In what sounds like a plot to a shlocky horror film, 100 brains have gone missing from the University of Texas at Austin. The brains, one of which belong to clock tower sniper Charles Whitman, make up approximately half of the university’s formaldehyde-preserved collection.

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In a statement, the university said, “As researchers and teachers, we understand the potential scientific value of all of our holdings and take our roles as stewards of them very seriously. We are committed to treating the brain specimens with respect and are disheartened to learn that some of them may be unaccounted for.”

The statement continues, “The university plans to investigate the circumstances surrounding this collection since it came here nearly 30 years ago. The brains that are now on campus are actively used as a teaching tool and are carefully curated by faculty. As our investigation proceeds, we will seek to confirm whether the specific details that have been reported about the other specimens are accurate.”

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Unofficially though, some of the campus’s staff believe the brains were stolen as part of a frat prank.Speaking to The Guardian, psychology Professor Lawrence Cormack, said: “It’s entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks.”

The university first got the brains from the Austin State Hospital 28 years ago under a “temporary possession” agreement. Most were kept in the psychology lab, but around 100 had been moved to the basement of the university’s Animal Resources Center. It is these that are now missing.

The brains were part of a study which involved them being scanned with high-resolution resonance imaging equipment. The university has stressed they are seeking to find them as soon as possible, so Austin students – if you find a brain in your dorm, please return it to the faculty.

+ The University of Texas at Austin

Via The Guardian

Images techbint and Robert Hensley