The Odd, The Strange And The Macabre

By Kristy McCaffrey

In honor of Halloween…

There are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells, according to Carolyn Bohach, a microbiologist at the University of Idaho. Despite vast numbers, bacteria don't take up much space because they are far smaller than human cells.

Drinking too much water can kill you.
Hyponatremia, or dilution of the blood caused by drinking too much water, can lead to water intoxication, an illness whose symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, mental disorientation, and in some cases, death.

Insect wings are made of the same material as human fingernail cuticles.

Survival in space unprotected is possible…briefly.
A 1965 study by researchers at the Brooks Air Force Base in Texas showed that dogs exposed to near vacuum–one three-hundred-eightieth of atmospheric pressure at sea level–for up to 90 seconds always survived. During their exposure, they were unconscious and paralyzed. Gas expelled from their bowels and stomachs caused simultaneous defecation, projectile vomiting and urination. They suffered massive seizures. Their tongues were often coated in ice and the dogs swelled to resemble “an inflated goatskin bag,” the authors wrote. But after slight repressurization the dogs shrank back down, began to breathe, and after 10 to 15 minutes at sea level pressure, they managed to walk, though it took a few more minutes for their apparent blindness to wear off.

A hemispherectomy–where half the brain is removed–is usually perfomed on patients who suffer dozens of seizures every day that resist all medication. Amazingly memory and personality are unaffected.

Beginning in 1800 and continuing until the 1960's, the isolated Fugate family living near Troublesome Creek, Kentucky were so incestuous they developed a blood condition called methemoglobinemia, which turned their skin blue.

In 1994, on the Greek island of Lesbos, near the city of Mytilene, archaeologists investigating an old Turkish cemetery found a medieval skeleton buried in a crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall. This was not an unusual discovery; however, the post-mortem treatment of this body was very much unexpected. The corpse had been literally nailed down in its grave, with heavy iron spikes driven through the neck, pelvis and ankle. The use of iron and the practice of staking down a corpse are both well-attested in vampire folklore. The body was almost certainly that of a Muslim, believed to be the first time a corpse of a person other than a Christian had been found treated in this fashion.

Virginia Macdonald lived in New York City and became ill, died, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn in 1851. After the burial, her mother declared her belief that her daughter wasn't dead so the body was exhumed. To everyone's horror, the body was discovered lying on its side, the hands badly bitten, and every indication of a premature burial.

Interesting Fact: When the Les Innocents Cemetery in Paris, France was moved from the center of the city to the suburbs the number of skeletons found face down convinced many people and several doctors that premature burial was very common.

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