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The Girl Who Gave Birth to Rabbits : A True Medical Mystery
From Booklist:Mary Toft, a young wife in Godalming, England, supposedly began giving birth to rabbits in 1726. Once that became known, doctors were called in and investigations began. Toft went through labor pains and produced a number of rabbit pieces, some of which had skin on them. London surgeon Nathanael St. Andre came to Godalming and sold himself on Toft's veracity. Unfortunately, his ego proved much stronger than his ability to carry out a closely watched study. The nobility and even King George I became interested. Pickover describes Toft's cleverness and the investigations of other physicians who rightly concluded she had perpetrated a hoax quite well, and he proceeds from Toft and her misplaced rabbits to other human-animal relationships in a variety of cultures, explaining how they get started and develop. However unusual, the Toft case is a favorite story in medical history. Pickover retells it well, so those who enjoy offbeat stories and have strong stomachs will chuckle over its mixture of human creativity and gullibility.
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April 01, 2000
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