The University of Texas at Austin has lost around 100 brains- approximately half of the specimens the University had in a collection of brains preserved in jars of formaldehyde.
One of the missing brains is believed to have belonged to clock tower sniper Charles Whitman.
“We think somebody may have taken the brains but we don’t know at all for sure,” Psychology Professor Tim Schallert, who co-curated the collection, told the Austin-American Statesman.
Schallert’s fellow co-curator, Psychology Professor Lawrence Cormack, said that undergraduates may be to blame, as they have been known in the past to take brains “for living rooms or Halloween pranks.”
The Austin State Hospital had transferred the jars of brains to the University about 28 years ago under a “temporary possession” agreement. According to Schallert, the Pyshcology lab could only house 100 brains; the rest were moved to the University’s Animal Resources Center.
While the University’s agreement with the Austin State Hospital required them to remove any information that might facilitate the identification of the brains’ owners, co-curator Tim Schallert suggests that Whitman’s brain was likely to have been part of the collection.
“It would make sense it would be in this group. We can’t find that brain,” he said.
Prior to the brain collection’s disappearance, it had been moved to the Norman Hackerman Building, where each brain was being scanned with high-resolution resonance imaging equipment. According to Cormack, such images will be “useful teaching and research tools”.
This story was originally published by the Associated Press.