An astonishment a day - 
drives your depression away...



Tapeworm soup.

The test carried out by the doctor Friedrich Kuechenmeister of Dresden, in the middle of the nineteenth century, had a religious motivation. Kuechenmeister, apart from his professional work, was interested in questions of God's wisdom, biblical animals, and questions such as - did Adam have parasites?. These questions were treated seriously and nurtured many minds. 

Kuechenmeister could not come to grips with the idea that Bladder worms, known already in the times of Aristotle, are found in say, humans or pigs, and die together with their host. This seemed contrary to the wisdom of God, which suggests that everything has its purpose in the Greater Plan. Bladder worms seemed to be at a dead end of the developmental path. However he observed that butchers often have tapeworms, and pigs have bladder worms
, and also that pimples are most common in a animals that are the prey of predators. He decided to carry out various experiments regarding this topic.

When it turned out that feeding a dog tapeworm eggs proved to be unsuccessful (he simply stumbled upon a wrong experimental subject), he set about a more conclusive experiment. 

He applied for permission to conduct his experiment on convicted criminals, and the permission was granted. When, in 1854, he was informed that his experimental subject was available and ready, a certain murderer was set to be executed in a few days, Kuechenmeister obtained a pound of pork from a friendly butcher. He dug out the bladderworms from it, prepared a macaroni soup, cooled it to room temperature, and then seasoned it with the previously obtained parasites. 

The murderer knew nothing about the tapeworm, and was quite complimentary about the soup, he even asked for seconds, and received more macaroni soup with sausage and bladder worms. Three days later, when the murderer was still warm, but without his head, Kuechenmeister inspected his intestines. To his great satisfaction, he found small tapeworms, not even half a centimeter long, but undoubtedly belonging to the Taenia genus. They are easily recognizable, due to their typical crown, that consists of 22 hooks. 

Five years later an even better opportunity arose. Kuechenmeister was informed of an execution that was to take place, four months before the actual event. He repeated his experiment, and this time found a tapeworm over one and a half meters long. The result then became obvious - the bladder worms do not exist without any future potential in the muscle of the host, but they simply wait to be transferred to another host, and in the meantime change their entire lifestyle. 
His delight was not shared by his critics. They talked about profanities of human dignity,, etc. Well I guess you can never please everyone. 


[The illustration shows a typical head of Taenia solium
living quite often in human small intestine] 

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(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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February  2003

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