Fragments of Faith: From Religious Relics to Victorian Hair Jewelery

Historian and Morbid Anatomy Museum Instructor Karen Bachman discusses the origins of the strange and romantic art of Victorian hair work.

Art historian and master jeweler Karen Bachman discusses the history of Victorian hair work for the Morbid Anatomy Museum.

With it’s origins in the religious relics and reliquaries of dead saints, the art of memorial hair work in the 18th and 19th centuries became a popular way to honor and remember loved ones. Locks of hair from the deceased was woven into jewelry, chains and intricate works of art.

Victorian hair work

Altamura Man: Skeleton Stuck in Stone Yields Oldest Neanderthal DNA

Tests reveal the fossilized remains of the Altamura Man are around 150,000 years old and contain the oldest Neanderthal DNA ever extracted.
The ancient Neanderthal remains of the Altamura Man stuck in stone in a cave in Italy

A recent study of the Altamura Man, an ancient skeleton embedded in a limestone cave in Italy, has yielded surprising results. The fossilized Homo neanderthalensis, which was discovered in the Grotta di Lamalunga by chance in 1993, have been difficult to study due to the rock and thick calcite layers covering it.

A research project that began in 2009, however, recently concluded through Uranium–thorium dating that the calcite most likely formed there during the Medium Pleistocene period. That means the Altamura Man lived somewhere between 128,000 and 187,000 years old.

Using a sample from the scapula, the study also revealed that the prehistoric remains may contain the oldest Neanderthal DNA ever extracted.

Fossilized remains of the Altamura Man embedded in rock in a cave in Italy

via Research Italy

Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital

What happened to the rare, malformed brain specimens missing from the Texas State Mental Hospital?
Malformed documents the rare brain collection of the Texas State Mental Hospital
A rare, smooth brain specimen documented by photographer Adam Voorhees in Malformed

Remember the reports last year that a collection of rare brains taken from deceased patients of a mental hospital in Austin, Texas had gone missing? The bizarre discovery was unearthed by photographer Adam Voorhees and journalist Alex Hannaford while they were attempting to document the collection.

In their new book Malformed, Adam’s stunning photos of the specimens remaining in the collection are combined with the details of their research to tell the story of the unique collection.

Hidden away out of sight in a forgotten storage closet deep within the bowels of the University of Texas State Mental Hospital languished a forgotten, but unique and exceptional, collection of 100 extremely rare, malformed, or damaged human brains preserved in jars of formaldehyde.

Decades later, in 2011, photographer Adam Voorhes discovered the brains and became obsessed with documenting them in close-up, high-resolution, large format photographs, revealing their oddities, textures, and otherworldly essence. Voorhes donned a respirator and chemical gloves, and began the painstaking process of photographing the collection. Desperate to know more about the provenance of the brains, Voorhes, together with journalist Alex Hannaford, traveled down the rabbit hole of the collection’s history.

Sifting through a century’s worth of university documents, the truth-seekers discovered that rival universities had bitterly fought over the collection. But after winning the “Battle for the Brains” (against Harvard University among others) the University of Texas at Austin secured the collection. Now, however, the collection has been reduced to half its original size and is in a state of neglect. Voorhes and Hannaford’s hunt for the medical records became a hunt for the missing brains, but with no scientific or medical documents to pair with the body of photographs, Alex began following the trail to the researchers who had worked with them and the caretakers in whose trust they were placed. The result of the duo’s efforts has been a revived interest in the collection with various science journals publishing writings and research about the brains. And the university is now creating MRI scans of the specimens and intends to showcase them at its new medical school. Alas, for now, the hunt for the missing brains seems to be far from over.

Brain from the Texas State Mental Hospital collection. Photo by Adam Voorhees.

Brain from the Texas State Mental Hospital collection. Photo by Adam Voorhees.

Brain from the Texas State Mental Hospital collection. Photo by Adam Voorhees.

Brain from the Texas State Mental Hospital collection. Photo by Adam Voorhees.

Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital by Adam Voorhees and Alex HannafordMalformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital

Malformed, from photographer Adam Voorhees and journalist Alex Hannaford, documents the strange collection of brains in jars taken from mental patients, and documents the unusual circumstances surrounding the disappearance of many of the original specimens. Where are these bizarre, forgotten brains, and who did they belong to?

BUY IT

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Brings the Weird this June

The inaugural Milwaukee Paranormal Conference will feature speakers, panels and more in the fields of paranormal investigation, cryptozoology, ufology and folklore.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference will be held at the Irish Cultural & Heritage Center
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference will be held June 6th, 2015 at the Irish Cultural & Heritage Center on Wisconsin Ave.

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Details

Date: June 6th, 2015
Time: 12pm-7pm
Location: Irish Cultural & Heritage Center
2133 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233 (Get Directions)
Cost: FREE (Get tickets here)

The great state of Wisconsin is not only home to the Cult of Weird world headquarters, it is also full of legendary weirdness. The backwoods of the dairy state have spawned grave-robbing cannibal killers, horrific creatures and some of the most bizarre hauntings ever recorded. Now, author Tea Krulos is bringing it all together for the first time for the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference on June 6th, 2015.

Krulos, whose new book Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators will debut at the conference, decided that rather than having a standard book release, he would put together an entire day filled with presentations on the paranormal, including guest speakers, panels, film screenings, vendors and more. Get your photo taken with Bigfoot!

Be sure to drop by the Cult of Weird table in the vendor hall to say hi!

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Speakers

  • Donald R. Schmitt, expert on UFOs and the Roswell Crash
  • Linda S. Godfrey, author of Weird Wisconsin and many more
  • Noah Leigh, founder and lead investigator, Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee
  • Melissa Tanner, founder and lead investigator, TnT Paranormal Investigations
  • Allison Jornlin, ghost historian and proprietor of Milwaukee Ghosts Tours & Investigations
  • Tea Krulos, author of Monster Hunters
  • Marc Eaton, professor of sociology, Ripon College
  • J. Nathan Couch, author of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?
  • Jim Sherman, Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (as seen on Finding Bigfoot)
  • Nick Roesler, author of In Focus: Photographic Evidence of Unconventional Flying Objects
  • Mark O’Connell, biographer of Dr. J.Allen Hynek and MUFON Chief Investigator for Wisconsin

Documentary Screenings

  • Echoes of the Past (2015) from director David Gloyd
  • PIM: A Paranormal Documentary (2015) from director Bradley James Kroll

Panels

  • Tea Krulos hosts the “Best Evidence Ever!” panel w/ Ursula Bielski, Jim Sherman, and Nicholas Roesler
  • “Skepticism and Dealing with Clients” with paranormal team leaders Noah Leigh (Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee), Melissa Tanner (TnT Paranormal), and Valerie Kedrowski (Stevens Point Paranormal). Moderated by Damien Jones of Podcast of the Century.

After con events include a Wisconsin Ave. bus tour with Milwaukee Ghosts-Tours & Investigations, an investigation of the Historic Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear with Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, and the official after party at Milwaukee’s haunted Shaker’s Cigar Bar. Hangman Tours will also offer a variety of tours throughout the evening, including Shaker’s and other spots in the downtown area.

For more info go to milwaukeeparacon.com

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

PRE-ORDER Monster Hunters Here