Mount Vesuvius eruption turned brains to glass
The heat from the ancient volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy was so hot that it turned one victim's brains to glass.
The unheard-of discovery was made by a forensic anthropologist investigating the body of a victim at Herculaneum.
"I noticed something shining inside the head," Pier Paolo Petrone told The Guardian.
"This material was preserved exclusively in the victim's skull, thus it had to be the vitrified remains of the brain."
It is the only known occasion of a person's brains being vitrified, or turned into glass, the New England Journal of Medicine reports.
The victim was a man of about 25, who was lying face-down on a bed when he was buried in volcanic ash.
The man's skull and bones had exploded, and his organs had melted into a jelly-like mass.
It is believed the skull exploded from steam trying to escape from boiling blood.
The heat, estimated to be more than 500 degrees, was so intense that it ignited body fat and vaporised soft tissues.
Herculaneum and Pompeii were both destroyed by the volcano in 79 AD.
The towns were buried in lava and ash, preserving the towns remarkably well and giving archaeologists a priceless insight into ancient Roman life.