I know I did a strange shoe post before, but these really are farther out there…
Tag Archives: strange
While these delightful teabags may not look like much at first glance, once they are submerged in a glass or bowl of hot water, they bear a striking resemblence to the real thing.
Cool or strange? You decide.
Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh
There’s something undeniably creepy about big, expansive libraries. The hushed whispers, the almost artificial quiet, and the smell of dusty tomes combine to create a surreal experience. But when it comes to creepy libraries, Harvard University might take the cake… you see, at least two of its books are bound in human skin.
A few years ago, three separate books were discovered in Harvard University’s library that had particularly strange-looking leather covers. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the smooth binding was actually human flesh… in one case, skin allegedly harvested from a man who was flayed alive. Yep, definitely the creepiest library ever.
As it turns out, the practice of using human skin to bind books was actually pretty popular during the 17th century. It’s referred to as Anthropodermic bibliopegy and proved pretty common when it came to anatomical textbooks. Medical professionals would often use the flesh of cadavers they’d dissected during their research. Waste not, want not, I suppose.
Harvard’s creepy books deal with Roman poetry, French philosophy, and a treatise on medieval Spanish law for which the previously mentioned flayed skin was supposedly used. The book, Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias… has a very interesting inscription inside, as The Harvard Crimson reports.
The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.’
Years later, the infamous “flayed skin book” had garnered so much attention on campus that Harvard went ahead and had the thing tested, concluding that it was likely a morbid 17th century joke. Despite the creepy inscription, their tests showed that the book’s cover was actually made out of a mixture of “cattle and pig collagen”. Hey, two genuine flesh-books out of three ain’t bad.
According to Director of University Libraries Sidney Verba ’53, there are almost certainly more of the human flesh-books out there, but while it’s possible to touch the two identified skin-books in Harvard’s rare book room, the librarians aren’t exactly fond of all the attention they’ve received lately (even inciting a few tepid responses to this very post). In fact, they’ve made it a point to downplay their ownership of the real flesh-bound books in favor of reminding the media that one of them is fake. Nice try.
If you do decide to head to Harvard and check out the books for yourself, do us a favor – just don’t read them out loud. We all know how that ends.
Baby’s rare brain tumor had teeth
A 4-month-old infant in Maryland may be the first person to have had teeth form in his brain as a result of a specific type of rare brain tumor, according to a new report of the case.
The boy is doing well now that his tumor has been removed, and doctors say the case sheds light on how these rare tumors develop.
Doctors first suspected something might be wrong when the child’s head appeared to be growing faster than is typical for children his age. A brain scan revealed a tumor containing structures that looked very similar to teeth normally found in the lower jaw.
After an analysis of tumor tissue, doctors determined the child had a craniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor that can grow to be larger than a golf ball, but does not spread.
Researchers had always suspected that these tumors form from the same cells involved in making teeth, but until now, doctors had never seen actual teeth in these tumors, said Dr. Narlin Beaty, a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who performed the boy’s surgery along with his colleague, Dr. Edward Ahn, of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
“It’s not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngiomas, it’s unheard of,” Beaty said.
Craniopharyngiomas commonly contain calcium deposits, “but when we pulled out a full tooth…I think thats something slightly different,” Beaty told Live Science.
Teeth have been found in people’s brains before, but only in tumors known as teratomas, which are unique among tumors because they contain all three of the tissue types found in an early-stage human embryo, Beaty said. In contrast, craniopharyngiomas have only one layer of tissue.
The boy’s case provides more evidence that craniopharyngiomas do indeed develop from the cells that make teeth, Beaty said.
These tumors are most often diagnosed in children ages 5 to 14, and are rare in children younger than 2, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The boy is progressing well in his development, the researchers said. However, because craniopharyngiomas are tumors of the pituitary gland a gland in the brain that releases many important hormones they often cause hormone problems.
In the boy’s case, the tumor destroyed the normal connections in the brain that would allow certain hormones to be released, Beaty said, so he will need to receive hormone treatments for the rest of his life to replace these hormones, Beaty said.
“He’s doing extremely well, all things considered,” Beaty said. “This was a big tumor right in the center of his brain. Before the moderate surgical era this child would not have survived,” Beaty said.
The teeth were sent to a pathologist for further study, Beaty said, and generally, these types of tissue samples are saved for many years in case more investigation is needed.
The report is published in the Feb. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.