- Almost 50% of individuals from a Spanish 1936 mass grave had their brains preserved.
- Chemical analysis confirms that these brains were preserved by saponification.
- Three factors influenced brain preservation: microbiological, chemical and physical.
- A forensic and holistic approach is emphasized for the recovery and analysis of human remains in forensic context.
[Thx Neuroskeptic]It is a vision of a parallel world in which Guillermo del Toro directed the Indiana Jones movies.
We note, regretfully, that the process of saponificaton may preserve the structure of the cranial contents, perhaps even at the microscopic level, but the chemicals have been sea-changed into something strange and new. Analeptic Alzabo is the tomb-robbing historian's best friend, but it would be of little use here, and the prospect of the 3rd season of "iZombie" shifting the action to Spain is just not gonna happen.
In other news, not entirely coincidental, Professor Michael Persinger is still at the top of his game. Building on earlier brain-related reports, he provides another installment of his unconventional and stimulating perspectives on embodiment, and further demonstrations that structure -- not metabolic activity -- is what counts. It may be that his team at Laurentian University could provide the Spanish team with first-hand clues for identifying the culprits of the Civil War atrocity.
Much as a printed circuit diagram of a Symbolic Hieronymus Machine fulfills its function every bit as well as an actual circuit of wire and capacitors and battery, so a 20-year-pickled slice of cortical tissue retains its neural wiring diagram (although the proteins are denatured and cross-linked and the lipid membranes are vulcanised rubber), allowing it to show detectable gamma- and theta-wave activity when steeped in neurotransmitters. Not to mention the emissions of
Mind you, Nicolas Rouleau and Persinger have previously found EEG activity in blue PlayDo, so the bar is not high.
Right: Nicholas Rouleau: Another
victim of Nominal Determinism?
I for one am withholding judgement on Persinger's necroneurology until he manages to access the memories locked within a 130-million-year-old dinosaur brain.
AFTERTHOUGHT: Therein lies the script for a mash-up of 'Jurassic Park' and 'Total Recall', with an contraband trade in first-person dinosaur experiences that goes horribly wrong. I would watch the hell out of that.
----------------------------------------------------------* During the excavation of the Spanish Civil War grave at La Pedraja (Burgos, Spain), 104 individuals were found interred within it, 45 of which displayed brains that were preserved but dehydrated and reduced in size.[...] The results of the analyses on these morphologically identifiable human brains confirmed the presence of nerve structures, fatty acids, and in one case ante-mortem evidence for an intracranial haemorrhage. The fatty acid profile corresponds to the process of saponification. Therefore, the interpretation is that the preservation of these brains at the mass grave of La Pedraja was due to the saponification process, which was influenced by the manner and cause of death, the chemical composition of the brain, the physicochemical properties of the soil and the meteorological conditions at the time.