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No. 122: Mar-Apr 1999

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Another Skin Shedder

In Biological Anomalies: Humans II, we define skin-shedding as follows:

"The rapid, complete shedding of the skin in large sheets, after the fashion of reptiles. This curious exfoliation often occurs on a rather precise annual schedule."

Bizarre though this phenomenon is, we have cataloged several cases in BHO15. A 1908 issue of the New York Times has yielded still another instance.

"For the twenty-eighth time in the last fifty-three years, William U. Cake, a linoleum printer, of 25 Cleveland Avenue [Trenton], is shedding his skin as a snake does. Instead of periodical casting aside of the cuticle, Cake is likely to shed his skin at any time.
"Cake has been afflicted with this skin-shedding malady since childhood. First, he is taken with a chill, then the skin dries up, cracks, and peels off entirely within two weeks. During this period he suffers agony because of itching. But as soon as the skin has been shed, Cake is all right again. He has several children, but none of them has manifested any symptoms of skin shedding.

.....

"The longest interval that Cake remembers in which the malady did not manifest itself was nine years, but his skin generally comes off once in two years."

(Anonymous; "Sheds His Skin Like a Snake," New York Times, July 30, 1908. Cr. M. Piechota.)

Skin shed from the hands
Skin shed from the hands of S.O. Buskirk, another "skin-shedder".
(From BHO15 in Humans II).

From Science Frontiers #122, MAR-APR 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss