It began innocently enough. An Imgur user based in the United Kingdom posted a find on the image sharing website under her online handle, “RozwelliaCartereii.” This username, incidentally, seems to be a reference to Boswellia carterii, one of four trees from which frankincense – an aromatic resin used in perfumery and embalming – is derived.
“My neighbor heard about a skip [dumpster] full of stuff from the clearing of an old doctor’s house,” she wrote. “He brought it right over because he knows me well.” So, after setting the box down on the floor, Rozwellia flipped the old-fashioned latch and opened the lid. But the contents? Nothing short of terrifying.
“I live in Cardiff,” she wrote on her Etsy profile. “And love how I can pick up so many beautiful natural things from the beaches and rivers all around me. I strive to bring out the natural beauty in the materials I use.” Indeed, at first glance, the articles inside looked like they might make worthy craft materials.
To illustrate, take this interesting oval-shaped object, which resembles a bleached coconut husk. Surely its smooth, hollowed-out cavity would make it the ideal basis for a rustic wine cup, a cereal bowl or even an ashtray. But what was this peculiar gourd, apparently natural but as yet unidentified? A seashell, perhaps?
That being said, this second piece is much more distinctive and easily identifiable. In fact, it’s a grizzly human mandible, sans teeth. But if this was a discarded jawbone, then that would surely make the wine cup… a human skull. Wow. Just what else did this box of horrors contain?
The next thing Rozwellia pulled out was a gruesome old femur. Commonly known as a thighbone, the femur runs from the knee to the hip. It is the longest and sturdiest bone in the human body. But what was one doing in the box?
Next came the pelvis, which connects to the femur. Composed of left and right halves, it is situated in the lower trunk of the body. This body part connects numerous structures at the base of the spine and forms a cavity mostly containing the reproductive organs. Okay…
“It’s kinda hard to see in all the gratuitous pelvis shots but this was the point we realized there’s more than one individual,” wrote Rozwellia. “The two bits of pelvis are very different sizes.” Ah, so, Doctor Death was a busy guy?
Likewise, the scapulas – otherwise known as shoulder blades – seemed to indicate multiple specimens (or perhaps victims?). “Both the shoulder blades from the box are very different too,” wrote Rozwellia. “The smaller one is so thin it feels like a pig’s ear.”
Then, digging deeper in the box, she pulled out this strange-looking piece with an unusual curve along its length. So, what part of the human body did this come from? Linking the scapula and the sternum – the breastbone – it is, in fact, a clavicle, commonly called a collarbone.
And what goes with the clavicle? The ribs, of course, which encase the heart and lungs and together form the thoracic cavity. Oh, and by the way, contrary to a longstanding Christian myth that says women have an extra rib, both sexes each have exactly 24 ribs distributed into two sets of twelve.
Now let’s recap. So far we have a skull, a mandible, a femur, a pair of scapulas, a pelvis, a clavicle and an incomplete rib cage. An impressive collection, then, but not quite enough to build an entire skeleton. The assortment pictured here – which apparently includes delicate finger bones – will certainly help, though.
Ah, the pièce de résistance – a spine. Composed of no less than 33 bones, the spine is the principle supporting pillar of the human body. Curiously, the vertebrae on this specimen were connected by a length of string with discs of cardboard. The question is, why?
Well, inside the box, Rozwellia found a note on University College, Cardiff notepaper that read, “Dear John (or Colin), Herewith the 1/2 skeleton. It is nearly all there – some toe and vertebral bones are lacking. I think he’d take £35 (new ones are £80-£90). If you do not want it, I’ll pick it up if you let me know. Yours, Marshall C.”
The bones, it seemed, were nothing sinister at all – just items procured for anatomical study at a university. Nonetheless, they were extremely valuable – or, at least, that was the opinion of several commenters on Reddit, some of whom were green with envy at the discovery.
“Real bones have been hard to get since the 1980s when India stopped being the major suppliers of skeletons,” wrote one user. “Be careful, whatever you do with these. A med school might really appreciate them.”
Unfortunately, perhaps, human remains cannot be sold in the U.K. without a special license. “It probably would be worth a few thousand if I was in a place I could sell it but I’m kind of glad I’m not,” wrote Rozwellia. “It’s an amazing thing to have possession of.”
Indeed, but what about disembodied spirits? Isn’t she worried about hauntings? Apparently not. “I don’t personally believe in such things but a pagan friend was fairly eager to wave sage and salt about to move any occupants on,” she wrote. “His ritual smelled nice so I don’t think it did any harm :)”
At the time of posting, Rozwellia wasn’t sure what she was going to do with the bones. While she was considering donating them back to Cardiff University, she also seemed intent on building them a better box or putting them on display inside a glass coffee table. In any case, what a great talking point.
Whatever the fate of these skeletal remains, of course, it’s a good thing they were saved from the trash. It’s a great find and a great story, although many Reddit users seemed infinitely more disturbed by Rozwellia’s toenails than her discovery of anonymous human bones. Thanks for sharing, Rozwellia.