What was Stalin up to? (Photo: German federal archives/Wikimedia)

Russian newspapers, the BBC reports, have been sharing an amazing story: a former Soviet agent “says he has found evidence” in the archives of the Russian secret services that Stalin had a special lab to analyze the feces of foreign leaders.

According to the BBC, in 1949, Soviet agents modified the toilet Chairman Mao was supposed to use so that it was no longer connected to the sewer system but to a special receptacle, from which samples were taken to the lab.

This seems too ridiculous to be real, but, coincidentally, Atlas Obscura received a tip yesterday that when Nikita Khrushchev visited the U.S. during the Cold War, the contents of his toilet were also diverted so that they could be examined for signs of physical illness.

It’s unclear whether this is true, but it does raise a question: Was everyone in the Cold War examining everyone else’s excrement? If anyone knows more about this (and has evidence to either back it up or prove this whole thing a hoax), we are quite curious to know more.

Bonus finds: Romans using ancient catacombs as an illegal dump1994 video of Vin Diesel playing with shark toys

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.