Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pancras pinniped

"It came as something of a shock," said Phil Emery, the archaeologist with Ramboll UK, who led an excavation beneath the streets of London (IMAGE HERE) that revealed the 19th c. burial ground of St. Pancras Church (IMAGE ABOVE). It was not the quantity of bodies they found (1,500 of the 44,000 interred between 1822 and 1854 due to a wave epidemics) that was surprising. Nor was it the shared coffins, mass graves, and other evidence of hasty burial, which was understandable under the circumstances. It was the fact that in with a mix of human bones, they found the bones of a 13' (4 m) walrus! The reasons the animal was brought from the North Pacific to England, and where it had died, are a mystery. But signs that the walrus had been dissected - like the remains of a tortoise, rabbit, cat, dog, horse, and a couple of monkeys found during a recent excavation at the Royal London Hospital - point to curious medical students.

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