A Sanskrit scholar says he's found evidence of an ancient male pregnancy.

Published August 28, 2001 7:16PM (EDT)

A Sanskrit scholar in India says he's found an ancient Hindu scripture with references to male conception, according to the Indian Express. What's more, the baby was perhaps the first Caesarean delivery.

Professor Vinod Purani claims it was a charmed water ritual that got King Yovanasya knocked up. The king's abdomen was supposedly cut open to get the baby out. Purani presented his findings at a recent conference, fully prepared to meet skepticism.

"It may seem improbable at first," he said, "but viewed in the light of genetic engineering, sex conversion techniques and fertility methods, such happenings can't be ruled out."

Of course the phenomena he refers to seem to be substantivally different than the king's alleged conception, and scientists have long maintained that the womb simply has no substitute -- this is not the first male pregnancy claim begging dismissal -- but there's a noteworthy point in there: Who knows?

The subject has long been fertile ground for feminist theory, science fiction and Arnold Schwarzenegger comedies. Researchers, too, have taken a serious look, albeit sideways: Just last year, scientists in Canada discovered what we've known forever. Male partners of pregnant women will undergo similar hormonal changes over the course of the pregnancy, on roughly the same schedule. Levels of cortisol, prolactin and testosterone change remarkably, then return to normal almost immediately after the birth. It's not male pregnancy, but it's something.

Meanwhile, Purani didn't specify what the charmed water ritual involves, or whether he has the instructions. Should he come out with the information, one assumes the bidding will run high from women, right up till the moment Purani meets an untimely and male-conceived death.

By Chris Colin

Chris Colin is the author most recently of "Blindsight," published by the Atavist.

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