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, fetuses that 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, 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 of 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?

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COMMENTS (9)
  • nolanb-Hyl
    2/17/2015 - 12:03 p.m.

    That was just crazy. I never knew that stone could form in a woman's body. Also somebody found a 3,000 year old stone baby?! This is interesting {if you know nothing about then}

  • brandond-Hyl
    2/17/2015 - 12:07 p.m.

    The story "What's a stone baby" was amazing in terms of fun, detailed, and interesting. this is because it is fun to now more about the world.It is also detailed in a way of the description and the video. And finely, it is interesting to now that a human baby can tern to stone. This is why this is an awesome passage

  • kaylal-Hyl
    2/18/2015 - 11:55 a.m.

    I loved this article. I love how they tell you that they turned into stone baby's after so long. I also love how they tell you that the oldest stone baby was found in Texas at 3,000 years old. That is why i love this article.

  • emilianar-Hyl
    2/18/2015 - 11:57 a.m.

    This could be going on for years and years and years but if you ever find a stone babe you should report it immediately. Also this could go on for 3000 more years in the future if the babe is outside the womb it is protected.

  • tylero-Hyl
    2/18/2015 - 12:01 p.m.

    I though this article was cool but also creepy.I did not know that a stone baby could even form in the stomach. I have a question for the author of this story did any one have a stone baby in New york.

  • robertd-Hyl
    2/19/2015 - 11:59 a.m.

    Have you ever seen a real stone baby. I havent so I dont think that stone babys are real. I think that what the archaologeousts found was a part of a dinosaur or another extinct animal. So in conclusion I think that stone babys are just another myth.

  • aliciac-Hyl
    2/19/2015 - 11:59 a.m.

    I hope I never have a stone baby. That would be weird. But I do want to see one. If they found about 300 stone babies they should have a museum jut for stone babies, unless they already have one which would awesome. Am I right, OK no one. It would still be awesome.

  • margareth-Hyl
    2/19/2015 - 12:05 p.m.

    A stone baby forms when a pregnancy occurs out side of the womb in the abdominal cavity. Then when the Mother's body thinks of the fetus as a threat it coats the body in a calcium. I would not want to have a stone baby in me for a seconed, but if I have a stone baby in me for 40+ YEARS I would have gone crazy. I do think it is cool though how the mother's body reacts that way. It is good I am NOT a doctor because I would have broken open the stone and picked around inside. I would have pulled out the dead baby and squashed it because that is just who I am.

  • AmiyaJ-Phe
    3/11/2015 - 10:38 a.m.

    A stone baby sounds dangerous. I wonder if it can kill you. What would you do if you had a stone baby in your belly?

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