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One Man, both Dwarf and Giant

August 18, 2011

Continuing my streak of writing about strange and bizarre things that people can do, choose to do, or the unique physical features others might display I want to highlight another example of amazing physical appearance. This story is of the only man in history to be classified as both a giant and dwarf.

Chart of Adam Rainer's growth

A man by the name of Adam Rainer stood 3 feet 10 inches on his 21st birthday and was classified as a dwarf, but by the time he died at age 51 the man had grown to 7 feet 8 inches tall. At the stage in life where most people stop growing Adam Rainer instead began a growth-spurt that launched him an additional 3 ft. and 10 in. to a height that towers over most people. In other words, Rainer stood roughly a foot below average adult height in his twenties but by the time his late growth was finished he was only about 1 ft. 2 in. shorter than the tallest man in recorded history, Robert Wadlow, who looms over visitors to our Ripley’s Times Square Odditorium at 8 ft. 11 in.

Robert Wadlow compared to his father, Harold Franklin Wadlow


Rainer’s remarkable growth was likely due to activity from his pituitary gland – the organ in our bodies responsible for releasing the body’s growth hormones. Typically most active during puberty, Rainer’s pituitary gland instead would have been a very tiny amount of the growth hormones during his teens and young-adult life leaving him medically classified as a dwarf. However, after he turned 21 it seems that his pituitary unleashed a torrent of these hormones that began and sustained a rate of growth of about 3.6 in. per year. The human body is not designed to support that amount of growth for a sustained period, especially at the age that it began for Rainer. His body effectively focused all of its energy on continuous growth, which ultimately left him bed-ridden. Undoubtedly this is a sad story for Rainer, but an amazing oddity in medical history of the only man to be classified as both a dwarf and a giant, and truly worth of the Believe It Or Not tag.

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