Saturday, August 28, 2010

Magic Hair Balls, Mutant Cattle, and Nazis

My wanderings around the Abbey led me to some unique discoveries. First being four volumes of the infamous Mein Kampf by Adolf Hilter. I believe that one of these texts is actually a first edition in German, another is a first printing in English. Given the Benedictines originate from Germany and that the rebuilding of the abbey after after a massive fire that destroyed the campus occurred during the early 20s, it makes sense that some donors would have contributed significant books of the era. However, it seems kind of tragic that these would become hallmarks of that era of German culture. If anything these four copies of this text represent an interesting piece of history. Tragic history, but history. Let's hope they always remain locked away in their rare book room in the library, a curiosity that remains untouched.

On a more light-hearted topic, inside the museum contains a number of unique relics and artifacts that amuse and bemuse the public. As well as confound the knowledge of the masses. For example, bezoars. giant hair balls removed from the stomachs of pigs.

What is not included in this little sign is the belief that bezoars were once used by medieval doctors and magicians as the universal antidote for poisonings. The logic behind this baffles me. Perhaps people thought these would work like hair booms are used in the Gulf, sucking up oil and thus cleaning the water from toxic petrol chemicals. However, no such luck. Most people just held a bezoar on their person to imbue some protection and, well, died when they ingested hemlock, arsenic, or whatever else was publicly available and poisonous.

And finally, we are left with the great fortune of meeting the cutest mutant calves in the world. If you look at the cow above, those aren't udders. Those are an additional set of legs, pointing in the wrong direction. Bummer. Unfortunately, octo-cow wasn't able to run any faster because well, the legs pointing two different directions kind of neutralized any forward momentum.

This calf is what I like to think of as the bonus veal meal. One head and two bodies. All cuteness. And that is about all I can say about this little mooer.

I can attest that both of these animals aren't taxidermy hoaxes. Although I am quite fond of them, these are genuine oddities that were born nonviable and more that likely died within a few hours of existence. Fortunately someone had the foresight to preserve these specimen. 
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