Science: Pituitary Master

(See Cover)

Above and behind the mouth cavity, tucked into a cradle of bone at the base of the human brain, lies a reddish nugget of tissue, no bigger than a big pea in normal adults—the pituitary gland. Galen, the famed physician of antiquity, and Vesalius, the great anatomist of the Renaissance, knew it. They thought it gave saliva. In 1783 an Irishman named Charles O'Brien died at the age of 22. He was 8 ft. 4 in. tall. A curious physician bought his body for $2,500, dissected the head, found a pituitary gland...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!