EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS, ΦΒΚ
It is engender'd. Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.
—Othello, I, iii
Caution! The evidence for this cross is extremely poor.
A supposed human-raccoon hybrid was reported in American newspapers in 1880. The following is a transcript of the report as it appeared on page 2, column 3 of the January 24, 1880 issue of the Memphis Daily Appeal, a newspaper published in Memphis, Tennessee (source) :
The Kokomo (Ind.) Dispatch, of the twenty-second, publishes a highly sensational article on the recent birth in that county of a well-developed, sharply-defined monstrosity, being half human and half coon. The truth of the statement is vouched for by several of the best farmers of this county, who saw the lusus naturae, and whose testimony cannot be impeached. At the very urgent request of the parents of the monstrosity, their names will, for the present, at least, be withheld from publication.About two weeks ago a woman living in Taylor township, this county, about five miles from Kokomo, gave birth to twins, one of which was a well-developed boy and the other a hideous monster, half human and half coon. The regularly formed child is now living, but its twin monstrosity lived only a few hours after birth. Every one who saw it at once remarked the striking resemblance to a coon. Its face was pointed, and looked like a coon’s face. It had four feet, resembling claws, on which were great sharp nails. It had a well-defined tail four inches long. It had no eyes, and its arms and limbs looked like the limbs of the animal it so strikingly resembled. Its body, or trunk, alone bore marks of human nature.
Our medical men are greatly excited over the matter, and great public interest is manifested in this rare and wonderful freak of nature. The theory that human monstrosities, embodying marked characteristics of human and brute creation, may result from fright or strong mental aversion of the mother during the period of gestation, has received strong proof in this case. This striking phenomenon is accounted for on these facts: The husband has followed coon hunting for a livelihood for years. His wife has always evinced a decided dislike for the business, and pleaded in vain with her husband to give it up altogether. Several months previous to the birth of the twins the husband had brought home a dead coon, which almost paralyzed the wife with a morbid fear and unconquerable aversion. In the light of science and medical history, there is nothing unreasonable nor incredible in this strange lusus naturae. It has parallels in history.
Cyclopia and anophthalmia seem to occur at elevated levels in distant hybrids.
By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).