Strange Answers: Do You Sell Real Human Skulls?

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unearthed skeleton 2, originally uploaded by Boju.

As part of Dapper Cadaver’s on going quest to answer all the strange questions we receive, today I tackle a biggie. The selling of real human remains.
You might think it odd, but I get asked for human remains a couple times a day, and every couple of months someone asks if I’m interested in buying some human remains that they have, for some reason.

Here’s the short answer: No. No I don’t sell, No I don’t buy and No I can’t help anyone find anyone who does. The laws on who can legally buy and sell human remains are fairly complex, so the rule of thumb to go by is this – buying, selling, or owning human remains is illegal

That’s pretty easy. “Why is it illegal?” I’m often asked. Well, because the sources of human remains are, at some point, living humans. The vast majority of bones “on the market” don’t come from organ donors, they come from China and Indian, where even licensed sources are under frequent allegations of grave robbing and dealing in prisoner remains. The rest of the bones that are being sold are archaeological theft, contemporary grave robbing, war trophies, criminal evidence, and a mixed bag of specimens passed from hand to hand for so long the origins, legitimate or not, are long since lost. The burden of proof is on the owner – if you can prove you bought your bones from a licensed medical supply house great, if not, you’re looking at a range of allegations up to and including accessory to murder. Even the famous Gunther Von Hagens of Body Worlds fame has gotten in trouble with the law for having illegal cadavers

Other anatomy stores have gotten in trouble with the law and heavily finedfor dealing in endangered animal remains and/or human bones. At Dapper Cadaver we only sell animal skulls of common livestock like pig, sheep, and steer, and US game animals, like deer. All other animal bones, both pet and exotic, are replica. Even our exotic taxidermy is synthetic. All our human remains are replica. We divide skulls into 3 categories – Halloween or budget is the lowest quality, medical quality is anatomically correct standard quality. Museum quality is the closest you can get to legally owning a human skull. These are props that have been molded off of real human skull specimens on loan from museums. The anatomical detail and realism is amazing.

I have been a bone collector and a nature lover all my life. I urge anyone who’s interested in buying bones to buy replicas. It’s the only ethical choice. Otherwise you are supporting or encouraging a black market in endangered species, fossil and archaeological treasures, and human life.