Science has finally solved a mystery how how a 2,600-year-old brain could have survived until modern times in a mud pit.\r\n\r\nAn international team of researchers has published the answer in Journal of the Royal Society Interface; the group describes their study of the brain sample known as the Heslington brain and what they found.\r\n<p style="text-align: center;"><img class="alignnone wp-image-102558" src="https:\/\/see.news\/wp-content\/uploads\/2020\/01\/5e15d6e5bb92f-300x225.jpg" alt="" width="412" height="309" \/><\/p>\r\nThe story started in 2008, when a team of archaeologists unearthed a<a href="https:\/\/see.news\/?s=brain"> skull<\/a> near the British village of Heslington\u2014and to their surprise, it contained a small amount of brain tissue.\r\n\r\nIt had been sitting in a waterlogged pit, and even more mysteriously, no other parts of the head such as hair were in evidence. The skull was later studied and proved to have been approximately 2,600 years old, and from a male.\r\n\r\nThe question was how the brain tissue survived for so long. Typically, brain matter starts to decay just moments after death due to its heavy fat content. As part of later studies, the researchers found that no attempt had been made to preserve the brain, making its condition all the more mysterious.\r\n\r\nIn this new effort to solve the mystery, the researchers studied the skull at a molecular level, looking specifically for evidence of proteins known to be hardier than other types of material in the brain.\r\n\r\n<a href="https:\/\/phys.org\/news\/2020-01-clues-year-old-brain-survived-modern.html?fbclid=IwAR0OcK9pjWYkW3v_xqDl04_r6-yAyTXEa3B6mHGSHKwb_gVsqzoEGK45fhw">According to the paper<\/a>, "The researchers report that they found evidence of over 800 proteins in the sample, some of which were in such good condition they were still able to work up an immune response. They also found that the proteins had folded themselves into what the researchers described as tightly packed stable aggregates, which, they noted, were more stable than those found in the typical living brain today".\r\n\r\nSuch aggregate formation, according to the researchers, may at least partly explain how the brain matter was able to stave off decomposition. The researchers noted that the environment in which the skull was found might have helped, too\u2014the cold, wet, fine-grain sediment may have locked out oxygen that flesh-eating microorganisms would have needed to survive.