See Mummies While You Can - They're Disappearing

Posted: Nov 3 2016, 10:00am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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See Mummies While You Can - They're Disappearing
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mummified human remains aren't going to be around forever like their intention was, according to reports. A collection of remains in northern Chile has been slowly turning into black slime due to the rising humidity levels. Save for putting every body into a temperature controlled environment, researchers don't know how to stop it.

There are over 100 mummies coming in at over 7,000 years old, and they are starting to turn into slime. They have applied to the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, to have the spot recognized as a world heritage site. Of course, this won't necessarily save the mummies. Still, researchers hope that the increased attention will help them find solutions.

The transformation is thought to be the result of colonies of bacteria in the mummified skin.

"The application is not a goal in itself, but the start of a process of improved conservation tools, with the Chilean state and the international community," Sergio Medina Parra, anthropologist and department head at University of Tarapaca in Chile, told Reuters over the weekend.

Some of these mummies date as far back as 5050 BC, making them the oldest mummies in the world so far.

"The dates that we have for the bodies are from 7,000 years ago ... so they have more relative antiquity in terms of intentional work on the human body than that found in Egypt," says Medina Parra.

They have reached out to Harvard for help in preserving the mummies.

"We knew the mummies were degrading but nobody understood why," Harvard biologist Ralph Mitchell said at the time. "This kind of degradation has never been studied before. [A]s soon as the right temperature and right moisture appeared, they started to use the skin as nutrients," Mitchell told Live Science, adding that unless local researchers can keep the Chinchorros mummies under the right temperature and humidity conditions, "the native microorganisms are going to chew these guys right up."

There is no word yet on what is happening.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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