Where do pumpkins come from?
According to this Proceedings B paper, which traces the origins of food crops around the world, pumpkins originated in North America, Central America and Mexico and Tropical South America.
In search of a “gigantick” skull
“In this he found a stone coffin, and with difficulty removing the cover, saw a skeleton of a human body nine feet long, and round it lay one hundred human skeletons with their feet pointing to the stone coffin”. This is an extract from a paper published in the 35th volume Philosophical Transactions from 1727: ‘An account of an humane skeleton of an extraordinary size, found in a repository at Repton in Derbyshire’.
How to bring a spider back from the dead
There’s a reason why creepy spiders are a Halloween staple: they’ve been crawling about this Earth scaring humans for over 300 million years. This paper details a new spider fossil from the Late Carboniferous period, with digital reconstructions for extra scare.
Disappearing bodies and ghost vortices
Ever heard of a ghost vortex? Particles in flow can move and disappear due to a change in phase, such as ice crystals melting in water. As these ‘bodies’ disappear they leave behind a ‘ghost’ vortex as an expression of momentum conservation. Ooooo. This paper looks at how and why a ghost vortex is generated.
Dr Granville’s mummy and the art of autopsy
These are drawings (right) of inner organs of an ancient Egyptian mummy, including the uterus and spleen. Originally published as engravings in Philosophical Transactions in 1825 following its unwrapping and dissection by Dr Granville at the Royal Society, they have now been published in our history of science journal Notes and Records for the first time.
A scientific gore-fest
More mummies to end our Halloween special, but we’re leaping from anatomical illustration to state of the art mass spectrometry. This paper identified proteins from 4200 year old skin and muscle biopsies from ancient Egyptian mummies, including collagens and keratins, the latter thought to provide evidence of inflammation which may have been the cause of death.
Another used gas chromatography mass spectrometry to understand the role of petroleum bitumen used in the mummification process ancient Egyptians, considering both a quantitative and historical context.
What ghostly papers can you find?
Take a look at our archive: 350+ years of research papers, reviews, opinions pieces, memoirs, special features and much more, is free to access until 6th November.