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NEWSFILE: TERATOLOGY

ABNORMAL AMPHIBIANS ( AREN`T THEY ALL)

The recent finding of abnormal frogs in many different parts of the USA and Canada spanned a wide range of amphibians and was not limited to species, geography or climate, according to James J. La Clair of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. In a new report in the April 14 Web edition of Environmental Science & Technology, La Clair and colleague John Bantle offer an explanation for these findings by examining the effects of pesticide degradation in the early amphibian development. La Clair's group found that S-methoprene, an insect growth regulator that was introduced in the late 1970s to control fleas and mosquitoes, posed little risk to the development of amphibians. However, when exposed to sunlight, water and micro-organisms, La Clair found that S-methoprene breaks up into other products that dramatically alter embryo development. By adding minute amounts of these degradation products to developing embryos of the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, the Scripps group found that the embryo developed into a juvenile with deformations similar to those found in nature. La Clair emphasises that the current procedure of assessing the risk posed by pesticides by examining only the host pesticide must be changed to include the relationship between amphibian development and the degradation products that form under natural conditions.

POLAR BEARS IN MIDDLESEX SHOCK!!!!

TROMSO. SCIENTISTS have discovered polar bear cubs with both male and female sex organs. The deformities are thought to be linked to the increasing pollution in polar regions. The four hermaphroditic bears were found in the Norwegian Arctic territory of Svalbard, where pollution levels are known to be high. Government officials and the researchers who found the newborn cubs on the islands of Edgeoya and Hopen suspect that the deformities are caused by polychlorinated biphenol chemicals (PCBs). The chemicals, which accumulate in fat reserves, are used in everything from electrical transformer fluids to degreasing agents in nuclear submarines, and are building up in the seals on which the polar bears feed. PCBs are among the thousands of man-made substances that scientists believe mimic animal and human sex hormones. Sex changes in fish have been monitored in Britain and in alligators in America, but the polar bears are believed to be the first mammal to show such acute damage.

Dagfinn Stenseth, the Norwegian Government's special adviser on polar affairs, said yesterday that the findings had implications for wildlife and human beings. "The polar bear, like us, is at the top of the food chain. We are very concerned," he said. PCBs are banned in many countries, although Russia is believed still to use them. They are persistent pollutants that remain in the environment for many years. The polar bear research adds to worldwide attempts to identify possible links between man-made chemicals and sexual deformities and diseases in human beings, as well as animals. Over the past 50 years, sperm counts have fallen in men living in industrialised countries. Some of the chemicals appear to mimic the female hormone oestrogen, while others appear to block or copy the male androgen hormones. A spokeswoman for the Norwegian Polar Institute, said researchers had studied 90 polar bears this season out of the territory's population of some 2,000. Andrew Derocher, the research scientist who made the findings, said yesterday that the bears were seen in April and May. The researchers had been discovering polar bears with both female and male characteristics for three years, he said, but this year's tally was the highest so far.

It means that bears with both sex organs may make up nearly 4 per cent of the population, which is far higher than chance, and indicates that up to 80 polar bears in Svalbard may now be affected. "What we don't know is if this phenomenon is circum-polar or just confined to polar bears in the Barents, which is more polluted," he said. Details of the findings have been published during the 22nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, taking place in Tromso, Norway. Delegates from 43 nations that have signed the treaty, including Britain, are discussing how best to deal with a string of threats to the continent in the wake of the ratification of the Protocol on Environmental Protection earlier this year. The Norwegian findings relating to the Arctic, which is better studied, have strengthened moves to increase monitoring of wildlife and the environment in the Antarctic. Over the weekend, delegates agreed that a comprehensive report on the Antarctic environment, drawing on studies from countries such as Britain, was a priority. The Times 2/6/98

PULL THE UDDER ONE

WINTHROP, Iowa - A two-headed, four-eyed, three-eared calf born earlier this week turned an eastern Iowa farm into a magnet for the curious. News reporters, neighbors and visitors were trekking to the farm operated by Brian Slife and his father Gary for a peek at the animal, a Holstein named "Reflections" because of the matching white patches on its two heads. The calf probably has less than a 50-50 chance of surviving,"but every day it lives those odds improve," said Jim McMillan, a veterinarian at the Winthrop Veterinary Clinic who deliveredthecalf Sunday.

The calf appears to have one brain -- both tongues move when it tries to lick -- which could make walking difficult given thefoureyes. It also has cleft palates in both mouths, a condition that canlead to pneumonia and other health problems in animals. McMillan said the family bought at an auction last week the heifer to which the calf was born. He said he was called out to help when the animal was having trouble with the birth. "I examined the heifer and the feet were in a normal position. I went to find the head and it would not come up in a normal position for delivery," said McMillan. "You have your arm inside the cow. I got to feeling around and there were, palpable, two distinct noses. I knew then itcouldnot be born" in the normal way and performed a Caesarean section, he told Reuters. The family had no information on the parentage of the animal or what led to the malformations but was checking with the auction company to try to find out, McMillan said.

BETTER THAN ONE?

Reuters News Service HANOI (June 25, 1998 07:15 a. m. EDT http://www.nandotimes. com) - A baby girl with two heads has been born in a southern Vietnamese province, and medical staff said on Thursday she was healthy and doing well. The baby, which weighed 3. 8 kilograms (8. 36 pounds) at birth on Monday, has two heads, two hearts, two spines, but one body with a single liver and one set of lungs, medical staff from Tien Giang provincial hospital told Reuters. The nurse in charge of the case said the 27-year-old mother had not been told of the baby's defects in keeping with the father's wishes. A photograph and report naming the mother appeared in Thursday's edition of the official Tuoi Tre (Youth)newspaper. The baby was moved on Wednesday to the main Ho Chi Minh City children's hospital.

PIGS (TWO DIFFERENT ONES) - WELL SORT OF

May 3, 1998. LOS ANGELES (AP) - Even pigs with two snouts and three eyes have people who love them. Ditto the pig was born with those deformities at an Iowa farm and was to be sold to a circus freak show. But a group called Pigs Without Partners bought the animal for $5,000 and spent another $1,000 to ship Ditto to Los Angeles. Ditto currently has to eat from a tube because of his extra snout but planned surgery should allow him to feed like any other pig --except that Ditto will still have his unique features. Pigs Without Partners is now trying to find a surgeon close to Southern California since the group says it would be dangerous to ship the animal long distance after the operation.

RICHARD`S COMMENT: The birth of such disgusting malformed freaks is an obvious portent for the rising of Great Cthulu from his cyclopean tomb in slime drowned city of R`lyeh...

EDITORIAL COMMENT: I said SHUT UP Richard!!!