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What’s Worse Than Fecal Transplants? This Gal.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Have you caught wind of the latest in medical technology: fecal transplants between friends? The latest commentary (and funniest to date) is a piece by Steve Mirsky in the August 2013 edition of Scientific American telling us to just get over the ick factor “because everything” in life, medicine, and yes, fecal transplants, “is disgusting.”

Mirsky’s commentary is already illustrated with an eye catching and hilarious diddy in the print edition by Matt Collins, and this is by no means an attempt to one-up him (how could I? He is mega pro!) but Mirsky’s article got me thinking about a Miss Gross-merica contest between the unsung medical heroes he mentions, among them maggots (who consume decaying flesh in puss-filled, festering wounds), leeches (whose anticoagulant production works wonders for restoring blood flow in severed and re-attached body parts), and of course, our friends in our friends’ poo: the players in the gut microbiome who are transferred from “Sue” to you in the yummiest of yummy procedures, the fecal transplant.

So in the spirit of a friendly Miss Gross-merica competition between the maggot, the leech and your friend’s poo, I give you an entry from the swimsuit competition: Madame Maggot, representing the fine medical art of maggot therapy…. ahem, I mean, “biosurgery.” Ta-daaa! Ladies and gents, ain’t she a doll!?

Madame Maggot, contestant in the Miss Gross-merica contest

Oh, la-la! Madame Maggot, contestant in the 2013 Miss Gross-merica contest (hands off, fellas: this baby's © Kalliopi Monoyios)

**UPDATE** Several astute “judges” pointed out that the original image I posted was not in the spirit of the Miss Gross-merica contest. You see, Madame Maggot had some plastic surgery done to make her look like a much grosser beetle larva (which feeds on decaying bodies, not merely flesh wounds). Since we at the Miss Gross-merica contest do not condone the use of surgical enhancements for cosmetic reasons, we were forced to disqualify the original Madame Maggot and bring in her runner-up, also named Madame Maggot. Please excuse the honest mistake. For reference/reminiscing/reminding, here is the original Madame Maggot, shame on her:

Madame Maggot, contestant in the Miss Gross-merica contest

The disgraced Madame Maggot, contestant in the 2013 Miss Gross-merica contest who was disqualified after revelations that she was surgically enhanced to look like a much grosser beetle larva. Shame, shame.

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. David_Bressan 7:05 am 07/20/2013

    Madame Maggot is supposedly an artist name, as having legs, lateral spiracles and a sclerotized head I´m not sure she can be a diptera maggot, but more correctly an coleptera Mrs. Larva, also not sure that she should then be used on wound medication, as bugs tend to like a very advanced stage of decomposition (and then it´s too late for any medication…) ;)

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  2. 2. 10:50 am 07/20/2013

    ha! Yes, thank you for the clarification. Another astute judge commented on this as well via Twitter…

    I suppose it is a stage name, yes. And I suppose in my haste to publish, I made her rather grosser than I’d intended :)

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  3. 3. Glendon Mellow 2:05 pm 07/20/2013

    This is my favourite Symbiartic post ever.

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  4. 4. 2:33 pm 07/23/2013


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