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Furry Freaks

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Frederick The Monk
303820.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:30 am Reply with quote

In 1954 Vladimir Demikhov shocked the world by unveiling a surgically created monstrosity: A two-headed dog. He created the creature in a lab on the outskirts of Moscow by grafting the head, shoulders, and front legs of a puppy onto the neck of a mature German shepherd.

Demikhov paraded the dog before reporters from around the world. Journalists gasped as both heads simultaneously lapped at bowls of milk, and then cringed as the milk from the puppy's head dribbled out the unconnected stump of its esophageal tube. The Soviet Union proudly boasted that the dog was proof of their nation's medical preeminence.

Over the course of the next fifteen years, Demikhov created a total of twenty of his two-headed dogs. None of them lived very long, as they inevitably succumbed to problems of tissue rejection. The record was a month.

Demikhov explained that the dogs were part of a continuing series of experiments in surgical techniques, with his ultimate goal being to learn how to perform a human heart and lung transplant.

What could be more horrific than creating a two-headed dog? What about keeping the severed head of a dog alive apart from its body!

Ever since the carnage of the French Revolution, when the guillotine sent thousands of severed heads tumbling into baskets, scientists had wondered whether it would be possible to keep a head alive apart from its body, but it wasn't until the late 1920s that someone managed to pull off this feat.

Soviet physician Sergei Brukhonenko developed a primitive heart-lung machine he called an "autojector," and with this device he succeeded in keeping the severed head of a dog alive. He displayed one of his living dog heads in 1928 before an international audience of scientists at the Third Congress of Physiologists of the USSR. To prove that the head lying on the table really was alive, he showed that it reacted to stimuli. Brukhonenko banged a hammer on the table, and the head flinched. He shone light in its eyes, and the eyes blinked. He even fed the head a piece of cheese, which promptly popped out the esophageal tube on the other end.

Brukhonenko's severed dog head became the talk of Europe and inspired the playwright George Bernard Shaw to muse, "I am even tempted to have my own head cut off so that I can continue to dictate plays and books without being bothered by illness, without having to dress and undress, without having to eat, without having anything else to do other than to produce masterpieces of dramatic art and literature."

When Vladimir Demikhov unveiled his two-headed dogs in 1954, it inspired a strange kind of surgical arms race (or rather, head race) between the two superpowers. Eager to prove that its surgeons were actually the best in the world, the American government began funding the work of Robert White, who then embarked on a series of experimental surgeries, performed at his brain research center in Cleveland, Ohio, resulting in the world's first successful monkey-head transplant.

The head transplant occurred on March 14, 1970. It took White and his assistants hours to perform the carefully choreographed operation, separating a monkey's head from its body and reattaching it to a new body. When the monkey woke and found that its body had been switched for a new one, it angrily tracked White with its eyes and snapped at him with its teeth. The monkey survived a day and a half before succumbing to complications from the surgery. As bad as it was for the monkey, it could have been worse. White noted that, from a surgical point of view, it would have been easier to put the monkey's head on backwards.

White thought he should have been treated like a hero, but instead the public was appalled by what he had done. Nevertheless, White soldiered on, campaigning to raise support for a human head transplant. He toured with Craig Vetovitz, a near-quadriplegic, who volunteered to be the first to undergo the procedure. The public is still a long way from accepting the idea of human head transplants, but if White has his way, one day it will happen.

PICTURE RESEARCHERS - Any of the Russian or US animals?,9171,891156,00.html

Last edited by Frederick The Monk on Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:37 am; edited 1 time in total

Frederick The Monk
303822.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:34 am Reply with quote

Here's a picture of jolly old Vladimir 'Two Heads' Demikhov

303823.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:35 am Reply with quote

Do we know the truth about chickens running around after their heads have been cut off? I have a feeling I saw this happen during my rural infancy - but on the other hand, the TV did used to show European programmes during children’s hour in those days, so I may be getting mixed up.

Frederick The Monk
303825.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:40 am Reply with quote

And here's the really rather frightening Robert J. White:

Frederick The Monk
303826.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:41 am Reply with quote

Not one for those of a nervous disposition - one of Sergei Brukhonenko's bodyless dogs:

304016.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:03 am Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
Do we know the truth about chickens running around after their heads have been cut off? I have a feeling I saw this happen during my rural infancy - but on the other hand, the TV did used to show European programmes during children’s hour in those days, so I may be getting mixed up.

I think we've covered Mike the headless chicken before haven't we?

Frederick The Monk
304027.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:14 am Reply with quote

If we've done headless chickens perhaps now's the time to do dogless heads.

304036.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:26 am Reply with quote

Don't know if it's true, but I remember reading that in the 19th century, when turtle soup was popular, the people who collected snapping turtles were advised not to handle the turtles head for a couple of days after its death, lest they lose a finger.

304478.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:03 pm Reply with quote

AP report, 10th Aug 2007:
PROSSER, Wash. - Turns out, even beheaded rattlesnakes can be dangerous.
That’s what 53-year-old Danny Anderson learned as he was feeding his horses Monday night, when a 5-foot rattler slithered onto his central Washington property, about 50 miles southeast of Yakima.
Anderson and his 27-year-old son, Benjamin, pinned the snake with an irrigation pipe and cut off its head with a shovel. A few more strikes to the head left it sitting under a pickup truck.
“When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger,” Anderson said. “I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose.”
Venom was spreading
His wife insisted they go to the hospital, and by the time they arrived at Prosser Memorial Hospital 10 minutes later, Anderson’s tongue was swollen and the venom was spreading. He then was taken by ambulance 30 miles to a Richland hospital to get the full series of six shots he needed.
The snake head ended up in the bed of his pickup, and Anderson landed in the hospital until Wednesday afternoon.
Mike Livingston, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, said the area where the Anderson’s live is near prime snake habitat. But he said he had never heard of anyone being bit by a decapitated snake before.
“That’s really surprising but that’s an important thing to tell people,” he said. “It may have been just a reflex on the part of the snake.”
If another rattlesnake comes along, Anderson said he’ll likely try to kill it again, but said he’ll grab a shovel and bury it right there.
“It still gives me the creeps to think that son-of-a-gun could do that,” he said.


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