While trying to determine the cause of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun's death, one researcher found that not all of the boy king's parts were present and accounted for.
There are many theories as to what killed Tutankhamun: malaria, inherited bone disorder, sickle-cell anemia. Another suggests that he suffered from a genetic hormonal disorder that causes elongated skulls, an over-production of estrogen and, in males, can also cause breasts and under-developed genitalia.
Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass dismisses this theory — stating that Tutankhamun's penis is "well developed." But when following up on this, journalist Jo Merchant found a note from Hawass explaining that "the penis in question is no longer attached to the king's body."
I called John Taylor, who looks after the mummies collection at the British Museum in London. When Tut's mummy was first unwrapped in 1922, he reassures me, "the penis was there and was attached." The breakage must therefore have occurred in modern times, perhaps during a particularly brutal autopsy. (The wayward penis was reported missing in 1968, before it was discovered again during a CT scan in 2006, lying in the loose sand around the mummy's body.) The chest cavity was also damaged in modern times, probably by Cooper's team in 1922.
It remains to be seen what exactly happened to the phallus in question — or, still, what actually killed Egypt's most famous ruler — but you'd have to think Tut wang would fetch a handsome price from the right collector.
(Via New Scientist)