Jackalope Disease.

This is a follow-up to Alex's post on rabbits with Shope papillomavirus.


Most of the jackalopes you see mounted on the walls of restaurants and souvenir shops are fakes of course, but some people think that the legend of the jackalope began when people first noticed rabbits with a disease called Shope papillomavirus, which causes growths that frequently look like antlers. The illustration above was drawn by American naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton in 1937 and published in a review by Kreider (1981).

The rabbit virus has proven important in human cancer research, as Dan Japuntich writes:

John Kreider, MD and other researchers at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine have been using rabbits and this virus in research on cancer. The objective of their research program is two-fold: to determine the contribution of human papillomaviruses (HPV) to the development of uterine cervical cancer and to develop effective means for the prevention and treatment of infections. Kreider just recently retired, but he and his researchers eventually did develop a vaccine for HPV's. Other research into Shope papillomavirus is extensive, including DNA analyses of its forms. William Phelps (1985) did extensive work on the Shope virus by trapping wild cottontails in Minnesota and identifying two major viral-specific RNA species.

Humans have also been known to "grow horns" in a similar way, as in the case of Mrs. Mary Davis (1558), pictured below.


I found these illustrations and much of my information at Chuck Holliday's excellent website. As he points out, you don't want to look at actual pictures of either rabbits or humans with these deformities if you are in any way squeamish. If you insist, though, you can follow the links he provides.

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human marvels has a similar page of pix of known human cases...


...there was a recent news item about a man from India with a very large/long horn...he had one longer years ago, but it snapped off one day...and a new one started to grow.
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And Gawker just posted this on Friday: a link to a picture of a 95-year-old grandmother with a horn growing out of her head:

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