Hard Headed

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Scientists recently unveiled a global archive containing records and specimens of more than 4,400 preserved human brains, dating back several millennia, Newsweek reported.

These brains, sourced from 213 unique locations across the world, range from approximately 12,000 years old to as recent as the 20th century.

Led by forensic anthropologist Alexandra Morton-Hayward, the new study challenges the perception that naturally preserved brains are exceedingly rare to find, offering insights into mechanisms of soft tissue preservation and potential applications in studying neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The new archive represents the largest compilation of archaeological literature on preserved brains to date.

The team also identified a myriad of preservation mechanisms, such as dehydration, freezing and tanning, occurring in diverse environments from deserts to wetlands worldwide.

Examples from the archive include brains from Stone Age Sweden, Upper Egypt, Danish peat bogs, and the Andes.

The collection also contains more than 1,300 brains found preserved without other soft tissues, some dating back to the last Ice Age.

“I think what’s really intriguing about this research is that although we know the brain can liquefy really quickly, clearly, in some circumstances, it also preserves and on incredibly long timescales,” said Morton-Hayward. “So, I would argue that we need to start thinking in greater depth about soft tissue preservation.”

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at hello@dailychatter.com.

Copy link