This is Coach Carroll, checking in. Oh man, have I got a weird one for you this week. So, to give this some context – the Seahawks, being a team from the Pacific Northwest, have a large number of fans who are of the Asian persuasion… so the team figured we could grow interest in the NFL with a little press jaunt through China and such. Perfect timing, as it turns out – it gave me ample time to take a little side trip to some rural villages. They may not know football, but damn, do those Chinese ever have some strange stuff going on. Read on!
THE YANGSI VILLAGE OF DWARFS
Location: Yangsi, Sichuan province, southwestern China
Date: 1951 – present
The Story: In the tiny, remote village of Yangsi, located in rural China, there are 36 known dwarfs out of a total population of just 80 people – 40% of the total population. Nobody is quite sure what caused so much of the population of the village to be afflicted with dwarfism, but many local villagers believe that the town has had a curse placed upon it, resulting in these widespread abnormalities. Of the afflicted individuals, the tallest stands 3’10” high while the shortest is just 2’1″. Many, but not all, are afflicted by other disabilities in addition to their dwarfism.
What’s Weird: The probability of a person being born with dwarfism is about 1 in 20,000, so the Yangsi village is a clear statistical anomaly if it turns out that there are no other external factors at play. Among the more curious things about this village is that the dwarfism was not limited to just a single generation – it did actually end up being passed down to other descendants of the short-statured residents of the town. A 1985 census noted that there were 119 confirmed dwarfs living in the town, though this number has since reduced greatly. The youngest current generation of the village, however, seems to be unaffected by the disease.
While this village was “officially” discovered in 1951, there are reports from a British scientist by the name of Dr. Karyl Robin Evans from 1947 that claim to have seen a village in roughly the same geographic area with “hundreds of dwarfs” residing in it; other reports of dwarfs in this rural area of China date back to as early as 1911. At any rate, this seems to be a very widely-affected phenomenon, and there are still no clear answers on it to date.
What might have happened?
Scientists have been investigating the area for years to try and establish a cause for the lack of growth in the population of the area, including in the crops, water, and soil of the region, but their findings have shown no real anomalies of any kind. One more recent study from 1997 did show an elevated level of mercury in some soil samples, but there remain no conclusive links between the soil and the stunted growth of village residents. What’s more curious is that the Chinese government, normally very secretive and defensive about bad or unusual things happening within its borders, has never bothered to deny the existence of this village, although it remains very inaccessible to foreigners hoping to get a glimpse of the dwarfs in their everyday lives.
The villagers, who still stick to very long-standing cultural beliefs, have their own host of ideas about what happened to cause all the dwarfism in the village, including bad feng shui of the area, or the restless spirits of their ancestors not receiving a better burial when they had passed away. The best story I’ve heard to date, though, is that a turtle came and cursed the village. Apparently a long time ago, a man named Wang saw a very peculiar black turtle with strange feet in the village, and the residents, surprised at such an unusual-looking animal, were struggling to decide whether to let it wander off, or to catch it and eat it. In the end, they ended up eating it, and apparently soon after, the village was struck with “a terrible disease” that caused all the children between about the ages of 5 and 7 to just stop growing all together, which the villagers claim is the curse of the black turtle.
Some other older residents claim that the Japanese released toxic gases on the town when they invaded China during the Second World War, which sounds like a plausible theory… until you learn the Japanese didn’t get anywhere close to their village when they invaded the country.
Coach Carroll’s Hypothesis: Man, if I’m a eugenicist, I wanna get these ladies to do some cross-breedin’ with Devin Hester. Even tinier and smarter punt returners! What could go wrong? But in all honesty though, this sounds like the exact work of Dr. David Chao. Lord knows that asshole was probably trying to produce spare parts for his guys whenever they needed to get surgery done, and the whole experiment went awry in the end. THE CHARGERS JUST DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT, SHEEPLE!
Banner image courtesy of Low Commander of the Super Soldiers.