Human beings have preserved all manner of themselves over the course of history. Case in point – mummies in Egypt. But it hasn’t just been royals dipped in embalming fluid; many famous people over the years have had their organs preserved, such as these fine fellows.

1. Galileo’s fingers, teeth and vertebra are on display in a museum.

Renaissance astronomer Galileo Galilei’s thumb and middle finger are on display at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy. The digits apparently snapped off in 1737, when his body was being transferred from one tomb to another. The museum also houses his teeth and a vertebra, and people flock to get a closer look into the man – literally. 

Vintage News

2. Albert Einstein’s eyes and brain.

Mere hours after Einstein passed away in 1955, pathologist Thomas Stoltz Harvey conducted his autopsy, removing and dissecting his brain into 240 pieces before encasing the segments in a plastic-like material called collodion. Through a series of events, several of these brain blocks are housed at Washington’s National Museum of Health and Medicine, while the rest are at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. Einstein’s eyes were also removed by the pathologist, and they’re believed to be in a safe deposit box in New York City.

History extra

3. Napoleon Bonaparte’s penis.

The French Emperor might have died in 1821, but his penis has lived on and journeyed forth long past that year. An English surgeon who autopsied Napoleon apparently removed his penis, after which it was seemingly passed down from generation to generation. It went from an Italian priest in the 19th Century, to a London bookseller in the 20th, to the private collection of an American urologist, who paid $2900 for it in 1969 and kept it under his bed in a suitcase until his death in 2007. In 2016, the urologist’s collection was auctioned, and Napoleon’s penis is said to have been among the objects sold.

American Grit

4. Thomas Edison’s last breath is preserved in a test tube.

This one might be a bit of a stretch, but it still exists. According to legend, automobile magnate Henry Ford asked Thomas Edison’s son Charles to sit by the inventor’s bedside during his last moments and hold a test tube next to his father’s mouth to catch his final breath. Charles then gave it to Ford, who was Thomas’ business partner. Now, it’s housed at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

Atlas Obscura

5. Pancho Villa’s trigger finger is on sale at a pawn shop.

One of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Revolution, this rebel general was assassinated in 1923 after his car was ambushed and he was shot by a group of riflemen. However, a severed and mummified appendage claiming to be his finger is on sale at Dave’s Pawn Shop in El Paso, Texas. The owner of the place refuses to vouch for its authenticity, so one can only wonder.


You have to wonder if these fellows knew what was in store for their bodies.