25 Bizarre Genetic Anomalies You Won’t Believe Are Real

Posted by , Updated on January 22, 2015

We have already published an article about famous people who suffer from Heterochromia Iridium, a rare condition characterized by a difference in coloration of the iris caused by relative excess or lack of melanin. But in fact, there are many more bizarre genetic anomalies and medical conditions that people have to deal with. From the stone man syndrome to cyclopia, check out these 25 of them.

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Nipple on a foot

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Having extra nipples is not as unusual as it may sound but a full-sized nipple on the sole of a foot is extremely unusual. According to the California-based Dermatology Journal, it is the first time a nipple has ever been discovered so far down somebody’s body. The proud “owner” of this primacy is 26-year-old Lily Allen from Brazil.


Three legs

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Born in Sicily, Italy, Frank Lentini (1881 – 1966) was known for having three legs. His deformity was the result of a partially absorbed conjoined twin. The twin was attached to his at the base of his spine and consisted of a pelvis bone, a rudimentary set of male genitalia and a full-sized leg extending from the right side of his body, with a small foot attached to this extra knee. It is recorded that Lentini had 16 toes in total and 2 sets of functioning male sexual organs


Gigantic hand

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Officially called macrodactyly, local gigantism is a rare medical condition, in which a certain part of the body grows to a larger than normal size. In 2007, Lui Hua from China was hospitalized with this condition. At that time, his left thumb measured over 10 inches (25.4 cm) and his index finger almost reached 12 inches (30.5 cm).


Progressive Lipodystrophy

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Also known as reverse Benjamin Button syndrome, lipodystrophy makes sufferers look much older than they really are. So far, only about 200 cases of this bizarre condition have been reported worldwide, mainly affecting women. One of them was Zara Hartshorn, a teenage girl from South Yorkshire, UK, who – at the age of 15 – was sometimes mistaken for the mother of her older sister.


The Elephant Man

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Joseph Merrick (1862 – 1890) was an Englishman who, due to his genetic anomalies, was nicknamed The Elephant Man. His skin appeared thick and lumpy, he developed an enlargement of his lips, and a bony lump grew on his forehead. The exact cause of these anomalies is unknown, however, modern doctors suggest it was a combination of several diseases such as neurofibromatosis type I and Proteus syndrome.


Stone Man Syndrome

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Officially known as Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), Stone Man Syndrome (or Stone Man Disease), is an extremely rare disease of the connective tissue. In people who suffer from this disease, bone tissue grows where muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues should be, effectively restricting movement of the patients who, gradually, become living statues.


Spot boldness

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One of the least serious disorders on this list, spot boldness (scientifically known as Alopecia areata) is a condition in which hair is lost from specific areas of the body.



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Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. The disease itself doesn’t cause mortality – people afflicted with albinism are generally healthy but the lack of pigment blocking ultraviolet radiation increases the risk for skin cancers, visual defects and other problems. The occurrence of albinism is very rare though – in the US and Europe, less than 5 out of 100,000 people suffer from this disorder.




Diprosopus also known as craniofacial duplication is an extremely rare congenital disorder whereby parts (or all of the face) are duplicated. This anomaly is the result of abnormal activity by the protein named SHH (sonic hedgehog). You read that right. This protein is indeed named after Sonic the Headgehog. Note: The image above is a photoshopped image.



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Gastroschisis is a congenital disorder characterized by a defect in the anterior abdominal wall through which the abdominal contents freely protrude. Typically, the abdomen encases the internal organs as the fetus ages, but sometimes, the abdominal wall doesn’t do this correctly and some of the fetus’s organs end up stuck outside its body. Although it sounds scary, these days, the survival rate of such condition is 90%.



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Commonly known as the Ambras Syndrome or Werewolf Syndrome, hypertrichosis is a genetic anomaly characterized by an abnormal amount of hair growth. People suffering from this disease have excessive hair on their back, arms, face and other body parts.


Geographic tongue

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Known as erythema migrans or wandering rash of the tongue, the geographic tongue is a harmless condition characterized by areas of smooth, red depapillation which migrate over time. The disease got its name after the map-like appearance of the tongue. Affecting as much as up to 3% of the general population, it is one of the most common genetic anomalies.


Tree man illness

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Scientifically known as Epidermodysplasia verruciformis or Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia, the tree man illness is an extremely rare autosomal recessive genetic skin disorder characterized by abnormal susceptibility to human papillomaviruses of the skin. This condition causes scaly wood-like macules and papules to grow on the hands, feet, and even the face.


Frog-like baby

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In 2006, a neck-less baby with enormous eyeballs was born in Nepal. Born to a mother of two normal daughters, the baby suffered from anencephaly, a condition that is characterize by the absence of major portions of the brain, skull, and scalp.



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Also known as split hand malformation, etrodactyly is a rare limb deformity that involves the deficiency of one or more central digits of the hand or foot. Hands and feet of people who suffer from this condition are often described as “claw-like” and may include only the thumb and one finger (usually either the little finger, ring finger, or a syndactyly of the two).


Club foot

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Officially known as congenital talipes equinovarus, club foot is a congenital deformity involving one foot or both that appear to have been rotated internally at the ankle. A relatively common birth defect, occurring in about one in every 1,000 births, club foot is twice as frequent in males as in females. If a proper treatment is applied during early childhood, the chances of a complete recovery are very high.


Feet facing backwards

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Wang Fang, a young woman from China was born with a very rare and bizarre condition which caused her feet to grow backwards. Doctors were not sure if she could ever walk normally but Fang learnt to not only walk but even run – faster than most of her friends.


Caudal regression syndrome

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Occurring at a rate of approximately one in 25,000 births, caudal regression syndrome is a congenital disorder in which there is an abnormal fetal development of the lower spine. Johnny Eck, an American freak show/artist performer born without the lower half of his torso, is one of the most famous people afflicted with this rare anomaly.




Polymelia is a birth defect in which the affected individual has more than the usual number of limbs. There have been several cases of the anomaly but one of the most famous cases is the one of a boy from India who was born with three arms. The boy underwent a successful operation to remove the third limb.


Cutaneous horn

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Also known as cornu cutaneum, the cutaneous horn is an unusual keratinous skin tumor with the appearance of a horn, or sometimes of wood or coral. They are usually small and localized, but – in very rare cases – can be much larger. For example, Zhang Ruifang, an old Chinese woman, had a 2.4-inch (6 cm) goat-like horn on her forehead. But that is nothing compared to Madame Dimanche, a French woman living in the early 19th century, whose horn measured 10 inches (25 cm).


Harlequin ichthyosis


Harlequin ichthyosis is a very rare and often fatal genetic skin disorder. Babies affected with Harlequin ichtyosis are born with extremely thick plates of skin with deep red fissures over their entire bodies.



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Also known as cyclocephaly , cyclopia is a rare disorder characterized by the failure of the embryo to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities. It’s more frequent in animals but there have been a few cases of the anomaly in humans as well. In 2006, for example, a baby with one eye was born in India. Apart from the absent eye, the infant was also missing a nose and its brain fused into a single hemisphere. It died a few days after the birth.


Tailed man

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Chandre Oram, an Indian tea estate worker from West Bengal, is famous for having a 33 cm (13 inch) long tail. Admired by many locals as an incarnation of Hanuman, a Hindu god, Oram was born with a malformation known as spina bifida.


Uner Tan syndrome


Proposed by and named after a Turkish evolutionary biologist Uner Tan, the Uner Tan syndrome is an extremely rare condition, in which people walk with a quadrupedal locomotion and are afflicted with speech problems and severe mental retardation. There’s only a few cases of the disease recorded, all of them in Turkey.


Fish odor syndrome

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Scientifically known as Trimethylaminuria, the fish odor syndrome is a rare metabolic disorder that causes a defect in the normal production of the enzyme flavin containing monooxygenase 3. People afflicted with the condition don’t have any physical pain or visible symptoms – the only thing that this anomaly causes is an unbearable pungent smell that resembles rotting fish, rotting eggs, garbage, or urine.

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