Robert Wadlow: The Tallest Man Ever in Recorded Medical History

The world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow, was 6′ 5″ when he was 10 years old, and he never stopped growing until his untimely death at just 22 years old.
World's tallest man Robert Wadlow with his family in 1939
World’s tallest man ever Robert Wadlow with his family, 1939

Due to a hyperactive pituitary gland, an extremely rare condition which causes abnormally high levels of human growth hormone, Robert Wadlow of Alton, Illinois never stopped growing. At the time of his death at 22 years old, Wadlow weighed 439 pounds and stood 8 feet 11.1 inches tall, making him “the tallest person in medical history for whom there is irrefutable evidence” according to Guinness World Records.

Wadlow toured the US with the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1936, and made numerous other public appearances. In 1938 he participated in a promotional tour for the International Shoe Company, who provided his size 37AA shoes free of charge.

A Freemason and member of the Order of DeMolay, Wadlow had reached the level of Master Mason and was a member of Alton’s Franklin Lodge No. 25, where a room has been dedicated to his memory. His Masonic ring, the largest ever made, was a solid two ounces of gold, size 25.

Robert Wadlow at 10 years old
Robert Wadlow at 10 years old

Wadlow died on July 15, 1940, due to an infected blister caused by the a poorly fit pair of new braces he required to walk, since he didn’t have much feeling in his legs and feet. He was buried in Upper Alton’s Oakwood Cemetery in a 10 foot 9 inch long steel coffin that weighed 1,000 pounds, custom made by the Grand Traverse Metal Casket Company in Traverse City, Michigan. The coffin stuck out several feet from the back of the hearse, and 12 pallbearers and 8 assistants were needed to carry it. Wadlow was interred in a vault of solid concrete to prevent any attempt at stealing his remains.

The massive coffin of Robert Wadlow
The 10′ 9″ steel coffin for the tallest man in the world, 1940

His family destroyed most of his belongings to prevent collectors from buying and displaying his clothing and other possessions as “freak” memorabilia. Several of his shoes, however, are on display in various places around the country including Snyder’s Shoes in Manistee, MI where Wadlow lived at the time of his death, Plymouth Historical Museum in Plymouth, MI, Hayes Family Shoe Store in Cuba, MO, and the Giant Shoe Museum in Seattle, WA.

Robert Wadlow at the Texas Centennial in 1936
Robert Wadlow with the Sons of the Pioneers at the Texas Centennial, 1936

Video: Timelapse Metamorphosis of a Hercules Beetle

Watch the metamorphosis of a Dynastes hercules from larva to adult rhinoceros beetle.

From the video description:

The Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules, Dynastinae) is a rhinoceros beetle native to the rainforests of Central America, South America, Lesser Antilles, and the Andes. They are large beetles, with some males reaching 17.5 cm including the horn, and a slightly iridescent coloration to their elytra, which also vary in color from beetle to beetle, and even depending on the humidity. Dynastes hercules is highly sexually dimorphic, with only males exhibiting the characteristic horn. Several subspecies have been named, though there is still some uncertainty as to the validity of the named taxa. Reports suggest the Hercules beetle is able to carry up to 850 times its body mass but actual measurements on a much smaller (and relatively stronger: see square-cube law) species of rhinoceros beetle shows a carrying capacity only up to 100 times their body mass, at which point they can barely move.

Life cycle

The larval stage of the Hercules beetle will last one to two years, with the larva growing up to 4.5 inches (11 cm) in length and weighing more than 100 grams. Much of the life of the larva is spent tunneling through rotting wood. After the larval period, transformation into a pupa, and moulting, the beetle then emerges as an adult.

Diet

The larval stage of the Hercules beetle will feed on rotting wood during this two year stage.The adult Hercules beetle feeds on fresh and rotting fruit. They have been observed feeding on peaches, pear, apple, and grapes within captivity.

Timelapse video of the metamorphosis of a hercules beetle

Victorian coffin with the body of a young girl inside found beneath San Francisco home

Identity of Young Victorian Girl Found Beneath San Francisco Home Revealed

After a year of research, the true identity of “Miranda Eve,” a 19th-century girl found buried beneath a San Francisco home, has been revealed.

The remarkably well-preserved remains of a young 19th-century girl were found during renovations beneath a San Francisco home in May of 2016. The neighborhood occupies what used to be a massive Odd Fellows cemetery, where some 26,000 were interred before the city starting relocating its dead in order to free up valuable real estate. The unidentified girl was buried 140 years ago, but while most of the cemetery’s residents were relocated to the necropolis of nearby Colma, she was somehow left behind.

Through the lead glass windows of the bronze coffin, the girl’s golden locks could be seen woven with small purple flowers. She was buried in an elaborately laced christening dress with roses, eucalyptus leaves and baby’s breath placed around her body. In her right hand she held a single purple Nightshade flower. Aside from some mold on her face, the air tight casket kept her pretty well intact.

Edith's burial dress and flowers
The girl’s burial dress and flowers (Garden of Innocence)

A cross of purple flowers buried with Edith Cook
A cross of purple flowers on the girl’s chest (Garden of Innocence)

Since she was found on private property, the city said it was not in their jurisdiction. The responsibility of dealing with the coffin and its delicate remains fell on the homeowner, Ericka Karner. Karner could return the coffin to its grave, or pay a hefty sum to have it buried elsewhere. She decided to turn it over to the Garden of Innocence, a nonprofit group that provides burials for abandoned or unidentified children.

Volunteers for Garden of Innocence named the girl Miranda Eve, built a new violet-lined wooden case to hold her and her original casket, took a few strands of hair for DNA analysis, and gave her a second burial in Colma. The group spent the last year researching, digging through burial records, plot maps, surveyors maps, cemetery maps, county records, and old photos to identify the forgotten child.

The coffin turned out to be an important clue. The Barstow Metallic Burial Case, touted to be the “perfect protection from water and vermin,” was only sold in California by one company, Nathaniel Gray & Co. Undertakers. In September of 2016 a match was found for Miranda in the burial records of the N. Gray funeral home. The child matched Miranda’s approximate age of 2-3.5 years, and was buried in the same style of coffin. She died of marasmus, a form of severe undernourishment which may have been caused by an infectious disease.

N. Gray & Co. Undertakers San Francisco vintage advertisement
1880 advertisement for N. Gray & Co. Undertakers in San Francisco

Researchers laid an 1870 map of the Odd Fellows Cemetery over current maps of the city, and compared known locations of cemetery landmarks to the place where the child was found beneath the house.

“The map pointed to the Yerba Buena section of the cemetery as being under the house at 26 Rossi,” Garden of Innocence wrote. “We searched the plot maps, we positioned the old crematory in place as it would have been in front of that house. The plot #2 of Yerba Buena was under the back yard of 26 Rossi. Plot #2 belonged to M. M. Cook.”

According to the family tree assembled by Garden of Innocence, the name on the plot map was the girl’s grandfather, Matthew M. Cook, who died in 1869. Using genealogy records, investigators identified a living descended, 82-year-old Peter Cook of Napa, California who knew nothing of his father’s side of the family. Cook agreed to a DNA test, which positively identified him as the grand nephew of the girl in the coffin.

Edith Howard Cook was born on November 28, 1873 to Horatio and Edith Cook, the report released Tuesday revealed. Her mother was the daughter of Peter Scoofy, an original member of the Society of California Pioneers. Her father tanned hides, manufactured leather belts, and served as Consul for Greece. They were married in 1870.

Edith died just short of her third birthday on October 13, 1876. The Cooks later had a second daughter named Ethel who, as the report notes, was at one time declared the most beautiful woman in America by a Russian nobleman.

Edith Howard Cook in her coffin 140 years after burial
A retouched photo of Edith in her coffin when she was found 140 years after burial (Garden of Innocence)

A public memorial service for Edith will be held at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma on Saturday, June 10th at 10am.

The Garden of Earthly Delights Comes to Life in this Mesmerizing Animation

The Garden of Earthly Delights re-imagined and animated with a modern twist for a recent art exhibit celebrating 500 years of Hieronymus Bosch.

The MOTI Museum in The Netherlands recently celebrated 500 years of Hieronymus Bosch with an exhibit called New Delights. The museum commissioned a company called Studio Smack to produce a massive 4k video installation. The result is Paradise, an animated, modernized, and mesmerizing contemporary take on the middle panel of Bosch’s triptych known as The Garden of Earthly Delights.

“In their latest work,” the press release states, “the group cleared the original landscape of the middle panel of Bosch’s painting and reconstructed it into a hallucinatory 4K animation. The creatures that populate this indoor playground embody the excesses and desires of 21st century Western civilization. Consumerism, selfishness, escapism, the lure of eroticism, vanity and decadence. All characters are metaphors for our society where loners swarm their digital dream world. They are symbolic reflections of egos and an imagination of people as they see themselves – unlike Bosch’s version, where all individuals more or less look the same. From a horny Hello Kitty to a coke hunting penis snake. From an incarnate spybot to headless fried chickens.”

“These characters, once precisely painted dream figures, are now digitally created 3D models. All of them have been given their own animation loop to wander through the landscape. By placing them altogether in this synthetic fresco, the picture is never the same. What the animation and Bosch’s triptych have in common is that you’ll hardly be able to take it all in, you can watch it for hours.”

Garden of Earthly Delights animated by Studio Smack

The New Delights exhibit ran until December of 2016, but Studio Smack says “don’t worry, it will pop up again somewhere.”

Iconic ‘Eye’ Windows Sold at Estate Sale of Wisconsin’s Amityville Horror House

Amityville Horror props were sold at an estate sale this weekend at the Wisconsin lakehouse that served as the iconic haunted house in the 2005 film.
Amityville Horror house in Wisconsin

An estate sale was held over the weekend, on May 5, 6, and 7, at the Victorian lakehouse in Salem, Wisconsin where the 2005 Amityville Horror remake was filmed. The sale drew crowds who either just wanted to get a closer look at the historic home, or were just interested in it for its film history. According to the Kenosha News, the film production spent $60,000 to fit the house with a fake facade resembling the notorious house on Ocean Ave in Amityville, New York where 23-year-old Ronald J. DeFeo Jr. murdered his entire family in 1974.

Amongst the various items for sale over the weekend was a bed used by actor Ryan Reynolds to shoot a scene, available for $70, and the iconic “eye” windows from the facade, which sold for $300 each.

The house, known as Oakwood Manor, is also for sale. The massive 3,548-square-foot Queen Anne built circa 1880 includes six bedrooms, two bathrooms, original wood staircase, an enclosed wrap-around porch, a one-lane bowling alley in a separate building on the property, 500 feet of lakefront property on Silver Lake, and a boathouse and gazebo overlooking the lake.

The Amityville Horror house in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Amityville Horror house

Wisconsin Amityville Horror house entrance

Landing and stained glass window

Amityville Horror house dining room

Wisconsin Amityville Horror house gazebo and boat house

Wisconsin Amityville Horror house bowling alley

But does it come with any ghosts? Probably not, since it’s a long way from the real Amityville Horror. Also, the real estate listing does not include a Native American burial ground.

A house this old, though, is sure to have some stories of its own.

Wisconsin house used in Amityville Horror 2005
The house as seen in The Amityville Horror (2005)