Preserved Brain Cells Still Visible In Victim Of Ancient Vesuvius Eruption

KEY POINTS

  • A group of scientists discovered brain tissues intact in ancient human remains 
  • Claims in the new study remain open for debate among other experts
  • The finding adds to astounding discoveries related to the historic  Mount Vesuvius eruption

Frozen neurons remain visible in the brain of a victim of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that took place in 79 A.D. The structure of the brain tissues, including spinal cords, are still intact at present, new research has claimed.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius is a significant occurrence in the world’s history. The incident covered several Roman cities with thick ashes and molten rock, including Pompeii in Italy. The tragedy would have turned everything in ashes. However, bodies were preserved underneath, like they were frozen in time.

In a new study published in the journal PLOS One, a team of researchers said the neurons and remains of the spinal cords

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Preserved Brain Tissue Found in Victim of Ancient Vesuvius Eruption, Scientists Report

Herculaneum, as it appears today.

Herculaneum, as it appears today.
Image: Pier Paolo Petrone

The catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago is famous for preserving its many victims in volcanic ash. New research suggests this preservation extends to the cellular level, owing to the apparent discovery of neurons in a victim whose brain was turned to glass during the eruption.

New research published today in PLOS One describes the discovery of neuronal tissue in vitrified brain and spinal cord remains belonging to a victim of the Mount Vesuvius eruption, which blew its stack in 79 CE.

“The discovery of brain tissue in ancient human remains is an unusual event,” Pier Paolo Petrone, a forensic anthropologist at University Federico II in Italy and the lead author of the new study, said in a press release. “But what is extremely rare is the integral preservation of neuronal structures of a 2,000-year-old central nervous

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A volcanic eruption may have helped the dinosaurs take over the world

In the past half billion years of Earth’s history, there have been five widely-accepted major mass extinctions, but new findings published recently in Science Advances suggest that there may have been another—one that created conditions that allowed dinosaurs to take over the world.



a snow covered mountain: A volcanic eruption may have helped the dinosaurs take over


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A volcanic eruption may have helped the dinosaurs take over

The newly proposed mass extinction, which occurred during a period of time 233 million years ago called the Carnian Pluvial Episode (CPE), resulted in the loss of 33 percent of marine genera (the next-highest level of taxonomy above species) according to the study. Large volcanic eruptions in western Canada likely caused the event by emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases, causing rapid global warming and a period of increased rainfall that lasted roughly one million years. Afterward, climate conditions rapidly changed from rainy to arid, which, coupled with the increased plant growth

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