This Week In History News, May 6 – 10

Published May 10, 2019

Elephant Man's bones likely uncovered, ancient shaman's drug pouch discovered, nuclear-tainted Pacific sea creatures found.

Remains Of Deformed “Elephant Man” Found In An Unmarked London Grave

Jo Mungovin With Elephant Man Grave

Jo Vigor-Mungovin/TwitterJo Vigor-Mungovin lays flowers on an unmarked grave suspected to belong to Joseph Merrick, also known as “The Elephant Man.”

A biographer for Joseph Merrick, better known as “The Elephant Man,” believes that she has discovered the infamously deformed man’s remains 130 years after his death in an east London hospital.

Merrick’s skeleton was preserved at the Royal London Hospital as a scientific specimen after his death but his soft tissue had been buried elsewhere. Where exactly nobody really knew, at least until now.

Jo Vigor-Mungovin, the author of Joseph: The Life, Times & Places of the Elephant Man, claims that an unmarked grave in the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium actually belongs to The Elephant Man after poring through Victorian cemetery records from the year of the man’s death.

Dig deeper here.

Earliest Evidence Of Ayahuasca Use Discovered In Ancient Shamanic Pouch In Bolivia

Ancient Bolivian Pouch

Juan V. Abarracin-Jordan and José M. CaprilesThe ancient Bolivian pouch is comprised of three fox snouts sewn together.

A 1,000-year-old pouch made from three fox snouts sewn together was discovered in Bolivia to contain some tantalizing surprises. The pouch held the world’s earliest evidence of ayahuasca among a plethora of other mind-altering substances and drug paraphernalia.

For the uninitiated, ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic beverage composed of two plants. One of these is an enzyme inhibitor which allows psychoactive effects to be processed by the liver. It’s smokable variety, DMT, has significantly crept into pop-culture in recent years.

Scientists believe the archaeological find likely belonged to a shaman. Ayahuasca has been consumed by South America’s indigenous peoples for millennia. Penn State University anthropologist José Capriles originally found the pouch in 2010, but his detailed finding was published in the PNAS journal this week.

Read on here.

Nuclear Particles From Cold War Atomic Bomb Tests Found In Creatures 36,000 Feet Below Sea Level

Amphipods Filled With Nuclear Particles

Getty ImagesResearchers found nuclear particles inside amphipods that live in some of the deepest known depths of the ocean.

The effects of nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War continue to influence our planet, including even those creatures living 36,000 feet below sea-level. According to a new study, researchers discovered that amphipods, a sort of deep-sea crustacean, had more radioactive carbon in their muscle tissue than there is radioactive carbon in their surrounding environment.

“Biologically, [ocean] trenches are taken to be the most pristine habitats on Earth,” said Weidong Sun, a geochemist at the Institute of Oceanology in China and co-author of the new study. “We are interested in how life survives down there, what’s its food source, and whether human activities have any influence.”

The study, which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, documented how explosion particles of carbon-14 from nuclear bomb tests still managed to find its way into the guts of tiny crustaceans living tens of thousands of feet beneath the ocean’s surface.

See more here.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.