• We have updated the guidelines regarding posting political content: please see the stickied thread on Website Issues.

Teratology: Teratomas & Parasitic Twins (WARNING)


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2001
Medical extreme yuckiness (WARNING)

[Emp edit:


The biological study of birth defects.

The biological study of malformations and monstrosities.

[Gr. ?, ?, a wonder, monster + -logy: cf. Gr. ? a telling of wonders, and F. t['e]ratologie.] 1. That branch of biological science which treats of monstrosities, malformations, or deviations from the normal type of structure, either in plants or animals.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=teratology ]


One of the weirdest (accepted) phenomena in medical science is the teratoma. Teratomas are disorganised collections of human body parts (such as hair and teeth) growing as lumps on a person's body (adult or newborn). Found this quote on http://pub79.ezboard.com/ftheempireoftheforgottenboardfrm8.showMessage?topicID=4.topic

" Ok here is some creepy stuff. There is a kind of tumor called a teratoma. Its a nest of cells that begin to develop skin and neural tissues inappropriatly in spots they don't belong.

These tumors usually present as a mass or swelling that does not hurt, but which grows progressivley larger. The thing forms a cyst which, when you cut it open, is often filled with teeth, hair, skin and, in one very horrible case, a fully formed eye!

There have been theories that these are "failed twins" that the person absorbs before birth. In one anecdotal case from the 1800's an english guy was born with, I kid you not, a fully formed face on the back of his head which would grimace and scowl at random times."

--- end quote ---

Enough to put you off your breakfast, lunch and supper!

Does anyone know anything more about the particularly bizarre teratomas, e.g. the one with the eye inside?
Oh (replying to myself) - the face one reminds me of that William S. Burroughs short story "The man who taught his ass to talk".

Which is, of course, completely fictional. Anyway.
That kind of stuff is really...freaky, but also intruiging. Ever read 'The Dark Half', by Stephen King ?
I'm sure I read or saw something claiming that because these growths are composed of many different cell types, they also contain various nerve fibres... They can be caused to respond to certain stimuli!!! They can move!!!



teratomas are pretty interesting. They were the basis of research into cloning and stem cell research. what follows is from memory as i dont have my notes with me but In the lectures i went to we got told about work with mice where if you take a fertilised mouse egg (a zygote) and implant it under the skin of the mouse it came from then it would become a teratoma. But the interesting thing was you could take certain cells (stem cells) and they would grow indefinitely from this.
this lead to work with zygotes that were carefully looked after in a cultured medium. These could have their nucleii (pronucleii from sperm and egg) removed, replaced etc. so they had a somatic (tissue) cell embryo or two pronucleii from sperm or two from eggs. These could then be implanted in the womb and would grow into an embryo, sometimes, (those with two pronucleii from egg or two from sperm dont grow because of a phenomenon known as imprinting- i.e. certain genes have to be inherited from a mother or from a father "epigenetic inheritance").
I think there is quite a lot of info in Genes VII by bernard lewin
Did anyone ever see the movie "Basket Case?" It is about a parasitic twin who gets removed, and then goes on a killing spree. Sort of the same idea, I guess. Except for the killing spree bit.

Eeewwwww....thats horribly, disgustingly, revoltingly...icky and urgh...<pukes in paper bin>...GROTESQUE!:cross eye :eek!!!!: :madeyes: :cross eye
Couldn't agree more, the stuff there was fecking grim - especially the story of the woman on the underground accidentally eating the blokes phlegm :cross eye
Hmm, considering the reactions here good thing I didn´t go look at the site :) But I do remember the guy with a face on the back of his head. One of the yuckiest freaks I´ve heard of. Though I thought it was a lost twin. But the story goes that the face was able to follow people with it´s eyes and sneer at them. They guy also claimed it used to whisper horrible things to him at night. In the end he killed himself, couldn´t stand living with his "demon half" anymore.

Of course there is also an X-files episode where a guy has a lost twin.
Myke said:
That kind of stuff is really...freaky, but also intruiging. Ever read 'The Dark Half', by Stephen King ?
Yeah,great story, that guy has a truly dark mind.:devil:
Xanatic said:
But I do remember the guy with a face on the back of his head.

I've got a book with a photo of him in it on the bookshelf behind me. If anyone's really desperate to see it, I'll scan it in for them.
Evilsprout said:
I've got a book with a photo of him in it on the bookshelf behind me. If anyone's really desperate to see it, I'll scan it in for them.
Yes please.:blah:
The back-of-head face is nightmarish. If I remember rightly, the
story goes that it was dormant for years, then slowly began to
show signs of life. :eek:

There is also the guy with the double-decker head, but I think
that the top one one was inert.

There are lots of old engravings of blokes - seems to be a bloke thing -
with a parasitic twin emerging from the waist. These do not appear
to be like Siamese twins in that they are not usually fully alive but
seem to be sleeping.

Makes me feel glad to be purple. :cool:
I have a picture somewhere of this guy with a head on top of his head. Fake but funny...oh wait, its on the FT picture gallery...
Since we're being disgusting - I remember reading something a while ago (and no, not from a tabloid) about a woman who had some sort of tumor removed. Thing is, the tumor didn't stop growing and despite being divided time & time again, it's still growing in various labs around the world. Last count there was several tons of the stuff and it had actually been given a name (although I can't recall what - Elvis, maybe?) Some scientists declared it to be a completely new lifeform, and who knows, maybe it is...
iiw :eek!!!!:

Hmmm, I suppose it could act as a convenient sun visor/umbrella couldn't it? :D
Hmm, I also seem to remember the double decker head to be fake. But I don´t know where I got it from.

I know I´ll regret this but I´d like a scan of that Janus guy.

The tumor thing is the HeLa cells. Taken about 50 years ago from a woman called Helen La-something. I think it was in the ovaries the tumor appeared. But you´re right, the cells are still alive which is odd. Usually cancer cells die when taken out of a human body. But these seem to have become an independent lifeform.

I also read about a woman who had the lower part of a lost twin attached to her own lower part. Her husband sometimes had sex with it. Yuck! And apparently it even became pregnant once. I have the story somewhere along with medical references to who it was that examined her for pregnancy.
Parasitic twins

I read somewhere once (not very helpful I know, not having the source) that this is not uncommon, that as many as 1 in 3 of us has reabsorbed a competitional twin in the very early stages of foetal development. Obviously, some invisible vestiges may lie inside of many of us still. I don't know if it's an urban legend, but I also gather that surgeons see them occasionally but understandably don't report it to the patient! Any surgeons out there wishing to comment?
On a different tangent, but... A few years back I saw a documentary about testicular cancer. The narrator claimed that tumours are sometimes found that resemble miniature humans, the idea being that cancers mimic their immediate environment, so a lung tumour mimics lung cells... thus testicular cancer mimics the DNA found in the testes. Can anyone tell me if this is true?


would make a good sci-fi story anyhow - a tribe of 2 inch high tumour folk living in hospital dustbin.. mmm
Sounds a little like the accounts of late 18th Century microscopists, who thought that they detected miniature (male) homiculi in sperm!!!
Alistair said:
The narrator claimed that tumours are sometimes found that resemble miniature humans,

Urgh! That's so bizarre it can't be true... surely?! :eek!!!!: :cross eye :eek:
Well, if it is true you would expect that it would mimic the whole human. So the small human tumor would also have heart, lungs, liver... and testicles?
I think I saw that too Alistair. I also remember trying to do a web search afterwards but to no avail and my memory of it is pretty vague now.

Wasn't it that this is a particular type that grows from the reproductive organs and can randomly develop recognisable features like ears, hair and even teeth?

Jaysus, dread to think what sites you did come up with, using search criteria like 'testicles', 'small man', and 'teeth'.
er, mine probably. :p

This documentary, it wasn't one of those you happen to find
the same evening you discover tequilla?

The hair and teeth are surely a memory of the teratoma, while
the earlier post seemed to suggest a hominculus.

Tell me they are not associated with the testes!

Mind you, a lad once told me a very curious tale about a bin full
of tissues in his bedroom.

I did not investigate. :cross eye