photos by shigeru harazaki of mouthbrooding jawfishes
Make a Wish on an Welsh Money Tree
An old tradition from Great Britain has been rediscovered after a curious incident recently covered by the BBC. Staff at the Italian Riviera inspired Welsh village of Portmeirion where baffled after a tree was cut down and soon started filling up with coins hammered into its trunk. “We had no idea why it was being done when we first noticed the tree trunk was being filled with coins,” said Meurig Jones, the Estate manager. After some detective work, however, he found that trees have sometimes been used around Britain as “wishing trees.”
No, that isn’t an accident. Some 1000 years ago, a Peruvian healer used a hand drill to make dozens of small holes in a patient’s skull.
Cranial surgery is tricky business, even under 21st-century conditions—with specialized surgical instruments and lots of pain medication…both during and afterward.
Healers in Peru practiced trepanation—a surgical procedure that involves removing a section of the cranial vault using a hand drill or a scraping tool—more than 1,000 years ago to treat a variety of ailments, from head injuries to heartsickness. And they did so without the benefit of the aforementioned medical advances.
Danielle Kuris, a UC Santa Barbara bioarchaeologist (and a specialist in forensic anthropology) explains:
“When you get a knock on the head that causes your brain to swell dangerously, or you have some kind of neurological, spiritual, or psychosomatic illness, drilling a hole in the head becomes a reasonable thing to do.”
Excavating burial caves in the south-central Andean province of Andahuaylas in Peru, Kurin and her research team unearthed the remains of 32 individuals that date back to the Late Intermediate Period (ca. 1000-1250 CE).
Among them, 45 separate trepanation procedures were in evidence. Kurin’s findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
steel wool + 9 volt battery + whisk + rope = instant rave
Watch Tara and Anthony make these crazy $10 sparklers on Hard Science.
-Wear cotton clothes with hoods to protect your skin and hair
-Use a whisk to contain the larger pieces of steel wool from flying out
-Only try this in wet or concrete environments — i.e. beaches, gravel, cement or snow