Experimental Embriology

The business of Embryologist Etienne Wolff, of Paris’ College de France, is to make monsters. His principal items of equipment are an X-ray machine, a few delicate instruments and an incubator stocked with fertile hens’ eggs. The results are enshrined along the walls of his spotless laboratory in row upon row of glass jars filled … Read more

Ideas in Society, 1500-1700

One of the most famous collections of prodigies was that of Pierre Boaistuau (d. 1566),  Histoires prodigieuses, extraictes de plusieurs fameux autheurs, grecs & latins, sacrez & prophanes mises en nostre langue (Paris, 1567). Very widely documented in many contemporary publications, the monster of Ravenna was one of the earliest monstrous births to attain international … Read more

History of teratology

Ancient times Monstrosities have attracted notice from the earliest time, and many of the ancient philosophers made references to them. Monsters possessed of two or more heads or double bodies are found in the legends and fairy tales of every nation. Hippocrates, his precursors, Enlpedocles and Democritus, and Pliny, Aristotle, and Galen, have all described … Read more

The Six Principles of Teratology

These principles of teratology were put forth by Jim Wilson in 1959 and in his monograph Environment and Birth Defects. These principles guide the study and understanding of teratogenic agents and their effects on developing organisms: Susceptibility to teratogenesis depends on the genotype of the conceptus and the manner in which this interacts with adverse … Read more