A team of researchers has made a fascinating discovery in Italy. The skull of a young man who died in the Mount Vesuvius Eruption, an event which took place more than 2,000 million years ago, contained intact brain cells.
The team was looking at remains that were collected in the 1960s from Herculaneum, a city that found its demise in AD 79 when he volcanic eruption buried it in ash. At that time, the body of the young man was found lying face down in what may have been a temple dedicated to Emperor Augustus.
A chance discovery
According to an interview provided by the lead researchers, a strange material that seemed similar to glass was observed within the skull, sparking the interest of the researchers. Tests have revealed that the unusual material was in fact, the brain, which underwent vitrification due to intense heat and fast cooling.
When the brain was exposed to the intense temperature of the volcanic ash it melted quickly. Once the ash deposit started to cool, the brained cooled too, and the vitrification process was triggered, leading to the usual visual aspect.
Additional research made with the help of several tools has shown that brain cells found in the vitrified material were preserved in great condition. Cells tried to the spinal cord were also observed as it was also vitrified at the same time.
Environmental samples were also analyzed, and the scientists learn that the temperature rose to 500 degrees Celsius (or 932 degrees Fahrenheit). The mixed team of researchers will continue to conduct further tests as it wants to learn more about the remains. One of the aims is to track down the potential presence of genetic material.
Details about the temperatures encountered during an eruption could also help in the prevention of dire consequences if a new eruption took place.