I have always been fascinated with crystal skulls, as much for their beauty as for their inherent mystery.

Perhaps the most famous skull is the Mitchell-Hedges skull. You may have heard of it before, especially if you have seen Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World, or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Fred (F.A.) Mitchell-Hedges was a popular English adventurer and explorer during the late 19th and early 20th Century. He was known for travelling far and wide, with his travels and expeditions often funded by The Daily Mail and the British Museum. In 1906 he married Lillian Agnes Clarke, and together they adopted Anna Mitchell-Hedges.

Whilst on an expedition to British Honduras in the 20’s, he reportedly discovered the infamous Mitchell-Hedges skull – which he dubbed ‘The Skull of Doom’ – in the Mayan ruins of Lubaantun. However he did not publicise the skull until the 40’s, which led some to believe that the skull was in fact a forgery.

His adoptive daughter Anna later claimed that it was in fact she who found it at the ruins of Lubaantun, in 1924, and that she was told by the locals that it was used to ‘will death’.

Mitchell-Hedges said of the skull:

“It is at least 3,600 years old and according to legend it was used by the High Priest of the Maya when he was performing esoteric rites. It is said that when he willed death with the help of the skull, death invariably followed…”

Since it’s exposure to the media, and the tours that Anna Mitchell-Hedges made with the skull worldwide through the 70’s and 80’s, the skull has been said to possess magical qualities. It was reported that it was always at a permanent 70F and that it was at least 12,000 years old.

Anna Mitchell-Hedges herself claimed that the skull could cure cancer, produce visions, and that she had seen in it a premonition of the assassination of JFK. She also claimed to have used it to kill a man once.

However, recently the skull was tested by the Smithsonian and it was determined that the skull could not have been manufactured by Astec and Mayan tools, and had to have been carved by modern tools. They estimated the skull to date back to the mid 19th Century. It was also previously determined that the skull was carved from a single piece of rock crystal.

Despite the scientific evaluation of the Mitchell-Hedges skull as a forgery, many people still hold to the belief that the skull has mystical qualities and many refuse to believe that the skull is something manufactured by modern man.

Who knows why the Mitchell-Hedges skull, and other crystal skulls like it were created. They could be ‘gifts from the Gods’ as some have hypothesized. They could also be receptacles of information, like an ancient form of computer; each skull containing vast swathes of ancient knowledge.

I believe that they were simply carved for the sake of it, call it an artistic drive to create something in mans image. Like a painting in a cave, and the carvings on Egyptian monuments, I believe that the crystal skulls are merely an expression of mans expressive temperament. Even if they are a bit mysterious.

Further reading:

Learn extensively about the crystal skull held at the British Museum:

Excellent article detailing the many different crystal skulls discovered around the globe:


The term Rigor Mortis defines the state of a body that has died, and the stiffening of the joints, and is Latin for ‘Stiffness of Death’.When a person dies, the joints become stiff and lock into place. Rigor Mortis usually lasts 72 hours.

Rigor mortis can be used in Forensic Pathology to help estimate time of death. The onset of rigor mortis may range from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on factors including temperature (rapid cooling of a body can inhibit rigor mortis, but it occurs upon thawing).
Heat such as that from a fire can speed up the onset of Rigor Mortis.


Maximum stiffness is reached around 12-24 hours post mortem. Facial muscles are affected first, with the rigor then spreading to other parts of the body.

The joints are stiff for 1-3 days, but after this time general tissue decay causes the muscles to relax.

After death, respiration in organisms ceases to occur, depleting the corpse of oxygen used in the making of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is no longer provided to operate the SERCA pumps in the membrane of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, which pump calcium ions into the terminal cisternae.

This causes calcium ions to diffuse from the area of higher concentration (in the terminal cisternae and extracellular fluid) to an area of lower concentration (in the sarcomere), binding with troponin and allowing for crossbridging to occur between myosin and actin proteins.

Unlike normal muscle contractions, the body is unable to complete the cycle and release the coupling between the myosin and actin, creating a perpetual state of muscular contraction.

So that is what Rigor Mortis is, and what it is caused by. It is worth noting that Rigor is very important in the food industry as not only does it have a major part to play in the preperation of fresh meats, it can also make fresh meat, such as steaks, much more tender and succulent after Rigor has passed.

I wonder if Hannibal the Cannibal had Rigor in mind when he prepared his victims…