Oh, what would Buffy say to this? They've finally dug up a vampire.
A skeleton of a woman with a substantial brick wedged between her jaws has been exhumed by Italian scientists.
Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence came across this sad and lonely woman when he was digging up plague victims on the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice. The woman probably died in the Middle Ages, a time when it was believed that "vampires" were an actual cause of the plague.
These so-called vampires did not sup on the blood of their fellow man and woman. They spread disease by gnawing at their shrouds after dying. The brick in the mouth was invented to create something of a disincentive.
Many scientists believe that the vampire myth came to life because blood emerges from the mouths of dead people. This blood causes the corpse's shroud to dip and tear.
Dr. Borrini unveiled his "vampire" at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Denver last week. He made the bold claim that this could be the first vampire ever examined so intimately.
However, Professor Peer Moore-Jansen of Wichita State University in Kansas seems ready to bite Dr. Borrini's head off. Or at least to take a chunk out of his neck. He insists he has found similar vampires in Poland (I have lived there and I find his claim to be entirely plausible).
Ah, countered Dr. Borrini, but this is the first time we have seen "exorcism evidence against vampires."
So there we have it. I blame the early Van Helsing family myself. I believe they performed a large number of these mouth-brickings for many centuries before they decided that a stake through the heart was far more commercial.