The death of an indian rhinoceros

Erin A. Felger, Martha A. Zeiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1834, the London Zoological Society purchased a male Indian Rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis, at the request of the anatomist, Richard Owen. Fifteen years later, the rhinoceros died from traumatic injuries, and the necropsy performed by Owen led to the very first discovery of parathyroid glands. Around this time, Richard Owen and Charles Darwin vehemently disagreed with one another about the theory of natural selection. Their public feud sparked the public's interest in Darwin and his theory while Owen became less popular despite his many accomplishments in the scientific world. Not until decades after Owen's death was his contribution to the identification of parathyroid glands discovered. Because his discovery is considered pivotal to the history of endocrine surgery, we sought to investigate the circumstances surrounding the rhinoceros' death, its dissection, and Owen's initial discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1805-1810
Number of pages6
JournalWorld journal of surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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