I am listening to the book Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. They have come out off the Strait of Magellan and they think that in a few days they will reach the Moluccas. They have no idea that they are in the largest and deepest ocean. It has been 3 months and 20 days since they didn’t have access to fresh food and scurvy is starting to hit them.
In Magellan’s expedition, Pigafetta records that they ate rats. Because rats don’t get sick with scurvy, they thought humans would be cured by eating them. Rats might not sound too bad seeing that they were running out of food and eating crumbs of biscuits with maggots.
If you have never read about Scurvy, it has a fascinating history. First symptoms were recorded in Ancient Egypt, it is estimated it killed more than 2 million sailors and the cure was only scientifically proven in 1932. Until then, a mix of superstitions and dubious associations were used to treat it.
If you want to learn more about strange ways to treat scurvy, this episode from No Such Thing As A Fish will also make you laugh:
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