1852 Gideon Mantell's fused Spine

1852 Gideon Mantell's fused Spine


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A dorsal view of Dr. Gideon Mantell's fused and distorted spine preserved at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) from Hodgkin & Adams, Med. Chir. Trans 1854: 37: 167-80. Gideon Mantell, discoverer of the dinosaurs, died of an opium overdose to relieve pain on 11th Nov 1852. His spine was donated at his request to the RCS to elucidate a condition which had been a mystery in life. The spine went to the Hunterian Museum. It revealed curvature (scoliosis) and osteo arthritis - a long term condition exacerbated by a carriage accident nearly ten years earlier. Ironically it was fusion of the lower vertebrae that was a defining feature of the dinosaurs he helped discover. And the man who made that association, and who presided over the Hunterian Museum, was his arch-enemy Richard Owen. Though it is often said the specimen was destroyed in WWII, it was actually disposed-of to save space in 1970.

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