A high school held a funeral for female skeleton used as a teaching aid for biology classes since 1952

·2-min read
Pupils of the Johannes-Sturmius-Gymnasium say goodbye to the coffin with the bones of a school skeleton at the cemetery, where they are being buried, in Schleiden, Germany, May 11, 2022.
The real skeleton of an unknown woman had served as a visual object for the students in biology classes since 1952. It has since been replaced by a plastic model.Roberto Pfeil/dpa via AP
  • A German high school laid its biology classroom skeleton to rest this week.

  • The skeleton, named "Anh Bien" — Vietnamese for "mysterious peace," was buried in a local cemetery.

  • The school has sent in samples from the bones to try to find out where they originated.

On Wednesday, a high school in Germany held a ceremony to lay to rest a valued member of the school staff — a real skeleton used in a biology classroom for 70 years.

The ceremony for the female skeleton of a nameless woman was held at the Protestant cemetery in the west German town of Schleiden, per the Associated Press. The AP reported that the woman, named "Anh Bien" — Vietnamese for "mysterious peace" — was put in a coffin that bore the symbols of major religions.

"We are indeed laying to rest a member of the school community to their grave," said Oliver Joswig, a pastor presiding over the ceremony.

The skeleton had been used as a teaching aid at the school since 1952, but was later replaced with a plastic model, per the AP. The school has sent in DNA samples from the bones in a bid to uncover more about Anh Bien's origins.

According to NPR, many schools and universities in the US may still be using actual human remains for anatomical studies. It was typical for schools to use real human skeletons up until three or four decades ago. The use and disposal of such human remains is regulated by the Human Tissue Act.

However, the provenance of such skeletons might be questionable in some cases, with a 2007 WIRED investigation revealing that some skeletons have been transported from countries like India and taken from remote villages without prior consent.

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