Mary Roach wanted to know what happened to bodies once they were donated to science. In her research, she found a 2,000 year history of cadavers and all they’ve accomplished for society.The result is her book “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
,” a non-fiction account of her research. She published it back in 2003, but the history and facts are still well worth reading.
About 20,000 U.S.bodies are donated to science every year, according to the Orange County Register.
Cadavers have flown in space and endured car crashes. They’ve been crucified to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. One famous artist even spent his life savings so he could eat their flesh for two months.
The images are from videos of the Body Worlds exhibit, a display of cadavers.
Cadavers have been used as crash-test dummies to make a case for mandatory seat belts. The research is estimated to save 8,500 lives a year.
Plastic surgery students perform face lifts and nose jobs on human cadaver heads, which are about the size and weight of a roasting chicken.
At the University of California, students are required to hold a memorial service for the cadavers they operated on during a semester of anatomy.
In the 1800's, cadavers were illegal in England, so scientists were known to sneak the bodies of family members into labs for research. Grave-digging was also common.
At the University of Tennessee, many cadavers are left to rot in a field so students can study human decay and crime scenes.
Cadavers are banned in many Muslim countries and the New York Times reported in 2002 that many students in those countries dug up bodies of friends and neighbours.
Cadavers have been used by the U.S. Army since the 1850's to test various weapons and how they impact the human body.
In Arabia in the 1200's, elderly men would commit to only eating honey and once they died were soaked in honey and served to others. This cannibalism was thought to heal ailments.
The muralist Diego Rivera said he lived in a cannibalistic colony, eating cadaver flesh for two months, and everyone's health improved.
The majority of medical school skeletons used to come from India, until the country banned the export of bones in 1985 because children were being murdered for their bodies.
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