Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Open access paper alert A Pre-Hispanic Head
Our hypothesis that the high levels of heavy metals in our subject's hair were deposited by bacterial concentrating activity in bio-films has therefore some support. These toxic elements must have been deposited on the hair post-mortem by mechanism resembling those used by the bacterium Ralstonia mettalidurans to produce gold nuggets in some Australian gold mines [5].

Thus one explanation for the well-preserved tissues in our specimen is that extraordinary circumstances, bacterial growth and soil content of heavy metals conspired to preserve the tissues. Subsequently, this lead to inhibition of putrefaction normally induced by other bacteria and thus contributed to the exquisite tissue preservation.

Let me know if this isn't accessible. The preservation on this thing is truly remarkable (photo at the link). I really wonder if the eyes are really that well-preserved though; I don't recall ever seeing eyes like that except in some recent frozen mummies. Could be though.

Cause of death seems, uhhhh, rather obvious.

Anyway, they hypothesize that high concentrations of lead, arsenic, and mercury deposited due to bacterial action cause the high degree of preservation.