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Julia Pastrana
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Oddity
    (circa 1834-March 25, 1860)
    Born in Mexico
    Born with hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth) and gingival hyperplasia (excessive gum growth)
    Exhibited in the US, Canada and Europe
    She was promoted as half-woman half-bear or half-woman half-baboon.
    She was covered with hair everywhere except the palms of her hands and soles of her feet.
    She was banned from Germany when obstetricians objected that pregnant women might miscarry at the sight of her.
    After her death, her manager/husband had her body and her son's body preserved so the show could go on.
    The mummies were stolen a couple of times. During one theft, her right arm was ripped off. After another theft, her son's body was not recovered until after it had been largely eaten by mice.
    She was a good singer and dancer.
    Naturalist Frank Buckland wrote, 'Her figure was exceedingly good and graceful, and her tiny foot and well-turned ankle, bien chausse, perfection itself.'
    She seems to have genuinely loved her husband, who unfortunately married her solely to ensure she would not leave him for another manager.
    She died of peritonitis five days after giving birth to a son (who was hairy like Pastrana and lived less than 48 hours).
    After various travels, her remains ended up in Norway, where the government stepped in to remove the mummy from display and have it transferred to a museum of medical history, where it would be available for scientific study (1996).

Credit: C. Fishel


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