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Posted on Friday, October 28 - 2005

" Halloween was alive Tuesday in the Holmes Student Center as Dracula, dwarves, Frankenstein’s monster and werewolves were among the many "monsters" discussed in Rick Johns’, associate professor of biological sciences, lecture: "I have Created a Monster: Genetic ..."

Stephan Bibrowsky was born in Poland in 1890 and suffered from hypertrichosia, in which six-inch-long hair covered his body. He became famous throughout Europe, where he gained the nickname of Lionel the Lion-Faced Man.

Halloween was alive Tuesday in the Holmes Student Center as Dracula, dwarves, Frankenstein’s monster and werewolves were among the many "monsters" discussed in Rick Johns’, associate professor of biological sciences, lecture: "I have Created a Monster: Genetic Explanations for Halloween’s Legendary Creatures."The lecture, which was sponsored by the Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming in conjunction with NIU’s LifelongLearning Institute, explained how the mythical creatures earned such infamous spots in the minds of millions.Johns, an NIU professor since 1985, presented biological evidence of genetic abnormalities and diseases that can create physical appearances and behavior that could have been at the root of the monster tales. "I have been teaching human genetics for quite sometime so I became interested in [the monsters]," Johns said. The presentation was thorough and provided an enormous amount of information regarding the diseases and abnormalities that can occur in humans that have monster-like effects. Dwarves, Johns said, are short people with disproportional arms and legs, large heads and high foreheads.

Dwarves are real, but they are hardly like the ones that can be seen in such movies as"Lord of the Rings" or "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." The malformation is caused by a defect known as achondroplasia, Johns said. Unlike movie monsters, a mass race could never exist because members could not successfully breed with each other and the defect is very rare. Cyclops also can exist, but they are not terrible monsters like the one in Homer’s "Odyssey." The idea of having one-eyed socket with one eye is a disease, holoprosencephaly, which although rare, does occur. The development of the brain does not divide and one effect is to only have one eye-socket with zero, one or two eyes in it, Johns said. Among other monsters that Johns explained were werewolves and Dracula. The idea of a man becoming a wolf is usually induced from narcotics or madness in theindividual, Johns......


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