How did the man known as the Elephant Man die?

Answer

The 1890 death of Joseph Merrick, the individual known as the Elephant Man, has recently been attributed to the weight of his head crushing his spinal cord, killing him instantly. At the time of his death, his doctor believed his death was caused by suffocation.

Alex Vaccaro, a surgeon at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, says asphyxiation as the cause of death makes little sense because Merrick had well-developed neck muscles made strong by carrying his 20-pound head. He recreated Merricks skeleton as a computer model after he scanned it. He found twisted vertebrae, suggesting that Merrick's huge head fell back while he was in bed, causing lethal spinal cord damage.

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