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Who was Peter the Wild Boy?

In the 18th century, a feral child called Peter the Wild Boy was brought to court in Georgian England where he would scamper around on all fours, picking pockets and stealing kisses. Now researchers studying his unusual characteristics have painted a more accurate portrait of who he really was.

“At the time, people assumed Peter acted the way he did because he was a wild child. They didn’t suspect that something else could have been afflicting him.”

She initially assumed autism, but found more clues in this portrait of Peter, by court painter William Kent, that hangs in Kensington Palace.

New analysis of this portrait suggests Peter had a rare genetic condition known as Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome, indicated by:

    1. His short stature
    2. Lustrous mop of thick curly hair
    3. Hooded eyelids
    4. Cupid’s bow mouth, with a pronounced curve to the upper lip
    5. He disliked clothes, but was wrestled daily into a green suit
    6. Pictured holding acorns and oak leaves – symbolic of living wild in the woods – and some fingers on his left hand (not seen) were fused

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Story: Megan Lane, BBC News | Photo: Historic Royal Palaces

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