eBay banned sales of all human body parts except hair after a study revealed that 454 human skulls were listed for sale over 7 months
Of the two dozen human skulls listed on eBay last Thursday, most were described as tools for medical study. Three were marketed simply as creepy curios.
Ever feel like you’ve been dropped into an episode of t.v. series “Bones”?
Weirdly, until last week eBay allowed the sale of “skulls and skeletons intended for medical use”.
But there was no proof required that the skulls were for medical use.
People could still purchase and sell them on as morbid curios.
California was the biggest skull seller, with Missouri just behind.
Many of the human skulls may have come from India and China.
Though China and India have now banned the export of human remains, many imported skeletons could stay on the US market.
“We should have strong moral problems with that,” said Tanya Marsh, from Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
“They don’t say how long the skeletons have been skeletons.”
Speaking to the New Scientist, she added: “It’s possible that some of them are disinterred human remains.”
“The sale of these skulls is just a symptom of the wider problem of the trade in human body parts,” Michele Goodwin, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts, told BuzzFeed News.
“There is a history of anatomical grave robbing in this country that goes back to the Civil War, and the laws have never been properly straightened out.”
While there’s a US law banning the sale of Native American remains, there is no other federal regulation on the sale of human skulls online, meaning that it’s up to states to keep watch (or not).
The study concludes that the public still sees buying a dead person’s skull as harmless “curio collecting,” rather than a morbid hobby that might incite grave robbing.
The sale tag for a human skull? The opening bid for a skull averaged $648.63, but went as high as $5,500.
Journal reference: Journal of Forensic Sciences, DOI: : 10.1111/1556-4029.13147
Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.