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Famous corpses we have known

When yer dead, yer gone and that's it -- or so they say. Ashes to ashes, right? Not necessarily: here's a list of people who refused to molder quietly into that good grave; who nature, and/or some very strange morticians, decided to keep around for awhile longer.

Vladimir Lenin

According to Uncle John (king of bathroom books), more people have seen Lenin's mummy than any other mummy in history. The man shuffled off this mortal coil in 1924, but to look at him today, hyber-embalmed and lying in an airtight glass coffin in his humidity- and temperature-controlled mausoleum in Red Square, you'd think he kicked it last week. Despite his requests for a modest burial, a few days after his death, a team of Soviet scientists began working to preserve him forever. This "body brigade" has been on the job for 83 years now, giving Lenin a thorough dusting and embalming touch-up twice a week, not to mention a new hand-tailored suit every eighteen months. Lucky stiff.

Jeremy Bentham
Jbentham.600px.jpgMeet Jeremy Bentham. One of 18th century England's foremost thinkers, he was by most standards a genius, and by all accounts, a pretty eccentric fella. To wit: his will mandated that his body be preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet at University College London, which he founded. It sits there today, at the end of a hall, wearing the same clothes he wore when he was alive. His head, badly damaged in the preservation process, sits in a jar at his feet. The "Auto-Icon," as it is known, is hauled out for University Council meetings from time to time, at which Bentham is listed on the official register as "present but not voting."

The Tollund Man
Homme_de_Tollund.jpgNamed after the village of Tollund in Denmark he was discovered in one of those remarkable peat bogs in 1950, he was so well preserved by the anaerobic environment of the bog that police initially thought they had stumbled upon a recent murder. In fact, T.M. died in the 4th century B.C., with the rope that hanged him still around his neck. Some experts speculate that he was ritually drowned in the bog as part of the cult of Nerthus, the Danish subjugation of which a few centuries later lay behind the epic Beowulf. (Don't expect the Tollund Man to show up in a supporting role in Robert Zemeckis' new adaptation, however; word on the street is that it's all about Angelina Jolie -- or rather her strange, motion-captured avatar -- being half-nude throughout.)

Otzi the Iceman
OetzitheIceman-glacier-199109b.jpgOtzi died after a skirmish in the Ötztal Alps about 5,000 years ago. Having been preserved by a glacier and rediscovered in 1999 by hikers, his body and tools have been a veritable smorgasbord for anthropologists. Being 53 centuries old makes him Europe's oldest mummy, and something of a cult icon. A footwear company is developing a shoe based on the ones Otzi was wearing (between those and McFlys, you'd have quite the anachronistic shoe collection). X-rays have revealed that Otzi was also one of history's most illustrated men, sporting more than 57 tattoos.

Lucy: now on tour!
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Discovered on an African dig in 1974, Lucy is one of the oldest known hominid fossils ever discovered -- more than 3.2 million years. Named for the Beatles' famous ode to LSD -- which was on heavy rotation in the anthropologists' camp during the dig -- Lucy is just 3.5 feet tall, a member of the Australopithecus afarensis species. Long kept locked away in an Addis Ababa museum, she's now preparing for a six-year tour of the U.S., which will help to raise funds for the impoverished museum where she normally resides.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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