Shrunken heads are exactly what they sound like. The practice has only been seen in a few tribes in the northwest region of the Amazon rainforest, but they have become well-known around the world. They were created after someone was defeated in battle; the loser had their head shrunken and sewn shut to keep their spirit inside, which prevented revenge on the killer later on.
To create a shrunken head, the skull is removed from the inside of the skin and boiled before hot rocks and sand are used to dry it. The eyes and lips are sewn shut to capture the spirit inside. It was also believed that rubbing ash on the skin would help this as well.
When shrunken heads became more popular in the mid 20th century, many people started to make fakes using animal heads or skins. Today it is very hard to find a real one, even in museums. There is, however, a real one at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia which we got to see.
This is a vampire bat suspended in a piece of resin! His name is Wilhelm.
The common vampire bat has specialized thermoreceptors on its nose to help it locate blood that flows close to the surface of the skin of their prey. They also have a special part of their brain, called the inferior colliculus, that processes the regular breathing sounds of sleeping animals that could be their source of food. Their saliva has an anticoagulant to help them feed.
Vampire bats are also unique in that they are the only kind of bat that can run on land. They also are the only species of bat to adopt a younger individual if something happens to that bat’s mother. In addition to this, they will share food with each other if a bat does not find any blood that night by regurgitating some of it’s meal into another’s mouth.
They have a bad reputation for biting humans, but they actually don’t. They focus on other large mammals, such as farm animals.
Species of vampire bat suspended in clear resin.
Size: 3″ wide x 3″ tall x 1″ deep
From: Unknown, but can be found at Evolution or Etsy
Price: Varies greatly