The anatomical collection of the Anatomical Museum of Leiden University Medical Center (historically referred to as Museum Anatomicum Academiae Lugduno-Batavae) houses and maintains more than 13,000 unique anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens, and include the oldest teratological specimens of The Netherlands. Throughout four centuries hundreds of teratological specimens were acquired by more than a dozen collectors. Due to the rich history of this vast collection, teratological specimens can be investigated in a unique retrospective sight going back almost four centuries. The entire 19th century collection was described in full detail by Eduard Sandifort (1742–1814) and his son Gerard Sandifort (1779–1848). Efforts were made to re-describe, re-diagnose and re-categorize all present human teratological specimens, and to match them with historical descriptions. In the extant collection a total of 642 human teratological specimens were identified, including exceptional conditions such as faciocranioschisis and conjoined twins discordant for cyclopia, and sirenomelia. Both father and son Sandifort differed in their opinion regarding the causative explanation of congenital anomalies. Whereas, their contemporaries Wouter Van Doeveren (1730–1783) and Andreas Bonn (1738–1817) both presented an interesting view on how congenital anomalies were perceived and explained during the 18th and 19th centuries; the golden age of descriptive teratology. Although this enormous collection is almost 400 years old, it still impresses scientists, (bio)medical students, and laymen visiting and exploring the collections of the Museum Anatomicum in Leiden, The Netherlands.
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