PerspectiveNEURODEVELOPMENT

Tossed out to save the masses

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Science  12 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6215, pp. 1298-1299
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa3261

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Summary

During the 6th century, the Syriac historian John of Ephesus described how the citizens of Constantinople disposed of the corpses of the deceased inhabitants after the outbreak of a pandemic spreading through the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. Unable to cope with the numbers, all mass graves overflowing, the emperor Justinian ordered the dead to be thrown into the waters of the northern shore of the Golden Horn (1). Fifteen centuries later, Herrgen et al. (2) describe a similar behavior by neural stem cells of the developing vertebrate brain: burying their dead at sea by throwing them into the ventricular cerebrospinal fluid.