Incredible CT tech resurrects 2,000-year-old animal mummies

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Using micro CT scans, researchers created high-resolution images of three mummified animals: a snake, a bird, and a cat.

The samples date back more than 2,000 years.

With CT technology, researchers have a less intrusive way to digitally "unwrap" mummified specimens.

Johnston et. al., 2020

Animals were mummified by the ancient Egyptians to create votive offerings in religious practice. They were embalmed by temple priests.

Some were also buried with their human owners, or as food for the after-life.

Researchers estimate up to 70 million animal mummies were created.

Today, CT scans give researchers new insight. Tap to see what they learned.

Johnston et. al., 2020

Mummified Snake

The coiled snake, an Egyptian cobra, was a juvenile and had some kidney damage.

Bone fractures suggest the snake was killed by a whipping action, and that its mouth may have been opened during mummification.

Mummified Egyptian cobra head with open mouth.

Johnston et. al., 2020
Mummified bird

The bird specimen most closely resembles the Eurasian kestrel, researchers say.

Johnston et. al., 2020
Mummified cat

The cat was actually a kitten — aged less than 5 months old.

Vertebrae separation suggests that the feline may have been strangled.

Mummified cat remains.

Johnston et. al., 2020

"The hi-tech tools of today can shed new light on the distant past."

—Lead researcher Richard Johnston

Read more here about what mummified animals — like dogs and wolves — can teach science about natural history

S Fedorov/Center for Palaeogenetics

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