Here Are The Unluckiest Skeletons And Fossils In The History Of Earth


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Comedy is tragedy plus time. POMPEII PARCO ARCHEOLOGICO

Time makes fools of us all. Whether you’re a badass ancient warrior king, the owner of a flashy holiday home, or the toughest dinosaur in town, your bones could still end up in a museum with gawking tourists laughing at the ridiculous position in which you died.

Here’s a roundup of some of the most unfortunate characters ever discovered by archaeologists and paleontologists. Often, these luckless individuals actually helped researchers make some pretty incredible scientific discoveries about the past – not that this is any consolation to them now.


The Second Unluckiest Guy In Pompeii

The remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum are full of unlucky characters. You might have seen this week there was a man who was struck with a giant rock when trying to escape its notorious volcanic eruption in 79 CE (pictured above), but there’s another man whose misfortunes approach that of our squish-headed friend.

Just before he was fried alive by the volcanic ash of Vesuvius, the man appears to have been in a position that looks like he is masturbating. Of course, we'll likely never actually confirm why he's in this suggestive pose; however, that’s not going to stop a bunch of humans 2,000 years later from laughing at him via social media.


Horny Daddy Long Legs Meets An Undignified End


While we are on the subject of being caught with your pants down, have a look at this ancient ancestor of the harvestmen. For eternity (or at least a long time), this daddy long legs will be known as the arachnid that was enshrined in amber with a massive boner.

Sure, this discovery might have helped identify a previously undiscovered family of extinct animal, but it’s still a pretty degrading way to spend 99 million years.

Look, it's an ancient harvestman's penis. Jason Dunlop/MSN Berling

Never Interrupt Someone During Dinner

In 1971, paleontologists uncovered the fossils of a Velociraptor locked in combat with a Protoceratops. The 80-million-year-old remains show the Velociraptor piercing its foot claw into the neck of the crouching Protoceratops, in an attempt to rip open its blood supply. In retaliation, the Protoceratops appears to have snapped the right arm of the Velociraptor.


However, these two were so busy fighting, they were totally clueless to an incoming sand flow that managed to engulf them in what appears to be a near-instantaneous wave. It's certainly a very cool discovery, but that Velociraptor certainly doesn't look so smart or tough now.

The famous "fighting dinosaurs" specimen. Yuya Tamai/Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0


Thought Your Week Sucked? Check Out This Tick's Day From Hell

This tick is pretty much like a prehistoric arachnid version of the man who was killed by the rock in Pompeii – so close to escaping, yet so very far.


Around 99 million years ago in present-day Myanmar, a tick’s day got off to a very bad start after it fell into a spider web. The run of bad luck didn’t end there. During its fumbling escape, it then became engulfed in a thick wave of tree resin.

Millennia later, the tick – still wrapped in spider silk – is now immortalized forever in a beautiful piece of amber. If you’re going to make a fool out of yourself, it’s better to look good doing it, I guess.


Moose Wars 

Not quite as scientifically interesting as the "fighting dinosaurs", but no less epic, here is the strange modern-day instance where two male moose clashed in a battle for dominance, became entwined and died, subsequently becoming perfectly preserved in ice. Typical men, eh?


Another Clumsy - Yet Very Important - Dinosaur

A few years ago, paleontologists managed to get their first ever fossilized soft brain tissue of a dinosaur. It was an incredible discovery, offering scientists a gold mine of new knowledge about the dinosaur’s brain power and potential insights into their behavior. However, it was only made possible thanks to an unbelievably clumsy Iguanodon that had an accident some 133 million years ago. The brain of this dinosaur was only preserved because it appears to have fallen into a bog of highly acidic slop. In the absence of oxygen and bacteria, the brain was effectively pickled, thereby preserving a mass of blood vessels, collagen networks, capillaries, and neural tissues that were later mineralized.

A CT-scan of the dinosaur brain. The University of Cambridge.


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