This Little Piggy

Posted by Peg Boettcher at

Happy as a Duroc pig in mud

It takes a lot to make a piglet. Hundreds of thousands of proteins go into the devleopment of a complex life form, so many that biologists have given them bizarre nicknames to keep them all straight. For instance, the protein responsible for telling an embryo in the womb where one eye begins and the other leaves off is called “sonic hedgehog.” When things go terribly awry -- as when parts of the face start multiplying at random -- the condition is known medically as diprosopus, or craniofacial duplication.

Piglet with rare conditionYe Olde Curiosity Shop displays an example of this rare natural phenomenon in our little piglet specimen. This little piggy will never go to market because of an overdose of sonic hedgehog... resulting in eight legs, three eyes and three mouths, two tails, two snouts and two ears. It was born one of a litter of 17 Duroc-breed piggies on Alfred Carey’s ranch in East Selah, Washington in 1944.

National Pig Day
Heaven knows what motivated them. Maybe schoolteacher Ellen Stanley of Lubbock,Texas and her friend Mary Lynne Rave of Beaufort, North Carolina were fed up with the disrespect shown our curly-tailed cousin. Whatever prompted it, they declared March 1, 1972 to be National Pig Day. Mary’s hope was that raising awareness would “accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals.” Somehow the idea grabbed the public imagination, and Pig Day caught on. So every year on March 1 you can rest assured that somewhere in the United States there will be pig races, “snort-offs,” and porcine parades. Or just the scent of bacon bubbling in a skillet.

Peg Boettcher has been wrangling curios and working for Ye Olde Curiosity Shop since 2004.


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