[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address 34.232.62.209. Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
Article
January 11, 1941

MORSUS HUMANUS: SIXTY CASES OF HUMAN BITES IN NEGROES

Author Affiliations

ATLANTA, GA.
From the Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1941;116(2):127-131. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820020037009
Abstract

Trauma caused by human teeth (morsus humanus) may occur in two ways. The assailant may be the victim when his knuckles come in violent contact with the teeth of the person receiving the blow, or the victim may be the one who is actually bitten by another individual. The two methods of injury are responsible for about the same number of reported cases. Strictly speaking, trauma to the clenched fist is not an actual bite, but it is a more civilized manner of producing the lesion. Deliberately burying one's teeth into human flesh is reminiscent of primeval savage instincts, if not cannibalism, and impels us to camouflage "human bite" with the milder Latin "morsus humanus."

The remarkable feature of morsus humanus is the virulent, destructive trauma which so often follows an apparently trivial wound. Mason and Koch,1 in their exhaustive paper, mention three factors which cause the excessive, and

×