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‘Complete lack of sunlight’ killed a Renaissance-era toddler, CT scan reveals

The child mummy, a member of the Austrian aristocracy, was found wrapped in a silk-hooded coat. (Image credit: Nerlich et al, Frontiers, 2022; (CC BY 4.0))

A “virtual autopsy” of the mummified remains of a toddler buried inside a family crypt in Austria reveals that the child died from a lack of sunlight, a new study finds.

Believed to be Reichard Wilhelm, the first-born son of a Count of Starhemberg, a prominent member of the Austrian aristocracy, the young boy lived during the Renaissance (between the 14th and 17th centuries) and died when he was just 10 to 18 months old. Yet despite his privileged upbringing, a team of scientists from Germany concluded that he experienced “extreme nutritional deficiency and a tragically early death from pneumonia,” according to a statement (opens in new tab).

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