Human Skulls Are Being Sold Online, But Is It Legal?
Last month, eBay banned human bone sales. But it’s still happening on other websites, and lawyers and academics are starting to take notice.
In 2011, an archaeologist in the United Kingdom picked out one of the many human skulls sitting on his shelf. The 17th-century European male was missing most of his teeth and mandible, but the skull was clean and generally in decent condition. The archaeologist photographed it, described it, and listed it on eBay.
At the time, the popular online auction site allowed anyone to trade in human bones as long as the remains were clean, articulated, and for medical purposes. The 17th-century skull was neither articulated nor did it go to a doctor, but it did fetch the archaeologist $750, minus the usual fees from eBay and PayPal.
This was the skull that started Zane Wylie’s obsession. Wylie was studying facial expressions,