We usually talk about weird human medical conditions and anomalies, but how about animals? Did you know there were cats with extra toes, and that Ernest Hemingway owned quite a few of them?
A true cat lover, Ernest Hemingway was unarguably an amazing man, so is it any wonder that he has a cat named for him? Hemingway admired cats because of their independence and spirit. He received his first cat in Key West, Florida where he lived for several years, from a ship’s captain. It is believed that his first cat was a Maine Coon cat, but it had extra toes which technically made it a polydactyl meaning in Latin many digits.
As many as 60 polydactyl cats live in Ernest Hemingway’s former home in Key West, Florida. His will protects them and allows them to live there. Some of those cats are believed to be descendants of the first cat who lived there. They have unusual names, as they are unusual cats and so have been labeled the Hemingway cat. That nickname has been given to all polydactyls.
These extra toes, the polydact trait, are genetic. Only a polydact and breed another polydact. The Maine Coon cat is believed to have been brought to the US on board a ship and is believed to be the first breed to have the polydactl trait. Breeders believe that to be a fault with the Maine Coon breed.
Polydacts have six or more toes on the front and four on the rear. That is two more toes than on other cats. Breed registries do not like polydacts. They like cats with the correct amount of toes.
Not considered purebred, the many toed cat, the Hemingway cat, polydacts or mittens, whatever you choose to call them are much beloved by many. Too many toes don’t bother them.
Manoj Chopra is called by some “The Strongest Man in Asia” and has competed in Strongman Cups and Strongest Man Competitions. Not only can he rip apart a phone book and crack an iceberg, he can also blow up a hot water bottle until it bursts. The pressure it should take to accomplish that is said to be about 500 pounds of pressure. And dude can do it with his lungs. Crazy! It’s one thing for someone’s arms or legs to be strong, but their crazy strong lungs? Nuts.
Manoj was the first Indian to become a WWF fighter, and he’s been willing to pursue the World’s Strongest Man title despite the fact that his country would not support him financially, nor appreciate that kind of effort. He’s determined to be the best and strongest Manoj he can be.
Unfortunately, the image of ol’ Manoj is pretty small:
But I also found some other images of other people doing this mind-boggling trick so I thought I’d share those with you as well.
Meet Georges Christen. Not only is he from Luxemborg, which I happen to think is awesome, he also has the Guinness World Record for using his amazing lung power to inflate a hot water bottle. Pretty awesome, huh?
If you want to increase your lung capacity so you can perform amazing hot water bottle feat like these guys, there are techniques you can try. One is “Pushing Out,” where you bend over and push all the air out of your lungs, and inhale as you stand back up. Try holding your breath for 20 seconds when you’re standing straight up, and then push all the air out as you bend over from the waist – keep your arms over your head.
You can find more techniques on LiveStrong.com in an article by Harold Sconiers.
Today, if you visit a fair or a carnival, you’re not likely to see “human wonders,” aka “sideshow freaks” like you did in the 20′s, 30′s, and 40′s. For one, exploitation isn’t as cool as it used to be, and for two, now we have the Jim Rose Circus, so that pays better and you make cooler friends.
It’s fun to learn. There was this guy, Martin Emmerling, who changed his name to Martin Laurello. That’s not the interesting part. He changed his name when he moved to the good old US of A in 1921. He had a special talent in that he could turn his head a full 180 degrees. What?!?!? See for yourself:
That’s crazy! How is that possible? I can’t tell you for sure because the internet didn’t tell me, but it was likely some genetic predisposition that Laurello cultivated into an “act.” He started performing in Europe, and then when he moved to the US he toured with Dreamland circus, Barnum & Bailey, and Ripley’s Odditorium. He had this strange little pamphlet wherein he told people about what he could do. He said that it took him three years to perfect his “act.”
It is funny that he is encouraging people to try to do what he does. IF (and it’s a big if) someone was able to accomplish this, without Laurello’s funky spine situation, it would likely kill them, whether they did it before or after breakfast. But, at least he wasn’t being stingy with the knowledge and stuff.