1902 Encyclopedia > Abnormal Development & Congenital Malformations > Giants

Abnormal Development and Congenital Malformations
(Part 3)

(3) Giants

Giants are conventionally limited to persons over 7 feet in height. The normal proportions of the frame are adhered to more or less closely, except in the skull, which is relatively small; but accurate measurements, even in the best-proportioned cases, prove, when reduced to a scale, that other besides the skull, notably the thigh-bone and the foot, may be undersized though overgrown. (Footnote 762-2) In persons who are merely very tall, the great stature depends often on the inordinate length of the lower limbs; but in persons over 7 feet the lower limbs are not markedly disproportionate. In many cases the muscles and viscera are a sufficient for the overgrown frame, and the individuals are usually, but not always, of feeble intelligence and languid disposition, and short-lived. The brain-case especially in undersized -- the Irish giant in the museum of Trinity College, Dublin, is the single exception to this rule -- but the bones of the face, and especially the lower jaw, are on a large scale. Giants are never born of gigantic parents; in fact, sterility usually goes with this monstrosity. There size is sometimes excessive at birth, but more often the indications of great stature do not appear till later, it may be as late as the ninth year; they attain full height before the twenty-first year. They have been more frequently male than female; the German giantess lately exhibited (1882) was as tall as any authentic case in the male sex.

(762-2) See the tables in Humphry’s Treatise on the Human Skeletons, p. 109.

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