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As ancient and as obscure as are these records, Ballantyne has carefully gone over each, and gives the following lucid explanatory comments:--
"What 'ears like a lion' (No. 1) may have been it is difficult to determine; but doubtless the direction and shape of the auricles were so altered as to give them an animal appearance, and possibly the deformity was that called 'orechio ad ansa' by Lombroso. The absence of one or both ears (Nos. 2 and 3) has been noted in recent times by Virchow (Archiv fur path. Anat. xxx., p. 221), Gradenigo (Taruffi's 'Storia della Teratologia,' vi., p. 552), and others. Generally some cartilaginous remnant is found, but on this point the Chaldean record is silent. Variations in the size of the ears (Nos. 4 and 5) are well known at the present time, and have been discussed at length by Binder (Archiv fur Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, xx., 1887) and others. The exact malformation indicated in Nos. 6 and 7 is, of course, not to be determined, although further researches in Assyriology may clear up this point. The 'round ear' (No. 8) is one of Binder's types, and that with a 'wound below' (No. 9) probably refers to a case of fistula auris congenita (Toynbee, 'Diseases of the Ear,' 1860). The instance of an infant born with two ears on the right side (No. 10) was doubtless one of cervical auricle or preauricular appendage, whilst closure of the external auditory meatus (No. 11) is a well-known deformity.
"The next thirteen cases (Nos. 12-24) were instances of anomalies of the mouth and nose. The 'bird's beak' (No. 12) may have been a markedly aquiline nose; No. 13 was a case of astoma; and Nos. 14 and 15 were instances of stenosis or atresia of the anterior nares. Fetuses with absence of the maxillae (Nos. 16 and 17) are in modern terminology called agnathous. Deformities like that existing in Nos. 20 and 21 have been observed in paracephalic and cyclopic fetuses. The coincident absence of nose and penis (No. 21) is interesting, especially when taken in conjunction with the popular belief that the size of the former organ varies with that of the latter. Enlargement of the upper lip (No. 22), called epimacrochelia by Taruffi, and absence of the lips (No. 23), known now under the name of brachychelia, have been not unfrequently noticed in recent times. The next six cases (Nos. 25-30) were instances of malformations of the upper limb: Nos. 25, 26. and 27 were probably instances of the so-called spontaneous or intrauterine amputation; and Nos. 28, 29, and 30 were examples of the comparatively common deformity known as polydactyly. No. 31 was probably a case of ectopia cordis.
"Then follow five instances of genital abnormalities (Nos. 32-36), consisting of absence of the penis (epispadias?), absence of penis and umbilicus (epispadias and exomphalos?), hermaphroditism, imperforate anus, and nondescent of one testicle. The nine following cases (Nos. 37-45) were anomalies of the lower limbs: Nos. 37, 38, and 42 may have been spontaneous amputations; Nos. 39 and 40 were doubtless instances of webbed toes (syndactyly), and the deformity indicated in No. 45 was presumably talipes equinus. The infant born with three feet (No. 43) was possibly a case of parasitic monstrosity, several of which have been reported in recent teratologic literature; but what is meant by the statement concerning 'male and female legs' it is not easy to determine.
"Certain of the ten following prodigies (Nos. 46-55) cannot in the present state of our knowledge be identified. The presence of congenital patches of white or gray hair on the scalp, as recorded in No. 46, is not an unknown occurrence at the present time; but what the Chaldeans meant by ipga, pinde, hali riksi, and kali on the head of the new-born infant it is impossible to tell. The guess may be hazarded that cephalhematoma, hydrocephalus, meningocele, nevi, or an excessive amount of vernix caseosa were the conditions indicated, but a wider acquaintance with the meaning of the cuneiform characters is necessary before any certain identification is possible. The 'pieces of skin hanging from the head' (No. 51) may have been fragments of the membranes; but there is nothing in the accompanying prediction to help us to trace the origin of the popular belief in the good luck following the baby born with a caul. If No. 53 was a case of congenital horns on the head, it must be regarded as a unique example, unless, indeed, a form of fetal ichthyosis be indicated.
"The remaining observations (No. 56-62) refer to cases of congenital teeth (No. 56) to deformity of the ears (Nos. 60 and 61), and a horn (No. 62)."
From these early times almost to the present day similar significance has been attached to minor structural anomalies. In the following pages the individual anomalies will be discussed separately and the most interesting examples of each will be cited. It is manifestly evident that the object of this chapter is to mention the most striking instances of abnormism and to give accompanying descriptions of associate points of interest, rather than to offer a scientific exposition of teratology, for which the reader is referred elsewhere.
Congenital defect of the epidermis and true skin is a rarity in pathology. Pastorello speaks of a child which lived for two and a half hours whose hands and feet were entirely destitute of epidermis; the true skin of those parts looked like that of a dead and already putrefying child. Hanks cites the history of a case of antepartum desquamation of the skin in a living fetus. Hochstetter describes a full-term, living male fetus with cutaneous defect on both sides of the abdomen a little above the umbilicus. The placenta and membranes were normal, a fact indicating that the defect was not due to amniotic adhesions; the child had a club-foot on the left side. The mother had a fall three weeks before labor.
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