Mary Toft's Bunny Births
One of the most amazing (and gross) hoaxes of all time took place in England in 1726. That's when Mary Toft, a servant from Godalming, in Surrey, went into labor and delivered some animal parts. Local obstetrician John Howard was called in, and, over the next month, he helped deliver a rabbit's head, the legs of a cat and nine dead baby rabbits, the latter all in one day. Soon everyone from a Swiss surgeon-anatomist to the Prince of Wales' secretary visited Toft, who had become local celebrity, to witness the unbelievable births. And unbelievable they deemed them to be [source: University of Glasgow].
After examining one of the rabbits, a German surgeon found corn, hay and straw in its dung, proving it couldn't have developed inside Toft. Others reached the same conclusion after studying the bunnies' lungs and other organs. A porter was then caught trying to smuggle a rabbit into Toft 's room. Eventually Toft confessed she'd been inserting the rabbits and other animal parts into her vagina, then letting the various physicians "deliver" them [source: University of Glasgow].
Why in the world would she do this? Toft was poor, and in 18th-century Europe, people eagerly paid money to see human oddities and deformities. Her stunt was an effort to earn money and live a life of relative ease [source: Curry, Morris, Samuels and Shrout, University of Glasgow].
Author's Note: 10 Crazy Hoaxes that Duped the World
I don't think I've ever fallen for a hoax. But I did always want to believe that Anastasia was alive somewhere. Especially after seeing the animated movie.
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