Do you think it’s possible for people to grow horns? To the clear answer is no right? But taking a closer look into it, people CAN in fact grow horns!
The rare rare condition is known as cutaneous horns (No, this does not mean cute-horns like those fairytale unicorns.) So cutaneous horns or cornu cutaneum which in Latin causes unusual keratinous skin tumors to grow from the head and arms. these growths are made of compacted keratin, the same protein that makes hair and fingernails grow. Doctors suggest having them removed for fear that it might be cancerous, which is believed to be the case in at least one-third of these horn cases. But in the case of the other two-thirds of the cases that aren’t link to cancer, how do we explain those?
One of the earliest accounts comes from the middle ages. Mary Davis an inhabitant of Great Saughall near Chester, England who dies at the age of 72 in 1688 seemed to have grown 4 cutaneous horns. Her portrait hangs in the British museum, near the Enlightenment Gallery. Some of what the inscription of the painting said was:
“This is the portraiture of Mary Davis, an inhabitant of Great Saughall near Chester …When she was 28 years old an excrescence rose upon her head which continued thirty years…”
Now Mary had removed her horns. The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City California claims that Mary Davis’ sole remaining horn is preserved and can be viewed there. It’s framed too. According to an early visitor to the museum, “The horn was blackish in color, not very thick or hard.”
In the 17th and 18th centuries, these type of people were treated as both creeps and amazing beings. Some thought it was natural while there were others who thought of it as a religious omen.
But there also some other appearances of horns that were total hoaxes. Back in the 1880s and long before photoshop, pranksters in Bradford County, Pennsylvania were attaching deer horns to human skulls and burying them – to be conveniently “discovered” some time later. The reason is still unknown but the skulls did pass on to the American Investigating Museum in Philadelphia from where they’ve since vanished and presumed stolen. That’s just weird!
According to the World Journal of Surgical Oncology, when human horns appear, most commonly it’s the head, neck and the backs of hands that are affected. This leads many medical professionals to propose a connection between the growths and chronic exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. As most of those afflicted are of an elderly age (mostly in their 60s and 70s) – a survey conducted by the WJSO reported an average age of 57 and evidence seems to support the theory that long-term UV exposure combined with age-related skin degeneration may explain the growth of human horns.
Another case was with Madame Dimanche, a 19th century woman in Paris, widow in her 70s not only grew a human horn nearly nearly 23 cm (about 10 inches) long, but waited 6 years before requesting a doctor to remove it.
A wax model of her head is on display at the Mütter Museum, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, US so you can go see what she looked like.
Today in very recent days, this medical condition still exists. For example, an elderly Chinese woman, Zhang Ruifang, of Linlou village, grew a horn on her forehead that resembles a goat’s horn!!! The horn is 2.4 inches in length and now appears to have another growth emerging from the other side. People call her “Devil Horns Grandmother” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1256398/Chinese-grandmother-grows-devil-horns.html).
Another Chinese granny – Granny Zhao, as she’s called locally – has grown a 15 cm (6 inch) horn from her forehead. She’s 95-years-old woman and doesn’t show any signs of wanting it removed. She says “It causes me no discomfort, but blocks part of my view.” According to family members, the horn first appeared 3 years ago and was thought to be a mole.
A man, 93-year-old Ma Zhong Nan also from China, said his horn began growing after he cut his scalp while combing his hair.
Saleh Talib Saleh, aged 81, is from Yemen, and says he used to dream of growing horns. See, dreams really can come true!