project will create "the most detailed and medically useful picture to date of human genetic variation". Multidisciplinary research teams participating in the 1000 Genomes Project will develop a mapped view of biomedically relevant DNA variations "at a resolution unmatched by current resources". According to the official announcement data from The 1000 Genomes Project will be shared with the worldwide scientific community through freely accessible public databases.

Richard Durbin, Ph.D., of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and co-chair of the consortium

The The 1000 Genomes Project is supported by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England, the Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen (BGI Shenzhen) in China and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Richard Durbin, Ph.D., of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and co-chair of the consortium (in the above photo) explains why this was unthinkable only two years ago:
"The 1000 Genomes Project will examine the human genome at a level of detail that no one has done before. Such a project would have been unthinkable only two years ago. Today, thanks to amazing strides in sequencing technology, bioinformatics and population genomics, it is now within our grasp. So we are moving forward to build a tool that will greatly expand and further accelerate efforts to find more of the genetic factors involved in human health and disease."

NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. explains what are the new possibilities may be following this amazing breakthrough:

"This new project will increase the sensitivity of disease discovery efforts across the genome five-fold and within gene regions at least 10-fold. Our existing databases do a reasonably good job of cataloguing variations found in at least 10 percent of a population. By harnessing the power of new sequencing technologies and novel computational methods, we hope to give biomedical researchers a genome-wide map of variation down to the 1 percent level. This will change the way we carry out studies of genetic disease."

The 1000 Genomes Project