Teratology

Monsters fascinated scientists in the 19th century. In addition reminding of classical visions drawn from mythology, they carry within the mysteries of the formation of the body, this embryology that was just beginning to develop at the time. Veterinarians, however, looked at them for an entirely different purpose, and the monstrous foetus often could not be removed spontaneously and naturally. Numerous females were unable to deliver them.

Teratology is the science that studies the anomalies and monstrosities of living beings.

The veterinarian had to identify the defect in order to consider a therapeutic strategy and perform an embryotomy, which was often the only way to save the mother before the development of the caesarean section in the 20th century. This dual interest — scientific and practical— explains the abundance of teratology collections in veterinary schools. The most impressive collection is probably the one created by Professor Lesbre at the School of Lyon.

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