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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ghosts in the Womb

posted by on November 22 at 11:14 AM


That is a fetal elephant, in utero, scanned and photographed for a National Geographic documentary.

Here is a golden retriever:


Don’t they look like ghosts? Luminous, insubstantial, like they’re not really in the world yet, like they could disappear at any moment. I’d like to think of fetuses as tiny ghosts—that’s almost sweeter and more poetic than the theory of homunculi.

Slightly less poetic is this quote, from one of the filmmakers:

“Animals were trained to sit still near the scanners and we also inserted cameras into the womb via the elephant’s rectum—but it has been worth it.

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It's kinda like how scientists always look like they're working in futuristic space-stations in media images. With the right lighting, things can look pretty ethereal, even when they're not.

Posted by L | November 22, 2006 11:17 AM

How d'ya get to the womb via the rectum? That's some craaaazy anatomy...

Posted by giantladysquirrels | November 22, 2006 11:18 AM

my girlfriend is really looking forward to this one.

Posted by charles | November 22, 2006 11:24 AM

Hey, that's how you get to MY womb TOO!

Posted by monkey | November 22, 2006 11:33 AM

"we also inserted cameras into the womb via the elephant’s rectum—but it has been worth it."

But would the elephant agree?

And yes, elephant anatomy is strange:

Which leads one to wonder. Imagine if humans shared elephant reproductive anatomy. What would the Catholic church then have to say about anal intercourse?

Posted by kinaidos | November 22, 2006 11:35 AM

i love these photos. thank you.

Posted by kerri harrop | November 22, 2006 11:38 AM

These photos are beautiful. I always think fetuses are pretty smashed up in the womb, but these both look like they're floating in space. Lookit the liddle claws on the pup! Sweeeet.

Posted by genevieve | November 22, 2006 12:57 PM

They are pretty smashed in there at the end of pregnancy, Geneiveve. Curled into a ball, and in "slender" pregnant girls you can quite make out the baby's shape inside by touching the mother's belly. That should be a pic taken in mid pregnancy (human foetuses are that confortable around week 20). Pregnancy for elephants lasts 22 MONTHS, if I remember well, and that gives plenty of time to get a good pic.

Posted by tinydoc | November 22, 2006 2:25 PM

Thanks for the info, tinydoc. Both of these fetuses look so fully formed that I assumed they were near the end of term. Even their proportions seem right. The elephant, well, looks like an elephant (due to the long gestation, I guess?), and the dog looks like a newborn puppy (helloooooo big head!).

Posted by genevieve | November 22, 2006 2:31 PM

I checked the National Geographic site and the elephant pic was aparently taken at the 15th month of pregnancy. The dog's pic seems to be at day 45 out of 60

Posted by tinydoc | November 22, 2006 2:50 PM

I guess we are different. We are told that human unborn are just like tumors or clumps of cells. But other mammals, as depicted above, are fully formed. I saw an elephant and a puppy not tumors or clumps.

Posted by steady | November 22, 2006 6:50 PM

Isn't that because this elephant and this puppy are much, much further into their development?

Posted by Gloria | November 23, 2006 5:53 AM

If you ever tried aborting these animals, Liberals would have a FIT. PETA screaming murder, etc.

However, do it to a human, and it's a 'right'.

Wow, I'm amazed Liberals heads don't explode with all the contradictions that are abound in their tiny little brains.

Posted by Scooby Don't | November 23, 2006 6:52 PM

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