During a recent excavation beneath the streets of London, archaeologists found a total of 1,500 human bodies, many buried hastily in a wave of epidemics that struck the quickly expanding city more than 150 years ago.
In one coffin, archaeologists came across a grisly mix of bones from at least eight human bodies, many of them cut up and showing evidence of autopsy. But nine of the bone fragments were decidedly not human. They were walrus.
"It came as something of a shock," said Phil Emery, an archaeologist with a company called Ramboll UK, who led the excavation. The nine bone fragments came from a Pacific walrus that was likely 13 feet long, Emery told LiveScience.
Behold the walrus The bodies came from the old burial ground of St Pancras Church, and were interred there between 1822 and 1854, Emery said. During this time, London cemeteries were overwhelmed by the dead from a series of cholera, typhus and smallpox epidemics; the church and its burial ground, once outside greater London, have recently been engulfed by the burgeoning metropolis, he added. (8 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries)