7. Elmer McCurdy was an outlaw whose embalmed dead body was put on display and sideshows. People paid to see his body until he was forgotten. Years later, on the set of a show, a prop man thought he was a wax mannequin until his arm broke off, exposing human bone and muscle tissue.
Elmer McCurdy was an American train and bank robber who was killed in a police shoot-out in 1911. His dead body was never claimed, and the undertaker did not want to give up the embalmed body until he was paid.
So, he decided to put McCurdy’s body on display in various sideshows to make money. He dressed the corpse up in street clothes and placed a rifle in his hand. Advertised as “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up,” “The Oklahoma Outlaw”, and “The Mystery Man of Many Aliases,” the dead McCurdy traveled all over the country, being displayed to viewers who paid to see him.
McCurdy’S corpse even appeared in the 1967 film She Freak. In 1968, it was sold along with other wax figures to the owner of the Hollywood Wax Museum. In 1976, the body was used as a hanging item in the “Laff In the Dark” funhouse exhibition.
Around this time, the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man was filming on this location. During the shoot, a prop man for the show moved what he thought was a wax mannequin hanging from the gallows. However, when the arm broke off, showing a human bone and muscle tissue, everyone realized it was actually a dead body!
8. Real skeletons were used for a scene in the movie Poltergeist, and the film’s actress did not know they were real until after the scene was shot.
The 1982 horror film, Poltergeist, is one of the classics. Those who have seen it were long haunted by the film’s gruesome scenes. However, the scary movie has a backstory that is perhaps creepier than what you saw on screen.
In one of the scenes, the character Diane Freeling is seen being dragged into the swimming pool by the supernatural force called “Beast.” Though she manages to escape, she had to first face the skeletons of people buried in the grounds under her family home.
The spooky scene becomes even spookier when you learn that those skeletons were not plastic or rubber props. They were real human skeletons! In a 2002 interview, actress JoBeth Williams revealed that she thought they were fake skeletons during filming, but learned the truth later on.
9. The Sedlec Ossuary, a church in the Czech Republic, is decorated entirely by the bleached and carved bones of plague victims.
The Sedlec Ossuary, also known as “the bone church,” is one of the key attractions of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. Though from the outside, it looks like any other chapel, on the inside, the Gothic church displays one of the most macabre arts in the world.
Decorated entirely by human bones, the church has a bone chandelier, made of almost every bone found in the human body. The church also has two large bone chalices, six enormous bone pyramids, four baroque bone candelabras, two bone monstrances, and skull candle holders among many others.
As far as the story goes, in the 13th century, an abbot went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage and brought back some sacred soil, which he spread across the church cemetery. People found out about it, and the Sedlec cemetery became one of the most sought after cemeteries in the region.
Then in the 14th century, when the plague ravaged Europe, around 30,000 bodies were buried at the plot. The Crusades added 10,000 more to the already crowded cemetery. When the Gothic church was built in the 15th century, many bones were moved and stored in the ossuary under the new building.
10. If you hold a sneeze, you risk rupturing your throat, damaging your ears, and even suffering a brain aneurysm.
Sneezing in public can be embarrassing, especially if you are at a place where you are supposed to be quiet. However, if you decide to stifle a sneeze to avoid public embarrassment, you may end up causing severe damage to various parts of your body.
When a sneeze is in progress, you should just go with the flow. If you pinch your nose or sneeze into a closed throat, you risk causing injury to the diaphragm. You can break a blood vessel in the eye or cause your eardrums to rupture. Moreover, holding a sneeze can also weaken blood vessels in the brain and cause it to rupture due to increased blood pressure.
In 2018, reports circulated about a 34-year-old man who complained of a swollen neck, changed voice, and pain while swallowing. It turns out, he had pinched his nose to stop an explosive sneeze and immediately felt a popping sensation in his neck. After examination, the doctors found out that the man had actually ruptured his throat! (1, 2)
11. While performing an appendectomy, doctors once removed a malformed brain, a mass of hair, and bone from a teenager’s ovary. It was a rare form of tumor known as a “mature cystic teratoma.”
In Japan, surgeons were performing a routine operation on a 16-year-old female patient who needed an appendectomy. During the procedure, they discovered a tumor growing on one of her ovaries. A further inspection revealed a nightmarish combination of greasy, matted hair, a thin plate of skull bone, and a three-centimeter-wide brain-like structure.
No, it was not a malformed baby! The monstrous thing is known as a “mature cystic teratoma.” This rare form of tumor forms when a mass of cells inside the body grows into various different tissue types such as teeth, hair, nerves, and bones. The tumor tends to be benign and is usually surrounded by a capsule that makes it easy to remove.
12. Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus, turns ants into “zombies,” flooding their brains with chemicals and forcing them to go where there is just the right amount of light and humidity. The ants then die there, and new cordyceps grow from their rotting bodies.
If you know about the game The Last of Us, you have already heard of the cordyceps fungus that infects the inhabitants of the game’s world and turns them into terrifying zombies. What you may not have known is that the cordyceps fungus actually exists in the real world!
It is a parasitic fungus that mainly affects insects and other arthropods. There are about 400 different species of cordyceps, but one in particular, known as Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, turns ants into zombies.
The fungus infects foraging ants through spores and slowly takes over its brain. Infected ants become compelled to leave their nest in search of a humid microclimate that is ideal for the growth of the cordyceps fungus. When an infected ant finds the perfect spot, it sinks its jaws into a leaf vein and waits for death.
Meanwhile, the fungus eats away at the ant’s innards until it is ready for the final stage. Several days after the ant’s death, the fungus grows out of the ant’s body and readies itself to spread more spores and infect more ants. (1, 2)