Feeds

MYSTERY of 19th-century DEAD WALRUS found in London graveyard

'Tusky the Ripper' - or a mad scientist at work?

High performance access to file storage

The finest specialists in British archaeology have confessed themselves baffled by the mysterious case of the dead 19th-century Pacific walrus found buried in a London graveyard.

The remains of the deceased, 12-foot-long pinniped - which may have weighed as much as two tons when alive - were discovered in a coffin interred in a St Pancras graveyard during excavations for a new railway terminal. This was actually some time ago, but today we learn that investigating archaeologists, having finally given up on unravelling the mystery intercontinental dead-walrus-by-gaslight affair, have placed the animal's remains on display in a Hackney museum.

In a macabre twist, it seems that the massive tusked sea mammal shared its coffin with a mixed array of human bones including skulls, some pierced as though by a sharp tool - or tusk.

It's thought that scientific or medical research may have led to the grisly mixed burial. Rather than some Lovecraftian tale of a horrific walrusoid abomination - created perhaps in the lab of some insane experimenter, only to break free and terrorise the foggy streets of old London town in a bloody campaign of tusky or red-flippered slaughter, then later to be buried along with its victims' remains - the experts suspect medical students. The dissection of human cadavers for medical education was made legal in 1832, apparently, and with the practice having been legitimised it became more common to give the bodies a proper burial after the tyro medics had finished with them.

However the said corpses would often by this point have been dismembered into quite small parts. Meanwhile generalised anatomical and biological research would have been taking place, sometimes in the same labs or facilities, which might easily have seen exotic creatures such as the walrus - in this case perhaps brought back from the Pacific by long-haul whalers as a curiosity - carved up in the name of science.

It's possible that a job lot of medical-training and scientific remains was buried in one go, therefore, so accounting for the curious mixture of body parts and species found in the St Pancras coffin. Alternatively some kind of hilarious medical undergraduate cadaver-themed prank may be to blame.

“It’s a bit of a mystery,” confesses Phil Emery, the discoverer of the coffin, talking to the Times. “We did some research ... but we drew a blank. There was a reference to Prince Albert riding on the back of a giant tortoise, but unfortunately it wasn’t relevant."

The walrus bones are now on display at the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre in Hackney. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels
How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.