"We said 'Ah, it's not possible!'" Unikel told Live Science. "She said, 'I am absolutely sure about this.'"
The pearly whites seemed to be in good condition, with even the roots present. The finding is even stranger in that someone would donate such healthy teeth for the statue given that the statue's mouth is barely open, and the teeth aren't even visible unless someone peers inside, Unikel said.
Finding the owner The teeth could have come from living or dead people, but with no available documents describing the statue, scientists and restorers will have a tough time tracking down the original owner. One possibility is that a particularly devout parishioner, or even many different people, donated the teeth. Another possibility is that someone extracted the teeth from an unwilling victim, but if so, the sculptor would never have revealed that fact, Unikel said. [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]
Donating body parts to a church or religious cause was common practice during the late 17th and 18th centuries. For instance, the Bishop of Guadalajara, Obispo Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz, donated his heart to the nuns of Convento de Santa Mónica de Puebla after he died in 1699. The heart was visible in a monstrance that only the nuns could see, Unikel said. And a Spanish government minister, Viceroy Baltazar de Zúñiga, Marquez de Valero also donated his heart to a convent of nuns, she said.