The Notable Body Parts of 10 Historical Figures

Jeremy Bentham doesn't look a day over 273.
Jeremy Bentham doesn't look a day over 273. / Ethan Doyle White, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Before Jeremy Bentham died, he left strict instructions for his remains to become the first “auto-icon,” a straw-stuffed skeleton statue that would take the place of a tomb. Auto-icons, he explained, would save lots of cemetery space, provide scientists with a ceaseless supply of cadavers to study, and also “diminish the horrors of death.” Bentham did become the first auto-icon, but his mummified head was so frightening that it was replaced with a fake one. So where did his real head end up?

Find out in this episode of The List Show, during which Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy covers 10 bizarre stories about historical figures’ prevailing body parts. Some were lost, others were found, and one—Saint Francis Xavier’s pinky toe—was (purportedly) bitten off by a zealous fan. The toe was never swallowed, but the same can’t be said for King Louis XIV’s shriveled heart: a well-respected British geologist is said to have gobbled it down without a second thought.

Hear all the gory details below, and subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel for more fascinating videos.