“Be thankful for what you have. Be fearless for what you want.” ~ Unknown
You’re wondering what this giant ball is, aren’t you? Meteorite; Canon ball; Spoiled cantaloupe? Not even close. This is a hair ball, known as the Immense Hairball, at Transylvania University’s Moosnick Museum. This hairball has its own twitter account @ImmenseHairball. Not every hairball can say it has its own twitter account. The Immense Hairball was donated to Transy by Mary Todd Lincoln’s brother. It came from a cow in the Maysville area, but no one knows how Todd came to have it. A smaller hairball was donated to Transy by one of Henry Clay’s family members. It does not have a twitter account. Back in Lincoln’s day folks used to think hairballs like this, also called a bezoar, had medicinal properties. They were used particularly for poisons; either to absorb it from an external bite or scratch, or internally much like we use charcoal today to absorb ingested poison. Yes, the afflicted person actually swallowed a part of a hairball. Science has come a long way…thank God!
This is Transylvania University Physics professor and tour guide Jamie Day. He has incredible knowledge of the Moosnick Medical and Science Museum’s holdings as well as the University’s history. He gave us an incredible tour on Friday. For those that don’t know, Transy was a medical school. In fact, being founded in 1780, it’s the oldest University and medical school west of the Alleghenies. Lexington was the Western Frontier when Transy got off the ground. Its population was rather small. There were few residents willing to be dissected after death and grave robbing wasn’t very useful since everybody knew the newly departed. Nevertheless, student surgeons needed practice. Interested parties began to develop medical models. Transy has a lot of the oldest models still in existence. Over time, bad things happened to campus buildings and to the university itself. For a brief period it was even combined with the University of Kentucky before returning to a stand-alone University. A lot of their medical displays were closeted and forgotten during all the upheaval. That turned out to be a good thing because, by the time it was rediscovered, the majority of it was antique, making the collections of the Moosnick one of the most unique in the world. They also hold quite a large collection of stuffed birds like the Kiwi beside the fetus skeletons below (you might remember Kevin by a parrot from Friday’s post). Turns out the birds are full of arsenic. Who knew! In any case, this is the kind of fascinating information Jamie pulled out on Friday’s tour. They do tours by appointment only, but if you ever have the opportunity to go, do. It’s pretty awesome and Jamie is hilarious.