1000-Year-Old Mummy Died Of Constipation After Grasshopper Diet, Scientists Say

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Andrew Jose Contributor
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A reanalysis of a 1000-year-old mummy unveiled the tale of a man who was so constipated that his colon expanded six times, according to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The man, whose body was first discovered by Guy Skiles in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Texas in 1937, suffered from Chagas disease, which resulted in the digested and semi-digested food in his body growing bulky enough to press against his spine, a press release from the university stated. (RELATED: Man Cleaning Out His Mother’s Freezer Finds Mummified Baby Hidden In A Box)

Chagas disease is a common illness in Mexico, Central America, and South America, primarily spreading through human contact with infected triatomine bug excreta, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During his last two to three months, the man starved, according to the university. And grasshoppers, which people “rarely relied upon for sustenance,” comprised his final meal after his family had plucked the insects’ “extraneous” organs.

“They were taking off the legs,” Karl Reinhard of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln said. “So they were giving him mostly the fluid-rich body — the squishable part of the grasshopper. In addition to being high in protein, it was pretty high in moisture. So it would have been easier for him to eat in the early stages of his megacolon experience.”

Though the corpse’s bowels were initially analyzed 30 years ago, technological advances have permitted scholars such as Reinhard to review cases like this with “fresh, higher-resolution eyes,” according to the press release.

The “Skiles mummy” is among three case studies Reinhard and his colleagues reanalyzed for their upcoming chapter in the book “The Handbook of Mummy Studies,” the university reported

The reanalysis exposes more than just a few “clogged pipes,” it provides evidence of “early hospice care,” according to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.