Collecting Monstrosity

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By Science History Institute. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

We’ve long been fascinated by the mysteries of reproduction. But that curiosity is piqued most intensely when something unexpected happens. The study of such “monstrous births,” as scientists once called them, propelled forward our understanding of how embryos and fetuses develop. And the key to unlocking this knowledge was found gathering dust in the basement of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in a macabre collection assembled by Czar Peter the Great. The story behind this collection reveals a little-known corner of the history of the life sciences and raises some big questions, like how do bodies we see as abnormal inform and define what we see as normal? And how does this influence how we think about disability today?

Credits

Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison

Music by Blue Dot Sessions: "When in the West," "Calisson," "Entwined Oddity," "Stately Shadows," "Louver," "Tuck and Point," "Our Only Lark." Additional songs by the Audio Network.

284 episodes