The WHAT IS IT?
which so amuses and delights the MULTITUDE THAT CROWDS THE
MUSEUM. The gentleman who acts as the "WHAT IS It's"
protector, thus explains, in public, the mystery of its
nature and origin.
This is what is termed the Nondescript, or WHAT IS IT?
From the interior of Africa. It was captured by a party of
adventurers who were in search of the gorilla. While
exploring the river Gambia, near its mouth, they fell in
with a race of beings never before discovered. They were six
in number. They were in a PERFECTLY NUDE STATE, roving about
among the trees and branches, in the manner common to the
monkey and orang outang. After considerable exertion the
hunters succeeded in capturing three of these oddities --
two males and a female. All of them were forwarded to this
country, but, unfortunately, two of them sickened and died
on the voyage across. The present one is the only survivor.
When first received here his natural position was ON ALL
FOURS, and it has required the exercise of the greatest care
and patience to teach him to stand perfectly erect, as you
behold him at the present moment. But a few weeks have
elapsed, in fact, since he first assumed this attitude and
walked about upon his feet.
If you notice, you will perceive that the WALK OF THE WHAT
IS IT is very awkward, like that of a child beginning to
acquire that accomplishment. When he first came his only
food was raw meat, sweet apples, oranges, nuts, &c., of all
o f which he was very fond; but he will now eat bread, cake
and similar things, though he is fonder of raw meat or that
which, when cooked, is rare. If you notice the formation of
this nondescript, you will observe that it is something very
In the next place, the teeth, instead of standing erect,
occupy a slanting position, like those of the horse or the
sheep, slanting to a great distance under the tongue and
into the roof of the mouth. The teeth are double nearly all
around, and the creature is not able to close its mouth
entirely, owing to the formation of the jaws, which are
crooked instead of straight, thus leaving the front of the
mouth open about half an inch.
THE ARMS OF THE WHAT IS IT are much too long in proportion
to its height at least some three inches. They are also
crooked, like those of the Ourang Outang, and it is not able
to straighten them. He has great strength in his hands and
arms. Anything he can get hold of he will cling to for quite
a length of time. There is apparently more strength in his
hands and arms than in all the rest of his body combined.
In the next place, his legs are crooked, like those of the Ourang Outang. He cannot make them straighter than you see
them now. He has no calf to his leg, but exhibits a gradual
taper from the knee to the ankle joint.
THE WHAT IS IT'S FOOT is narrow, slim and flat, and has a
long heel like that of the native African. The large toe is
more like a man's thumb. The others are bent under, and the
distortion appears to be natural. He is supposed to be 20 or
23 years old, but there is nothing positively known in
regard to his age. He may be older or possibly younger than
that. He stands about four feet high and weighs 50 pounds.
He has been examined by some of the most scientific men we
have, and pronounced by them to be a connecting link between
the wild native African and the brute creation, and the
formation of the head and limbs is such as to leave beyond
any doubt whatever, the characteristic claims of THE WHAT IS
York Herald March 19, 1860,
Disability History Museum,
(Feb 17, 2006)
'the What is it?"
and Zip circa 1860