When it comes to our brains, does size really matter? One of the biggest myths about the brain is that bigger is always better. But what about those who sit on the extreme end of that scale? How much of our brain do we actually need to survive? Looking through the archives of medical history, there are a number of people with tiny brains, or brains with huge chunks missing entirely, which defy all odds.
In a 2007 Lancet study, doctors described an incredible medical oddity – the 44-year-old civil servant who had lived a normal life despite having an incredibly tiny brain. The French man went into hospital after he experienced weakness in his left leg for two weeks. Doctors were quite surprised when they took scans of his brain and found a huge fluid-filled chamber.
The scans showed that the man had a “massive enlargement of the lateral, third, and fourth ventricles, a very thin cortical mantle and a posterior fossa cyst,” researchers noted in the study. In short, while fluid normally circulates throughout the brain, it’s regularly drained. But instead of draining the fluid into the circulatory system, the fluid in this man’s brain built up. Eventually, the accumulation of fluid resulted in only a tiny amount of actual brain material.
The man’s medical history showed that he had to get a shunt inserted into his head as an infant to get rid of the buildup of fluid on the brain, known as hydrocephalus. The shunt was eventually removed when at age 14, he complained of left leg weakness and some unsteadiness. The man went on to live a normal life and he got married and had two children. Tests showed that he had an IQ of 75 which, though below the average of 100, is not considered a mental disability.
“What I find amazing to this day is how the brain can deal with something which you think should not be compatible with life,” Dr. Max Muenke, from the National Human Genome Research Institute, told Reuters.
Soo, it's been some creative days AT LAST! And more will come. I've only just begun the drawing of the albino deer, so it is a bit messy right now.. and flat, as you can see. There is a lot of work to do.
All this activity takes all my energy and I try to keep it up with eating candy like crazy.. It makes me fat. Fat fat fat.. And the training has been on pause for a while which is NOT GOOD. But at least I'm having fun eating and drawing and eating a lil more.
The Lykoi cat is a new breed, one that's only been around for a few years. The name is derived from the word "lycanthrope," because its patchy fur coverage makes it look kind of like a werewolf. At Nautilus Magazine, Ian Chant explains how it's all thanks to a genetic anomaly that affects hair growth.
Lykois bear a mutant gene variation that interferes with their hair growth, robbing the animals of much of their undercoat and leaving them with hair follicles that are either unable to produce hair at all, or that can produce it but not maintain it. While they do have hair, it is sparse, and often missing entirely around the face and paws, lending Lykois a lean, slightly mangy look, with eyes that, unhidden by fur, give the illusion of being much larger than normal."These are the result of a natural mutation that appeared in the wild cat population," says Johnny Gobble, a veterinarian and breeder of Lykois. "They've been reported for years, but no one has tried to breed them because there were concerns about their health." Though the cats don't project the image of a hale, hearty feline, the unusual variety has caught the interest of cat fanciers recently.
So far, it seems as if Lykois are faring decently, as long as they're kept inside where they can compensate for their lack of fur with artificial sources of warmth. But all the Lykois are still pretty young, and some health concerns might not become evidence until they mature.
Of course, it's not always health that humans are seeking in a new animal breed—often, it's novelty. Breeders look for very specific traits and do their level best to not only bring them out but hone them to their ultimate expression. Pug noses get flatter, corgi legs shorter, and bulldog shoulders so broad that the animals have to be delivered by cesarean section. Rather than being weeded out as they are in nature, these mutations in breeding are prized, preserved, emphasized, and multiplied at grand scales. At its heart, breeding animals represents the industrialization of mutations.