Weird Science Winner #2: A dog's life

Mary
filed under:
Image credit: 

And for our "strangest research ever actually conducted," the winner is Jackie Dunn, who submitted this doozy from C. Bertelsmann's "The Book of Weird Experiments:"

In the photographs it looks like a circus side show. In the middle sits a bowl containing a severed dog's head and two tubes leading to a stand holding a pump, a bottle, and a basin filled to the brim with blood. A group of onlookers clusters tightly round about, witnesses to a scientific miracle: the dog's head lives.

The Russian surgeons Sergei Brukhonenko and S. Tchetchuline had removed the dog's head from its body during an operation that the popular science magazine Science and Invention described as "grisly and inhuman"—not failing, however, in the next sentence to point out the great utility of animal research. Now the dog's head lay with its mouth half open, and it seemed as though the scientists were determined to show the audience in as many ways as possible that the head was really alive. They shined a flashlight in its eyes until its pupils narrowed, smeared honey in its mouth, which immediately lapped it up, made its eyes tear with quinine, and gave it sweets that tumbled out of the stump of its esophagus after it had swallowed them.

Brukhonenko and Tchetchuline were not the first to experiment with severed heads. But in earlier investigations, the head had been kept alive with a mechanical heart. Blood was ferried from the carotid arteries through rubber tubes into an open basin, where it was combined with oxygen, and from there into a bottle somewhat above the dog's head, flowing under constant pressure back into the arteries. An electrical pump drove these primitive heart-lung machines. The blood was chemically treated beforehand to keep it from clotting.

Kids, please don't try this at home with Fido. And Jackie, send us your contact info at tips-at-mentalfloss.com.

More from mental_floss...

October 9, 2006 - 11:05am
webby
submit to reddit