Is it a vampire — or just a dead woman with a brick in her mouth?
An Italian archaeologist claims to have found the skeleton of a "vampire" among the bodies of plague victims buried in a mass grave in Venice in 1576, New Scientist magazine reports.
Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence says it was common at the time to place objects in the mouths of suspected vampires who had died of the plague.
That "prevented" them from chewing on the burial shrouds, which was thought to further spread the disease, he explained at a recent gathering of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Denver.
Borrini says his excavation shows the earliest "exorcism evidence against vampires," but another archaeologist dismisses the entire notion.
"Claiming it as the first vampire is a little ridiculous," Peer Moore-Jansen of Wichita State University tells New Scientist.