corpse eating

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Tarrare was a French soldier commonly known for his extremely bizarre and downright disturbing eating habits. From childhood, Tarrare was able to eat extensive amounts of meat and was constantly hungry. His parents were unable to provide for him and he was kicked out of the family home when a teenage boy. From here, he travelled to France and became the main attraction to a travelling charlatan. Due to military rations, he would find food elsewhere and would eat live cats, snakes, puppies, lizards and even swallowed an eel whole.

He was the subject of many medical experiments in an attempt to discover what was causing his obscure appetite and cure it; these attempts were always unsuccessful. Whilst in hospital, he would sneak out to scavenge for leftovers in the streets and even eat the corpses inside the hospital morgue. He was later suspected of eating a young child and thrown out of the hospital where he seemingly disappeared for a number of years before appearing in Versailles. When he finally reappeared, he was suffering from severe tuberculosis which took his life in 1798.

An interesting piece of Rhode Island folklore is the tale of the tree root that ate Roger Williams.

When he died in 1683, Rhode Island founder Roger Williams was buried in an unmarked grave in the corner of his yard on what is now North Main Street. It wasn’t until 1860 when the decision was made to exhume his remains and give him a final resting place more in keeping with his place in history.

What was discovered inside the coffin was evidence that a body had been there, but also the root of an apple tree. It had grown into the shape of a body, with the top of the root curving where the head would have been, then splitting along the two legs and turning up where the feet had been. 

The root was preserved, and it remains today in the custody of the Rhode Island Historical Society. While historians discount the legend of a corpse-eating tree root, Rhode Islanders have held onto the story over the years, and the root itself is something of a tourist attraction. Currently it is on display in the carriage house behind the John Brown house, housed inside a coffin-shaped case and safe behind a wire cage.

Roger Williams’ official memorial site stands at Prospect Terrace, but his spirit lives on in the tree root that ‘ate’ him.

  • Chekov: Have you guys been fake-laughing at my jokes? Be honest. I promise, absolutely no ramifications.
  • Sulu: Well....we've been kind of fake laughing.
  • Chekov: Sulu, I hope you die a violent death and bugs eat your corpse.