A ‘vampire’s’ remains were found about 30 years ago. Now DNA is giving him new life.

He had been in his grave so long that when his family dug him up to burn his heart, the organ had decomposed and was not there.

Desperate to stop him from stalking them, they took his head and limbs and rearranged them on top of his ribs in the design of a skull and crossbones. He was a “vampire,” after all, and in rural New England in the early 1800s, this was how you dealt with them.

When they were finished, they reburied him in his stone-lined grave and replaced the wooden coffin lid, on which someone had used brass tacks to form the inscription “JB 55,” for his initials and his age.

Now, 200 years or so after the death of what has become the country’s best-studied “vampire,” DNA sleuths have tracked down his probable name: John Barber.

Continue reading “A ‘vampire’s’ remains were found about 30 years ago. Now DNA is giving him new life.”

What fatphobia tells us about our fear of death

You can’t go two steps in London without seeing Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK) controversial, ubiquitous and hypocritical ‘Obesity is a cause of cancer too’ cigarette comparison campaign. Apparently, we all have collectively forgotten this message from the last time they ran a similar campaign and were heavily criticised for it.

Rather than focusing on all of the reasons why this campaign is a horrible idea, because that has been covered at length by multiple experts in the METRO, on Medium, and on Twitter — instead, I want to highlight the reasons why these types of campaigns and everything the diet industry throws at us sometimes sticks so well — it’s our fear of death.

Obviously a charity that devotes it’s time to ending deaths by cancer is going to be motivated to… well, not talk about death in a positive way and seek to prevent it. Breaking the taboo around talking about death, being more comfortable discussing it, and actively planning for death doesn’t mean thinking cancer is a good thing.

Continue reading “What fatphobia tells us about our fear of death”

Inside the Eccentric World of Ethical Taxidermy Art

When looking at something like a taxidermied Janus kitten—that is, a tiny feline with two faces—one might assume that its maker had a rather dark view of animal life. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Being able to give something another life, elevating it into something beyond death—that gives me chills,” said Divya Anantharaman, one of New York’s best-known practitioners in the modern taxidermy movement and the maker of the taxidermied Janus kitten, which was a special commission for the person who cared for the animal during its short life. “[Taxidermy] is very emotional and humbling,” Anantharaman added. “The thing I think the most often is: Don’t mess it up.”

This reverence for the deceased is common among a contemporary breed of taxidermists. Far from the traditional profile of gruff men in rural areas mounting animals they hunted to display as trophies, today’s innovative taxidermists are younger and more diverse, and they tend to live in urban environments and skew heavily female. They often work with small creatures like birds and rodents rather than hulking deer or bears, and they’re pursuing their craft ethically—acquiring animals that have died naturally, and thus distancing the art of taxidermy from the pursuit of hunting. And while they’re often trained in traditional practices, many favor turning out artistic creations that depart from the way the animals looked while alive. They’re breathing new life into a centuries-old discipline, pursuing it with joy, respect, humor, and heart.

Read More – Inside the Eccentric World of Ethical Taxidermy Art – Artsy

How ‘Talking’ Corpses Were Once Used to Solve Murders

From unreliable hair analysis to mishandled DNA samples, modern forensic science has seen its share of troubles. But there’s still plenty to be thankful for in the ways courts today gather evidence of a crime: Just a few centuries ago, people were convicted of murder based on the idea that a corpse would spontaneously bleed in its killer’s presence.

Continue reading “How ‘Talking’ Corpses Were Once Used to Solve Murders”

The Funeral Directors Deployed to America’s Deadliest Disasters

Last November, as wildfires ravaged the town of Paradise, California, Robert Vigil received an urgent call from the Department of Health and Human services (HHS). Local officials were racing to identify the remains of fire victims, and Vigil, who has spent 26 years as a funeral director in Yuma County, Arizona, was needed on the scene.

From the news, Vigil already knew the fires had killed dozens of people and that hundreds more were missing. Under orders from HHS, he hopped on a plane to Butte County, California, where he advised local coroners about how to deal with the influx of fatalities.

Continue reading “The Funeral Directors Deployed to America’s Deadliest Disasters”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑