Friday, May 22, 2009

Genes of the Bearded Lady

Scientists have pinpointed the specific DNA abnormalities that gave the original bearded lady her lustrous face-mane. Back in the 19th century, Julia Pastrana wowed looky-loos and fetishists the world over with her masculine chin whiskers (a.k.a. her soup scoop, a.k.a. her poon broom). Turns out female beardedness is caused by a genetic disorder called congenital generalized hypertrichosis terminalis with gingival hypertrophy. In addition to a fluffy face curtains, CGHT with GH also causes distorted facial features and, occasionally, enlarged gums. Buy studying people with the same affliction, Chinese researchers have discovered that the condition is caused by a defect on chromosome 17; specifically, missing DNA. Though in the few who also manifest enlarged gums, there are four to eight superfluous genes on the same chromosome. This is all to say that one day you may be able to walk into your local designer baby lab and choose whether you want your own bearded little lady. Science! More details here.

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