Phocomelia (from Greek φώκη = "seal" plus μέλος (plural μέλεα) = "limb") is a congenital disorder involving the limbs (dysmelia). An individual exhibiting phocomelia may be referred to as a phocomelus.
It presents at birth very short or absent long bones and flipper
-like appearance of hands
and sometimes feet. Amphibian deformities often take the form of phocomelia, in which the limbs are shortened due to lack or malformation of long bones, as opposed to other forms of dysmelia
such as amelia
, which is characterized by the complete lack of a limb, or polymelia
, the presence of extra limbs, which are often fused together.
The condition may be inherited or occurs sporadically. It is also connected with prenatal exposure to the anti-nausea drug thalidomide
In Holt-Oram syndrome
, the most severe forms manifest with phocomelia with rudimentary limbs.
Famous phocomelic people include Stanley Berent, also known as "Sealo The Seal Boy" (who made his living from performing / being exhibited in "freak shows
") and, more currently, actor Mat Fraser
, opera singer Thomas Quasthoff
, guitarist Rick Renstrom
and artist Alison Lapper
. Marc Quinn
's -high nude sculpture, Alison Lapper Pregnant
, is shown on the formerly-vacant fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square
. Hee Ah Lee
is a renowned pianist with only two fingers on each hand.