The missing human brains have been located... sort of.
The University of Texas at Austin said Wednesday the brains were actually destroyed in 2002 after faculty members determined they were in poor condition.
"We believe the workers disposed of between 40 and 60 jars, some of which contained multiple human brains, and worked with a biological waste contractor to do so safely," the university said in a statement.
Around 100 brains appear to have gone missing from the University of Texas at Austin, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
Professor Tim Schallert, co-curator of the collection, told the newspaper:
We think somebody may have taken the brains but we don't know at all for sure.
One of the brains in the missing group is believed to have belonged to Charles Whitman, a former US marine who killed 16 people in a shooting spree at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.
Any identifying information had been removed from the specimens, but Schallert said it would "make sense" that Whitman's brain was among the missing. "We can't find that brain," he said.
Professor Lawrence Cormack, also a co-curator of the collection, told the newspaper:
It's entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks.
Scallert's psychology laboratory could only fit 100 brains when the university acquired the brains from Austin State Hospital nearly 30 years ago, so the rest were moved to a basement at the university. "They are no longer in the basement," Cormack said.
The news prompted some to speculate on where the brains might have gone.
The remaining brains in the university's collection now reside at the school's Norman Hackerman Building, where they're being MRI-scanned for research and teaching purposes.
Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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