Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 108: Nov-Dec 1996

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Hairy Rarity

Ordinarily, we avoid two-headed snakes, six-legged calves, and the like. Sometimes biological machinery sputters a bit and freaks (terata) result, just as Detroit assembly lines turn out lemons once in a while. Occasionally, though, we come across a defect so rare and curious that we must pass it along. So, here is the Summary of a serious scientific paper, along with a sketch, that satisfies our Fortean urge.

"A Burmese family with congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa [excessive hairiness] had an eventful history in the nineteenth century. The earlier members of this family were employed at the court of Ava, but the later ones spent their lives in show business, being widely exhibited for money in the 1800s. Their extraordinary hairiness attracted much curiosity, and they were photographed several times. The hairy Burmese are the only example of a fourgeneration pedigree of congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa, which is consistent with an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. There is good evidence that, when members of this family were hairy, their dentition was also deficient."

(Bondeson, J., and Miles, A.E.W.; "The Hairy Family of Burma: A Four Generation Pedigree of Congenital Hypertrichosis Lanuginosa," Royal Society of Medicine, Journal, 89:403, 1996. Cr. A.C.A. Silk)

Reference. Excessively hairy people are cataloged at BHA26 in our Biological Anomalies: Humans I. For additional information on this book, visit here.

Hairy 31-year-old Burmese woman Hairy 31-year-old Burmese woman with her 14-month-old son, who has long hair growing from his ear.

From Science Frontiers #108, NOV-DEC 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987