For centuries, people across the world believed that certain animals came from nonliving sources—a theory known as “spontaneous generation.” Sacred documents from India remark on lice coming from sweat, Babylonian inscriptions mention that worms come from canal mud, the ancient Chinese thought that aphids came from bamboo, and other cultures believed that maggots were the product of rotting meat or that mice were created by soiled clothing mixed with wheat grains. Many Greek philosophers also believed that creatures appeared from This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Five Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 49 Correction: Clutter A tidy room does not always beget a tidy mind. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Correction: The Starving Artist Bad times don’t always make for good art. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Correction Wikipedia is good, actually. Arts & Culture Issue 40 Correction On the scary shortcomings of “fearless” philosophies. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Correction Teenagers aren't lazy, they're exhausted. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Correction Don’t be fooled by spurious data.