Whats a stone baby? (Smithsonian.com)
Whats a stone baby?
Lexile

You asked us, what's a stone baby?

Well, science calls it a lithopedion, which is Greek for stone baby.

News organizations have been all over the story of these two women in their '80s going to their doctor for stomach pains, only to find something like this in their bellies. The fetuses had turned to stone 40 plus years ago.

How could this possibly happen?

Well, it turns out that the body can be really stupid and really smart at the same time.

The first part is the screw up. It's when a pregnancy that occurs outside of the womb in the abdominal cavity.

The second part is the genius. The mother's body, recognizing that the fetus could be a threat, coats it in calcium, like an oyster turning an irritating grain of sand into a nice smooth pearl.

There have been about 300 cases a stone babies reported in medical literature. And they show up even further back in time. Archaeologists digging at a grave site in Texas found a stone baby that's apparently over 3,000 years old.

For more incredible stories like this, check us out every day at smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: How does a stone baby form?

Assigned 37 times


COMMENTS (62)
  • jordanr-Orv
    2/17/2015 - 12:07 p.m.

    well they used the illustration of the oyster that the body knows that if the baby is outside of the womb it can be a danger to the body so it takes away the calcium

  • zarab-Orv
    2/17/2015 - 12:37 p.m.

    what is a rock baby well ill tell you science call it lithopedion which means in greek stone baby. Have you ever heard of a stone baby befor if you have let me know.

  • dylan.goodwin34
    2/17/2015 - 12:41 p.m.

    I can't believe that archeologists found a stone baby that old! Is that even possible? That they found that baby 3,000 years old. Wouldn't the mother's bones be there too. It is cool and creepy at the same time.

  • Maddie-rod
    2/17/2015 - 01:32 p.m.

    i am surprise about that but i did watch i tv channel about the same thing and it was really exciteing thing to watch because i never know things like that can really happen but i guess so that it can happen. well the good thing that the docters found out what was causeing the stomach pain.

  • Kiki-rod
    2/17/2015 - 01:32 p.m.

    I think that would be really hard to find out that that has happened to you. And I really want to find out how they would remove the stone baby and how would the person not be able to find out about it sooner wouldn't the baby get bigger like a normal baby would? hmmmm.......

  • Brenna-Arm
    2/17/2015 - 02:18 p.m.

    A stone baby forms when the baby develops outside of the womb. The mother's body, recognizing that the fetus could be a threat, coats it in calcium, like an oyster turning an irritating grain of sand into a nice smooth pearl. This is cool, but creepy.......

    • ariellew-DiB
      2/18/2015 - 08:52 a.m.

      I think that it's really weird that it would happen outside of the womb like I wonder How can it develop like that. Man I think that's really crazy how this can happen just like this.

    • dg2002lacrosse
      2/18/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

      I think this is weird because of the fact that a part inside of your body turns into stone and that it can make your stomach hurt but not do any internal damage.

  • Colby N Turquoise
    2/17/2015 - 05:37 p.m.

    Wow that interesting! I hope that wouldn't happen to anyone in my family. I think it is cool but scary and I also think it is fact filled. I hope that wouldn't happen to anyone near or around me!

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    2/17/2015 - 09:09 p.m.

    I think that it is both creepy and amazing that mothers can be able to have stones in there stomach. When I was young, many people told me that if I were not to eat properly, you would get a rock in your stomach. I didn't believe it until now. I think that is creepy for someone to have a "stone baby" since having a stone in your stomach means that you are one of the few abnormal people who has it.

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