Why Do These Ancient Bodies in Italy Refuse to Rot?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Hypha tombicina — a tiny little parasitic fungus that creates a big impact on the deceased human body.

For hundreds of years, there was a mystery surrounding the Italian city of┬áVenzone, a small hamlet in the province of Udine. Scores of bodies were discovered buried beneath the town’s cathedral starting in the 1600s. The bodies hadn’t decomposed normally however. Instead they were somehow preserved from decay, their basic features mostly in tact decades after death. According to WonderCabinet, many residents would retrieve and commune with their well-preserved loved ones after their deaths.

In recent years, scientists have been able to place the blame of this mummification on Hypha tombicina. The microscopic parasite likely does it by rapidly dehydrating the bodies before they can begin to decompose. There’s some doubt that the Hypha parasite is the true cause. Some scientists allege the limestone present in the surrounding earth may be the culprit.

You can view some of the fascinating, terrifying results below.