The mummified head of Jeremy Bentham

Weekend Weird: Santa’s Dead, Mummified Head, Burning Down Bad Spirits, and More

The grave of St. Nick has been found, Jeremy Bentham’s head goes on display, and more in this week’s roundup of weird news.

In October of 1913, the chief statistician for the Wisconsin Board of Health published an article detailing some of the odd notes he had seen made by doctors from around the state:

  • A mother “died in infancy”
  • “Went to bed feeling well but woke up dead”
  • “Died suddenly at the age of 103. Up to this time he bid to reach a ripe old age.”
  • “Deceased had never been fatally sick”
  • “Died suddenly. Nothing serious.”
  • “Pulmonary hemorrhage – sudden death. (Duration, four years.)”
  • “Kick by horse shod on left kidney.”
  • “Deceased died from blood poison, caused by a broken ankle, which is remarkable as the automobile struck him between the lamp and the radiator.”

And now this week’s other weird news and media:
Weird news

Looking for some spooky fun? The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is next weekend

Jeremy Bentham’s mummified head goes on display

And his body is coming to New York next year

Watch the 1991 Halloween special Claymation Comedy of Horrors

Woman burns down home to destroy bad spirit

How the tiny population of Easter Island built hundreds of statues

Archeologists may have found the real grave of Saint Nick in Turkey, which means the oil-leaking bones in Bari are fakes

DNA confirms amazing Australian isle insect not extinct

A bronze arm has been discovered on the Antikythera shipwreck

Louvre pulls sculpture for too sexually explicit

Mysterious half-decomposed gorilla arm washes up in Ireland

Ex-FBI agent opens cold case review into who betrayed Anne Frank

The art of skeleton articulation

Cult of Weird Community on Instagram

Tag your oddities and adventures #cultofweird to be featured!

Weird Book of the Week

The followup to her best-selling look at the death industry Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, mortician Caitlin Doughty travels the world to examine funeral practices from unique cultures around the globe.

For more macabre reads check out the 2017 Cult of Weird Fall Reading List.

The mummified head of Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham’s Mummified Head Goes on Display for the First Time in Decades

The head of Jeremy Bentham is being featured in a University College London exhibit, and scientists are using the opportunity to test it for autism.

The Telegraph reports that Jeremy Bentham’s mummified head has gone on public display at the University College London for the first in decades as part of an exhibit called What Does It Mean To Be Human? Curating Heads at UCL.

Bentham died in 1832. Following his instructions, his body was preserved and displayed in a practice he called “auto-iconisation.” Dr. Thomas Southwood Smith, a protégé of Bentham, carried out the preservation. To mummify the head, he used an experimental technique based on Maori practices, in which he placed Bentham’s head in an air pump suspended over sulphuric acid. The head was successfully dehydrated, but the process left it looking rather macabre.

Smith brought in French artist Jacques Talrich, who produced anatomical models, to create the wax replacement for Bentham’s ruined head that can be seen in the auto-icon case today.

The body and head of Jeremy Bentham on display

Bentham’s real head was still kept in the case, positioned at his feet, for a long time. After becoming the target of repeated student pranks at UCL, however, the head was finally removed. It is now kept in a safe, examined once a year to make sure the skin and hair are still in place.

While the head is out of storage for the exhibit, researchers are using the opportunity to extract DNA so they can test a theory put forth in 2006 that Bentham’s unique character was the result of Asperger’s syndrome.

The Telegraph writes:

Bentham was a leading philosopher and social thinker of the 18th and early 19th century, establishing himself as a leading theorist in social and economic reform.

He was pivotal in the establishment of Britain’s first police force, the Thames River Police in 1800 which was the precedent for Robert Peel’s reforms 30 years later. He also argued for the rights of women, and for homosexuality to be legalised.

However he was notably eccentric, reclusive and difficult to get hold of. He called his walking stick Dapple, his teapot Dickey, and kept an elderly cat named The Reverend Sir John Langbourne.

Jeremy Bentham auto-icon

What Does It Mean To Be Human? runs from October 2 to March 1 at UCL’s Octagon Gallery. It is free and open daily. More info right here.

Claymation Comedy of Horrors Halloween special

Watch the 1991 Claymation Comedy of Horrors Halloween Special

Hilarity ensues in this animated Halloween special when Wilshire Pig and Sheldon Snail set out to find Doctor Frankenswine’s monster.

Before he was ousted from his studio and replaced by failed rapper Chilly Tee (read that whole story here) Will Vinton created a stop-motion renaissance and coined the term claymation.

Vinton created Claymation Comedy of Horrors for the CBS Halloween lineup in 1991. The story is about the misadventures of Wilshire Pig and Sheldon Snail as they follow a map on a quest to find Doctor Frankenswine’s monster.

Claymation Comedy of Horrors Part 1

Claymation Comedy of Horror Part 2

Watch more creepy stop-motion: