Barber, Bernard and Fox R. C. "The Case of the Floppy-Eared Rabbits: An Instance of

 

Barber, Bernard and Fox R. C. "The Case of the Floppy-Eared Rabbits: An Instance of
Serendipity Gained and Serendipity Lost," American Journal of Sociology 64 (September, 1958),
pp.128-136.

This is an amusing tale of "discovery" and a failure in discovering the reason for floppiness in
rabbits' ears. Two medical men, pathologists Thomas and Kellner working at different medical
colleges, had both noted that when injected with the enzymepapain, rabbits' ears lost their
upright structure and flopped over. Thomas noted the fact but couldn't explain it. Kellner noted
it, also, but lost interest. Several years after noting the empiric regularity, Thomas had the good
sense to take sections of a treated and an untreated rabbit and compare them. The cartilage of the
treated rabbit had changed. Why didn't Kellner note the same thing? He had the opportunity, but
he missed it.