1902 Encyclopedia > Abnormal Development & Congenital Malformations > Dwarfs

Abnormal Development and Congenital Malformations
(Part 4)

(4) Dwarfs

Dwarfs are conventionally limited to persons under 4 feet. They are more likely than giants to have the modulus of the body perfect. "In the true dwarfs, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the proportions between the several parts of the frame are good, corresponding, or nearly corresponding, with those of the normal adult; and the diminutive stature depends, accordingly, not upon relatively imperfect growth of any particular segments, or even upon the permanence of a foetal or childlike condition, but upon the whole frame being undersized" (Humphry). Where disproportion occurs in the true dwarf it takes the form of a large-sized head, broad shoulders and capacious chest, and undersized lower limbs. Dwarfs with rickets are perhaps to be distinguished from true dwarfs; these are cases in which the spine is curved, and sometimes the bones of the limbs bent and the pelvis deformed. As in the case of giants, dwarfs are seldom the progeny of dwarfs, who are, in fact, usually sterile; the unnatural smallness may be obvious at birth, but is more likely to make itself manifest in the years of growth. Dwarfs are more easily brought up than giants and are stronger and long-lived; they have usually also strong passions and acute intelligence. The legends of the dwarfs and giants are on the whole well based on fact (see DWARF and GIANT).

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