One of the best qualities of The People In The Trees is that it is framed by delicious, real science, much of it too unbelievable to be real yet, alas, it is.
An example of this is a mentioning of a “lithopedion” at one point. It’s used as an incredibly minor plot point, a moment that you could skim over so fast and be left out of a fascinating aspect of anatomy that is just crazy enough to be real. Lithopedions—or “Stone Babies”—are babies that are formed during an abdominal pregnancy, die, and go on to be preserved via body calcification because it was too large to be reabsorbed. The resulting “stone baby” is essentially a baby fossil that typically goes unnoticed unless an invasive examination like an X-Ray picks up the little body within.
Lithopedions have been around for centuries and are the kind of scientific folklore that pops up every few years as a bizarre news factoid or in places like the Mütter Museum. When they start trending, it’s a result of a septuagenarian or octogenarian woman undergoing medical treatment where a fortysomething stone baby is found within her. These situations happen all over the world and continue to confound because it’s too strange to be true. Yet, here we are.
If you’re still curious about how this all happens, watch the below Smithsonian video on the subject. It’s as weird as it is informative. To continue digging on the subject, Wikipedia has a fairly fascinating list of various stone baby mamas.