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Pirates seized the symbol of mortality from ship captains who used the skull "as a marginal sign in their logs to indicate the record of a death."
Why is the pirate symbol a skull?
The symbol took to the seas as a form of shorthand for captains, who noted the sailors who died with a little skull and crossbones next to their name in the ship's log. In this way, seafaring folks came to associate the symbol with death–perhaps what inspired pirates to use it to terrify ships in the 18th century.
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