Monday, 20 January 2014

Collections through Cake: Mummies Eyes


Whoever said Mummies Eyes had to be made of mummies? These eyes in question are in fact the lenses of the Humboldt squid and were used to replace  eyeballs in Peruvian mummies.* They were probably taken from one that had washed up on a beach in South America. 

The question of which Peruvian group these 'eyeballs' are said to belong to is absent from our information, but there is a good introduction to all mummification processes here. Peruvians used these lenses to replace the eyes of human mummies. They give the corpse a more life-like appearance. The mummies are placed in a sitting position on salt beds and occur in their thousands.

This cake was made by Liz, our Education & Outreach Officer at the Discovery Centre, who used all her cunning to create this masterpiece from bought items. I think it is probably the most inventive seen so far. 
Humboldt Squid are a really interesting species. They are predators and are known to hunt in packs. Currently, their population is exploding, due to a lack of predators hunting them. Populations are also closely linked to El Niño events. During El Niño years migrations of the squid spread and numbers increase, which may be linked to warmer waters. To see some footage of Humboldt Squid, have a look here.

Close up of the eyeballs - Liz made them from lemon and orange mentoes. Apparently the dust from the real eye lenses is carcinogenic!**

These lenses are unique on our collection and are the only example of (part) of a Humboldt Squid that we have!

* Some sources say this story is apocryphal.

** Don't worry, we are always very careful with our handling of them. And it is in HUGE quantities.

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