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Four Two-Headed Creatures Defy the Odds

We recently covered a two-headed bull shark fetus that was found by a fisherman and described by scientists in a journal. That story got more than ninety comments and more than four thousand Facebook likes, and it got us thinking about what other two-headed creatures might have been found.

So in lieu of this week’s Freshwater Species of the Week, we did some research and put together this short list of some of the more interesting two-headed animals.freshwater species of the week

As we recently reported, the two heads typically arise through a process called “axial bifurcation,” in which the embryo doesn’t finish splitting into twins. This condition has been seen in a number of animals, including human beings.

In addition to gawking at their strangeness, we suspect there may be things scientists can learn from these oddities, such as how living things develop in the womb, and how complications can arise. Life can require very complex processes, so it is perhaps not surprising that sometimes things don’t quite work out according to “plan.”

Many of our readers speculated that the two-headed bull shark was the result of pollution or even radiation from Fukushima. But it’s very difficult to pin one abnormality on any particular environmental factor or event, and sometimes things just go wrong on their own.

The lead scientist who studied the unusual bull shark specimen, C. Michael Wagner of Michigan State University, had told us, “In and of itself, this single natural history observation does not tells us anything Earth-shattering about the health of the world’s oceans or populations of bull sharks. It’s simply a rarely observed phenomena that we recorded.”

What other rare phenomena have you seen?

 

Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for Popular Science, TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen LightingBuild Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.

Comments

  1. Jacob B
    -
    September 30, 10:42 am

    greatv sourse to use

  2. RJ
    TEXAS
    April 10, 2013, 10:02 pm

    It has nothing to do with the enviroment, global warming or aliens from space. Did you even bother to read the article ?
    It’s called “axial bifurcation,” it’s rare but its natural.

  3. MG
    April 10, 2013, 9:31 pm

    Not too unusual any more, considering all the radiation, not just from the sun, but possibly from Fukushima, Japan…things are still not well over there. Radiation comes from and is deposited in many forms and places. Nevertheless, it was an altered DNA/RNA to produce this in the complex and perfect working order of things. Sad :-(

  4. GO
    Canada
    April 10, 2013, 1:15 pm

    Creatures are evolving two heads because the poisons in the environment have had detrimental effects on the brain and creatures now need to grow two heads to compensate for the loss.

  5. Alexis C.
    Iowa
    April 10, 2013, 12:32 pm

    whyyy.

  6. Rory O'Neil
    April 9, 2013, 7:40 am

    “This condition has been seen in a number of animals, including human beings.”

    Thank you for properly referring to our relationship with other animals!

  7. Vince
    UK
    April 9, 2013, 12:13 am

    I’ve got two heads… No you haven’t stop lying. ( < I have, that was barry my other head playing tricks…)

  8. Ernesto R. Gomez
    Modesto, California
    April 8, 2013, 11:21 pm

    This shows how complex life is when evolves in the womb whether is on the animal kingdom or on our own kingdom.

  9. Johniel
    Minnesota
    April 8, 2013, 10:43 pm

    Don’t forget the remarkable 22-year-old Hensel twins, Abigail and Brittany. They are conjoined, each having a separate head but sharing a body. Do an internet search for more info.

  10. Sara
    April 8, 2013, 10:26 pm

  11. DJ
    Mex
    April 8, 2013, 9:33 pm

    Oh Yay! Now all those horrid monster shark movies really can come true,

  12. Gregg
    State College, PA
    April 8, 2013, 9:23 pm

    @Tonya: Here is a 2 headed dinosaur fossil found in 2006.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/12/061226-two-heads.html

  13. Gary Wilson
    Louisville, Ky
    April 8, 2013, 9:12 pm

    I once saw a two-headed unicorn. I think I did. No, wait a minute, that was a dream.

  14. Chanel
    South Africa
    April 8, 2013, 9:28 am

    There was a two-headed Indian baby girl who survived two months before passing on.

  15. Tonya
    USA
    April 7, 2013, 11:19 pm

    Has there ever been found a two headed dinosaur?

  16. shveca
    April 6, 2013, 4:08 am

    I’ve seen a two-headed cow.

  17. Author Janette
    April 5, 2013, 5:02 pm

    Two heads may not always be better than one! I prefer to be of one mind myself! – Sir William the Cat of London of the book http://www.indefenseofcats.com