March 6, 2006

Ripley's macromutations

Robert Ripley, the creator of Ripley's Believe it or Not!, had a thing for documenting macromutations, both in humans and in animals.

Most biologists believe that adaptation occurs through the accumulation of small mutations. However, some argue that macromutations (ie large-scale mutations) are responsible. This theory has generally been disregarded as the major explanation for adaptation, since a mutation on this scale is regarded as more likely to be detrimental than beneficial (eg. a frog with eyes on the inside of its mouth).

I visited Ripley's museum in Niagara Falls recently, and I got to see firsthand some of these oddities. I took some photos as I ventured through the facility (which, from the outside, resembles a fallen Empire State Building, including a defiant King Kong up top):

Two pupils in each eye.

Man with a horn sticking out the back of his skull.

Two-headed goat.

Two-headed magpie.

Two-headed boar.

An eight-legged frog.

This is most likely a fused twin rather than a macromutation.

Another fused twin.

One-eyed pig. Probably a fake.

And here are a couple of fakes:

Fur bearing trout.

The (in)famous mermaid hoax.

I love this one.

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Martin Striz said...

Re the one-eyed pig, actually cyclopia is a not-too-rare condition that has been observed in many species, including humans. Google / Image search "cyclopia."

Anonymous said...

Yes Cyclopia is a real thing and the piglet is probably a genuine example. Humans with the condition die soon after birth. A quick image search for Cyclopia comes up with some bizarre pictures.