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United Kingdom Government Idle

Badgers Digging Up Ancient Human Remains 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the someone-get-a-snake dept.
One of England's oldest graveyards is under siege by badgers. Rev Simon Shouler now regularly patrols the grounds of St. Remigius Church looking for bones that the badgers have dug up. The badger is a protected species in England so they can not be killed, and attempts to have them relocated have been blocked by English Nature. From the article: "At least four graves have been disturbed so far; in one instance a child found a leg bone and took it home to his parents. ... Rev. Simon Shouler has been forced to carry out regular patrols to pick up stray bones, store them and re-inter them all in a new grave."

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Badgers Digging Up Ancient Human Remains

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  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by sgbett (739519) <slashdot@remailer.org> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:07AM (#33891050) Homepage
  • Burying Bodies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DirtyCanuck (1529753) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:15AM (#33891068)

    Is it me or is the tradition of being buried becoming more and more ridiculous the further we venture into the reality that is the future.

    Frankly cremation is the current preference, that doesn't end in a badger exhumation.

    • by sgbett (739519)

      I was thinking the very same the other day, it's a fine example of 'doesn't scale well'. I'm carbon all the way baby. Liking the industrial diamond option (which I suppose technically, also doesn't scale well!) but hoping the price comes down a bit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tygerstripes (832644)
        So rather than donate you body to science, you can donate it to de Beers :-)
      • by BoberFett (127537)

        I'm intrigued by that company that will press your ashes into a playable record.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Have you signed up for their newslestter?

      • Re:Burying Bodies (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sznupi (719324) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:59AM (#33891236) Homepage

        It's quite the other way around..."natural" burials scale exceedingly well. Number of people who have ever died is estimated at around 100 billion. Add to that countless other species in the time span of hundreds of millions of years, I don't think cremation of remains (not to mention industrial diamonds) is anywhere near scalable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by beelsebob (529313)

          Indeed, the issue is that we still have an emotional attachment to the remains, and care that a badger digs them up. Personally, if nature wants to find a way to use my body after I'm dead, I'm happy.

          • I suggest Sky Burial then.

            Fun for for friends and foes.

          • by gmack (197796)

            Reminds me of when my friends were taking out life insurance and the insurance guy starts trying to change my mind about single guys not needing life insurance by saying "What happens if you die? Who will pay for the funeral?"

            I managed to get him to leave me alone with "I'll be dead, they can give me a 21 flush salute for all I care."

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by operagost (62405)
              Unfortunately, most areas have minimum requirements for disposing of remains and they aren't that cheap.
              • by MoonBuggy (611105)

                How about donation to medical school? They're always looking for corpses to practice on and they'll cremate the remains when they're done.

          • Personally, if nature wants to find a way to use my body after I'm dead, I'm happy.

            I'm not particularly Buddhist, but I kind of hate the idea of my mortal remains locked up in an airtight box 'til the end of time, cut off from the rest of the world and the abundant life around me. I'd much rather think of earthworms returning me to the soil so that I can keep being part of the "circle of life" and all that.

            • by sznupi (719324)

              It's BTW amazing to me how Buddhism appears to, basically, almost manage in making people value... cessation of existence. To long for such outcome, in a way (except "longing" is inappropriate description of course); how it won't include rebirth(*) doesn't change the end result.

              Now, I can't really know how it ends up in the actual folk flavors of buddhism, but it's a start / certainly seems to successfully convey more wisdom about our existence than premises of life everlasting (particularly its folk "we'll

        • by sgbett (739519)

          You are right I shouldn't have said natural burial doesn't scale. Of course, I didn't though. The parent talked about the tradition of burial, in the UK (where the story is at) that means a graveyard.

          Graveyards don't scale. Sorry for any confusion.

          • by sznupi (719324)

            And I should have said "can scale", I guess. Yes, many modern implementations of leaving the body to nature are somewhat bizarre, to say the least. But it can work, does work for eons.

            • by sgbett (739519)

              Agreed, if people could get over the emotional attachment to dead body thing, then some kind of composting solution would be surely the most eco-friendly/responsible course of action.

              • by sznupi (719324)

                Certainly there are "compromises" possible which would only require a small push in the right direction.

                Many cemeteries are already also quite pleasant inner-city parks, for example [wikipedia.org]. Burying bodies on a side in a way allowing active decomposition / for the plants to sensibly benefit, plus some memorial wall - that should be quite quickly accepted. Some customs are reasonably close already [wikipedia.org] (yeah, we can gather the bones after decomposition like that too, why not)

                Unfortunately, I imagine there would serious p

                • by cusco (717999)
                  The graveyard in Seattle where Bruce Lee and Jimmy Hendricks are buried has a great view of downtown and the mountains, and is a favorite picnic spot.
      • by artg (24127)
        Burying people scales fine, at least for number if not for localised rate. The problem is with reserving the places they're buried in for a period much longer than their actual life. We should fill a graveyard, then reuse it as a field and move the burying onto another place. A period of say, 100 years between burying and growing would leave adequate time for direct relatives to feel their loved ones were respected. Turning perfectly good fertilizer into carbon, on the other hand, is silly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Clueless Nick (883532)

      Donate eyes, liver, kidneys or whichever organs can survive 'death', and cremate the remainder. There will only be a finite number of corpses that medical research can accept.

      On the other hand, if we cease to exist when we die, how can we decide what to do with the corpse after death? It should be left to the family members or community or government to decide how to recycle or treat the waste.

      Next up: flamewars about inheritance and communism

    • by asliarun (636603) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:29AM (#33891112)

      I totally agree. Only a human being faces the possibility of being badgered in both life and in death.

      • Only a human being faces the possibility of being badgered in both life and in death.

        Badgers also have that problem.

    • Strange, I have the completely opposite view. Why waste fuel on cremation when you can just bury them. Carbon is stored in the ground and some nutrients are returned to the soil.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sgbett (739519)

        Because you can't build on the land for several hundred, if not thousands of years. In some countries that's a problem.

      • Agreed. Graves are a good carbon-sink :-)
      • Traditional burial apparently takes place too deep for aerobic decomposition to take place. Embalming fluids, some medication and food additives, various metals in prostheses (e.g. dental fillings) further complicate the matter. Of course, cremation has its own problems with some of these, apart from the huge amounts of (fossil) fuel required.

        Natural burials [wikipedia.org] and ecological burials [wikipedia.org] provide some (partial) alternatives.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lenawash (1905480)
      and the living won't be pestered with all those stupid zombie movies anymore.
      cremation = no zombie.
    • Re:Burying Bodies (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sznupi (719324) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:46AM (#33891184) Homepage

      Burning wastes resources... and for what? (well, in many places burying does, too - seriously, concrete tombs and metal caskets?)

      A solace for living participants that there will be some reflection about them; preferably in an orderly manner. That they will be remembered - but ultimately we ourselves don't treat very old memorials, very old customs, very old faiths as anything more than archeological curiosities.

      PS. Also, Ig Nobel 2008:

      ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
      REFERENCE: "The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach," Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino, Geoarchaeology, vol. 18, no. 4, April 2003, pp. 433-60.

    • It's a nice idea, but there are one or two [wikipedia.org]religions that forbid or strongly discourage cremation. In fact, the preference for burial may (or may not; I didn't attempt a census) include a majority of the world's population. Are you sure that it's the current preference, badger exhumations aside?
    • by MikeFM (12491)

      I want my head wired up and put in a jar Futurama style. My body should be frozen, shattered, and the frozen bits launched into space.

    • Cremation requires a huge amount of fuel.

      I suggest making biodiesel, pet food, and fertilizer.

      We could auction off the corpses for such purposes.
      Imagine them stacked on pallets with plastic straps to
      keep them from falling off and a plastic wrap to keep
      the arms and legs in. Corpse bundles would be rated
      according to estimated meat, fat, and leftover content.

      Buyers would get a chance to request individual
      auction for corpses that they find to be particularly
      desirable. Among other things, this would allow
      museums

    • by hey! (33014)

      Monasteries have long faced this problem. In Greek Orthodox monasteries, bodies are buried for three years -- long enough to reduce them to skeletons. The bones are then disinterred, cleaned, and transferred to an "ossuary" or "charnel house", typically sorting the remains by type rather than origin (all the skulls together, all the femurs together). Roman Catholic monasteries took this practice a step further in the 17th and 18th Centuries, using the bones decoratively.

  • Am I strange? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:37AM (#33891150)
    Am I strange? I quite like the idea oif my remains being eaten by badgers. Its part of the circle of life. I have always thought that the Native American tree burials and Zoroastrian towers of silence [wikipedia.org] are somehow very satisfying and symbolic of our return to nature.
    • Re:Am I strange? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mpoulton (689851) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:44AM (#33891176)

      Am I strange? I quite like the idea oif my remains being eaten by badgers. Its part of the circle of life. I have always thought that the Native American tree burials and Zoroastrian towers of silence [wikipedia.org] are somehow very satisfying and symbolic of our return to nature.

      Well, the badgers aren't so much eating your body as food. Really they're just pulling your remains out of the way of their excavation project. Rather than participating in the circle of life by providing nutrition to critters, your body is just annoying them by getting in the way of their homebuilding.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Or sky burials [wikipedia.org] (this one with photographs)

      But members of many/most(?) cultures prefer to perceive themselves as not quite succumbing to the forces around them in such "trivial" way; as something above them.
      Which, in the end, is part of few certainly still useful adaptations.

    • Re:Am I strange? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bored_engineer (951004) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:41AM (#33891390)

      Ya know: "native American" is not exactly a monolithic group. Being a descendant of north American aboriginal people, I just decided that I'm allowed to be offended for the entire group called "native American" when the label is misused. Not everybody who was here before the arrival of Europeans practiced "tree burials," so perhaps you ought to be more specific. Sioux tree burials? Nez Perce tree burials? Apache tree burials? Even this list [nanations.com] isn't all-inclusive of the methods used in north America (pre-invasion) to bury the dead. [smaller nit to pick: that should really be native American, no Native American, just as it should be western European, not Western European. It's not necessary to capitalize every adjective.]

      I'm sorry if the above paragraph is offensive; I don't mean to be. I do, though, dislike general assumptions or statements about aboriginal American peoples. We weren't (and are not) a monolithic culture.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        I'm sorry if the above paragraph is offensive; I don't mean to be. I do, though, dislike general assumptions or statements about aboriginal American peoples. We weren't (and are not) a monolithic culture.

        Not at all, I'm sorry I offended you. (incidentally Western European" [wikipedia.org] is standard). I was referring to a practice I had heard of and admire but really know little about. I should have at least put "Some" native Americans.

        I should have known better because I do realise how assumptions that you believe and follow a particular practice because it is practised somewhere in your wider culture can be can be upsetting if it is something that your particular group does not follow or recognise or even finds repulsi

      • that should really be native American, no Native American

        It's a pretty useful capitalization. I'm a native American, but I'm not a Native American. How would you prefer to make that distinction?

      • how did you indians get to north america from india before columbus?

        (yes, i'm joking)

        look, i understand why native americans are called indians: columbus got lost and thought he was in india. my problem is, it became readily apparent to everyone that he was NOT in india soon after, so why did the terminology continue for so long?

        i mean look at this:

        http://www.bia.gov/ [bia.gov]

        wtf?!

        why the bleep does the usa still have something called a bureau of INDIAN affairs? tradition? a tradition of stupidity? when the ambassad

      • by Mal-2 (675116)

        [smaller nit to pick: that should really be native American, no Native American, just as it should be western European, not Western European. It's not necessary to capitalize every adjective.]

        Yes, it is. A Native American is someone (at least partially) descended from pre-Columbian residents of the continent. A native American (no capital N) is the vast majority of the country -- every person born in the United States.

        Similarly with your Western European example -- a Western European is a person from Wester

  • Badgers? (Score:4, Funny)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:43AM (#33891174)

    We don't need no stinking...ah forget it.

  • If I had the choice I'd say: feed my remains to wolves, sharks, hyenas - whatever fits the food chain - and no badger would cause any issues when building its new home.

    Sadly that's not allowed in Germany and you have to get buried or burnt.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      There should be a loophole, in some (yeah...) circumstances, for sea burial.

  • Badger whatchoo diggin' there/With your bum up in the air?

    Shaft!

    Why you movin' body parts/Skulls and legs and even hearts?

    Shaft!

    You say that mine shaft's a badger house?

    Shut yo' mouth!

    Gonna dig it!

  • Well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Syberz (1170343) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @07:45AM (#33891870) Homepage

    It looks like nobody told the animals to...

    *puts on sunglasses* ...stop badgering the corpses.

    YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

  • Oh sure... humans digging up ancient badgers isn't news, but when its turned around suddenly its "oh the poor ancient humans."
  • by PPH (736903)

    Fine with me. Just don't let them mess with the mounds of freshly dug earth in my back yard.

  • Bozons? (Score:4, Funny)

    by boojum.cat (150829) <stephen,langer&nist,gov> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:21AM (#33894790) Homepage

    The field next to St Remigius Church is said to contain remains of the main residence of the Bozon family, Lords of the manor from 1304 to 1539.

    The badgers are just trying to enforce quantum mechanics. The remains are Bozons, and belong all in one grave. If they were Fermions, they'd belong in separate ground states.

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